Basic Rules for Blackjack

The Basic Strategy That Gives You an Edge.

Dealer at a Las Vegas blackjack table

Antoine Taveneaux / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

You get to Las Vegas and you want to play cards? Yes, poker seems complicated and frankly you could never bluff. Yeah, you and me both. No worries, play blackjack. You can count to twenty -one, right?

The game is quite easy to learn and in Las Vegas most casinos have gaming lessons scheduled to help you learn the basics. If you stick to a few simple rules you will be able to increase your odds of wining. You should be aware that no technique can guarantee that you'll win. As my father always told me before I hit the Las Vegs strip. "Those lights are not free, someone has to pay for them." So be careful with your gambling budget and stick to a plan.

BlackJack: Basic Strategy

In order to increase your edge at blackjack it’s important to follow a few simple rules. Over the course of the a few days players sent me their email messages and advice and the majority opinion seems to follow what the pro’s dictate regularly.

According to The “American MENSA guide to Casino Gambling, if you follow these simple rules you can win at blackjack. More importantly, you can lessen the house’s edge which in turn gives you a better shot at leaving the casino with a bit of their cash.

That is as long as you don’t try your hand at something else before you walk out the front door.

The Basic Blackjack Technique:

If you have: - You should:

9 or lower – hit

10 or 11 – double down if your cards add up to more than the dealer’s upcard. If not, Hit

12 thru 16 – hit when dealer's upcard is 7 or higher; stand otherwise.

17 or higher – Stand

With Soft hands, things change a bit. A soft hand includes any hand that uses an Ace as an 11 instead of a 1, such as a “Soft 17”, which includes and ace and a 6.

13 thru 18 – Double down when dealer's upcard is 5 or 6

17 or lower – hit

18 hit when dealer's card is six or less; stand when dealer's card is seven or more

19 or higher – stand


Always split Aces and eights

Never split 10s, 4s or 5s

Split all other pairs when dealer’s upcard is 6 or less

Never take insurance

If you consider playing Blackjack in Las Vegas understand that betting limits change depending on the day of the week and the location of the casino. Downtown you might have lower limits but you also will have different pay outs. Consult the pay out card on the table or simply ask the dealer if there are any different rules to the particular game you are playing.

On a busy weekend night you will see that the table limits go up so keep that in mind when sitting at a table. Also, if you are looking to start with a little less money avoid the luxury resorts like Bellagio, Wynn and Palazzo and instead find a table at casinos such as the Flamingo, Bally's and the LINQ.