How to Play Blackjack

Rules, betting and tips

Perfect your skills at one of the most exhilarating and fun casino games worldwide. Whether you’re looking to play blackjack online or at your local casino, here you have everything you need to play at your full potential. We’ll take you through the gameplay, give you key blackjack strategies, and discuss odds and making the most of your bets. Take these tips to the tables and improve your chances of winning.

Blackjack Cards

The Aim of the Game

Ever wonder why the blackjack tables at casinos are always so jam-packed? It's because blackjack is ridiculously easy to play. The goal is simple - to get as close as possible to 21 without going over, and to have a higher hand than the dealer. If the dealer goes over 21, he busts and loses the game. The same goes for you.

Blackjack Gameplay Simplified

The goal of reaching 21 is fairly easy to get to grips with, but there are still a few rules you need to know about before you play for real cash. To get used to them, we recommend playing for fun first. Let's walk through a typical game so you know how it all works:

Step 1

Join a table

You’ll join the blackjack table. Once all players are ready, every player receives two cards face up. The dealer also deals himself two cards - one of them face up, the other face down.

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Step 2

Decide Whether to Hit or Stand

Comparing your hand value versus the dealer's, make your next step to give you the best chance of being the nearest to 21 without going bust.

Hit

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Ask the dealer for another card. You'll do this when, based on the current value of your cards, it's unlikely that taking another will cause you to go bust.

Blackjack Step 1

Stand

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Ask the dealer to move on to the next player and deal you no more cards. You'll probably do this when the value of your cards is quite high already (e.g. over 17), and you're can't be sure whether the dealer's hand will beat yours.

Step 3

Your Hand Value

As a result of the move you just made, you’ll probably have a new hand value. You'll remain in the game if your hand is valued at 21 or anything less.

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Step 4

Dealer Reveals His Cards

After all players at the table have made their decisions, the dealer will reveal his facedown card.

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Step 5

See Who is Closer to 21

If your hand is closer to 21 than that of the dealer, you bust the dealer and win. If the dealer has 21 or a closer score to 21 than any of the other players, the dealer wins.

The dealer will issue your payout if you’ve been lucky. Your payout depends on the type of bet that you placed, as well as on the size of your bet.

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Basic Rules to Remember

Now we've covered the essential steps to playing a standard game, there are a few other basic rules you'll need to keep in mind. It’s always worth knowing what payouts you’ll receive in various blackjack scenarios, and which moves to make depending on your hand. Take a look at the additional rules below:

  • Regular wins pay 1:1 - This is when the value of your cards is closer to 21 than those of the dealer
  • Blackjack wins pay 3:2 - this is when your cards equal 21
  • 16 and below - Dealer must hit on any hand valued at 16 and below
  • Hit or Stand - Players have the basic choice of adding a card to their hand (hitting) or not (standing) to reach a final hand value of 21, or closest to it. They can also double down or split...
  • Split - Turn your hand of two into two separate hands, for an extra chance to beat the dealer. This is an option when you have two cards of equal value.
  • Double Down - You can choose to double your bet mid-hand, but you'll receive just one card and you won't have the option to take another.
  • While it's not necessarily your best move to double down on anything other than a 10 or and 11, some casinos will let you double down regardless of what you're holding. However, some online casinos limit the option.
Advanced Betting Options

In addition to the basic rules, more experienced players should also take note of the following advanced rules to take their blackjack game to the next level:

  • Insurance - If a dealer shows an Ace as their face up card, they'll invite players to take insurance. This protects you in case the dealer has a card valued at 10.
  • Surrendering - In some online casinos, you can surrender half your bet if you don't like your hand. The option varies from casino to casino.
  • Soft 17 - A soft hand is a hand that has an Ace in it. It's called soft because the hand has two values - either 1 or 11, plus the other cards. Some blackjack casinos require the dealer to hit on a soft 17 while others require that they stand. Make sure you check the rules before you play.
  • Taking even money - If you hit a blackjack but the dealer is showing an Ace, you'll push (tie) if he also happens to have a Blackjack. If you don't want to risk not winning, you can choose to take even money. Instead of getting paid 3:2, you'll get paid 1:1.

Improve Your Chances of Winning

Our full blackjack strategy guide will give you lots of pointers as to when you should hit and when you should stand or double down. However, to get you started, here are two quick pointers to keep in mind whenever you sit down at a blackjack table, either online or in a brick and mortar casino:

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Tip 1

Never Split Two Face Cards

This is a common mistake made by rookie players, who think that splitting face cards and tens can double their profits. In fact, statistically speaking it is never a good idea to split face cards, as you are swapping the high probability of winning with a 20 for the risk of losing twice your money if the new cards you draw aren’t the ones you want.

Blackjack Step 1
Tip 2

Always Split Aces & 8s

This is a no-brainer, or at least it should be! A pair of 8s gives you the dreaded 16, and by splitting these you are banking on at least one face card showing up to give you a good hand. Even a 1, 2 or a 3 are all good cards to draw to an 8, meaning that you have plenty of chances to make a winning hand. Likewise, a pair of Aces gives you an unfriendly hand value of either 2 or 12, so it’s a much better idea to split them and hope that 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s show up.

Our Top Blackjack Tips

It is easy to burn through your money at an online blackjack table if you don’t play smart, but follow our advice and you’ll soon be playing like a professional.

Blackjack offers some of the best value in the casino to the player, but only if you use the correct strategy and play with your head and not your heart. It's well worth trying online blackjack for free first, so you get a feel for the game and can put any strategies to the test.

Here are a few quick tips which everyone should take into consideration before approaching the virtual blackjack tables, but you can find some more in-depth blackjack tips in our guide:

1

Don’t bet money you can’t afford

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Never throw good money after bad. Set a budget for yourself before you come to the table, and stick with it.

2

Memorize a basic strategy

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As you begin to play make sure to keep your basic strategy guide open on a separate window so you can refer to it quickly.

3

Never bet more than half your stack on a single bet

Betting responsibly image

This is reckless play, and no one wants to see half their pot disappear in one go. Always bet responsibly.

4

Hold your nerve

Hold your nerve image

Sometimes the cards just don’t seem to be with you, and it can be tempting to give up on your strategy. In the long run, following strategy is the only way to make consistent profits.

Ready To Give Blackjack a Try?

Now you know how to play blackjack, you’ll probably be itching to give the game a try for yourself. Why not take a look at our top rated online blackjack casinos or try mobile blackjack, where you’ll find plenty of exciting variations of blackjack which you can play right now! Whether you’re after free ganes, real money versions or even live blackjack, you’ll find it all right here at Casino.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic rules of blackjack?

The rules of blackjack are simple. You are dealt cards, which have the face value shown on them. You need to get a hand with a score of as close to 21 as possible, without going over it. Go over 21 and you’re out.

How can I win in blackjack?

To give yourself the best chances of winning in blackjack, it’s worth brushing up on some blackjack strategy guides. Our strategy guide will walk you through a few in-game scenarios, and offer advice on counting cards and on when to alter your bets. Whilst it’s not 100% foolproof, it will definitely up your chances in the great game of blackjack.

When should I hit or stand?

Learning whether to hit or stand is the crux of blackjack. At first it can be difficult to know what to do, but with practice you’ll soon learn which moves to make. To give yourself an easier ride, why not take a look at our strategy page to learn which moves to make depending on your hand value and the value of the dealer’s card which you can see. Learning how to play your cards gives you the best possible chance of winning, but ultimately there will always be an element of luck involved.

What is a split in blackjack?

A split is a move which can be made if your hand contains two cards of equal value. You can choose to split the hand into two new hands, and double your bet in the process.

How do blackjack players count cards?

Card counting is one of the most widely used blackjack strategies. The idea is that card counters assign a value to cards as they see them being removed from the deck. This gives them a running value of the remaining cards in the deck. That value is used to tell the card counters whether or not the deck contains more large cards or small cards. They can then adjust their bets accordingly, giving them an increased chance of winning against the house.