Blackjack cards are regular playing cards. A complete set of playing cards has 52 cards in it. Those cards can be organized by suit and by rank.
The suit is the symbol on each card–in a traditional deck, the suits are:
In the game of blackjack, the suit doesn’t matter, unless you’re playing in a game with some kind of unusual bonus structure. For example, a casino might run a promo where you would get a 3 to 1 payout on any blackjack that’s made up of spades. I don’t know of any casinos offering such a promo, but it’s possible.
The rankings are the numbers on the cards. There are 13 cards in each suit–ace through ten, then three face cards, the jack, the queen, and the king.
For purposes of playing blackjack, the face cards are all valued at 10. A jack is no better than a queen, and a king is no better than either. But again, a casino could offer a promo where you get a bonus payout for a blackjack that includes an actual jack rather than a queen or a king or ten.
Aces can be counted as one or as eleven in a blackjack game.
Rules for What Blackjack Cards Are Worth: Blackjack Card Values
The rules for what blackjack cards are worth are easy enough. You get a numeric score based on the cards in your hand.
- The deuce through nine cards are worth whatever the rank of each card is.
- Face cards are worth ten points.
- Aces are worth one or eleven, whichever is better for the player.
So if you’re dealt two cards in a blackjack game, and they’re the two of diamonds and the three of spades, your score, based on the blackjack card values I just described, is five. If you’re dealt a king and an ace, you can count that hand as a total of eleven or a total of twenty-one. Since twenty-one is the best possible hand, this hand is what’s called a “natural,” or a “blackjack.”
Your goal is to get a higher score than the dealer or to still be in the game if the dealer busts. Any hand with a total of 22 points or more is a bust, so sometimes it’s more important to just stay in the hand than it is to try to improve your hand, because the dealer might have a hand that’s likely to bust.
Buying Blackjack Cards
Those are the basics of blackjack cards. People searching for blackjack cards might be looking for additional information, like which cards you can buy for a home game, for example. I have some suggestions.
Blackjack at home is a game that you can play with any cheap deck of cards, but the more you spend on the cards, the nicer they are. I tend to play with Bees or Bicycles, which are available for sale at any decent Walgreens or Walmart. When you buy cheap decks of cards, they often get lost or destroyed, especially if you have kids. That’s not a big deal, because they’re cheap enough that you can buy a lot of them. Amazon has a deal on Bicycles right now where you can buy a dozen decks of cards for $24.06. That’s only $2 per deck. But buying in bulk doesn’t always save money. I found single decks of Bicycles available for $1.45 a deck, too.
If you want to go for quality, then you’ll probably never find a deck of cards nicer than a deck of Kems. They’re made of plastic, not cardstock, so they’ll last forever. Spilled a Coke on a deck of Kem playing cards? No big deal. Just wipe them off, and they’re good for the next time you want to play. (Regular playing cards will warp, because they’re made of paper, more or less. Kems are made of plastic.)
Kem cards aren’t cheap. They’re aimed at people who play a lot of bridge or poker, and these are card players who take their games seriously. I was able to find some paisley-backed Kem cards at Amazon today for $13 a pack. That sounds like a lot, but if you’re confident you can keep up with them, they’ll last forever. And they are beautiful. If you host a home blackjack game, your players will enjoy playing with these cards, I promise.
You can even buy card shufflers at Amazon, but the same guidelines apply. A cheap card shuffler won’t last as long, won’t do as good a job, and won’t look as nice during your game. A more expensive shuffler will cost more money, but it will last longer, so the question to ask yourself is how serious you are about your home blackjack game? For that matter, even if you’re not serious about hosting a home blackjack game, if you think you’ll play other card games, investing in decent playing cards and a card shuffler might still be worthwhile.