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Blackjack Card Values: Which Cards Make a Winning Hand?

Written by, Toni Maglovski

Updated December, 14, 2021

Also known as “21”, “Pontoon”, and “Vingt-et-Un”, blackjack is one of the world’s most popular and exciting card games. The rules are simple, and you don’t even have to rely purely on luck!

But how do you play this thrilling game?

Below we reveal the basic blackjack rules, including the blackjack card values, as well as one of the game’s variations, so you are well prepared to take it all in one hand!

Basic Blackjack Rules

Math geniuses do not necessarily beat the house at blackjack. You only have to be an observant player who understands the game’s rules, betting patterns, and the card draw odds:

♥ Game type: Casino banking game

Card deck: 1 to 8 decks of 52-card packs

♦ No. of players: 1 banker and 2 to 7 punters

♠ No. of cards dealt: 2+

Value of Cards in Blackjack

The first step on your way to learn blackjack is memorising the game’s specific card values:

  • Cards from 2 to 10 are taken at face value.
  • Тhe Jack, Queen, and King are worth 10.
  • The ace has a value of either 1 or 11, depending on the player’s choice.

When you land an ace that can be counted as 11, you have a “slow hand” that cannot go bust if you draw an extra card. After a natural 2-card 21 draw, this is the most desirable hand to have since you can adjust the total count depending on your circumstances.

Note: Card suits are irrelevant since they don’t contribute towards the blackjack cards worth.

Object of the Game

To win at blackjack, your card count should be 21, or as close to 21 as possible, and higher than the dealer’s hand.

Typically, in casinos, players place their bets first before the dealer proceeds to deal two cards to each player (both face up), including him- or herself. However, the dealer gets one face-down card (in some casinos dealers draw the second card after punters play their hands).

Once you have two cards in front of you, you can either stand (don’t draw more cards) or hit (draw one or more cards) until you are satisfied with your card count. If you draw over 21, you bust, or in other words, you lose.

In most blackjack varieties, you can also double your bet amount and get an extra card (double down), split two identical cards into two separate hands, surrender half of your bet if you believe you are losing, or insure your bet if you believe the dealer will draw a blackjack.

The Dealer’s Play

In standard “21” games, the blackjack card rules require the dealer’s face-down card to be flipped over or drawn after each player has completed their hands.

When dealers draw a total of 16 or less, they have to hit; but, if they draw 18 or more, they must stand.

In the event of a hard 17, dealers have to stand, but with a soft 17, they must hit.

What Can Happen?

Each round of blackjack can have one of five outcomes:

  • If you achieve a score of 21 or less and a higher score than the dealer, you win;
  • If you have a total of 21 or less and the dealer goes above 21 (goes bust), you win;
  • If your score is 21 or less, but the dealer beats it without busting, you lose;
  • If you bust, the dealer’s hand is immaterial, and you lose;
  • If you and the dealer tie, you save your bet without winning.

Note: Some casinos will even let you play blackjack cards in several boxes (hands) at once.

Terms and Signaling

Before playing blackjack, punters should also familiarise themselves with the proper terminology and signalisation needed if they walk into a brick-and-mortar casino:

  • Hit: Take another hand.
    • Signal: Scratch their fingers/cards against the table.
  • Stand: Don’t take any more cards.
    • Signal: Wave the hand horizontally or slide the cards under the chips.
  • Double down: Increase your initial wager by 100% and draw only one card.
    • Signal: Place additional chips next to the initial wager and point with one finger.
  • Split: Split your first two cards into two hands if they are of the same value.
    • Signal: Place extra chips next to the initial bet and point with two fingers.
  • Surrender: End the hand right away.
    • Signal: No official signal; the player notifies the dealer by speaking.

Note: Even if you are unfamiliar with the proper blackjack table etiquette, you can always speak your intention out loud.

7-Card Blackjack

The 7-card British blackjack differs greatly from the standard “21” game. The blackjack card rules of this specific variety mostly played in the UK are fairly straightforward:

♥ Game type: Fun social card game

Card deck: 1 or several 52-card packs without jokers

♦ No. of players: 2 to 6

♠ No. of cards dealt: 7

Playing Order and Basic Rules

Before you enjoy this fun card game with a friend or two, read the simple rules outlined below:

  1. Each player (including the dealer) receives seven cards dealt face down.
  2. The remainder are shuffled into a “pick up” pile and placed face down in the centre of the table. Finally, the first card is flipped over to form a “discard” pile.
  3. The first player (on the dealer’s left) plays a card matching the number or the suit of the flipped card (for example, a ♠10 requires you to play either a ♠card or a 10).
  4. The game then moves clockwise, with each player either placing down a card or taking a new card from the “pick up” stack (if he/she fails to discard a card).
  5. When you’re down to your last card, yell “last card”, or you will have to take a card or two from the “pick up” pile.
  6. If and when the “pick up” stack runs out of cards, flip over the “discard” pile to begin drawing cards from it anew.

The first player who gets rid of all the cards in his/her hands wins. Then, the game can either conclude or continue until only one player is left holding cards.

Note: Some cards have special functions, which may vary depending on the region where the game is played. For example, if any player placed down a 2 of any suit, the following player has to draw two new cards. When you play a black Jack, however, the next player should draw five or six cards if he/she cannot play another Jack on top of the first. 

Time to Place Your Bet

Hopefully, our little yet informative guide has clarified the game’s basics for new players who wish to try their luck in one of the most popular casino card games in history. If you need practice, we suggest you play some online blackjack games with free virtual bets or even read in-depth strategy charts before placing a real bet in a casino.

                           

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

How much is a Jack worth in blackjack?

A Jack in blackjack holds a value of 10.

In blackjack, what is an ace worth?

The ace has one of two values: 1 or 11, depending on the player’s choice.

What are face cards worth in blackjack?

The blackjack card values of all face cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) are 10.

I always had an appetite for learning new things and random facts about almost everything, which is why when I got offered the job to work as a content writer at Don't Disappoint Me I took it without hesitation. Writing on a daily basis took my love for words and research to a whole new level, and made me realize that this is a career I would love to pursue. Although I spend most of my time researching my next piece, you can also find me on the football court, in the gym, or at home with a book in my hand.