How to play blackjack

How to Play BlackjackInformative articles, Youtube videos and audio podcasts all about playing blackjack. Learn how to play blackjack and how to be a winner. Discover the secrets to finding the best blackjack games, using the proper blackjack strategy chart and taking advantage of casino comps. Learn how card counting works and hear the stories of successful card counting teams.  Read interviews with blackjack experts that tell you the best tips for being a long-term winner at blackjack.


Blackjack is played with two or more standard decks of 52 cards. The object of the game is to create a hand as close to 21 as possible, without busting, or going over 21. Players whose hands total closer to 21 than the dealer win. Face cards are valued at 10, while Aces are valued at either 1 or 11, depending on the player's hand.

Players who receive a two-card combination equaling 21, such as a 10 and Ace, have what is known as blackjack. At Island Resort & Casino, all blackjacks pay 3 to 2 of the original bet. If the dealer and a player both have blackjack, the bet is pushed.

To begin the hand, each player is dealt two cards face-up. The dealer also receives two cards; however, one is dealt face-down and the other face-up. Once all cards are dealt, each player has a range of options to take action on their individual hands. A player may:

  • Stand: A player who is satisfied with the total of their hand may stand. This means that the player does not want to be dealt any additional cards.
  • Hit: A player who does not feel that their hand can beat the dealer may hit, or take additional cards. A player may hit as many times as they like until they reach a satisfactory hand, or the total of their hand exceeds 21.
  • Double down: Players who feel confident about the strength of their hands may choose to double down. If a player chooses to double down, they must match the value of their original bet and will receive only one additional card. Often, players double down when the value of their dealt cards equals 10 or 11.
  • Split: Players who are dealt matching cards, such as a pair of 8s, may choose to split the pair into two separate hands. To split, the player must make an additional wager matching the value of their original bet. Once split, the player takes action on each hand individually, and must complete action before moving to the second hand. For example, if a player is dealt a pair of 8s and chooses to split, the may hit the first 8 until satisfied with the hand's value or the total exceeds 21. They then move to the second 8 and do the same. Split Aces receive one card only.
  • Take insurance: If the dealer's face-up card is an Ace, players may choose to take insurance. Insurance may be taken for half of the player's original bet. If the dealer's hand is blackjack and the player has taken insurance, the player is paid 2-1. Insurance helps to protect the value of the player's original bet in case the dealer has blackjack. 
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Once all players have completed action, the dealer's face-down card is revealed. If the dealer's hand totals 16 or lower, they must hit. If the dealer's hand totals 17 or higher, they must stand. Once the dealer has completed action, their hand is compared to the players'.

If a player's hand is closer to 21 than the dealer, the player wins their bet. If the dealer's hand is closer to 21, the player loses their bet. If the hands are equal, the bet pushes and no chips are exchanged either way.

Things to Remember When Playing Blackjack

At Island Resort & Casino, we are focused on providing an enjoyable and memorable gaming experience for every visitor. To make your visit as enjoyable as possible, we hope you remember to:

  • Ask for help: If you have questions regarding the rules of the game or the betting process, just ask. Our table supervisors and dealers are always available to answer questions and offer advice.
  • Gamble responsibly: Gambling is a risk – never bet more than you can afford to lose. If you or a loved one have a gambling problem, we are here to help.
  • Register for an Island Club card: Before taking to the tables, be sure to register for an Island Club Card. With your club card in hand, you'll earn rewards redeemable for hotel, dining and entertainment, as well as slot and bingo credits.

For help planning your next visit, please call 1-877-475-7375.

Blackjack Table Layout at Island Resort & Casino

The Art of Card Counting

Card Counting is a skill that is used by many professional blackjack players and it is one that can be altered to suit each player. There are different strategies that can be used for counting cards at blackjack, including beginner strategies like Red Sevens, Hi-Lo, and Knock Out Blackjack strategies. It is best to start with these and master them and then move on to more advanced strategies like the Omega II system or Wong Halves that can improve counting accuracy. Practice counting cards at home by shuffling a deck and then counting through the entire thing. If you end on 0 for balanced systems, or on the appropriate number of unbalanced systems, you know you are right on track.

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A report from ABC News cites Alan, a professional blackjack player and gambler who states that “card counting can turn the edge against the casino, which is why management bans card counters when they are caught.” (1) While card counting is not illegal by any means, it is a practice that is frowned upon at land casinos. Players will take the risk of being banned if they are suspected of such activities, which is why it is essential to master counting skills and learn how to employ them without being obvious that counting is taking place.

Movies and television have done a great job depicting card counting as a simple task. However, it is quite difficult than what most people believe. While card counting is not the best blackjack strategy, it can provide players with a 20% edge. Great card counters will only gain about 1% in an edge over the casino. Richard, a former professional card counter explains, “As the composition of the cards in the deck fluctuates, the player’s advantage fluctuates. When he knows he has the advantage, he bets higher. When he knows the advantage has shifted to the house, he bets lower.” (1) This take on card counting will help players understand how the strategy can be used to alter bet amounts and know when to increase or decrease wagers.

One of the things that many overlook is the size of the bankroll that will be required to count cards. Most players will not even have a bankroll large enough to survive the different swings while playing, which is why most beginners will find themselves losing thousands in a single night at the blackjack table. It is recommended to have $20,000 or more to be a card counter and to keep your risk level of 5% or lower. (2)

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Unlike what many people think, you don't have to be a math genius to learn card counting.

Unlike what many people think, you don’t have to be a math genius to learn card counting.

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