How to Play Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular table game at online casinos and one of the simplest to learn. The classic game of 21 only takes a few minutes to play and is a great entry-level table game for players.
If you’re new to the game, we’re here to help with our basic blackjack guide. On this page, you’ll learn how to play blackjack and get some basic blackjack tips to help you get started playing blackjack at online casinos. Online blackjack will soon be available at PA online casinos, and with this guide, you’ll be ready to play once games launch.
Basic Rules of Blackjack
The object of blackjack is to get a hand as close to 21 without going over. This is done by combining the values of the cards in your hand. The suit of the card does not matter, only the value. Below are the point values of each card:
- Aces – Typically worth 11 points, but can also be used as one point.
- Ten, Jack, Queen, and King – Worth 10 points
- Deuces through Nines – Worth their face value
In most blackjack games, you and the dealer are dealt two cards. The first is face down and the second is face up. Subsequent cards will be face up. For online casinos, both of your cards will be face up for convenience.
If the first two cards you’re dealt total 21, then you have Blackjack and you win automatically. The only exception is if the dealer also happens to get Blackjack, at which point you push.
If your first two cards do not equal 21, then you get the option to either hit or stand. If you hit, the value of the cards will be added to your point total. You can continue hitting until you declare that you stand, your cards total 21, or you go over 21. Going over 21 is also known as a Bust.
You’re always playing against the dealer, and you’re trying to make a hand that is higher than the dealer. Dealers have a different set of rules for their hands. They must hit on all hands less than 17 and stand on hands totaling 17 to 21. Some casinos allow a dealer to hit on a soft 17, meaning an ace and a six.
When you beat the dealer or the dealer busts, you double your bet. If the dealer wins or you bust, you lose your bet. If you happen to make a Blackjack, you will win 3:2, or $7.50 for every $5 wagered.
There are a couple of additional situations that arise during blackjack play that you need to know to make the best decisions during a game. Here’s a basic blackjack guide to help you with these situations.
Double Down – If your first two cards equal nine, ten, or eleven, then you can opt to double down with your hand. Just place a bet equal to your initial bet beside your initial bet to indicate you want to double down. The dealer will then deal a third card sideways. Note that you will only receive one additional card when you double down. If you win, you get paid out on both bets.
Split – Splits can be done in two forms. The most common is on a pair. If you are dealt a pair, such as a pair of nines, you can opt to put up a separate bet and split the cards into separate hands. You then play the hands out as usual.
However, if you happen to pair up again, you can split again. Let’s say you were dealt nines, split, and then were dealt a nine on one of the split hands. You can split those nines again. Most casinos will allow you to split up to four times. Note that some casinos will only allow you to receive a single card after splitting aces.
The other option for splitting involves mixed 10 point cards. Some casinos will allow you to split if you are dealt a hand like K-J, or J-10.
Surrender – In some blackjack games, you can give up your hand after the initial deal and take back half of your bet. For example, if you were dealt 2-3, you’d probably want to surrender this hand.
Tips to Help You Win More at Blackjack
There are many “blackjack guides” out there for beginners, and rather than go into those; we recommend you do your research and find the best guide for your play. Instead, we will give you some blackjack tips that will compliment any basic strategies you pick up along the way.
- Dealer Stands on Soft 17 – Seek out games where the dealer is forced to stand on a soft 17. This will improve your odds of winning.
- Pick Double Down Tables – Not all blackjack tables allow the double down option. Find the ones that allow it and take advantage as doubling down slightly improves your odds.
- Pick a Strategy – Because there are many strategies for playing blackjack, the best thing to do is find one that suits your style and stick with it. Don’t constantly monkey around with your strategy.
- Stand if the Dealer is Likely to Bust – If your dealer is starting with an up card of four, five, or six, then it is often a good idea to stand and let them try and bust, especially if you’re starting with a weak hand.
- Skip Insurance Bets – Some casinos offer insurance bets where if a dealer is showing an ace on the deal, you can place a side bet that they have a blackjack. These bets only pay even money and are long-term losers. You’re better off to take occasional blackjack loss.
You now know the basics of how to play blackjack, so now it is time to get into the game. Combine the blackjack tips you just learned with a solid basic strategy, and you may soon find yourself having a good time and winning at online blackjack.