How To Play Blackjack

blackjackThere’s no doubt that Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world and one that is spread across brick & mortar casinos as well as online ones. The game is incredibly easy to learn and can be played for free or real money. Due to its popularity, most online casinos offer it in a mobile and live dealer variation as well.

How To Play Blackjack

BlackJack is also one of the few games that, in theory, allow you to obtain an advantage over the casino. For long it has been a target to advantage players including the famous team of MIT students, who allegedly took some of the biggest Las Vegas casinos for millions of dollars.

Objective of The Game

This is a game where you are literally competing with “the house”. Your objective is to beat the dealer by drawing to a hand that is worth more points than one that the dealer draws for himself.

Many people wrongly assume that the objective of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible, which wrong. As you will learn later in this article, it is often correct to stand on a point score of between 12 to 15, depending on the handheld by the dealer.

Blackjack GamePlay

Depending on the BlackJack game type you have chosen, you might be able to play anywhere from 1 to 5 hands at the same time. Most games online offer at least 3 playing boxes.

Start out by placing a wager, which will lead to your starting hand being dealt. This always consists of two playing cards. The dealer always deals at least one card for himself and depending on the game type you are playing, the second card might be placed right away or the first card dealt might be opened.

Once participating playing boxes are dealt two cards each, players have to make a decision between:

a) Stand – do not take more cards.
b) Hit – take another card.
c) Double – get just one additional while doubling your wager.
d) Split – divide your starting hand into two separate ones. Only available if your hand consists of two cards with the exact same value, such as 88 or JJ.

Some game types will also allow you to perform an action called “surrender”. This means giving up half of your initial wager and being done with the hand. Players typically surrender when the risk of ruin is high or the dealer has gotten a face card as his first one.

Note: You cannot surrender if the dealer has dealt an ace to himself as the first hole card.

Natural BlackJack

Natural hand of Blackjack consists of an ace and any face card including a 10. Most newbies think that in order to “get Blackjack” the Jack in the hand has to be either of spades or clubs, but this is incorrect.

A hand like this is considered as having a higher value than regular point score of 21. In fact, it’s impossible to lose when you get a Blackjack dealt with the first two cards. You can only tie it in case the dealer also draws a natural hand of Blackjack.

The other benefit of getting a hand like this is an improvement in payout ratios. Normal win awards an even money payout so if you’d stake $100, you would win $200 total for winning.

When you get a natural hand dealt, this payout will be 3 to 2, – you’ll win $250 total for a stake of $100.

Note: A hand is only considered to be BlackJack if it is made up of two cards – an ace and a jack of any suit.

Card Values

Regular card values are used in BlackJack. If you are not a regular card player these might be new though.

  • Numbered Cards: Face Value
  • Face Cards: 10 Points
  • Aces: 1 or 11 Points

There are no jokers used in BlackJack and a typical deck of 52 cards and four suits is used.

How To Play Blackjack Dealer Rules for Drawing

Before playing your first hands of BlackJack, you have to understand that dealer acts according to a few drawing rules. It does not matter whether you have a hand worth 20 points or 12 points, he/she still follow these:

  • Always draw to 17 or more.
  • Never draw a card when 17 or more.
  • Depending on the game type played, the dealer might hit soft 17*.

*Soft combinations are those that involve and ace and have a 0% chance of ruin, as the ace can be simply changed to value of 1 instead of 11.

Playing Tips

Before getting to any actual tips you have to understand that BlackJack is a casino game, which means that a casino does have a statistical advantage against you.

This does not mean that you cannot win playing it, but if you take up the challenge of playing 100,000 hands, it is very likely that you’ll end up losing money.

The most important tips we can share with you today are actually two simple ones:

  • Never play any of the “special” game variations, such as Switch, Triple 7’s or anything alike. These almost always offer rules that are unfavourable to players.
  • Sidebets are for suckers. Typical side-bet offers a house edge of 10 to 20%, not exactly great for your bankroll.
  • If you are unable to count cards like a professional, stick to basic strategy. If you apply it properly, BlackJack can be played for as little as 0.05% house advantage.

Applying Basic Strategy

Basic strategy in BlackJack is nothing more than making correct choices that are purely based on statistics and pretty basic math.

Quick question: What do you do if you have hard 12 and the dealer has just dealt himself a 5?

Answer: You stand. It’s very easy for the dealer to bust on a 5 by taking two high value cards. This probability is high enough that it gains more expected value than you hitting on hard 12.


Live Blackjack Dealers

With advancement in casino technology, live dealers have taken place of RNG Blackjack and there’s no going back on this one. When you choose this game type, you are opting in for an improved gaming experience.

Not only can you interact with the dealers a view them on a real-time HD video stream, but it’s also possible to chat with other players that are playing at the same table.

High-rollers also prefer playing live dealer BlackJack in comparison to regular online variation. This is due to a combination of the following:

  • Higher Betting Limits
  • No Chance of Scams (even though most online casinos utilize legitimate software, there are some that might give you a feeling of something fishy going on)
  • Playing experience that is more interactive.

Playing on Mobile

mobile blackjackJust like live dealer gaming, mobile play has also blossomed in the last couple of years. Any serious online casino is now offering at least a part of their game portfolio to users of mobile and tablet devices.

It’s possible to play on iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and most BlackBerry devices. Playing experience is rather good, but of course nowhere near one on a personal computer, especially when you utilize the live dealer software.

That being said, Evolution Gaming now offers live dealer BlackJack that can be played on all iPad and iPhone devices.

Playing for Real Money vs Free

We see many players looking to play BlackJack for free and that’s completely fine, as you should not be risking funds that you cannot afford to lose. Though, you should know that playing for real money has the following benefits:

  • You can play the live dealer variations of the game that are not available for free due to high costs of labor.
  • When playing for money you also get a completely different set of emotions and focus. There’s often some adrenaline rising when you double down big along with excitement for getting a natural hand of BlackJack dealt.

Please note that in no way do we encourage you to deposit money and only gamble for real money. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, be it a $10 deposit, $1,000 or playing for fun chips.