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How to Play Blackjack in Vegas

Blackjack in Las Vegas

Blackjack, also known as 21 is one of the most popular casino card games in Las Vegas. The rules on playing blackjack in Vegas are quite simple, which is a major reason for the game's enduring popularity.

In Las Vegas casinos, blackjack is played on a semi-circular table, with the round portion of the table facing the players, and the straight edge side facing the dealer.

There are usually five to seven seats at a table and every blackjack table will have the words, "Insurance Pays 2 to 1", also, "Dealer must Hit Soft 17" or "Dealer Must Stand On All 17's".

Object of the Game of Blackjack

The object of the game of Blackjack is to have your cards total 21 or as near to 21 as possible without going over 21.

How to Play Blackjack in Vegas

In Blackjack, everyone plays against the dealer (the house). Your goal is to draw cards with a value as close to 21 as possible without going over. A hand that goes over 21 is a bust or break . The players at a blackjack table do not play against each other, they play against the dealer. Each player only has to beat the dealer's hand to Win. You do this in one of two ways: 1 Have a card total value greater than that of the dealer and not "bust". 2 Win "by default” if the dealer "busts.

Ready for Vegas Blackjack!

When you approach a Las Vegas casino blackjack table, look for the minimum and maximum bet placard. The minimum bet is printed on a sign on the Blackjack table and varies from casino to casino and from table to table. For example Minimum $5, Maximum $500.

Blackjack Table Layout

Find an appropriate bet-limit table and find an available seat you like. Sit down and wait for the current hand to be finished. Before the next hand starts, place your cash on the table in front of you (NOT in the "betting circle” or "betting square", where you place your bets) – and say: "Change, please.” The dealer will understand this to mean you want to join the game. The dealer will then take your cash, count it, spread it on the table so that the Pit Boss can see it, announce the amount, and then convert the amount of the cash into an equivalent amount of playing chips, in various denominations.

Place a bet with the chips in the designated area. The dealer then begins the game. Depending on how many people are playing, the dealer will deal each player two cards (face up). The dealer is also dealt two cards, one face up, and one face down. (The dealers faced down card is referred to as the "hole card.")

Once the cards are dealt to all the players, the dealer then looks to the first player on his or her left and moves in a circle for each player to make a decision regarding their hand.

When you receive your first two cards, you may either "Stand", "Hit”, "Double” or "Split”.

When you "Stand" it means you feel you are close enough to 21 and no longer wish any additional cards. On the other hand you may wish to receive another card or "Hit". See the detailed explainations of all the options below.

Once all the players have completed their hands, it's now the dealers turn to play his or her hand. The dealer starts with the reveal of the "Hole Card" (the dealers faced down card) and acts on the hand according to the rules of the game. If these two cards add up to 16 or less, the dealer must "Hit" until reaching 17 or more. If the two cards add up to 17 to 21, the dealer must "Stand". Just like the players, the dealer will bust if he/she exceeds 21.

Beware: Some Blackjack tables are designated as "must hit soft 17". At such a blackjack table, the dealer must draw on all soft 17 hands until he or she obtains a point total of a hard 17 or higher. All Las Vegas blackjack tables will clearly state the soft 17 rule.

Blackjack Card Values

Cards 2 - 10
Face Value
Face Cards (kings, queens & jacks)
Either 1 or 11 (whichever is more beneficial for your hand)

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Rules of Blackjack in Vegas

In Blackjack, the hand with the highest total wins as long as it doesn't exceed 21. A hand with a value over 21 is called a "Bust” or "Break" and it is an automatic loser.

Queens, Kings, Jacks and 10s count as 10. An Ace's value is 11 unless this would cause the player to bust, in which case it is worth 1. All other cards are played at their face value.

A hand in which an Ace's value is counted as 11 is called a Soft hand, because it cannot be busted if the player draws another card. When an ace is counted as one point, this is called a Hard hand.

If the table is designated a must-hit-soft-17 Blackjack game, the dealer must draw on all soft 17 hands until he or she obtains a point total of a hard 17 or higher.

The best possible hand in Blackjack is a combination of an Ace with a 10-card or a face card. This is an automatic 21, when counting the Ace as an 11, and is called, "Blackjack", or a Natural. It cannot be beaten, unless the dealer has the same, which would be a Push, a tie. In a push, the player receives the bet back.

Blackjack Playing Options

To increase your chances of winning, or winning a bigger payout, consider the following options:
Remember you as a player have all the options and the house has none.


When you Stand in Blackjack, your intention is to "stay" with the original two cards you have been dealt, and don’t need another one for the current hand in progress. You "stand" when you feel you are close enough to 21 and no longer wish any additional cards.

Please Note: Once you've made the decision to "Stand", you CANNOT go back and change your mind, after the dealer has already moved on.


"Hit" is your intention is to "draw more cards". You "Hit" when you feel your hand is not close enough to 21 and you need to draw additional cards.

Beware: If the additional card(s) causes your total to exceed 21, you bust and are out of the game.


After receiving your first two cards, or on the first two cards of any split pair, you may "double down" if you have two cards whose total value can be much improved by just one good hit (usually cards whose initial combined value is either "10” or "11”).

Splitting Pairs

If your first two cards are of equal value, you have the option of "splitting" them into two separate hands. For example, two Aces – you can "split" them into two separate hands, and play them both for the round.

Alternatively you can simply say to the dealer: "Split, please". The dealer will then separate the two original cards, place them side-by-side, and then ask you to make a second wager on the second hand. The wager on the second hand must equal the original wager. Once you make that wager, you are now playing two hands.

Note:Pairs may be split three times for a total of four hands, except for Aces that may only be split once.

Splitting in Blackjack
Busting in Blackjack

Blackjack Outcomes

You "Bust" in Blackjack when you draw more cards to your hand (by asking to "hit”) and the combined total value exceeds "21”. When you "Bust", you lose your wager and that round is over for you.


A "push" happens when both you and the dealer have the SAME total value of all cards. For example, if your total is, say, 18, and the dealer has the same total of 18, then neither you nor the dealer win or lose. It’s a "push”, a sort of "stand-off” where you don’t lose, and don’t win, and neither does the dealer. If you "push” ANY hand, you can either leave the same wager for the next hand, or change the amount of that wager for the next hand, or remove all your wagers altogether, and even leave the game.


If the dealer's "up card" is an Ace, you may make an additional wager known as insurance. The insurance bet is a wager that the dealer has a Blackjack. You can bet only half your original bet. If the dealer does have a Blackjack, your original bet loses and the insurance is paid 2 to 1. If the dealer doesn't have a Blackjack, he takes the insurance bet and the game continues as normal.


In Blackjack, players have the option of surrendering one half of their original wager after receiving their first two cards. If you surrender your cards, the dealer will take half of your wager. (Note: the Surrender option is not available on the Double Deck game.)

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Blackjack Basic Strategy
Blackjack Basic Strategy
Blackjack Etiquette
Blackjack Etiquette

What's the differences in the two versions of Blackjack?

Most casinos in Las Vegas provide two versions of Blackjack. Double Deck 21 and Multiple Deck 21. With Double Deck 21 the cards are dealt from the hand and with Multiple Deck 21, the cards are dealt from a box called the "shoe"

Hand Decks:
In the hand-dealt version of Blackjack, the players are dealt two cards face down and the house (the dealer) receives one card face up and one card face down.

(In hand dealt games only)
Scratch the surface of the table with your first two cards. If you wish to "stand” with what you have, then wave your hand horizontally over the table or simply tuck your cards underneath your bet.

Shoe Games:
In the shoe-dealt version of Blackjack, players receive both cards face up and the house (the dealer) receives one card face up and one card face down.

(In the shoe-dealt version)
In shoe games, you don’t need to touch your cards, simply indicate a "hit” or "stand” by using your hand motion for another card, or wave off the dealer if you are standing. (read more on this below)

Blackjack House Edge
Blackjack is a game with strategic decisions and if you’re willing to put in a little work (learning the game). Blackjack offers one of the best table game odds in Las Vegas. The game has a house edge of about a .5 percent. Meaning, for every dollar you gamble, you'll lose only half a penny on average.

Blackjack House Advantage and Expected Loss

  House Advantage For Every $100 bet, the player can expect to lose
Natural pays 3 to 2 0.5%-1.5% 50c - $1.50
Natural pays 6 to 5 2.0%-3.0% 2.00 - $3.00

Dealers play according to house rules for their table. Be aware that blackjack odds may vary from table to table. Feel free to ask the dealer for clarification.

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What is the difference between Double Deck and Multiple Deck Blackjack
Double Deck Blackjack (Hand Decks)

Cards are dealt from the hand
Everyone plays against the dealer
Players are dealt two cards face down
The dealer receives his first card face up and the second card face down
Player may draw as many cards are they want until you are close to 21 or until they "bust"
The object of the game is to get as close as possible to 21 without going over 21.

Multiple Deck Blackjack (Shoe Games)

Cards are dealt from a box called the "Shoe"
Everyone plays against the dealer
Players are dealt two cards face up
The dealer receives his first card face up and the second card face down
Player may draw as many cards are they want until you are close to 21 or until they "bust"
The object of the game is to get as close as possible to 21 without going over 21.
Players use hand signal to indicate a "hit" or "stand"

Winning and Losing in Blackjack

If you are closer to 21 than the dealer, you win and are paid an amount equal to your original wager.
If your hand is less than the dealer's, you lose.
If the player busts he loses, even if the dealer also busts
If the dealer's hand "busts” or "breaks”, you win.
Ties are a stand-off or "push” and your bet remains on the table.
If your initial two cards total 21, (this will happen if you are dealt an Ace with a 10, Jack, Queen or King), you have a blackjack or a natural. Blackjacks are paid 3 to 2 or up to 50% more than any other hand.
A hand totally 21 points, but having more than two cards, loses to a two-card backjack/natural hand.
Each player has an independent game with the dealer, so it is possible for the dealer to lose to one player but still beat the other players in the same round.

Did you know...
The Sahara Hotel & Casino hosted the very first blackjack tournament in Las Vegas, back in 1978.

Minimum gambling age in Nevada

Las Vegas Casino Loyalty Cards

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Disclaimer encourages you to play responsibly by betting within your limits. Know when to stop before you start®. Gambling problems? Call 1-800-522-4700 in NV or 1-800-GAMBLER in NJ.

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