The aim is to achieve a score closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. Each player is dealt two cards face up. The dealer is dealt one card face up. Depending on version of the game, the dealer may also be dealt their second card face down at the outset or must otherwise wait until all hands are dealt with before receiving it.
Each player will be asked in turn to make their decisions as to whether or not to receive further cards (“draw”) to improve their score, or otherwise “stand” on their existing total. There is no limit to the number of further cards that can be drawn, provided the score does not exceed 21.
An Ace counts as either one or eleven, depending on whether it would cause the hand to exceed 21 (“bust”). All picture cards count as a score of 10. Suits are not relevant to the normal game.
An initial two card total of 21 is called a “Blackjack” and consists of a ten card and an Ace.
If the dealer receives the same score as the Player, the hand will be tied and the player’s bet returned. A score of 21 achieved by three cards or splitting a pair would be beaten by a two card Blackjack. However, a dealer and player will tie if both have a Blackjack.
The dealer is not permitted to draw further cards to their hand on a score of 17 but must do so on anything up to a score of 16.
A player may double their bet and receive just one further card only (total of three cards) if they wish to do so.
If a player’s first two cards are a pair of the same denomination, they may elect to split them into two hands. Each hand must have a wager equivalent to the original bet and each hand will then be dealt with in turn. There is no limit to the number of times a hand may split, if further cards of the same denomination are dealt to either hand. A pair of Aces that is split will only receive one further card each, and the total will not count as a Blackjack if a ten is then dealt.
If the player is dealt a Blackjack, but the Dealer’s first card is an Ace, they may place an insurance wager of half their original stake. If the Dealer is then dealt a Blackjack, the insurance wager will be paid at 2 to 1 whilst the original hand will tie. The same net affect is achieved by paying the hand even money (instead of the normal 3 to 2 for a Blackjack) if the player elects to accept it. They may otherwise take their chances against the dealer’s hand.
“Aces and soft totals”
Aces can count as one or eleven and represents a ‘soft’ total. The player can choose if they want the value to be one or eleven (unless the soft total is 11, then the player has to stand as they actually have 21 using the ace as 11 instead of one). In the case where the dealer has an ace, if the dealer’s hand has a soft total of 7/17 or more, then the dealer must stand and take no more cards. E.g. and ace and a 6 makes 7 or 17, dealer must stand on the 17.
Usual odds payable
For a Blackjack, odds of 3 to 2 are usually paid. Insurance wagers are paid at 2 - 1.