How To Play Blackjack
- Date published:
- Last updated:
How To Play Blackjack – Basic Blackjack Rules
How does blackjack work? The game of blackjack is a comparing card game. This means that it can involve more than two players but all the players compete against the house, and not against each other.
At the start of the game, the players are required to first place their bets.
Then the dealer, representing the house, will distribute the cards to each player. Each player gets two cards, including the dealer. One of the dealer’s cards will be turned for all players to see.
You must have had people refer to blackjack as ‘21’. This is in reference to the basic rule of the game, that your cards should add up to a figure closest to 21, but not a single number higher. For example, 9, 7 and 5 will be a set of winning cards. If your cards add up to 22 or anything above that, then you lose.
The winner is the player whose cards get closest to 21, or simply add up to 21.
You can beat the house if you have the initial set of cards adding up to 21. Alternatively, your final score should be higher than that of the house, but not exceeding 21. You will also be the winner if the dealer draws more cards to a point that their cards go beyond 21. If your hand or that of the dealer goes beyond 21, it is said to have ‘busted’ and the other player with cards totaling to 21 or less becomes the automatic winner.
As a player, you have a number of options after the distribution of the initial two cards.
- You can take a hit. This means that you draw a card from the dealer.
- Another option is to take a stand and not take an additional card.
- Or you can double down. To double down is to increase your original bet by 100% or less. However, you will be required to take only one more hit after doubling down.
- Also, you can split hands. This is only allowed in cases where the original two cards are the same, for example a 6 and a 6. Splitting hands means that the two cards will be played differently, and win or lose separately. The player will be required to place an additional bet to the second hand which should be equal to the first. Splitting can also be done when the player has two different 10-valued cards such as a jack and a king.
- The player is sometimes also allowed to surrender. Surrendering means that the game will be stopped and the player’s stake divided equally between the dealer and the player.
In contrast, the dealer has to follow strict and narrow rules. At the start, he has to take hits till the cards add up to at least 17. After having cards with total value of 17 and over, he can no longer pick more cards. By learning the value of cards and refering to 21 as the magic number of blackjack, you will get the basic understanding on how to play blackjack.
Cards are valued according to their number. Kings, queens and jacks, referred to as Face Cards, are valued at 10 points. Also, the card numbered ‘10’ still counts as 10. The value of an ace could be 11 or 1. The players simply decide the value of the ace, depending on what will make the most convenient total sum. When the value of the ace can be set at 11 without having the total going over 21, the ace is said to be a soft ace. This is as opposed to a hard ace which can burst after the drawing of another card. The suits of the cards do not feature in the basic blackjack rules.
Basic blackjack rules boil down to understanding the meaning of numbers and cards.
Blackjack Online Strategy
Strategy is neglected by many people who play casino games. Unlike the slot machine, the game of blackjack can swing in your favor if you learn how to play blackjack intelligently and apply basic principles of logic and basic blackjack rules, too. For example, if your cards add up to 20, in many cases, it would be unwise to take a hit in the hope that you will pick an ace. Similarly, taking a stand when your cards are still premature is a poor playing strategy. Most of the moves in blackjack are learned over time as you keep playing. Sometimes, the decisions are quite easy to make and other times, it could leave you terribly confused. Many gamblers end up with superstitions developed from one win or loss and try to apply the same to other games, and this is usually the start of a chain of losses. All this is to the glory of the house. The best blackjack players take time to learn how to play blackjack. Follow these basic blackjack rules & tips to maximize your chances of winning:
- Only take a hit until you reach a total score of 17.
- Do not take a hit if you have an ace and a card with a value higher than 7. With an ace and any number below 7, you should take a hit.
- Split hands if you are dealt with two aces or 8’s. One ace is strong enough if it stands alone as it can take two extreme values depending on the situation. However, when grouped together, the aces can only be 11 and 1, summing up to 12. 12 is both low and inconveniencing. You are, therefore, better off splitting them. Two 8’s are similarly inconveniencing as they only add up to 16. 16 is probably the most confusing number as it is still weak, yet you can easily burst. If you have a pair of 7’s, you can split if the dealer’s card is 7 or less. Another bad move in splitting hands is splitting 10’s. Of course, this could be any 10-valued cards. This is a bad move since 20 is a strong enough score.
- Work in the hope that the dealer will break or burst. The dealer has to take more cards till his cards sum up to 17 or more. There is a likelihood that his cards will go over 21 in this process. So unless you have a soft hand, you will want to take your chances that he will burst. A soft hand is a set of cards that will not exceed 21 with the addition of any more cards. For example, if you have 5 and 5, the highest card you can pick is a 10, which will still leave you with a set that is not above 21.
- If the dealer has a big chance of bursting, you should split hands or double down. This is in a situation where the dealer has a hard hand. This is a set of cards that can burst with the addition of an extra card. Any set of cards adding up to more than 11 is a hard hand.
- Take a stand with high hard hands. High hard hands are usually cards adding up to 17 and over, without exceeding 21. It would be unwise to draw an extra card in this case as the odds are stacked against you that you will burst in the next hit.
- Never take insurance. Insurance is an option that the player has if the dealer’s first card is an ace. This has to be the initial card that is turned face up for all the players to see. Insurance is a secondary bet that is placed on half the amount of the wager. The player bets that the dealer’s initial set of cards will be a natural blackjack. This means that the set will be the dealer’s best in the entire game. The player will usually win if the dealer’s second card is 10 or one of the Face Cards. Insurance will be covered in greater detail below. All the same, insurance does not work in many instances and only increases the probability that you will lose more money.
The Player’s advantages against the house
The house will always have an edge over the players. This is basically how the casinos keep running year round with all the games being played every day. The primary advantage that the house has is that it gets to play after the players, meaning the players can burst sooner than the dealer does.
However, the player also has his/her own advantages in the blackjack rules.
For one, the dealer can never double down the stake even when the chances of them winning are high. On the other hand, the player can always double down his wager, and if you utilize proper blackjack strategy, you can make much more money using this option.
Secondly, a dealer can never split hands no matter the situation. You, on the other hand, are able to split hands depending on your own judgment of the situation.
Also, the dealer is required to take hits until their cards add up to at least 17. As a player, you can take a stand much earlier. This means that the house has a probability of bursting if you play your cards correctly.
Also known as a natural, a blackjack is a set of cards amounting to exactly 21. It is also important to understand that a blackjack has to be in the first two cards. If you land a set of cards adding up to 21 in the middle of the game, then this is not a blackjack but just a 21. Also, if you initially get a pair of aces and decide to split them, you are allowed to draw one more card for each ace. But even when you do land a 10 valued card, this does not count as a blackjack. Naturally, you only get a blackjack if you have an ace and a 10, King, Queen or Jack.
Understanding these basic blackjack rules is important since it pays 3 to 2. This means that if you placed a stake of $100, you walk away with a clean $150. With a blackjack, you will already be a winner, regardless of the dealer’s cards. The only other possibility is for the game to end in a draw, which will only happen if the dealer also has a blackjack.
If you’re a total starter, you believe that learning blackjack is a daunting task. However, learning how to play blackjack doesn’t have to be a nightmare. You have probably figured out some basic blackjack rules by now and you’re ready to give it a try! Let’s continue with the explanation of different aspects of blackjack now.
Insurance is closely connected to the blackjack. For this to be relevant, the dealer’s first card has to be an ace. At the start of the game, the dealer will usually reveal one of the cards first, and leave the hole card turned down. If this card is an ace, the player has the chance to place an additional stake on whether the dealer’s cards will sum up to be his best set, usually summing up to 21. Basically, insurance is betting on the dealer’s second card being of the value 10. This means a 10, King, Jack or Queen will leave the player with a winning from the insurance. Of course, this also means that the player lost the actual game, and the insurance could be a great cushion to the loss. The only exception is if player also had a blackjack.
Insurance pays in a ratio of 1 to 2. If you staked $100, the insurance will give you returns worth $50.
Splitting a pair of cards is a common practice and if well executed, can prove to be part of a great blackjack strategy. Splitting will result in an extra bet for the player. In addition, if you get another matching pair of cards, you are still allowed to split and form a third hand. If again you get a matching pair of cards, you can split to quadruple your potential winning. Casinos allow players to split up to a forth hand. Blackjack rules relating to splitting vary.
Over 1000 variations of the blackjack exist. Basic blackjack rules depend on the prevailing rules of the land, and also what the casino chooses to go with, within the limits of the law. Usually, these are not really major changes in the game, but they could affect the chances of the player losing or winning the game. It is therefore very important for a player to understand the blackjack rules of each game and adjust the strategy accordingly.
Common variations include the rules on whether the dealer must hit or stand at 17. Normally, the dealer will only have to hit till they reach 17, whether they have to go over that is dependent on the casino and the specific game’s rules.
Another variation is on the number of decks. If the casino uses fewer decks, the chances of the player winning the game are increased. In a game where the rules require the use of 8 decks, the dealer has about 0.6% advantage of the player. This is much higher than in a single deck game, where the dealer has only a 0.17% advantage over the player. The change comes in the fact that the player can much more easily score a natural blackjack. If the player first has an ace, there is a higher probability that he/ she will score a 10, jack, king or queen in the next card as there are less decks.
The rules pertaining to splitting of hands are also varied. In some games, the players are allowed to split hands as many times as possible, while in others, it is limited. The normal limit is four times. Similarly, some casinos do not allow players to double down after splitting hands. This is a variation to the common rules that allow players to double down even after splitting four hands.
Splitting of aces usually comes with a limitation to draw only one more card for each ace. Some casinos do not allow the player to resplit the ace a second time if the player draws another ace.
Surrender, though not accepted in most games, also entails a variety of rules. Surrendering is simply an option of the player to end the game at a point, resulting in a 50/50 split of the player’s stake between the dealer and the player. More commonly, a player is only allowed to surrender after the dealer’s cards are confirmed not to be a blackjack. What this means is simply that a player cannot surrender after a dealer exposes their first card as ace, 10, jack, queen or king. However, some casinos have a variation to this rule, which is referred to as early surrender. In blackjack games that allow early surrender, the players have an advantage in that they can end the game when the house has a high likelihood of winning the game though a natural blackjack.
Keeping track of your bankroll
Many people start playing casino games such as blackjack without having a clear idea of how much money they have to spend on the game. Many people also fail to understand that blackjack depends heavily on luck and is therefore not a way to pay the bills. Keeping track of your expenditure in the casino is a strategy that has to be learned by all responsible gamblers. Once you experience a loss, you may get the urge to play another game in the hope that this time, you will win and gain back your money. This is just a trick your brain is playing on you and will probably leave you broke and hungry if you follow through with it. In the same vein, once you get a win, you may get that disastrous feeling of having lady luck on your side. This might be true, but it usually is not. All the same, the gambling industry is built on such emotions and you better learn to control your income before the casino owns it.
Comparison between online blackjack and land based blackjack
The challenge on how to play blackjack applies to both online and land based casinos. Brick and mortar casinos have been in existence for a very long time. Online casino blackjack games try to imitate land based casino games to create a more real life experience. Of course, this can hardly ever be the case. All the same, depending on your specific situation, you may prefer online casino to land based casinos. Here are a few comparison points between the two. What’s common for both online casinos and brick and mortar casinos is that you need to understand basic blackjack rules to be able to play blackjack confidently.
Advantages of playing blackjack
- The biggest advantage of online blackjack is the wide variety of games available to players. These could include the Vegas Strip, Spanish 21, Super Fun 21, Blackjack Switch and Chinese Blackjack. In reality, there are very many different variations of the game. This kind of variety exists only in the biggest land based casinos.
- Playing blackjack online also has the advantage of helping you keep a better track of your expenditure. The software provided in the online casinos let users view clearly how much money they spend, including the winnings and the losses.
- Playing blackjack online also provides you the calm and privacy of playing in your own room. You can make clearer decisions and are not distracted by other players.
- At the same time, playing blackjack online provides protection. Playing at the casino could easily see you walking away with a lot of money. Considering the fact that most gamblers prefer to play at night, this could pose a major risk on you and your money. It is easy for a person to follow you out the casino and attack you for your money. This is impossible in online casinos.
- Online casinos usually offer bonuses and rewards to players of their games, including blackjack.
- You don’t have to buy drinks to play blackjack online.
Disadvantages of playing blackjack online
- You don’t get to meet people and interact.
- Online casinos, just like other websites and online applications, experience downtime. This can affect the blackjack games.
We hope it’s easier for you to understand basic blackjack rules and how to play blackjack online.
You need an effective strategy to win at blackjack? Click here to read more and discover supreme tips for playing blackjack.