21 Card Game Rules

By Contributor
Casinos have been dealing blackjack for many years.

Twenty-one, also known as Blackjack, is a popular card game and a staple of casino gambling in the United States. While a number of variations exist (typically house rules specific to individual casinos), the basic rules remain the same: the player wins if the hand totals or comes closest to 21 without exceeding it or being beaten by the dealer.

Cards and Players

Blackjack can be played with a 52-card deck with the jokers removed. Additional decks may be added to inhibit players from card counting, or making an educated guess about the likelihood of drawing a certain card based on which cards in the deck have already been played.

At least two players are required for the standard game, one of whom is the dealer. Casino-style games typically do not exceed six to eight players plus a professional dealer. Blackjack can also be played solo, with the player acting as his or her own dealer.

Playing Blackjack

The dealer shuffles the cards and draws two cards, laying one face up and the second face down on the table. Next, the dealer draws two cards for each player and lays both face up.

After all of the players have received their cards, the game proceeds clockwise from the dealer's left. Each player may request an additional card from the dealer. This is known as a "hit." There is no limit to the number of hits that a player may request, so long as the total does not exceed 21. Players may also "stand," or decline additional cards. An exact total of 21 is considered an automatic victory.

Once all of the players have either stood or exceeded a total of 21, known as going "bust," the dealer reveals the card that he or she laid face down at the beginning of the game.The dealer must hit until his total is at least 17, and may go bust. Players who did not bust win the hand if their total is higher than the dealer's or if the dealer goes bust. It is considered a draw if the dealer and player have the same score.

Scoring

In order to determine their totals, players must add up the values of their individual cards. Numbered cards ranging from two to 10 are valued according to their numbers, while face cards (jacks, queens, and kings) equal 10. The ace card may be counted as 1 or 11, according to the player or dealer's preference.

For example, a hand of cards that includes a 10 of clubs, a queen of hearts and an ace of spades would total 21, a winning hand.