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How to Play Blackjack at Home: A Guide to Hosting a Friendly Private Blackjack Game

April 24, 2024

The first thing that comes to most people’s minds about the game of blackjack—as is much of the content on the internet about it—involves playing it in a casino setting. But did you know blackjack, like the many variants of poker, is just as enjoyable when played in a private setting?

Why Play Blackjack at Home?

Blackjack is one of the most popular—if not THE most popular casino games ever known. However, it’s synonymous with playing it at the tables at your favourite land-based casino. In fact, it might have been the first table game you ever learned and tried playing at a gambling venue. But not all blackjack fans play the game in an attempt to beat the house and win some money. 

In fact, many blackjack enthusiasts enjoy the game for what it is—and play for the thrill of it. There’s a whole lot more to enjoy about blackjack than just attempting to beat the house. There are the intricacies of crunching numbers, statistics, and probabilities, as well as trying out new playstyles, betting strategies, and card counting tactics. Oh, and did we mention that playing blackjack at home can be great fun as a social occasion? Think about the banter, the snacks, the drinks, and the camaraderie—it’s no different from a fun poker night at home with the boys.

Who Can Play Blackjack at Home?

In general, anyone and everyone can play blackjack at home, even when there’s no money on the line. Blackjack is, first and foremost, a game of equal parts skill, strategy, and luck, and playing it for recreation or as a social occasion is a perfectly normal, acceptable, and common activity in many places around the world.

In the UK, blackjack games are perfectly legal to play at home for recreational purposes with the caveat that no money changes hands. Playing for free or for chips and tokens representing money is acceptable under the Gambling Act of 2005. If there is, however, any financial gain to be made, the game is considered commercial and, therefore, illegal.

In other parts of the world, your mileage may vary if you live in a particular jurisdiction where it could be illegal to run a gambling operation—even as a friendly game with no stakes involved. The first thing you’ll want to do is to check your local gambling laws to ensure your game is fully compliant.

For instance, while it may be legal to play for fun with just poker chips, you may be running afoul of the law when you start gambling for real money, depending on your location. In the United States, gambling is illegal in most states. But in Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Delaware, and Rhode Island, it’s perfectly legal to play for real money in private settings—albeit with some caveats on wagering amounts and eligible games.

How to Set Up a Friendly Game of Blackjack with Friends or Family Members

Once you’ve sorted the question of legality out, here are some additional guidelines to consider when hosting a blackjack game at home:

  • Make sure everyone is of legal age before playing.
  • Decide on some house rules, such as bet sizes and payouts, before the game starts. This includes the number of decks of cards to be used and rules about splitting and doubling down, among other nuances that will determine the enjoyment of the game.
  • Don’t forget to have fun. Don’t get so hung up on the granular details when the goal is to have an enjoyable, pleasurable social blackjack gaming experience.

Interestingly, there are no limits on how much you can play for in a private game, so if there are any millionaires reading this, you could host a game with your friends and play for hundreds of thousands if you wanted to.

If you were to host a game at home and charge an entry fee, or act as the house and earn money in the same way a casino does, or if you were running a game that any old Tom, Dick or Harry could come in and join, you would be breaking the law.

If caught, the fine is unlimited, and you could even get jail time.

What Do You Need to Set Up a Blackjack Game at Home?

Often, when inviting friends over for a game of Texas Hold’Em Poker or Bridge, most of the planning revolves around the snacks, drinks, and Spotify playlists rather than preparing for the actual game. However, when it comes to blackjack, a fair bit of attention needs to be focused on the rules governing how the game will be played. This will ensure the game remains fair and fun for everyone.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to devise the house rules with the players so that all the cards are on the table and nobody enters the game believing they have been at a disadvantage. 

Here’s a list of questions you can involve other players with before hosting:

  • How many decks will be used?
  • What is the minimum and maximum bet per hand?
  • Will players be allowed to double down?
  • Will players be allowed to double down after splitting?
  • Will the dealer hit or stand on a soft 17?
  • How are ties settled?
  • Is surrendering an option?
  • Will insurance be offered?
  • How much will be the payout for a natural blackjack?

Involving players in setting the house rules reduces the chances of what should be a fun, friendly game of blackjack turning into an unpleasant, confrontational experience. 

What Equipment do You Need to Host a Private Blackjack Game?

Hosting a blackjack night with friends can be a fun way to spend a Friday night. And while there isn’t much you need in terms of equipment to play blackjack at home besides tables, chairs, poker chips/tokens, and a set number of 52-card decks, some hosts may want to invest in a more elaborate environment resembling the casino experience. This includes felt tablecloths with blackjack layouts, folding tables, dealer shoes, discard holders, and other gambling supplies, all of which can be bought at physical or online casino/gambling supply stores. You can even splurge on an actual professional dealer table specially designed for private game rooms to simulate the casino experience at home.

How Many People Should You Have Over and What Roles Should They Play?

The absolute minimum number of players to run a house blackjack game is two. Ideally, you would have around 5 to 8 players. Having too many players can be chaotic. In blackjack, there are two main roles that are prerequisites: the dealer, who will be responsible for shuffling the cards, dealing the hands, paying out winning bets, and overseeing the proper conduct of the game. Then, you have the players, who will try to beat the dealer’s hand at blackjack and perform blackjack actions such as hitting, standing, splitting, surrendering and doubling down, if allowed. That’s literally all you need to get a blackjack night started.

Tips to Ensure a Friendly Blackjack Game at Home

Always remember that the goal when hosting a blackjack game at home is to enjoy a social gaming experience instead of solely making money. To conclude, here is a list of tips to foster a welcoming, fair, and fun blackjack night at home.

  • Set clear house rules and stick to them. As discussed earlier, the house rules governing the game, actions allowed, dealer rotation, and wagering amounts, as well as etiquette guidelines should be laid out, and expectations set. This prevents misunderstandings, disputes, or confrontations during the game.
  • Establish a welcoming, comfortable setting. Here’s the fun part of organising a blackjack party at home: creating a fun environment conducive to an enjoyable playing and socialising experience. Provide an ample supply of snacks and drinks to keep the action going and set up a playlist to enhance the gaming experience without distracting the flow of the game.
  • Encourage banter and camaraderie. Another tip to keep things fun and enjoyable is to encourage interaction among your friends. Share funny stories, crack jokes, and banter with each other to create a relaxed, friendly environment that focuses on building camaraderie instead of solely focusing on gambling and making money.
  • Focus on the social aspect. Remember, you’re hosting a game with friends and not trying to beat the house or enable gambling problems. Setting a wagering limit is a good idea to prevent players from overextending their budgets. Again, the goal is to socialise and have fun, and not the obsession of winning money.
  • Be a gracious host. As the host, the responsibility for creating a fun, enjoyable blackjack game at home stops with you. Be gracious, be kind to new players, be clear with the rules, and keep the drinks and snacks free-flowing. Anybody can make money running a blackjack game, but that doesn’t translate to enjoying a night in with friends.