Blackjack Rules and Strategy

For information on how to win at Blackjack click on the links below.

The Object of the Game
Basic Strategy
Strategy-Odds of Busting
Cheat Sheets
Tips on Playing
Double Down
Splitting Pairs
Soft Hands
The Layout
Placing a Bet
The Payoff

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The Object of the Game

To beat the dealer's hand without exceeding a count of 21 in order to win as much money from the dealer (the casino) as you can.


If your cards total 16 or 15- stand if the dealers face card is a 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2
If your card is anything else then you should hit until your total is 17 or higher
What if your total is only 12?

You should stand if the dealers first card was a 4, 5 or 6. But if the dealers first card is a 2 or 3, take a hit and stop at a total of 13 or more.

When the dealers first card is a 7 or higher (including Ace) take cards until your total is 17 or more.

Basic Strategy

The total of the cards in your hand are displayed beside the hand. This is appropriate since in a real casino the dealer will usually call out the total of the players hand. This is the important part of the hand. Remember that the object of the game is to "beat the dealer" even it means letting the dealer bust. A bust occurs when the value of cards in your hand exceeds 21. The dealer must play by specific rules, primarily the dealer must stand on a value of 17 or greater. That is, if the dealer has less than 17 he must take another card. The most common card in the deck is a 10 (Ten, Jack, Queen or King) therefore by looking at the dealer's up card you can make a good guess about the value of their hand. If the up card is a 7 then you can safely assume that the down card is a ten so the value of their hand has a good probability of being 17. This is called Basic Strategy and is a way of enjoying a game of blackjack without losing your shirt.

"Always assume the down card is a ten."

By playing according to this simple rule you can usually break even and sometimes come out ahead. Most casinos will supply blackjack cheat cards that you can refer to at the table to assist you in your game.

Strategy- Odds of Busting

What are the chances of the dealer busting when their first card up is an:

Ace 11%

Ten 21%

Eight 24%

Six 42%

Five 43%

Four 40%

Two 35%

The odds of the dealer busting are greatest when their face card is a five or six. For other face cards your odds are best for standing when your cards total 17 or more. When your first two cards total 17 or more, always stand. On a total of 16 you will bust more often than when your hand total is less.

Cheat Sheets

21st Century Blackjack has cheat cards built in for your convenience. They tell you when to hit and when to stand based on the basic strategy rule. The green blocks mean you should hit, the red blocks mean you should stand. The blinking circle indicates what you should do. The colors on the strategy cards match the play buttons on the tool bar.

There are also similar cards for Doubling Down and Splitting. as well as versions for soft hands. Soft hands are hands that contain at least one Ace. An Ace can have a value of 1 or 11, you decide based on the other cards in your hand.

Tips on Playing

Your Hand:

Playing Strategy:

12 through 16

Stand on 2 through 6, hit on 7 through Ace

17 through 21

Stand,  except always hit on soft 17 (A,6)

10 or 11

Double down on 2 through 9

Soft 13 through 17

Always hit

Soft 18 through 21

Always stand 

8,8 and ace, ace

Always split the pair

5,5 and 10,10

Never split the pair

2,2; 3,3; 4,4; 6,6; 7,7; 9,9;

split the pair




Double Down

On a double down the dealer will give you just one more additional card. If a casino allows double down, you should do it if you have a card total between 9 and 11, with the following exceptions. The dealers card is an Ace and your total is 11. When your total is 10, double down unless the dealer has an Ace or Ten. For a total of 9, double down if the dealer has a three, four, five or six. If you do not play a double down take a hit and follow the information above.

If your first two cards are the same, a majority of casinos will allow you to split your hand and play the cards as two separate hands. Always split aces and eights, but do not split fives and tens. If you can double down after splitting then split twos, threes or sevens if the dealers face card is a 2,3,4,5,6 or 7.

If you can not double down do not split twos or threes if dealer has two or three. Only split a 4 if the dealer has a five or six, but do not split if you can not double down. As for sixes split if the dealer has a seven, ten or ace. If you can not double down only split sixes if dealer has three, four, five or six.

Splitting Pairs

When you are dealt a pair you can choose to Split Pairs. Splitting pairs means separating the two cards into two hands, matching the bet for the new hand and playing both hands against the dealer. The blue squares on the Split Pairs strategy chart will indicate to you when you should split pairs.

Soft Hands

A soft hand is any hand with an ace. Soft hands totaling 19 should always stay. If your soft hand total is eighteen and the dealer shows a two, seven or eight you should stay, but if the dealer shows a three, four, five or six you should double down. If you can not double down, then stay.

A hard hand is any hand without an ace.

The Layout

When you start a new game of 21st Century Blackjack the computer sets up a Blackjack table for you. The computer plays the part of the dealer at a Casino style blackjack table. You are sitting at the bottom of the screen with your chips in front of you. The other seats at the table are empty. This is a game of one-on-one blackjack; you against the dealer. The deck is displayed at the top right of the screen. Initially you start with six decks, the yellow card at the back of the deck indicates the shuffle point. When the yellow card is exposed the deck is shuffled. The card counting statistics are displayed for you at the bottom right of the screen. The bottom of the screen contains the tool bar which gives you quick access to the most common operations and information about your game.

Placing a Bet

To get started you must place a bet. The tool bar buttons at the left make it easy to place a bet. The left most button will place the minimum bet, $5, the next will place double the minimum and so on up to the maximum bet, $100. Single, double, triple and quadruple bets are common in blackjack hence these buttons are made available for you. The $ value next to the bet buttons is the value of your pile of chips. The '$' button will display your current standings including money you may have borrowed from the house. Next to that is the value of your current bet followed by the play buttons.

You can also select individual chips to bet by pointing at the denomination on the screen an clicking the left mouse button. Continue to click on chips until you have placed your desired bet the click the 'check' button to place the bet (i.e. deal the hands) or click the 'X' button to cancel your bet.

The Payoff

If you win the hand the dealer pays you an amount equal to your bet. If you lose the dealer takes your bet.


If you are dealt a ten card and an Ace you have a Blackjack (21) and automatically win the hand unless the dealer also has a Blackjack. The dealer will pay you an amount equal to one and a half times your bet.


Source Steve Bourie, editor,(1998) American Casino Guide, Casino Vacations, Dania, Florida

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