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The Rules of Blackjack with a Little History

If a card player can win at “Blackjack” without the appearance of a single black card, why is the game referred to as “Blackjack”? The history of the game stretches back to the 1700s in France. Then the game was simply referred to by its winning reveal of “21” (or vingt-et-un in French).

From there the game migrated to American casinos and gambling houses where the management worked to lure in players by offering some great payouts. At that time a bonus payment of ten to one was rewarded to a card player who hit twenty-one with a combination of the ace of spades and one of the two black Jacks. The super rewarding hand was called “black jack” and this nickname soon replaced “21”. Eventually however the bonus payout was eliminated, but the name remains today. The only hand that is referred to as “blackjack” today is a two-card hand of twenty-one, which will be made up of an ace and a ten value card.

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Card Values

The value of the cards has not changed since the earliest days of the game and today they still stand at:

Cards two through ten are worth their face value
Face cards of the Jack, Queen and King are worth ten
The Ace is worth eleven, unless it will “bust” a player at which time its value is converted to one

Basic Rules

Exactly how is the game played today? Fundamentally the game is still the same and remains unchanged since its inception almost three hundred years ago. In fact, a trip to almost any casino or gaming house will show that it remains the most popular and highly played card game in the world.

To play a winner must make an initial bet against the “house” or casino. Should the dealer win the round, the player loses their entire bet.

How does a player win or lose? The player wins by having the highest hand that does not exceed twenty-one. If a player takes cards and totals at higher than twenty-one they have gone “bust”. If, however, they take cards and get closer to twenty-one than the dealer, without going bust, then they have won the hand.

What if both the dealer and the player “bust”? The player still loses the hand, and their bet. What if both the dealer and the player hit the same amount? That is called a “push” and it means that no one has won the hand and all bets are returned to the player who has “pushed” with the dealer.

It is important for a player to remember that the game is taking place between themselves and the dealer, and no one else. A Blackjack table may have five players seated at it, playing hands against the dealer, but each player is against only the dealer and can win or lose only against the dealer’s hand.

To bet on their hands a player must abide by the minimum and maximum bets instituted by the casino. Most tables at most casinos will place a minimum five dollar bet on the game, but some casinos have tables with much higher minimum bets, and these are usually referred to as “high stakes” games and are for more experienced and knowledgeable Blackjack players.


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