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Rules and Strategy

How to play Blackjack in 10 simple steps

Rules Rules

Heard a lot about Blackjack? Want to get into the nitty-gritty of the game? We have compiled this Blackjack guide article especially for novice players like you so that you can get the gist of the most important things about this brilliant casino game and put them into practice to win big!

All you need to know in 7 minutes

Here is what you will learn in the next 7 minutes:

  • Blackjack rules
  • Blackjack card values
  • Blackjack hands
  • Player actions
  • Blackjack game scenarios
  • Card counting
  • Payouts

Are you ready to learn how to play Blackjack? Let’s get started!

What are the Blackjack Rules?

The game of Blackjack is played using either a single deck or up to 8 decks of cards, with single and double decks being dealt by a dealer and multiple decks of cards being dealt from a special box called a shoe.

Many card games can be a deterrent for new players, given the notion that players will need to learn much more about the movements and rules of the game, whereas other casino games don’t need as much preparation. This is why games like slot machines and roulette are very popular amongst players that are new to the world of online gambling.

So, with this said, we are going to share with those that have the enthusiasm to learn how to play blackjack in the online casino environment.

Keep in mind: Jokers are removed in Blackjack and each deck consists of 52 cards.

The object of the game is to draw cards, the total of which is as close to 21 as possible, without exceeding the total value of the dealer’s cards. Blackjack is also known as the game of 21 for this very reason. Hence, the best total value a player can get is a combination of two cards which total to a value of 21, or, in other words, a Blackjack.

Blackjack card values make your gameplay more thrilling

Blackjack card values are really straightforward and easy to grasp. The numeral cards from 2 to 10 have their face values, whilst Jacks, Queens, and Kings have a value of 10. Aces are a bit trickier since they can be valued at either 1 or 11. The way it works is that by default the Ace has a value of 11. The only case when it is valued as 1 is when the total value of the hand would exceed 21.

Here is a practical example:

  • Jack + 10 = 20
  • Queens + 7 = 17
  • Ace + 10 = 21 (Here’s your Blackjack!)
  • 9 + 5 = 14

As you can see, once you grasp the way different card values are calculated, working out the totals involves very basic skills in arithmetic, and you can do it in no time!

What is the best Blackjack hand?

The best possible hand in Blackjack is a combination of cards that give you a total value of 21. These can be made up of an Ace and another card that will be valued at 10, for example, 10, Jack, Queen or King).

There are, however, some special circumstances that will encourage you to take a series of bold moves to get a winning hand. Here are some tips:

During the start of the hand it’s possible to ‘double down’ on your initial bet and you will receive only one additional card with which to beat the dealer’s hand.

If the dealer deals two cards of the same value, this is called ‘a pair’. From this pair you have the ability to create two separate playable hands. To complete each hand, you will receive two new cards and you must submit a bet equal to the initial bet for the second hand.

Finally, if the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace you are permitted to take ‘insurance’ which is a bet that the dealer has a card worth 10 in value as his face down card to complete what is called a Natural Blackjack. Insurance costs half the original stake and pays 2-1 if the dealer hits a natural Blackjack.

What are soft and hard hands in Blackjack?

Depending on the combinations of cards you are dealt with, your hand will be either soft or hard.

Hard Hand

A hard hand can be based on various combinations as long as it does not contain an Ace. If there is an Ace, it’s counted as 1.

Soft Hand

When a hand contains an Ace that is valued as 11, it is called a soft hand. When the cards are initially dealt and you receive an Ace, the value of the Ace is 11.

Practical Examples

Here are some practical examples to illustrate the rules of soft and hard hands:

  • 9 +7 = a hard 16
  • Ace + 9 + 2 + 3 = hard 18 (Remember we said earlier that if a total value of the hand exceeds 21, the ace is valued as 1)
  • Ace + 8 = a soft 19
  • Ace + 2 + 6 = a soft 19

Your winning strategy is based on the type of hands you are playing with so that understanding whether you have a soft or a hard hand is really crucial.

Tune in:To get a better idea of what actions you can take while playing Blackjack, tune in as the next section is about to give you a complete overview of the most important moves.

How player actions shape up the narrative of a Blackjack game

Blackjack, or as it is also called the Game of 21, is one of the most popular casino games around the globe. It is widely played in the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Here are some important player actions you should grasp before taking a seat at a Blackjack table. Once you place a wager, the card dealer will deal your initial set of two cards, which means you are all set to start the game. Players receive their cards face up, whilst the dealer’s cards are dealt in a special manner - one card face up and one card face down. The dealer’s hidden card is called a “hole card”. Following this stage, you can start playing! Let’s have a look at the most important actions in Blackjack together.

What is “hitting” in Blackjack?

Hitting in Blackjack means that you indicate to the dealer that you would like to be given another card.

What is “standing” in Blackjack?

Standing in Blackjack means you are happy with the combination of cards you have in your hand and you choose to stand with the current cards.

What is “pair splitting” in Blackjack?

If you get 2 like cards, for instance, a pair of Queens or 5s, you can choose to split them. This will allow you to split the pair of cards as two separate hands and draw any necessary number of cards to each hand. However, this rule does not apply to split aces.

Keep in mind: When you split, your consecutive bet must be equal to your original chip bet on the hand.

What is “surrendering” in Blackjack?

You can surrender by simply saying “surrender” to the dealer. This option allows you to forfeit the hand with a loss of half of the original bet. There are two types of Blackjack surrender – early surrender, which is a more favorable option, and late surrender, which is allowed in some casinos. Check out our tips on Blackjack basic strategy for further details and practical examples.

What is “doubling down” in Blackjack?

Doubling down in Blackjack means that you can double your original bet in return for receiving one drawcard. In most casinos, you will be allowed to double down only after receiving the first two cards and just before you draw another one. This is not really a good bet for your gaming tactics, so try to stay away from doubling down if you can. We will cover this point in more detail in our Blackjack basic strategy guide.

Insurance bet

Taking an insurance bet can be done when the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace. This means that you take a bet that the dealer will be able to complete a Blackjack with the value of the hole card – that one card in the dealer’s hand which is facing down. As we mentioned before, an insurance bet pays 2 to 1 if the dealer has a Blackjack. This is a risky move, however, as it rarely pays off. In such a case, to beat the house edge and scoop out a profit, it’s much safer to simply stand.

Blackjack basic strategy of card counting

Have you ever wondered why the majority of casinos use multiple decks of cards in Blackjack? It has been proven that some mathematical geniuses can actually beat the house edge and turn various combinations of cards to their favor by card counting. In reality, card counting is not illegal, however, players are normally banned from the casinos if they have been spotted counting cards.

Card counting is an extremely laborious process, which requires players to keep track of which cards have been in use since they are initially dealt. This gives players an advantage of knowing the exact cards that are left in the deck (in a single 52-card deck is used) or in the shoe (if multiple decks are being used).

Did you know? Multiple decks are used to make card counting virtually impossible. The more decks are being used, the harder it gets to keep track of all the possible card combinations and suits that have appeared on the Blackjack table.

Practical example of Blackjack basic order of events at the table

Here is a summary of the stages of a Blackjack game with some practical examples.

  • Each player is dealt with two cards
  • The dealer is dealt two cards, one of which is dealt face down
  • Each player completes their hands and decides which action to take – hit, stand, surrender or split
  • The dealer will not complete their hand if all players have either gone bust or received a Blackjack
  • The hole card is then revealed, which means the dealer must hit until the total value of the cards is 17 or more points
  • When both the dealer and the player have the same total card value (excluding cases of Blackjack), such hand becomes neither winning nor losing; in other cases, the dealer wins.

Blackjack basic strategy leads to success

Since the objective of the game is to get as close as possible to 21 points, but not exceed this number, it is important to understand when you need to draw additional cards and when it is best to stand. Blackjack is a game of skill that depends a lot on the outcomes of player actions as well as the cards that are dealt in every hand. Even an unfavorable combination of cards can be brilliantly played using a series of strategic moves that can turn a losing hand into a winning one.

The best move for the players is to make the dealer go bust without going bust themselves. This happens if the dealer’s hand exceeds 21 points, which brings victory to the player.

Another scenario that will give players a beautiful payout is getting a Blackjack whilst the dealer does not reach 21 points to get a Blackjack too.

Las Vegas entertainment on demand

Regardless of the stage, you are at, whether you are a novice player or someone who has been playing Blackjack for a longer period of time, there are plenty of things to learn about this fascinating game of skill. By perfecting and polishing up your game strategy you can enjoy the actual gameplay even more and earn some great rewards in the process.

Remember that as a new player, you will have many opportunities to play Blackjack online for free first before making any real money bets. Here at we have compiled a fresh selection of Canada's Best Online Casinos that operate globally and provide players with an amazing selection of casino games as well as a safe and responsible gaming environment.

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