How to play blackjack

Get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over and you win. Who knew simple math could be so thrilling?

Getting started

Blackjack is one of the most popular tables games, partly because it seems so straightforward. But while strategy and decision-making play a role, chance is a big part of the mix. It’s easy to play, but not so simple to master.

Step Instructions
1 After you find a seat at a blackjack table that suits your budget, place your bet.
2 The dealer deals you two cards, face up, and deals herself one card. If your cards total 21, you got blackjack—that’s a good thing. (You probably know this already, but numbered cards are worth their number. Face cards—jack, queen and king—are worth 10. Aces are worth one or 11.)
3 If you didn’t get blackjack, when it’s your turn, you can tell the dealer you’ll “stand” if you’re happy with your hand, or “hit” to request more cards, one at a time.
4 After all players at your table are satisfied with their hands, the dealer gives herself cards to try to get closer to 21 than you, without going over, which is known as a “bust.” 

How do you know if you've won?

You have won if:

  • You get blackjack and the dealer doesn’t.
  • Your hand is higher than the dealer’s without going over 21.
  • The dealer busts and you have 21 or less.
  • You got blackjack and the dealer got 21 on more than two cards.

If you have the same total as the dealer, it’s a tie. This is also known as a “push,” and you keep your bet.

Different ways to 21

Some casinos in B.C. offer variations on blackjack with different odds of winning and ways to play. You might want to learn the fundamentals of the standard game before you try your hand(s) at the others. Variations include Kings Bounty Blackjack, Double Deck Blackjack, Low Limit Blackjack, War Blackjack, Zappit Blackjack and Free Bet Blackjack.

Odds of winning

Blackjack has some of the best odds in the casino. But to make the most of them, you need to master something called “basic strategy.” That means learning the ideal decision to make with every possible blackjack hand to maximize your odds of winning. In other words, it's not that easy for mere mortals. Randomness and luck of the draw have a huge impact on how successful you’ll be at blackjack.

For more on blackjack’s odds, payouts and ways to play, visit

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