1. First, learn the value of the cards:

  • Number cards: The number is the value of the card.
  • Face Cards: The value of face cards is 10.
  • Ace: Either 1 or 11; whichever you need most.

2. Now learn the moves:

  • Hit: This means to get another card.
  • Stay: This means to keep your current cards and do nothing.
  • Insurance: A bet to break even, when the dealer is showing an ace. If the dealer has a blackjack, the insurance bet pays off 2-1 (you break even).
  • Double Down: This means to double your bet, and get one more card.
  • Split: This means to split your hand into two hands. You can only do this if your starting hand has two cards of the same value. If both of your hands win, you get double the amount of money. If one wins, you get the normal amount of money you would’ve won if you haven’t split. Splitting is a good way to be safe if you one of your hands lose, so you can get another chance.
  • Surender: In many casinos, you can (before playing and after determining if the dealer has a blackjack) choose to give up half of your bet without playing. This is an option to take if you don’t think you can win.

3. Understand the implications of insurance, splitting, double down and surrender.

  • All of the extra actions favor the house:
  • When making an insurance bet, you are betting that the dealer’s hole card is a 10, Jack, Queen or King. Their are 13 potential ranks of cards in the deck. You have less than a 1 and 3 chance of it paying. The best time to make an insurance bet is when you have a blackjack! If the dealer turns out to have a blackjack, you will have a “push” (tie) with the dealer; your insurance bet will pay 2-1 which would equal an average payout on a bet.
  • When doubling down, you only get one card. You may not like the hand you end up with. In fact, that is what the casino is counting on! Never double down if the dealer is showing a face card or an ace.
  • Splitting can turn an excellent hand into a terrible one, and vice versa. Here are some rules of thumb: Never split 5’s (Your total is 10. You are likely to end strong. Always split 7’s, 8’s and Aces. Splitting 7’s and 8’s will change probable losers to probable winners. Splitting Aces is advantageous, but understand this: You are only allowed to split Aces once, and you can only take one card for each new hand. The casinos required this because Splitting Aces, without the restriction, is a great advantage.
  • Once you have “surrendered” your hand, the dealer’s actions are unimportant (to you). If the dealer’s hand goes sour, you have already given up.

4. To win, the player has to be closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. If the player goes over, he has “busted”. If it’s a tie, its a “push”, neither the player or the house wins. A blackjack is when your starting hand is an ace and 10, or face card.