This ultimate guide on how to play blackjack was created both for players who have never played this casino classic before, but also for experienced players who want to take their game skills to a higher level of proficiency. After reading our tips, tricks, and strategies, you will feel more confident about playing and winning.
Table of Contents
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world. It’s a card game that involves some luck and strategy, and it is usually played on tables with 6 players. However, each player plays individually against the Dealer and never against each other. When played online, these decks are automatically shuffled by RNG system (Random Number Generator) during the game.
In virtual casinos, it is most common to play alone directly against the dealer, without other players at the table. As an exception, when playing live blackjack, other players can join.
What is the Purpose of the Game?
The aim of any game or variant of blackjack – whether in an online casino or in a physical one, is to get as close as possible, but never exceed, the total score of 21 in a single hand.
Thus, as a player, your goal is to make 21 points with your cards or to bring your hand as close as possible to 21.
THE HISTORY OF BLACKJACK
Blackjack evolved directly from the game “vingt-et-un” as it was called in France and “vinte e um” in Spain, during the early 18th century. In English, it literally translates into ‘twenty-one’. The famous Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes made reference to the game in one of his stories in the years 1601 and 1602. In his writings, he described a card game involving an ace card worth 1 or 11 points and players trying to reach a total of 21 points without exceeding that sum.
There are also records indicating that the Romans, who used to play between battles, invented the game that later became 21 using wooden blocks. However, the most likely precursor to 21 was a Spanish game called “Trente-Un” (meaning “31”). The game was quoted by a priest in 1440, and was played according to modern rules of blackjack. That is, players tried to reach a certain sum (in this case 31) based on the combined value of their cards, without exceeding that total.
In the 19th century, French settlers brought the game to America. Not long after, in the 1930s, blackjack was part of the county’s gambling culture and one of the most popular games played in casinos, particularly in the city of Nevada.
Currently, there are several variations of blackjack, with different rules depending on where it is played. In physical casinos, the rules can be more complex, whereas in online casinos, they can be simpler. The latter allows the player to focus almost exclusively in achieving the right points to win the game.
HOW TO PLAY BLACKJACK GUIDE – RULES & STRATEGIES
Blackjack is an easy game, ideal for both beginners and more experienced players. You only need to get familiar with the basic blackjack rules and know how to do basic math. As you play, you can also put in practice easy tricks and strategies, making the game even more fun.
How to Play Blackjack Online?
Playing online is very easy and similar to playing in a physical casino. If you are playing for money, first, you have to choose how much you want to bet. Bets take place via chips just like in a physical casino. Once the stake value is determined, the game begins with the distribution of two cards to each player.
The dealer also receives two cards – one showing and the other facing down. Once everyone has been dealt their cards, you need to consider your next step. It can be one of five options: stand, hit, double down, split, or surrender.
What Are the Game Plays in Blackjack?
Stand: If you are pleased with your bet, choose this option to keep your hand. Normally, players keep the cards when they make a sum of 16 to 21.
Hit: When your hand makes a sum of 11 or less, you can request more cards. There is no limit for the number of cards you can request, as long as the sum does not exceed 21.
Double Down: When you have a good hand and feel confident about it, you can double your bet, and receive only one additional card. Note that when you double down, you won’t be able to take any further action until the dealer reveals your hand.
Split: When your two cards are the same, you can choose to split them into two separate hands, which gives you a better chance of winning.
Surrender: Option that allows you to give up (or ‘surrender’) your hand and forfeit half of the original wager after the dealer checks for a blackjack. When you choose this option, the hand is over. There is also the option of ‘early surrender’ although seldom found in today’s casinos. Early surrender allows you to forfeit your hand even before the dealer checks to see if they have blackjack.
Remember to carefully assess the game, including the dealer’s card, before choosing which course of action to take.
Regardless of the suit, in blackjack, all face cards have a value equivalent to 10. All other cards of less value give you the points corresponding to their own number. The ace is a special card, that can either be valued as 1 or 11.
What Are the Odds of Winning in Blackjack?
Blackjack is one of the casino games that offers you the best chances of winning.
As previously mentioned, the goal of blackjack is very simple: you must try to make the total number of points on your cards to be 21. Alternatively, if this number is lower than 21, it should at least be higher than the dealer’s points.
Overall, the casino’s advantage in blackjack can be between 1 and 2%. Since you are playing against the dealer, there is an 8% chance of both you and the dealer exceeding 21 points.
The table below shows your best odds of winning according to the dealer’s first upcard, as well as the probability of busting (exceeding 21) with the second card
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How do You Increase Your Chances of Winning in Blackjack?
By using the correct basic strategy, you can lower the odds of blackjack, in a multi-deck game, up to about 0.45% in favor of the casino. In other words, you can expect to lose an average of 45 cents for every $ 100 you bet. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose 45 cents every time you play $100, but more in the long run. This is the best you can hope for. Failure to use the basic blackjack strategy (game guesses) can result in a house advantage of 5% or higher.
When playing blackjack online, you should keep in mind that the house has a big advantage over the players in the game. Overall, the house edge in blackjack is approximately 8%. The advantage that a casino has over the players in a given game is a conceptual number. This means that it cannot be calculated using real-world experiences. The expression “house edge” is synonym with house margin, which is based on real-world gaming experiences.
Understanding how the casino gains its advantage and how to overcome it will help you win the game. Essentially, the casino already has an advantage in blackjack due to the fact that it is the player who has to play first. If they go over 21 points, they automatically lose, regardless of whether the casino “go bust” in the same round. In retrospect, both the dealer and the player have approximately a 28% chance of ‘busting’. However, by implementing the basic blackjack strategy, you will have the opportunity to influence the house edge to your advantage.
Although the house has the advantage that the dealer plays last, a player who chooses to play this casino classic also has the following advantages:
- While the dealer is paid only 1: 1 in blackjack, a player gets a 3: 2 payout bonus in comparison.
- As a player, you are able to double your bet in certain situations that are favorable, as long as the dealer does not have this permission. This includes, of course, when a dealer receives two cards that add up to 11.
- If you get a pair, you can choose to split, while the dealer cannot.
- When you have a 16, you can choose to “stand” instead of “hit”, unlike the dealer who always has to choose to “hit”.
The basic strategy of blackjack consists of a series of rules that determine what the best decision is in a given context. The strategy takes into account your hand and the dealer’s upcard to obtain the greatest possible game advantage in the long term.
To understand the basic strategy of blackjack, we classify the dealer’s card as follows depending on its value:
- Weak card: Card with a value of 2 to 6, especially 5 and 6. The odds that the dealer bust when their upcard has a value of 2 to 6 is higher than 35%, becoming more than 40% for values 5 or 6.
- Strong card: Card with a value of 7 to ace, in these cases the dealer has more than 35% to get a winning hand (hand with a value of 17 to 20).
Basic Blackjack Strategy
The foundation of the basic strategy is based on the strength/weakness of the dealer’s upcard and the player’s hand.
The general strategy rules for blackjack follow the following logic:
- Stand with a hand of hard cards greater than 12 (exception: with 12, ask for a card if the dealer’s card is a 2 or a 3) against a weak card from the dealer (from 2 to 6), waiting for the dealer to bust.
- Stand when you have a practically winning hand, (from 17 to 20) because asking for a card would be too risky.
- Always hit when you have a hand of hard cards as long as it is not a hand with a high chance of winning (from 17 to 20), although most of the time the result is to bust, and the dealer has a strong card(from 7 to ace). When the dealer has a strong hand, try to improve the score of your hand because there is a high chance that the dealer will get a good score.
- Double down when the dealer has a weak card(2-6) to take advantage of the dealer’s weak hand.
- Double down with a hand of hard cards that add up to 10(except if the dealer has a 10 or an ace) or 11 (except if the dealer has an ace). Chances are high that the third card is a 10 value card (in each deck of 52 cards there are 16 cards worth 10).
- Split the hand when the dealer has a weak card(2-6) to make the most of a hand where the dealer has a weak card.
- Always split 8’s and aces
When Should You Hit or Stay in Blackjack?
In blackjack, it is believed that one of the most important decisions that a player must make is knowing when to hit or stand. Without a doubt, the decision to hit or stand is crucial. However, success lies in knowing not only when to hit or stand, but also when to double down or split a hand.
Following the above reasoning, the basic strategy of blackjack establishes the following rules:
When to Ask for a Card or Stand?
Depending on whether the player’s cards are hard cards or soft cards, two cases can be differentiated. A player’s cards are said to be soft cards if one of their cards is an ace and this ace can take the value 11 without going over the score of 21. Knowing this, the basic strategy of BlackJack establishes the following rules about when to hit or stand.
On hard cards:
- Stand if the starting hand totals 17 points or more.
- Ask for a card if our initial hand totals 8 points or less.
- If the dealer’s uncovered card is a 7 or higher, a card must be requested if our initial cards total from 12 to 16 points.
- If the dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6, stand if the sum of our initial cards is 12 to 16 points, except when the sum is 12 and the dealer’s card is 2 or 3, in that case ask for a card.
In soft cards
- Stand with a soft 19 or soft 20.
- Stand on a soft 18 if the dealer’s upcard is a 2, 7 or 8.
- Hit a soft 18 if the dealer has a 9, 10 or ace.
- Hit whenever you have a soft 17 or less.
The value of this basic blackjack strategy lies in taking advantage of the opportunity to increase the bet by doubling the bet or splitting the hand when the favorable conditions for it present themselves.
When to Double the Bet?
Listed below are the situations where the player has the advantage to double the bet, in this way the player will reduce the casino advantage.
For hard cards:
- Double down with 9 points when the dealer’s upcard is a 3, 4, 5 or 6.
- Double down with 10 points and the dealer’s upcard is a 9 or less.
- Always double with 11 points, except when the dealer’s upcard is an ace.
For soft cards:
- Double down with a soft 13 or soft 14 when the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or 6.
- When the dealer’s upcard is a 4, 5 or 6, double down with a soft 15 or a soft 16.
- Double down with a soft 17 or a soft 18 when the dealer’s upcard is a 3, 4.5 or 6. That is, from a 3 to a 6.
When to Split a Hand?
The basic strategy defines 6 simple rules to know when to split a hand.
- Always split a pair of aces or a pair of 8’s.
- Never separate 4’s, 5’s or pairs of cards that have a value of 10 (10’s or figures).
- Split a pair of 2’s or 3’s only when the dealer’s upcard is a 4 to a 7.
- Separate a pair of 6’s when the dealer’s upcard is 3 to 6.
- Split a pair of 7’s when the dealer’s upcard is a 2 to a 7.
- Split a pair of 9’s when the dealer’s upcard is other than a 6, 9, 10 or ace.
HARD 16 – Do You Hit or Stay at 16?
A hard 16 is a blackjack hand that does not contain aces or, if there is an ace, counts as one. Although 16 is one of the most common hands to be dealt, unfortunately, it is also one of the worst hands you can get and that will likely end in defeat.
So, what should you do when you get a 16? The answer depends on the circumstances.
There are three viable options: hit, stay or surrender. The strategy you call depends on the dealer’s upcard and the rules of the game.
Hard 16 – Basic Game Strategy
The following basic game strategy summarizes how to play your hard 16 without considering the actual cards that make up your hand. This easy to memorize strategy should optimize your chances of winning in an online blackjack game.
- In a single and double-deck game, it is smart to surrender against a dealer’s 10 or ace upcard,
- Also, in a single and double-deck game, stand against the dealer’s 2 to 6 upcards, and hit against the dealer’s 7, 8 or 9 upcards.
- In a multi-deck game, surrender against the dealer’s 9, 10 or ace upcards,
- Also, in a multi-deck game, stand against the dealer’s 2 through 6 upcards, and hit against an upcard of 7 or 8.
- If surrender is not allowed, then hit on your hard 16 instead.
Hard 16 – Advanced Game Strategy
A more advanced game strategy with extra precision considers the composition of the cards that make up your 16. For example, if your 16 consists of three (or more) cards, say 5, 6, 5, it is played differently than that if it was composed of, for example, a 10 and a 6. The composition-dependent strategy is as follows:
- In a single or double deck game, if your 16 is made up of three (or more) cards, in all cases, you should follow the basic strategy above to play the hard 16 hand, except in the following case: stand (instead of surrendering) against a dealer’s 10 upcard.
- In a single deck game with soft 17, hit on a 9-7 against the dealer’s ace upcard (instead of surrendering).
- Additionally, if the hard 16 is the result of a pair split, then stop (instead of hitting).
- In the case of a multi-card 16, you should instead stand against the dealer’s 10 upcard. The reasons are the following:
- By only having a small card in your hand when you hold it, say 4 plus 6 plus 6, you increase the chances that the dealer will bust with a hit just enough to tip the balance in favor of the position (instead of hit).
- You also decrease your own chances of filling the hand with a hit, since you already have two cards that you would like to receive when you hit.
Why Use This Strategy?
A hard 16 is one of the worst hands you can get when playing blackjack, because you will lose more hands than you win, regardless of the strategy you apply. However, you can minimize your losses if you follow the game strategies below.
The reason you should surrender on a hard 16 is when your chance of winning is less than one in four hands, meaning your expected loss is worse than 50%. Statistically, if playing the hand has less than a 25% chance of winning and, consequently, more than a 75% chance of losing, you will save money in the long run by folding. This is the case for rendering hard 16 by the previous strategies.
The reason you should stay on a hard 16 when the dealer’s upcard is small (that is from 2 to 6) is because the chances of the dealer busting are relatively high (35 to 42%). In this situation, you don’t want to risk busting your hard hand of 16 by drawing another card because you could lose automatically, even if the dealer later busted in the same round.
When the dealer has an ace to a 7, the probabilities of the dealer busting are low. If surrender is not available, you should hit and risk busting rather than standing, as you will lose less this way in the long run.
Tips for Beginner Players
- To play blackjack online, don’t bother learning how to count cards since the cards are shuffled after each hand.
- If the dealer is showing low cards, such as 4, 5 or 6, and you have a more favorable hand, your best option may not be “hit”, but “double down”, since low cards increase the dealer’s chances exceed 21 points.
- With a strong hand (hard), which adds up to 17 points or more, always choose to keep it (stand). If you ask for an additional card, the chances are high that you will surpass 21 points and lose the game.
- Never divide two 10, as they add up to 20 points, a very good sum to risk, and only split two nines when playing against a 7, 10 or ace.
- Always split your hands with two aces or two eights. This increases your chances of winning both bets. Two aces add up to only 12 points, while two separate aces can turn into strong hands. Two eights, in turn, add up to 16 points, which is considered the worst possible hand. By splitting them, you have a chance to make stronger hands.
- If you have a chance to fold, you should do so only if your total is 16 and if the dealer has a 9, 10 or ace. With a total of 15, you should only give up when the dealer has a 10.
- Doubling down is more common when the total hand is 10 or 11. In this case, you should double down, unless the dealer has a ten or an ace. In this situation, you should ask for an additional card. When the sum is 9, you should double the bet only if you’re are playing against a 3, 4, 5 or 6.
General Tips to Always Remember
- The goal of the game is to add 21 points to your cards.
- If your cards exceed 21 points, you lose.
- You always play against the dealer, who represents the casino.
- How much you win is always influenced by your original bet, which means that it is possible to win thousands of dollars in one single hand.
- Unlike games based solely on luck, strategy is important when playing blackjack, and you can have strategies that will help you increase your chances of winning.
- There are several types of blackjack, but the classic game is what you will find most in online casinos.
- Play online blackjack for fun, before betting your money.
- When you decide to play online blackjack for money, make sure you know all the rules, basic strategies, and the value of the cards.
IS IT LEGAL TO PLAY BLACKJACK ONLINE?
Yes. In the State of New Jersey playing blackjack online is completely legal and safe. All virtual casinos are regulated by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. This ensures that casinos abide by the state’s regulations, including fair play legislation.
WHAT IS THE BEST ONLINE BLACKJACK SITE?
Given the incredible number of online gaming platforms, it can be difficult for you to make a choice. Which one is the best? How can you know that it is safe?
Worry not, we have created a ranking of the best online blackjack sites to help you choose. Our top 3 online casinos are safe, reliable, and licensed, with data protection mechanisms in place that guarantee the secure exchange of private information and transactions.
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IS ONLINE BLACKJACK RIGGED?
One of the biggest concerns of online players is whether online blackjack is rigged. The short answer is no.
Online blackjack works with a mechanism called RNG, or Random Number Generator, that assures the randomness of wins and provides equal chances for all players. This makes the possibility of manipulating a blackjack game almost impossible. Especially in licensed casinos, where responsible authorities guarantee the fairness of the game.
HOW DO YOU PLAY VIRTUAL BLACKJACK WITH FRIENDS?
The best option to play online blackjack with friends is to join a live game.
Online blackjack live games add a unique social element to virtual games, allowing you to sit at a table and invite your friends to join you and play in real-time together.
CAN YOU MAKE MONEY PLAYING ONLINE BLACKJACK?
Yes. By learning the rules of the game and some strategies, you can easily become a skilled player and make real money. In our guide, you will find all the information you need to understand the rules of the game, learn tips and game strategies to increase your chances of winning.
WHY PLAY ONLINE BLACKJACK?
Blackjack is one of the greatest casino classics and one of the easiest games to play.
Playing blackjack online offers you numerous advantages. You can play whenever you want without having to go to a physical casino. Additionally, you can benefit from online blackjack bonuses that allow you to place different bets and challenge the competition, and you can practice for free with the fun mode versions of the game.
Essentially, when you play blackjack online, you have the freedom to do what you want at your own time and that’s real fun!
Online Blackjack Bonuses
One of the best things about playing online blackjack is that you get bonuses the moment you sign up. This welcome bonus allows you to double or increase your first deposit, offering you the chance to play longer and win more money.
Practice for Free
There are many sites providing online blackjack trainer options that enable you to try blackjack without the financial aspect involved.
The free blackjack practice modes of the game are a great option if you are a beginner. You can have fun while getting familiar with strategies and improve your blackjack skills before placing bets for money.
5# Strategies to Increase Your Chances of Winning in Online Blackjack
1# Choose tables with fewer decks in the game: Under blackjack rules, physical and virtual casinos are allowed to use additional decks at tables. The more decks are used, the smaller is your chance of winning.
2# Know the difference between making 21 points and blackjack: Making 21 and blackjack aren’t the same. Although both hands have the same sum, making 21 points means using several cards until you reach that value. Blackjack is only achieved with the first two cards dealt. For instance, an ace followed by a 10.
3# Know when to double down: One of the most basic moves is to double the bet. When used correctly, this move can significantly reduce the casino’s advantage. However, you must use this strategy wisely. For example, if your initial score is between 9 and 11 and the dealer’s score is between 2 and 6, then doubling down can be a smart move.
5# Choose to stand when the hand is high: Achieving a score of 21 or blackjack isn’t an easy task. Often your point will be close to 21. Let’s say that your hand makes up over 17 points. In this case, it is wise to stand and not ask for more cards, since the chances of going above 17 are very high.
6# Split aces and eights: One of the most basic blackjack strategies is to divide aces and eights. The reason for splitting the eights is because their sum (i.e. 16) is one of the weakest positions in blackjack (see above how to play a 16 hand), since the dealer does not stop before reaching 17. In the case of aces, splitting them increases your chances of getting a figure (10 points), ensuring a win.
Basic Blackjack Terms
Bust: When the dealer or the player has exceeded 21 points
Dealer: The dealer is the person who hands in the cards. In online blackjack games, the dealer is the RNG system that draws cards randomly.
Double down: Double the bet.
Face cards: These are the Jack, Queen, and King cards, which are all worth ten.
Hit: When you request one or more additional cards to increase your sum.
Split: When you have two cards with the same value, and you split them into two separate hands.
Stand: When you keep the two cards you already have and decide to not take any additional cards.