The aim for each hand is to draw cards with the goal of having them add up to 21, or as close to it as possible, without going over.
The player and the dealer are each drawn two cards. Both of the player’s cards are visible while only one of the dealer’s is. It is up to the player to decide how to play their hand whereas the dealer must play according to set rules. The cards 2 through 10 are worth their face value while Kings, Queens and Jacks are each worth 10. Aces can be used as either 1 or 11.
The player has the option to either hit, which means they are drawn another card, or stand, which means they are happy with their hand. If the player chooses to hit, they are given another card and once again must choose whether to hit or stand.
The dealer must draw on any number below 17 and must stand on any total of 17 or more. The dealer must also draw on a soft 17, which means a 17 involving an Ace.
The winning hand is the one that is closer to 21. If the player or dealer draws an Ace and a 10 or a face card (worth 10), it is a blackjack and an immediate win.
If the player draws above 21, they bust and instantly lose. Similarly, if the dealer draws above 21, they bust and lose.
The player has two other options when their cards are initially drawn. If a player is drawn two identical cards, say a 4 and a 4 or a 9 and a 9, they have the option to split the cards into two hands. This would require doubling their bet so they have an equal bet on both hands. This is used in situations where the dealer is showing a weak card (usually 3 through 6).
The other option is to double down. This requires the player doubling their bet and being drawn only one more card to their hand. This is advantageous in situations where the player has a hand that could easily be turned into a winner (such as 10 or 11) while the dealer has a weaker hand.
The player should always assume that the dealer’s unseen card is a 10. If a player has a hand under 17 and the dealer is showing a 7 or higher, the player should always hit. If a dealer is showing between 2 and 6, and the player has 13 or higher, they should not hit because the odds of the dealer busting are higher.
This is a very basic blackjack strategy, but by following these steps, you’re increasing your chances of walking away a big winner.