Cards are counted at their face value. Kings, Queens and Jacks count as 10. Aces count as 1 or 11 at your option.
Winning hands are paid at even money. If the first two cards you are dealt total 21 using any combination of a card with a value of 10 and an Ace, you have Blackjack. Blackjack pays one and a half times your original bet. In this case, you cannot lose, but you could tie if the dealer also has Blackjack. If you are dealt any combination other than Blackjack, you can either “stand” meaning you do not wish to draw anymore cards or signal for a “hit” meaning you wish to draw an additional card.
After all the players have acted on their hands (either by hitting or standing), the dealer will expose his “hole card” (down card) and take additional cards or stand according to the house rules. If the dealer’s hand exceeds 21, all of the players still in the game win. If the dealer does not bust and your card count is closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, you win! If it is less, you lose. A tie is called a “push” and you neither win nor lose and the dealer will leave you original wager in the betting circle.
If you are dealt two cards with equal value, you have the option of “splitting” them into two separate hands. A “split” is simply two hands played separately. You must match your original bet if you split. You may “re-split” a pair up to three times (making up to four separate hands). You can take as many hits as you like on each hand. However, if you split a pair of Aces, you will receive only one card on each of the hands, but if one of the hit cards is another Ace, you may re-split. A 21 on split Aces is not considered a blackjack and pays even money if you win the hand.
Players also have the option of increasing their wager by “doubling down”. After receiving your first two cards, you may “double down” by increasing your wager up to the amount of your original bet and receive only one additional card. You may double down on any two cards. You may also double down after splitting a pair. Most players will double down when the two cards they are dealt total 10 or 11.
If the dealer’s up card is an Ace, you have the option of making an “insurance” wager. You may wager any amount up to half your original bet that the dealer’s down card has a value of 10. That is, you are wagering that the dealer has a blackjack. If the dealer’s hole card has a value of 10, you will be paid 2-to-1 on your insurance wager. If the card has a value other than 10, the dealer takes your insurance wager.