Special Rules in Blackjack
Casinos sometimes apply restrictions on blackjack moves to keep the odds in their favor. Learn what these special rules are and how they affect your winnings with Mr Blackjack.
When you play blackjack there are a few irregularities every player should be aware of. These irregularities are not always obvious because they are not listed on the table. In most cases you will have to ask the dealer about the following rules. Learn all the right questions to ask the dealer so you can play smarter blackjack.
The first 'special' rule is the surrender rule. If you find yourself in a bad situation after you receive your first two cards, you can surrender your hand for half the amount that you bet. For example, a player 16 vs a dealer 10 is a good time to surrender. The probability of the house winning on a dealer 10 vs your 16 is very high. Not all casinos offer this move, so it's important to ask if it’s available in case you need it.
Double down rule
Doubling down means you double the amount of your original bet for one more card. You cannot get a second card after the first. You double, you get one — that's it. If you have a hand that is likely to beat the dealer, then it's a good way to increase your payouts, but that also means not all casinos offer this move at their blackjack tables.
When you double your bet to split you create two new hands from your initial hand. Since it is a new hand you can take as many cards as you want on the new hand. The double down rules apply to each new hand if you decide to double down or split again. Casinos apply the most rules to this move. Some refuse to let players split at all, others only allow you to split certain hands. Some will even cap the number of times you can split your hands.
Similarly, casinos can be equally prickly about the Aces rule. When you are dealt two Aces, it's advantageous to double your bet and split the Aces. However when you split Aces you usually only receive one card for each. Some casinos allow you to hit after the Aces are split. This rule is particularly advantageous to players so check with the dealer and see if the casino offers it.
Another special rule is that blackjack 3:2 payouts is only applied to your first two cards. For instance, let's say you're dealt two 10s. You split them and get dealt two Aces, giving you 21. It’s not called blackjack, just a value of 21. You will most likely win your hand but you will do it with a 1:1 payout and not 3:2. This rule will give your winnings a heavy hit so make sure you're aware of this rule before playing.
The splitting of Aces and blackjack payout rule is true for all casinos, online or live.
Look for blackjack tables that have the most liberal rules for players — ones that let you surrender and double down, have unlimited splits, let you split Aces and receive 3:2 payouts on all split hands. Most casinos will have a mixture of these rules, but there will be some that reject all rules that are advantageous to players. They're looking to land whales and players that don't know how to play the game, so avoid these casinos altogether.
What this lesson covers
- Why some casinos do not offer surrender or double down
- Restrictions on splitting hands
- Why casinos restrict hitting on split Aces
- How casinos reduce 3:2 payouts on blackjack
Meet Mr Blackjack
With a career spanning two decades, Mathieu Blake knows his way around a blackjack table. He's taught and entertained over 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel NeverSplit10's . In this series he'll take you through basic strategy, card counting, and bankroll management. Take a seat with Mr Blackjack and become a winning player.
- What are good blackjack rules?
The best blackjack rules are generally those that are most liberal for players. These include: unlimited splits, surrender, doubling down, let you split Aces and receive 3:2 payouts on all split hands.
- What is the normal payout for blackjack?
The standard payout for blackjack is 3:2. Some casinos offer 6:5 payouts which players should avoid, as casinos are giving them smaller winnings for the same blackjack odds.
- Do casinos lose money on blackjack? Is that why they apply special rules?
Casinos accrue huge amounts of money on blackjack. This is not because the game is rigged, but due to players not checking these special rules that give the casino the advantage. Smart players always know to check with the dealer on a blackjack game’s table rules before sitting down.
- Is it ever smart to surrender in blackjack?
There are occasions in blackjack when surrendering is the best approach. If your hand has extremely low odds of winning against the dealer, it’s better to lose half your wager than all of it on a bad hand to the dealer. A hard 15 vs a dealer 10 is a good example of when you should surrender.
- How many times can I split in blackjack?
Many online casinos and blackjack tables at brick-and-mortar casinos will allow players a maximum of three splits during their turn, which essentially makes four hands.
- How can I find blackjack games with lenient rules for players?
The dealer should tell you which rules apply for their blackjack table. As for online blackjack games, you can find these in the info tab or pay table in the game.
- Do blackjack table rules change throughout the day and evening?
In places like Vegas, which is a popular tourist and gambling destination, casinos will change the rules on their blackjack tables throughout the day. They may offer bigger payouts on blackjack during quiet afternoons to attract tourists. At night, when players visit casinos more frequently, the casinos may add more restrictions.