How to Play Blackjack
Here is an overview of how blackjack is played in most North American casinos.
Goal of 21
The goal of the player and the dealer is the same – get their hand’s total value as close to 21 as possible without going over. Additionally, the player must have a higher total point value than the dealer and going over 21 is an immediate loss.
The dealer and player add their respective cards values to determine their hand’s total point value.
Cards are broken down into three category ranks – Singles (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) valued at their numeric value (2-9), Faces (10, Jack, Queen, King) valued at 10, and Aces valued at 1 or 11.
Aces are worth 11 points unless the hand would exceed 21, whereupon its value becomes 1 instead to keep the player or dealer in the game.
Betting and Dealing
Play does not begin until the player places a bet and the dealer “deals” the initial cards.
Natural 21 ( AKA Blackjack)
The player wins instantly when dealt an Ace plus a Ten, Jack, Queen or King; this is called a “Natural 21” or “Blackjack”. The dealer likewise can win with a “Natural 21”.
Some casinos will offer “Even Money” if both the player and dealer have a “Natural 21”. This is a compromise from “Pushing” in the case of a tie; or worse, awarding the win to the dealer and not to the player.
Casinos pay varying amounts for “Natural 21” Blackjack wins, usually 150% of the bet amount (3-to-2 payout); however, some casinos only pay 120% (6-to-5), or worse even money (100% just like any other hand, 1-to-1).
Once the cards are dealt and a potential “Natural 21” win is evaluated, the player must decide whether to take additional card(s) to get closer to 21 without exceeding 21.
Each card asked for is a “Hit”, and every time a new card is dealt its value is added to hand’s total point value. If the hand value is 22 or higher, the hand loses which is known as a “Bust” and referred to as “Busting”.
Some casinos put limits to total number of cards allowed per hand.
The player may “Stand” at any time the total hand value is less than or equal to 21.
Standing on a hand ends all actions available to the player and the dealer is given the opportunity to beat the player’s hand. The dealer must “Hit” for additional cards until Dealer’s total hand point value is 17, 18, 19, 20, or 21.
There is an optional special rule that requires the dealer to “Hit” a total hand value of 17 if there is an Ace in the hand being counted as 11. This is known as a Soft-17 hand.
The player may surrender his/her hand to the dealer before “Hitting” for any additional cards. Player will lose half the bet, meaning the player sacrificed half the bet and there is no chance to win. There is rarely a valid reason to “Surrender” in blackjack. You cannot “Surrender” against a “Natural 21”.
When the dealer’s up card is an Ace, the player may elect to buy “Insurance” for half the total bet value. This is entirely separate from the hand’s bet.
If the dealer does not have a “Natural 21”, the player loses the “Insurance” bet. The player will also lose his/her hand’s bet unless it is also a “Natural 21”.
If the dealer has a “Natural 21”, the player wins the “Insurance” bet and is awarded 200% (2-to-1 payout), the Insurance amount which covers their full hand bet value.
Because of this correlation, “Insurance” is considered insuring the main bet against a dealer Natural 21/Blackjack. It is generally advisable to only insure really good hands that will likely win. For example, insuring a “20” hand usually makes sense.
Casinos generally offer the opportunity to “Double Down” on a bet before “Hitting” to draw additional cards but “Doubling Down” commits the player to receiving only one more card; they cannot “Hit” for additional cards. “Doubling Down” means the player must increase their bet to twice the original amount and will receive one more card. Most casinos only offer “Doubling Down” on hands with specific values such as 9, 10, or 11; Doubling Down relies heavily on the additional card being a high value such as a Face card with a 10 point value.
Casinos generally offer the opportunity to “Split” the first two dealt cards into separate hands provided the player is willing to likewise place an additional bet of the same amount on the second hand.
Each hand will be dealt a second card, with each hand played separately from the other. Some casinos limit “Splitting” to cards of the same point value; e.g. any two Faces (10 value), Aces (1, 11 value), or Singles (2-9 value) of the same value can be split.
Once a hand is split, each is played sequentially as independent hands. Casinos vary how many hands they allow splitting, sometimes not at all.
At the end of a hand, the player’s “Outcome” reflects one of the following:
1) Player wins: Natural 21/Blackjack
2) Player wins: Player hand value greater than the dealer hand value
3) Player pushes: A tie with the dealer; player hand value is same as the dealer hand value
4) Player busts: Player hand value greater than 21, player loses bet
5) Player loses: Dealer has Natural 21 (player loses all bets, including hands with double or split actions)
6) Player loses: Dealer hand value is greater than player hand value. Player loses bet
1) Player wins 2:1 – Dealer had Natural 21
2) Player loses bet – Dealer did not have Natural 21
The Blackjack Wiz
A Fully Customizable Game Experience
Explore game options, rules and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) features.
Control audio and visual game settings and set your own game rules.
♦ Adjust audio features including music, sound effects and voice over/talking
♦ Adjust playing card size; cards can be displayed larger or smaller than the default
♦ Opt to display game pad/controller overlays with shortcut button reminders
♦ Customize game rules
- Dealer Hits Soft 17?
It is generally in the dealer’s favor to hit on Soft 17. Most casinos hit on Soft 17
- Shuffle Frequency
Every hand or at 25% of deck remaining. This is useful to test the impact of frequent dealer shuffling
- Number of Decks
Choose number of decks used by dealer: One, Two, Six or Eight decks
- Double Down Rules
Specify conditions for doubling down: Any Cards; Face Cards Only; Hand Totals of 9, 10 or 11; or Not Allowed
- Split Rules
Specify conditions for splitting a hand: Matching Pair, Face Card Matching Pair, Not Allowed
- Bet Limit
Specify table bet limit: Low, Medium, High, No Limit. Chip set denominations will adjust accordingly
- Reset Game
Return game to default settings. This will also erase all Challenges progress and reset the Bank Roll
Track challenge achievement status, reset profile, get cash.
♦ There are over 50 challenges in eight categories to test your mettle
♦ Check your challenge achievement status by stepping through each challenge screen. Challenges display a check mark when completed
♦ Reset your Challenge achievements with the “Reset Profile” button. (Does not reset Bank Roll or game defaults)
♦ Challenge achievements are recognized with a pop up message as they occur during real-time game play
♦ Boost your Bank Roll by visiting The Cashier
– You can get more money from the cashier when your bank roll is less than $5,000
– With the Get Money button, the cashier will top up your bank roll to $5,000 and reset the game AI stats
– Should money run out during game play, you will be prompted to get more money right on the game play screen (this will not affect your AI stats in the Info Panels)
Card Counting Menu
View the details for eight card counting methods, select your favorite, or create your own, select AI betting strategy, or set Flash Card AI speed.
♦ Select from the most popular card counting methods to activate and display in game (Hi-Lo, Hi-Opt I, Hi-Opt II, KO/7s, Omega II, Red 7, Zen Count, Sea-Rocks)
♦ Opt to disable card counting and display Raw Data only
♦ Opt to use No Card Counting to hide card counting icons on cards (under the hood, the AI uses the Sea-Rocks method to generate Advice)
♦ Create your own card counting method and test it out using advanced AI logic and real-time, in-game statistics. Simply fill in the desired value for each card and indicate a trigger threshold
♦ Set the the betting strategy to be used by the automated AI: Conservative, Moderate or Aggressive
♦ Select one of five AI Flash Cards speeds to help build card counting skills
The Blackjack Wiz offers a full in-game tutorial that is offered upon first launch and at any time when selected in the Main Menu. The Tutorial is divided into five sections that can be reviewed in any combination.
♦ The Basics
♦ Advanced Features
♦ Card Counting
♦ Bet Management
Click the Play Blackjack button to access the game play screen. The game play screen displays a variety of prompts, status messages and optional features to activate.
♦ Game Action Prompts and Status Messages
- Bank Roll
Money available to bet
- Place Bet Now
Click on desired chip(s) to place bet. Any denomination can be clicked multiple times to achieve max bet
- Bet Amount
Displays total of bet placed for current hand. When hand is compete, the outcome is displayed here
- Same Bet
Repeats last bet played in current session
- All In Bet
Places bet up to table max (unless No Max Bet is specified in options menu). Cannot exceed total amount in Bank Roll
- Clear Bet
Resets bet for current hand, returning bet amount to the Bank Roll
Begins play. Dealer gives a maximum of five cards per hand. Player shows two dealt cards face up while dealer only shows one of the two dealt cards. Hand total values are displayed to the left of dealer and player hands. Card counting values are displayed in the lower left corner of the playing card; they can be disabled in the Card Counting Menu
Player chooses not to receive another card
Player chooses to receive another card
- Double Down
Player’s hand values triggers the option to double down per the rules set in the Options Menu. When Double Down is selected, player’s bet is now double the original bet and player receives one more card, ideally a face card
Player’s hand triggers the option to split the first two dealt cards into two separate hands per the rules set in the Options Menu. Each hand must have the same bet and will be played out sequentially as two separate hands. There is only one split per deal in The Blackjack Wiz
50% of bet is returned to the bank roll and hand is surrendered to dealer, there is no chance of winning
Dealer shows an Ace and this triggers the option for the player to place a side bet (50% of the original bet) to protect against loss should the dealer have a Natural 21/Blackjack. If the dealer does have a Natural 21, the player wins the insurance bet and is paid out 2-to-1 (200%)
♦ Activate Artificial Intelligence
Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) tracks all the game play facts and stats and makes recommendations for play action and bet management based on best practice theories (see charts in Gallery) and selected card counting method.
- Do Recommendation
A quick and easy way to follow the play action advice provided by the AI system. Does not change bet; Same Bet is in effect if new bet not placed. Toggle to engage/disengage
- Automatic Do Recommendation
Automatically executes AI recommendations for play action and bet management. Ideal for testing impact of various house rules, card counting theories and bet management strategies. Can run indefinitely, or until the bank roll is depleted. Toggle to engage/disengage
- AI Flash Card Trainer
Activated with the Automatic Do Recommendation button. Flash card training helps build card counting skills. Flash card speed can be adjusted in the Card Counting Menu
♦ Discover AI Info Panels
The information panels at the bottom of the screen are the heart of the advanced AI system. This AI information is grouped into four sections: Rules, Brain, Analysis Advice. The info panels can be hidden by toggling the corresponding buttons on either side of the screen.
Displays the current table rules. Can be customized in the Options Menu
– Max Bet
– Soft 17
– Shuffling Frequency
– Deck Size
– Double Down
Note: Any rule change will reset game session stats (but not Bank Roll or Challenges).
Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) tracks and displays all the key statistics for the current session.
– Deck: total cards remaining and played (count & percent)
– Ace: aces remaining and played (count & percent)
– 10+: face cards (Ten, Jack, Queen, King) remaining and played (count & percent)
– 2 – 9: low cards remaining and played (count & percent)
– Win: running tally of hands won, lost and pushed (count & percent)
– Streak: track how many hands won or lost in succession
– Gain: dollar value of winnings/losses and percentage
– Bet Average: average dollar value of bets in current session and total hands played
Current card counting method facts and stats to inform next steps.
– Method: reminder of card counting method selected
– Count: displays current card count value and True Card count value (TrueC)
– 10+: number of cards with value of 10 played and number remaining in deck
– True Count Win/Loss Record: displays win and loss record within each bet range (low, med, high and blend of all 3)
Note: Toggle the Analysis button on the right side of screen to show Recommendation Icons instead of Win:Loss Record
Real-time AI summarizes game status and gives recommendations.
– Dealer’s hand status and insights
– Player’s hand status and insights
– Player’s recommended action and rationale
– Icons display recommended play actions and bet level