How to Play Blackjack

Part 2: A Vegas Aces Guide

Players Turn

It is your turn after the person on the right is finished with their hand. If there is no one on your right then that means it is your turn. At this point, you have several options that you can choose from:


If your first 2 cards equal 17-21, then you want to stay. “Staying” means you don’t want another card, you want to do nothing. Then the turn will go to the next player. Player is using hand signals for staying

To “Stay” you need to give a hand signal indicating to the cameras what your decision is. You will hold out your hand, palm facing down and flat. Then slightly shake the hand back and forth. As a beginner, it is good to say “Stay” when you do this action.


If your 1st two cards equal 2-16, then you might decide to “Hit”. This means, that you add one card to your hand adding to the total. You are allowed to keep hitting until you reach 18-21 or until you “Bust”.

Player is using hand signals for hitting

To signal that you want to hit, you will use your forefinger and middle finger to scratch the table towards yourself. Another way to signal a “Hit” is to tap on the table with your first two fingers. As a beginner, it is good to say “Hit” when you do this action.

Doubling Down

If your 1st two cards equal a 9, 10 or 11 then you may choose to double down. A double down is an optional bet of an equal or lessor amount. You will only receive one card.

Player is using hand signals for doubling down

When the dealer gets to you hold up only your forefinger showing the dealer you want one card. As a beginner it is a good idea to say that you want to double down as well as give the signal. You will receive your card and if you win you get paid for both bets but that also means that when you lose you will lose both bets.

Player is doubling down

If you decide to double down for less than your original bet then this is considered an odd move, so expect the dealer to call it out or notify their floor. This is not a bad thing; they are required to do that.

If you decide to double down on a 12 or higher, then this is also considered an odd move. The dealer is required to notify their floorman. They will allow you to complete this action but you can bet that they will be watching you very closely after that. Why? Because the only people who double down on a hard 12 or higher are either completely wasted or they are cheating.


If your 1st two cards are the same face value then you may choose to split. Unlike doubling down, you must play an equal amount to your original bet, you cannot play less.

Player is using hand signals for splitting

You will then give the appropriate hand signal to the dealer and the cameras. The hand signal for splitting is to hold your hand in a fist and extend you forefinger and middle finger in a “V” shape. As a beginner you might want to say “Split” along with the hand signal. Your hand will then be split into two separate hands.

After you have split your hand, you can hit, double down or split again but you can only play one hand at a time. To split again, you must receive another card of the same face value. Player is splitting up to four times

Most cards can be split up to 3 times which will give you 4 hands total. When splitting aces, you will usually receive only one card.

Everything depends on what casino you are in, every casino is different. At some casinos you may be able to double down after you split. If so, follow the same double down procedures as the shoe.

A common mistake that players make is when they want to split they want to separate the cards themselves and the casino doesn’t allow a player to touch the cards on a shoe game.

Another common mistake is when the player splits Aces and gets a 10 on the first hit card. This is not a blackjack. It is seen as 21, a blackjack only occurs on your original first 2 cards.


On your 1st two cards you can choose to surrender your hand. This means that you take an automatic loss on the hand but instead of losing the entire bet they only lose ½ of your bet. Why would you do this? Some players would surrender if they have a “hard 16” and the dealer has a 10 up card. If the player feels like he will lose the hand then he feels that losing only half his bet is better than losing all of it.

Player is using hand signals for surrender

When you want to surrender you will make a hand signal when it is your turn. The most common signal for this is to draw a line behind your bet with your forefinger. As a beginner it is good to say that you want to surrender as you make the hand movement.

If the dealer has a blackjack then you cannot surrender.

You cannot surrender if you have already hit your hand. “Surrender” can only happen on your 1st two cards. This depends on the game, on “Super Fun 21” you can surrender at any time.

Surrender is only available in some casinos and on some games. It is a good idea to ask if it is available at your table.

For a more interactive lesson on Blackjack, check out my Curious videos!

Player's Tips

Whenever you want to give your decision to the dealer it must be done with hand signals. The reason why is because the hand signal are not for the dealer but for the cameras. The cameras can’t hear what is said on the table so if there is ever a dispute they determine your decision by what hand signal you gave. That is why the dealer will always tell you to give a clear and precise hand signals.

The player should execute the hand signal behind or besides their bet

When you give your hand signal, it is good to do it behind or besides the bet. Never give the hand signal over your cards, in front of your cards or over your bet. By doing this you will make the dealer or the floorman think you are trying to cheat.

Remember that every casino is different so when the dealer tells you to do an action a certain way then you must follow what they say.

Blackjack Strategy Card

Blackjack Strategy Card

There is a blackjack strategy card that is available in most casino gift shops; you will usually hear people refer to this card as “The Book”. This plastic card is a guide, especially for newbies, on how to play blackjack.

You are allowed to use these strategy cards at the table. In Las Vegas, the casino encourages it.

To use:

On the left hand side is your hand. For sections 1 and 2, add up your cards to get the total. Go to sections 3 if you have an ace in your hand and go to section 4 if you have a pair.

On the top is the dealer’s up card. Match your cards and the dealer’s up card to come up with the action that you need to take.

For Example:

If your 1st two cards are a 5 and an 8, then you have a total hand of 13. Look for 13 on the left hand side. Then, Look to see what the dealer’s up card is. The dealer has an 8 so look for an 8 at the top of the chart. Match the two up to see that you should take a hit.

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