Blackjack Rules

Blackjack is one of the most exciting and accessible casino card games in the world. While its beginnings are often debated, with some claiming French, Spanish and even Roman origin, its status as a popular casino game is undoubted.

Since becoming a mainstay in brick-and-mortar casinos in the twentieth century, blackjack has captured the imagination of all those who have played it, mesmerizing many of those who try to master it.

General Overview

Full Tilt Poker offers a variety of blackjack game types, at both Single Player and Multi Player tables. You can choose from:

In general, the rules of blackjack are straightforward and can be picked up in minutes. However, each blackjack game type differs slightly in table rules, which are detailed on that variant's page, with the generic rules outlined below applying across all blackjack games available at Full Tilt Poker.

Game Play and Game Rules

Each round of blackjack begins with the players seated at the table placing a bet into the betting positions (or "boxes") they occupy. The minimum and maximum table stakes will be clearly displayed at the table, and you can choose your bet size by clicking on the chip denoting the value you wish to wager. After you place your wager(s), the dealer deals two cards face up in front of each box and either one card (European style) or two cards (North American style) face up to their own position, depending on which game variant is being played.

To win a hand of blackjack, you must have a hand that scores higher than the dealer's hand, without the total value of your hand exceeding 21, or by having a score lower than 22 when the total value of the dealer's hand reaches 22 or more. Should the total value of your hand go over 21 – this is also known as "breaking" (or "busting") – the house automatically wins.

When you have finished drawing cards to your hand(s), the dealer completes their hand, following strict rules as to how they do so – these rules are slightly different depending on the game variant played. It's this aspect of the game that allows you to make strategic decisions in an attempt to win the hand.

The best hand is of course "blackjack", made up of an ace and any ten (that includes jacks, queens and kings), on the initial deal (your two first cards). As a hand, it's unbeatable, and can only be tied if the dealer's hand is also blackjack. It's worth noting that blackjack pays more than other winning hands and you may receive three-to-two (3:2) on your wager, depending on the game variant played.

In blackjack, tens, jacks, queens and kings each have a value of ten, while aces are worth either one or eleven. For example, an ace and a six combined is worth either seven or 17. In this circumstance the higher total of 17 can be referred to as a "soft" total, as it contains an ace valued at eleven. A soft hand can be hit or doubled without the risk of breaking, although a soft hand is not guaranteed to improve with the addition of another card.

A winning hand in blackjack typically pays one-to-one (1:1, also known as "evens" or "even money"). So if you wager $10, you usually receive $10, and will receive your original wager back. If you're dealt blackjack (and the dealer isn't), playing a game variant which pays three-to-two (3:2), you would receive $15, and will receive your original wager back.

If your hand ties with the dealer's hand – also known as a "push" – you receive the amount you wagered back, but are not awarded anything else. If you lose your hand, you forfeit your wager, which is taken by the house. Any exceptions to these general rules are outlined below or on each game variant's rules page.

Payouts usually occur after the dealer has completed the hand. The rules by which the dealer plays are strict, and differ slightly between game variations, so it's important to read the variant rules to check for any specific differences.

One such difference will be whether or not the dealer draws cards on a soft 17. Typically the dealer will draw cards until their hand value reaches 17 or higher. However, in some variants the dealer must stand on a soft 17, while in others the dealer must hit.

Splitting, Doubling Down and Surrendering

During a game you'll also be presented with several supplementary options, depending on the initial two cards dealt to you.

One such action is Splitting, which is essentially turning one hand into two, and can occur in the following ways:

  • If you have two starting cards that are equal in rank (King-Queen, Eight-Eight, etc…), an additional wager equal to the starting bet can be placed and a second hand is created
  • Both hands are played independently and will win, lose or push on their own merit
  • In some blackjack variants, you may split equal cards more than once

In addition, the option to Double Down occurs in certain circumstances, permitting you the opportunity to double your initial wager. This also follows certain rules:

  • After the first two cards are dealt, you can add an additional wager equal to the starting bet and then receive exactly one extra card with which to improve your hand
  • Some blackjack game variants allow you to double down on any two first cards and others restrict you to doubling down on certain starting totals

In games in which it is permitted, doubling down can occur after splitting, with a few other elements to take into account:

  • After splitting a hand into two (or more) hands, you sometimes have the option to double down, adding another bet to the table
  • A double down following a split follows the same rules as a normal double down

Splitting also has restrictions when it comes to aces. When you split two aces, almost all variants of blackjack allow only one card to be drawn to each of the new hands. That means no further hitting, splitting or doubling down is allowed.

There is another aspect of blackjack of which you can take advantage, which is called Surrender. Provided it is allowed in the variant you are playing, this is the act of forfeiting the original two cards that were dealt in return for a 50% refund of the original wager. However, there are restrictions on your ability to surrender, such as whether the dealer is showing an ace or a ten-value card.

Game Play Options

To recap, during a single round of blackjack you will be presented with a number of decisions to make (the decisions open to you depend upon the cards dealt and the game variant played), all of which will affect the result:

  • Hit
  • You can request additional cards (one at a time) to improve your hands

    Cards can be drawn until the total hand value is 21 (or higher)

  • Stand
  • If the total value of your hand is 21 or if it is lower and you decide not to risk the chance of hitting again and possibly exceeding 21, you can choose to stand

  • Split
  • When your first two cards have equal value (King-Queen, Eight-Eight, etc…), you may place an additional wager (equal to the starting bet) and create a second hand to play

  • Double Down
  • You have the option to place an additional wager equal to the starting bet. Exactly one more card is drawn to the hand and you automatically stand

  • Surrender
  • Some game variants allow you to forfeit half of your bet and end the hand immediately

  • Insurance
  • If the dealer's first card is an ace, you may wager half of your original bet amount and will receive a two-to-one payout if the dealer has blackjack

    The result (if the dealer does have blackjack) is that you will break even on the hand

Even Money is a special type of insurance bet that can be made when you have been dealt blackjack. If the dealer is showing an ace, two outcomes are now possible:

  • Dealer blackjack results in a push or tie of your blackjack
  • No dealer blackjack results in a win (typically three-to-two) for your blackjack

By availing of even money when offered, you agree to take a one-to-one (1:1) win before the dealer finishes his hand, locking in your win in spite of the possibility that the dealer makes blackjack.

User Interface Protection

As you play, your decisions will affect the outcome of each hand, so it is important that you're not restricted from making your preferred choices. Unfortunately, a number of factors can adversely affect your play, from problems with your internet connection to involuntary misclicks, resulting in accidental decisions.

While we can't foresee every problem that may impact you, the following protection is built into our game software on behalf of players who may make decisions which are inadvertent or accidental, and which are considered outside the boundaries of normal play:

  • Hit on hard 17 or higher
  • Stand on 11 or less
  • Double down on hard 12 or higher

If you attempt to make one of the above decisions, our software will issue a warning, prompting you to double check if the action you indicated is your preferred choice. Full Tilt Poker has introduced this measure to ensure you don't lose out due to misclicks or errors, and while we don't recommend it, these warnings can be turned off in the software options if required.