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Blackjack 101: Everything You Need to Know to Join the Game

Date of Post: Nov 20, 2013

At Four Winds Casinos, we occasionally receive requests from guests about learning how to play table games. We understand that it can be intimidating to walk up to a table with seasoned players and try to learn a new game, so we're going to teach you everything you need to know to play blackjack!

Blackjack is a fairly simple table game to learn. The goal of blackjack is to get as close as you can to 21 without going over, or have a higher total than the dealer.

Basic Blackjack Terms & Rules

  • Blackjack: If your first two cards consist of an Ace and a 10-value card, that's called a natural or a blackjack, and it pays 3 to 2. But if the dealer also has blackjack, it's a push. Three or more cards that total 21 are not a natural.
  • Hit: A hit means you want to take an additional card. You can hit as many times as you would like. To signal for a hit, tap the table between you and your cards with your finger
  • Stand: To stay with the total you have and pass to the next player, signal by waving your hand over your cards
  • Double Down: To double down, you double your bet, take only one more card, and then end your turn. To double down or split, place a second bet of equal of lesser value next to your original bet
  • Win: Providing that you don't break, you win if your total is higher than the dealer's, or if the dealer breaks. If the dealer's total is closer to 21, your wager is collected
  • Break: If your card value exceeds 21, you've broken and your wager is collected, regardless of the dealer's outcome.
  • Push: If you and the dealer have the same total, it's a push (or a tie) and no action is taken. Split: If you have two cards of equal value, you may split them and play each as a separate hand. Wager an amount equal to your original bet and play each hand separately. You can double down on a hand after a split. You cannot draw on split Aces; one card only is dealt to each Ace.
  • Insurance: When the dealer's up card is an ace, they'll ask if you want "insurance". This is a side bet on whether the dealer has a Blackjack (Ace with a 10-value card). You may wager up to half your original wager on the "insurance" line. If the dealer has blackjack, the insurance bet is paid 2 to 1.
  • Face cards are worth 10. Aces are worth 1 or 11, whichever makes a better hand.
  • Your dealer must hit until their cards total 17 or higher.

Getting Started

  • Place your wager in the circle in front of you. Beginning in a clockwise direction, each player will be dealt two cards. One of the dealer's cards will be face-up, so you have a clue as to how strong their hand is.
  • When it's your turn, the dealer will point to your cards and announce the total. Decide what your move will be—hit, stand, split or double. You can hit as many times as you want, but once you're done hitting, play passes to the left
  • After each player has played, the dealer plays their hand. They flip the hole card over first so everyone can see both the cards. The dealer must hit (take cards) until their hand is 17 or higher, regardless of the players' cards. Note that on most tables, the dealer will hit their 17 if it's a soft 17--meaning that it has an ace that counts as 11--and that hand can't be broken by the next card.

Still unsure about playing blackjack? Just let the dealer know it's your first time playing and they will be happy to help you learn. With 26 blackjack tables at Four Winds New Buffalo, four blackjack tables at Four Winds Hartford and three blackjack tables at Four Winds Dowagiac, you've got three options for becoming a pro!

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