Blackjack is a casino card game where players play against the house, not against other players like they do in for example online poker. A typical blackjack table seats one to seven players and each hand is played against the dealer or house hand.
Read this guide to learn how to play blackjack, how to win, what some good blackjack strategies are and where you can try this game for yourself.
How To Play Blackjack
An online blackjack hand starts with each player placing a wager at or over the table minimum bet but not to exceed the table maximum bet.
These limits and requirements are posted for each blackjack table. After the bets from each player are placed, the dealer deals two cards, face up, to each player and two cards to themselves or the house, one face up and one face down.
The objective of the game is for the players to beat the dealer’s hand while trying to get as close as possible to 21 without going over, otherwise known as busting.
The deck of cards gives values as follows, and note that suits are meaningless in blackjack:
|Numbered cards 2-9||The same as the card value, i.e 2 = 2 and 9=9|
|Aces||1 or 11, depending on what is best for the hand|
|10, J, Q and K||10|
After the cards are dealt, each player then has the option to perform one of four actions:
Hit: The player gets another card, and then gets to choose one of the four actions again.
Stand: The player stops and will not receive any more cards this round.
Double down: The player will double the amount of their original bet and will get exactly one hit card at which point their hand value is final.
Split: This is done with two cards of the exact same value. The player matches their exact bet and splits the pair and plays each card as a new hand. This is most ideally done with aces and next best with eights.
The actions moves clockwise from player to player. For simplicity’s sake in the introduction portion, we will hold off on examples of doubling down and splitting and just use examples of hitting and staying or standing put.
Beating The Dealer
The objective of online blackjack is to get your hand value closer to 21 than the dealer, while not going over 21 (busting). In each hand, every player is playing individually against the house or dealer. Players use the information provided by the dealer’s face up card to determine the best course of action.
To understand the best course of action, we have to first understand the mechanics of how the dealer or house must proceed on their own hand. At the completion of each player’s action, the dealer must then expose their second card until they meet the dealer requirement. The dealer requirement is as follows and is fairly straightforward.
The dealer must hit until their hand has a value of 17 or greater.
Any value over 21 means the dealer has busted and any player that has not busted previously will win that hand. Any value for the dealer between 17 and 21 will be final for the dealer’s hand. This means any player with a higher value than the dealer’s win the hand. Any player with a lower value than the dealer’s hand will lose the hand. Any player with the same value as the dealer’s hand will push or tie the hand and the bet will have no action.
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Basic Blackjack Strategy
If you have read the how to play section you will now understand why the dealer’s face up card has great influence over the best course of action for each player. When playing blackjack the players should use the dealer’s face up card and proceed with the information given on the likelihood of the dealer busting, or going over 21. Applying a basic blackjack betting strategy for blackjack is easy, quick to learn and more importantly, it will increase your chances of winning.
For simplicity’s sake, here is the percentage of the time the dealer busts given their face up card:
|Dealer’s Face Up Card||Chance of Going Bust|
As you can see, there’s quite a difference in the tiers of two through six versus seven through ace in the probability of the dealer busting. When we take this chart and apply it to how it affects the player hand in question, a little bit of math will tell us the best course of action for each given hand.
Very simply put, a player will **ALWAYS** hit a value of 11 or fewer as there is no chance of busting or going over 21.
So now we must look at the bust percentage chances when hitting on 12 or higher:
|Player’s Hand||Risk of Player Going Bust if Hitting|
Keep in mind these bust rates for hitting are only a piece of the puzzle and we are never going to hit on either 19 or 20, and will only hit a soft 18 (soft means the total calculated includes an ace being used at 11. Hard means that total does not include an ace. More on this later. ), so the 12 through 17 range is where we need to educate ourselves on the best course of action.
For starters, let’s set some basic blackjack strategy rules that are open to being tweaked later on as the understanding of the game increases.
Soft Hands, Doubling Down and Splitting
The next parts to discuss in more detail is are a soft hand versus a hard hand, doubling down and splitting.
Remember that a hard hand is one that does not contain an ace and a soft hand is one that includes an ace that is currently being used as an 11 count. The value in hitting a soft hand comes from the ability to improve a hand while not being at risk of busting. A hard hand does not bring that luxury and it is why the rules are more stringent on hard hands. A general rule of a soft 15 or less is to hit and to stand on any soft hand of 19 or more. With a soft 17 or 18, the dealer up card will determine the course of action. Doubling down against a two through six is the correct play while just hitting against a seven or higher is the correct play.
When to double down in Blackjack?
Doubling down is the action of a player doubling their bet and taking exactly one hit card and having the result of that being the final count for the hand. 10 and 11 are the counts to double down on as these figures do not carry a risk of busting and carry the most outcomes of a hand ending with a 20 or 21 count. It is also sound strategy to double down on other count numbers under 10 if the dealer is showing a card with a higher bust probability. There are more wrinkles to this strategy, but for beginners, doubling just on 10 and 11 is a very good start.
When to split in Blackjack?
Splitting is the ation of a player splitting a hand that’s been dealt to them into two separate hands and adding another bet to play the two separate hands. Aces are best split as they bring a blackjack (blackjack is getting 21 on just the first two cards and generally pays out at a rate of 3:2). With any ten count card added and bring a hand value inside the dealer range with any six, seven, eight or nine. Eights are also always split as 16 is an unattractive count and starting over with two hands totaling eight apiece is far more advantageous. Hands that are never ever to be split are ten count cards, fives and fours (unless you can Double down After Split , DAS, when dealers face cars shows 5 or 6).
How to play soft hands i Blackjack
Soft hands are the most complex hands in Blackjack and requires some practice before you know how to play these hands perfectly. The overall logic is identical to the basic blackjack strategy of staying over 17 and hitting under 17.
If you want to dig deeper and get a better understanding on how a chart including surrender options work read the blackjack strategy chart guide.
Glossary Of Online Blackjack Terms and Expressions
Anchor or anchorman – the player seated most closely to the dealer’s right side. This is the last player to act in any given hand.
|Blackjack||A perfect starting hand of a 10 count card and an ace. Generally pays 3:2|
|Bust||Going over 21|
|Dealer||The house representative, or the algorithm for online blackjack sites that deals the cards and follows the rules structure and pays and collects winning and losing bets|
|Double Down||The action of a player opting to double their original bet and taking one hot card with their hand total being final after said card|
|Even money||This is an option given a player who is dealt a blackjack while the dealer is showing an ace. The player can opt to forego the 3:2 odds on a blackjack and take even money on their bet and not risk a tie with the dealer that would lead to a push on the bet|
|Hard or hard hand||A hand without an ace that only has one playable count|
|Hit||To take a card from the top of the deck to increase the hand count|
|Hole Card||The face down card belonging to the dealer|
|House||Term for the blackjack proprietor. Is a website for online blackjack|
|Insurance||A bet offered to the table when the dealer is showing an ace. It is usually offered at up to half the original bet and pays 2:1 if the dealer has blackjack. Considered a sucker bet by the vast majority of players|
|Push||A hand that ties with that of the dealer|
|Shoe||The container holding the cards in a brick and mortar casino. This can hold up to eight decks of cards|
|Split||This is done with two cards of the exact same value. The player matches their exact bet and splits the pair and plays each card as a new hand. This is most ideally done with aces and next best with eights.|
|Stand or Stand Pat||This is opting to not hit or no longer hit and leave the hand count as it sits|
|Surrender||Forfeit hand and get half of your initial stake back|
|Upcard||The card the dealer is showing face up|
|Unit||Standard bet size. Differs by player|
Other Types of Online Blackjack
Some online casinos may offer different variations of blackjack that can tried once a player has a sound understanding of the workings of the game. This includes Spanish 21, European Blackjack and blackjack games that have a separate bet and a progressive jackpot but otherwise has no alterations from game play.
Other forms of fun ways to differentiate the way you play are multi-hand blackjack and blackjack pro with side bets.
What is blackjack?
Blackjack is a casino table game played against the house. It can be played both in a brick and mortar casino or on online gambling sites. The objective of the game is for the players to beat the dealer’s hand while trying to get as close as possible to 21 without going over, otherwise known as busting.
How to play blackjack?
A hand starts with each player placing a wager at or over the table minimum bet but not to exceed the table maximum bet. After the bets from each player are placed, the dealer deals two cards, face up, to each player and two cards to themselves or the house, one face up and one face down. The objective of the game is for the players to beat the dealer’s hand while trying to get as close as possible to 21 without going over, otherwise known as busting.
What is a good blackjack strategy?
In general, you should always hit on 2-11 and always stand on 17-21. On 12-16, your action depends on the dealer's face up card; If the dealer has a 7 or higher, you should hit, and if the dealer has a 6 or lower, you should stand.
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