If you’re the type of gambler who loves the adrenaline rush that comes with playing on the edge of your seat, Blackjack is definitely your game. That’s because unlike slots where you can literally sit back and do nothing, in Blackjack you control the action right from the get go. If you’re a beginner, don’t sweat it. We’re here to walk you through the process.

Blackjack is a game of decisions, so as long as you know what to do and when to do it, you’ll be an Ace. Your goal is to get as close to 21 without going over. Landing on 21 will lead to a win (or a push if the dealer has the same hand). But you can also win with a low hand like 12. That’s because the dealer loses if he goes over 21 too. Luckily, he’s bound by a strict set of rules and doesn’t get to make decisions. You, on the other hand, do.

The first decision you’ll need to make is how much to bet. That’s fairly easy. Bet $5. Bet $50. It’s your call.

Once you place your bet, you’ll receive two cards, both of which are face up. The dealer will also have two cards, but only one of his cards is face up. Now here is where your next decision comes into play. You can choose to:

1) Stand
2) Hit
3) Split
4) Double down

Standing means that you don’t want to see any more cards. That’s the end of your decision-making.

Hitting means that you want another card. If you get another card without busting, you’ll have to decide whether to hit again. At that point, hitting will be your only option.

Splitting means that you want to take your 2-card hand and create two separate hands, each of which will receive an additional card. You’ll be asked to make a decision all over again for both hands.

And doubling down is like hitting, only in this case you’ll double your bet and receive just one card. It’s a final decision, just like standing, because you won’t have the option to do anything else after you receive your next card.

When your decision-making has ended, the dealer will turn over his card and reveal his hand. He’ll hit if he’s holding 16 or lower, stand if he’s holding 17 or higher (soft 17, meaning a 17 hand that has an Ace, usually means that the dealer will hit at most casinos).

Whoever is closer to 21 wins. Of course, you won’t necessarily be in the game by the time the dealer flips over his other card. If one of your decisions caused you to go over 21, that’s called a bust and you’re out of the game. But if you’re still in it, it’s you versus the dealer.

That’s our basic Blackjack lesson for beginners. Remember, knowing which hand to split, stand, double down, or hit on can make a world of difference. For more info on that, see one of our Blackjack strategy articles, we have tips for everyone: from the first time players to seasoned master of the game.

Simon

Simon is an overactive gambler and the Staff Writer here at Silver Oak. He loves casino bonuses, online slots, and using the em dash too often. Currently, he rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada.