How to play the Blackjack card game


Blackjack, known as pontoon in Britain, is a casino card game enjoyed globally. While its precise origins are debated, blackjack undoubtedly stems from similar French and Italian gambling titles played in earlier centuries. Since the First World War, the casual version of the game has been commonly referred to as pontoon in the United Kingdom.

Basic Rules of Blackjack

In the game of blackjack, players aim to obtain a total card value of 21 or come as close to it without exceeding 21, which they attempt to do against the dealer. Aces can represent either 1 or 11 points, face cards are worth 10 points each, and number cards are equal to their respective numerical value. Obtaining an initial two-card hand that totals 21, such as an ace and a face card, is called a “natural” or “blackjack.” Suit symbols are irrelevant to the value of cards. Most blackjack variants allow a player receiving two cards of the same rank to split them, receiving a second card for each split hand to play independently.

Another common rule permits “doubling down” with an initial two-card total of 11 points (or 10 points in some variations), where the player doubles their wager and receives one additional down-faced card before resolution. Some blackjack games reward extra payouts to players attaining five cards without busting (exceeding 21 points).

Rules in American Casino

House rules in American casinos vary. In casino play, each player places a bet, and then the dealer gives two cards to each player (both down, both up, or one down and one up, depending on the casino) and two to the dealer’s hand (one up and one down; in British casinos, the dealer waits until all transactions are over before dealing the last card face up). The players, each in turn, call for more cards dealt face up one at a time until they bust or “stand.” Anyone dealt natural wins immediately unless the dealer is showing an ace or a 10. If all players bust, the dealer wins without further play. Otherwise, the dealer’s downcard is revealed, and, if the dealer does not have a natural, any player’s natural is paid off at one and a half times the bet; the dealer who has a natural wins all the bets except when there is a tie, or “push,” with anyone else holding a natural. With a count of 16 or less, the dealer draws cards one at a time until there is a count of 17 or more.

A dealer who busts loses; otherwise, the dealer pays anyone showing a higher count (without busting), and a push occurs for players with a matching total. All cards are collected and taken out of play before the next hand is dealt.

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