Blackjack is a game that is played between the players and the dealer. The players are against the dealer and the object of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. The dealer starts by dealing two rounds of cards from left to right until each player has two cards face up and the dealer has one card face up exposing its value and one card hidden. Once you have received your cards you have several options depending on what you hold vs. the dealer (for more on strategy see our blackjack strategy section). The rules for a player are as follows:
Hit: This command means that the player would like to take another card. When you say hit the dealer will provide you with another card for your hand. Assuming that you do not go over 21, you will have the option to hit again if you should choose to do so.
Stand: Saying stand means that you are satisfied with your hand and would not like another card. Once you have said stand the other players at the table will get to make their decisions followed by the dealer.
Bust: If you or the dealer's hand ever goes over 21, this is a called a bust and you or the dealer will automatically lose the hand and whatever bet you had place (remember, the object of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over).
Double-Down: This command allows you to double your bet in exchange for only one card. If you choose to double down (you may only do so with certain hand combinations depending on the game), the dealer will give you one card and you must stand, you cannot hit again. Players use double-down when the dealer has a particularly weak face card up such as a 6 and the player holds a good starting hand to beat it such as 10 total which gives them a good chance of doubling their bet and letting the dealer bust.
Split: A split occurs when the player has two of the same cards. If this happens, the player is allowed to announce a split whereby they must double their bet and the hand is split into two hands of play. The player then plays the hand normally and is free to double, hit or stand accordingly. The only exception is splitting aces which in most games the dealer does not have the option to hit after they have been split.
Surrender: This option is generally only available in Spanish 21 and allows the player to surrender his/her hand if they think it is likely they will lose (i.e. you hold 16 and the dealer shows a king). In this case you may surrender and you will be returned half of your bet.
Insurance: If the dealers exposed card or up card is an ace, he will give the players an option to take insurance. Insurance is a bet that the dealer has blackjack and is equal to half of the total amount that you are betting. If you take insurance and the dealer has blackjack, you will be returned your full bet. If you take insurance and the dealer does not have blackjack, you will lose your insurance bet but will be able to continue the hand with your original bet. It is only a good idea to take insurance when you have a very good hand (18,19 or 20) and the dealer has an ace because if you have a marginal hand (12,13,14,15,16, etc.) there is a high chance that you will end up losing the hand anyways.
It is also important to note that the dealer must also follow certain rules while playing including:
Stand On 17: In general the dealer must stand once they have reached 17 meaning that they may not take anymore cards. It should also be noted that the dealer must hit until they reach 17 or above or go bust in the process.
Player Blackjacks: If a player gets a blackjack (a 10 or face card plus an ace) the dealer will immediately pay them 1 1/2 times their bet assuming they do not also hold a blackjack.
Dealer Blackjacks: If the dealer exposes an ace, he must give the players an option for insurance as described above. The only exception to this is if the dealer exposes a face card and then has an ace hidden underneath in which case the player loses.