How to Play Blackjack in 5 Quick Steps

Gaming Ace King

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in America.

Playing is simple, but playing perfect strategy requires a little practice. Here we share the expert’s advice on how to start your journey of learning to play like a pro, and maximize your chances of beating the house. We recommend that you practice for free before you risk playing with your real money. You can play free demo blackjack games online at many review sites such as No sign up or download is required, and you’ll have a chance to try out your strategies risk free. If you want to play locally in San Francisco we’ve got a tip for you! Read on to find out the best blackjack payout in San Francisco.

The aim of blackjack

Regardless of if you play online blackjack or in person at a casino, the aim of the game is the same. Your cards must have a total value as close to 21 without going over, and it must be higher than the dealer’s to win.  Hitting blackjack will pay you 3:2 in most casinos.  If you see a table offering blackjack payout of 6:5 just walk on by!

If you go over 21, you are bust. In other words, your bet is lost.

How to play blackjack in 6 quick steps:

1: Place your bet

Your blackjack table will have a minimum and maximum bet limit. The minimum might be $5 or $10. Check with the dealer if you are not sure. If you are playing online blackjack the minimum bet amount may be as little as 10, 20 or 50 cents.

2: The cards are dealt

The dealer will place 2 cards in front of each player. Only the player can see their own cards. The dealer’s cards will show one card face up and the other card face down. This card is also known as “the hole”

  1. Add up your total

Look at the total value of your hand.

Numbered cards have their printed value – so a 3 of hearts has a value of 3, a 7 of spades has a value of 7. The suit of the card (clubs, hearts, spades or diamonds) is irrelevant here. Face cards or picture cards are all worth a value of 10. Ace has a value of 1 or 11.  The value can be either depending on what is most beneficial to your hand.   If you have a face card and an ace, congratulations! You got blackjack!

  1. Take action

You can now make a decision based on your cards total. It is vital that you base your decision on what the dealer’s upcard is showing you too. Your options are “Hit” and the dealer will provide you with an additional card. “Stand” to leave your cards are they are. “Split” which means your cards will be separated to create two separate hands and a bet equal to your original wager will be made. “Double Down” which gives you the opportunity to double your original bet. This is a great option when your have a strong hand and the dealer has a weak one. Lastly you can “surrender” which means you fold before new cards are dealt and you only lose half your bet.

  1. The reveal

Once you’ve made your decision on what action to take the dealer will reveal the hole card. Depending on the rules of the table, usually the dealer will be forced to hit another card if their total is less than 17. If they have a total higher than 17 they must stand.

A winner will become apparent, and hopefully it’s you! The possible outcomes from the game are a “push” (your cards total is the same as the dealer and you get your wager back) a “win” where you beat the dealer; paid out at 1:1. “Blackjack” where you hit 21 and you’ll be paid out 3:2 (in other words you receive x1.5 your bet amount) or “lose” and your bet is lost to the house.

Why bother to learn blackjack strategy?

Perhaps you’ve already heard the phrase “the house always wins.” The reason for this is that every game in the casino has a house edge. This basically means the odds are tipped slightly more in favor of the house than the player in every game.  However, by playing perfect strategy you can reduce the house edge to less than 1%.

You can compare this to playing American Roulette where the house edge is 5.26%. Or slot machines where the house edge is typically 3% to 10%  The strategy in blackjack is to take a decision based on the odds of what your next card will be or what the dealer’s total will be.

Now you know how to play, it’s time to put your skills to the test!

Luckily San Francisco offers some great casino venues where you can practice your new found blackjack skills. We’re going to make special mention of Artichoke Joe’s on Huntington Avenue, San Bruno. This casino hosts Cal Blackjack. The tables have the 3:2 payout on a natural blackjack that we’re always looking out for! So you know you’re getting the biggest blackjack payout in San Francisco. Plus there’s an extra side bet the Buster Bonus bet. However, we urge new players to focus on your main game rather than side bets – long term they will just eat away at your chip stack.


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