With a few variations in the rules, Blackjack can be a wonderfully entertaining game to play at home. The objective is the same as in the casino version: to get 21 or as close to it as possible. Depending on the region, there are a number of Pontoon versions, but in all of them, every player gets the opportunity to be the dealer.
While two to 14 people can play, the game is best for up to seven participants.
The standard 52-card pack is used. (A single pack is always used.) As in the casino game, an ace is worth 1 or 11 at the holder's option, and any face card is worth 10. All other cards count their pip value.
Any player picks up the pack and deals the cards in rotation, face up, until a jack of spades or jack of clubs falls to one of the players. That player becomes the first dealer.
The dealer shuffles the pack, and any other player may cut. The dealer then turns up the top card of the pack, shows it to all players, and places it face up, at the bottom of the pack. This is called "burning a card." After each hand, the discards are gathered up and placed face up under the burned card. When the burned card is reached during a deal, there is a new shuffle and cut before the game continues.
Each player places a bet, which may not be less than one chip nor more than the betting limit established for the game, usually no more than five chips.
The dealer gives one card face down to each player in rotation, including himself. He then deals a second round of cards face up in the same order.
If the dealer has a natural (ace, and face card or ten), every player pays him double the amount of his bet. If the dealer and a player both have naturals, the player pays just the amount of his bet, not double. When a player has a natural and the dealer does not, the dealer pays that player double the amount of his bet.
When the dealer does not have a blackjack, he starts with the player to the left and gives each player in turn as many cards as that player requests, one at a time, until that player goes over 21 and pays, or stands. If a player goes bust, he declares so and turns up the hole card. The dealer collects the bet that was made.
When all players have stood or gone bust, the dealer turns up his face-down card and may draw cards until he wishes to stand. The dealer is not bound by the rules to stand on or draw to any total. If the dealer goes over 21, he pays all players who have stood. If the dealer stands on a total of 21 or less, he pays all players who stood with a higher total and collects from all players who stood with a lower total or the same total - "ties pay the dealer."
As in the casino game, a player against the dealer may split a pair or double down, and the dealer does not have this option.
Any player who forms one of the following combinations collects immediately from the dealer, and cannot later lose the bet he made, even if the dealer has a higher total:
A player who has five cards that total 21 or under (often called a "Five-Card Charlie"), collects double the bet made. With six cards totaling 21 or under, he collects four times the bet made, and so on, doubling for each additional card. A player who makes 21 with three 7s receives triple the amount of the bet made. A player who makes 21 with an 8, 7, and 6 receives double the amount of the bet made.
The dealer does not collect more than the amount of the players' bets for making any one of these combinations, nor does he necessarily win with five or more cards that total 21 or under.
The player who is the dealer continues in that capacity until another player is dealt a blackjack and the dealer has no natural. When this happens, the player who had the natural becomes the next dealer, after all bets in the current deal have been settled. If two or more players have naturals and the dealer has none, the one nearest the dealer's left becomes the next dealer. A player entitled to deal may, if he wishes, give or sell the privilege to another player.