How Blackjack Works

Blackjack Options

There are a few extra options for the players at a blackjack table:

  • Doubling Down - After the initial deal, the player can double the amount of his original bet; but he must take an additional card (and only one card) from the dealer. If he wins, he wins a 2-to-1 payoff on the total amount of the doubled bet.
  • Splitting - If the player is dealt a pair in his opening two cards, he can split them into two separate hands. Any two cards that are each worth 10 (Tens, Jacks, Queens, or Kings) are considered a pair for the purpose of splitting. Both hands are played independently of each other, and a new bet equal to the original bet must be placed on the new hand. If another pair is dealt onto one of the two hands, it may be split again, resulting in three hands. Some casinos limit the number of splits a player can make on one play. A split hand cannot become a blackjack, even if an Ace and a 10-value card make up the hand -- it still counts as 21, but not as a natural blackjack.
  • Doubling after Splitting - Some casinos allow a player to double down on one or more split hands.
  • Surrender - Once the dealer has checked and found that he does not have blackjack, players can surrender their hand and get half of their bet back. This option is offered most frequently in casinos outside the United States. The option to surrender before the dealer has checked for blackjack is known as Early Surrender.
  • Insurance - Whenever the dealer has an Ace showing, he offers the players the chance to buy insurance. Buying insurance is like betting that the dealer will have blackjack. If the dealer does have blackjack, the player is paid at 2-to-1 on the insurance bet, which can be up to half the amount of the player's original bet. Many inexperienced blackjack players think buying insurance is a great idea, but most experts agree that it is a bad bet.
  • Five-card Charlie - Some casinos reward a hand called Five-card Charlie. If you keep hitting until you have five cards, and on the fifth card you still haven't busted, you win. Five-card Charlie pays 2 to 1, but the rule does not apply after you've split (see above) or if the dealer has a blackjack.

Now we'll take a look at the unwritten rules of blackjack.