How to Play Blackjack

How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is the iconic casino table game.It is also a very simple and strategic game that any online casino player can enjoy.If you can count to twenty one, you've essentially mastered the basics of Blackjack.

In this article I will tell you about how Blackjack works and talk about the different kind of options you have.

Reading time: 9 minutes.

The Object of the Game

In order to win a hand of Blackjack, you need to have cards valued closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over 21.Beating the dealer will double your bet (1 to 1 payout).

The Value of the Cards

Each numbered card is worth the value of the number shown on the card.Face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are worth 10.Ace cards are worth 1 or 11.The suits of cards do not matter in Blackjack.

Starting a Hand

To start a hand of Blackjack, you must make a bet.Once all player bets are placed, the dealer will deal each player (including the dealer) one card face down.The dealer will then deal each player (including the dealer) one more card face up on top of their face down card.The face down card is for your view only.After looking at the card, ensure it remains face down for the remainder of the hand.

Player Options

Once all players receive their first two cards, the players begin exercising their options.The first player to act is the player sitting left of the dealer.

- Hit
A hit is the player asking for another card to be dealt to them.If a player's hand is not close to 21, the player will hit and try to get closer.Players typically hit when their cards total less than 17.

- Stand
A stand is the player telling the dealer not to deal them another card.They believe they are closer to 21 than the dealer.Players typically stand when their cards total more than 16.

- Double Down
A double is the player asking to double their bet in exchange for only one more card.Players typically double their bet when their first two cards total 11.

- Split
A split is an option a player can exercise when their first two cards of any hand are the same number.The split will effectively create two hands (and two bets) from which the player can play from.Players typically split when their card plus ten would equal more than the dealer's shown card plus ten.After the cards are split, the player will resume the normal player options for each hand.It is possible to split multiple times in a single round of Blackjack.

- Insurance
Insurance is an option a player can exercise if the dealer's face up card is an ace.If the player takes insurance, they are betting half their original bet that the dealer has a blackjack.If the player is right, the insurance bet will be paid 2 to 1.The reason it is called insurance is because if the player is right about the dealers hand, and does not have 21 in their own hand, they won't lose any money from the hand.However, if a player has a 21 from their two cards and the dealer has 21, the player will not earn any money on the original bet but will earn 2 to 1 on their insurance bet.

- Surrender
A surrender is the player asking for half of his original bet to be returned in exchange for his hand.

Dealer Options

Once all players have finished their options, it is now time for the dealer to exercise their option.The dealer has only two options at a Blackjack table.Dealers must hit on anything less than 17 and stand on anything greater than 16.If the dealer goes over 21 (busts) when they hit, all players will automatically win their bet unless they are also over 21.

"Soft" 17

There are several variations of the dealer options in most online casinos.However, the most common one is in regards to what a dealer must do on a "soft" 17.A "soft" 17 is when the dealer has an ace in their hand and their total hand value can be 7 or 17.Conversely, a "hard" 17 is when the dealer may or may not have an ace in their hand and their total hand value can only be 17.Most online casinos will have the dealer stand on a soft 17, however some will hit.If the game requires the dealer to hit on a soft 17, this is an advantage in the players' favour.

Revealing Player and Dealer Hands

After the dealer has exercised their options, they will reveal their hand to the players.The dealer will then reveal each players hand to determine a winner.If the player has a hand closer to (but not over) 21 than the dealer, the dealer will pay them 1 to 1.If the player has 21 on two cards only, they have made a Blackjack and the dealer will pay them 3 to 2 so long as the dealer does not have 21.If both the player and the dealer have the same hand value, the hand is pushed and the player is refunded the bet.If the dealer wins the hand, the bet is forfeited and a new hand of Blackjack is dealt.

Questions about Blackjack

  • Is there a difference in offline and online Blackjack?

    Depending on the version of online Blackjack you are playing there will be slight differences in the way the game is played. Firstly, regular online Blackjack uses a computer algorithm in order to shuffle the cards. While this will technically give a more thorough, random and fair shuffle than cards shuffled by a real life dealer, some players prefer cards that are shuffled by hand. This does provide a slightly different experience and stops players from being able to count cards.

    However,a live dealer version of Blackjack will offer an extremely similar experience to offline Blackjack. This is because a real life dealer is in place who will shuffle the cards. While the different rule variations will provide some differences, on the whole the live dealer experience is almost the same. It should also be noted that that game is controlled by the software as opposed to talking to the dealer and making decisions that way.

  • Can I play Blackjack for free online?

    This all depends on the online casino that you’re playing at. Some online casinos will offer players the chance to try a demo version of a game. On the other hand some of them won’t offer this opportunity. In order to find an online casino that will allow you the chance to play for free then you can take a look through our online casino reviews. By looking through these you can discover the best places to play online Blackjack games for free.

    It’s also important to look over what the requirements are in order to play the demo version of Blackjack. Some online casinos will allow you to play the demo versions without having to sign up. If you want to check over a range of games then these online casinos might be the best places to try. However, other online casinos might require you to sign up. If you already have an account with one of these online casinos then you could quite easily play there too.

  • Should I use Insurance?

    Insurance isn’t always offered by every online casino. This is basically a side bet that players can lay if the dealer is showing an Ace as their face up card. The insurance wager is usually capped at half of the value of the original stake. If the dealer then has a natural Blackjack as their hand then the insurance bet will pay out 2/1 odds. If the Blackjack game offers insurance than whenever the dealer is showing an Ace the insurance option will appear.

    When it comes to taking the insurance bet, it is generally regarded as a bad idea. This is because on the whole taking the insurance bet increases the house edge. It means that it gives the casino a better chance of taking money away from you. While you might sometimes win the insurance bet, over the course of a number of hands you’re more likely to lose money taking the insurance bet than you are to win money.

  • Should I double?

    Not all Blackjack games will give players the opportunity to double. Doubling is offered when you are dealt a pair of cards. If you do come across the chance to double then it can decrease the house edge and increase your chances of profit. The reason for this is because there is a lot of nuance when it comes to taking the double option. Depending on what cards you have been dealt, then it will impact on whether you should double or not.

    An example of when you should double is if you are dealt a pair of eights. This is because a 16 is a very difficult hand to play, so it would be better to split it into two hands including an eight and play from there. An example of when you should never double is if you are dealt a pair of cards that are worth 10. This is because a hand of 20 is a very good hand and you are unlikely to create two separate hands as good as this one.

  • Where can you play online Blackjack?

    The number of places that you can play online Blackjack is extremely vast. This is because almost every online casino in the world has at least one variation of Blackjack. It’s one of the most popular online casino games of all time, so it makes sense that lots of different online casinos offer the title. In Canada there is a large selection of different online casinos where you can play online Blackjack. It’s up to you to find the right one for you.

    If you want some help finding the right online casino to play online Blackjack then looking through our reviews is the best way to do so. We have put together a fantastic list of Canadian online casinos where you can choose the right one for you. We cover what games are available and whether you can play standard online Blackjack or live dealer Blackjack. Whatever you want from Blackjack, our reviews will provide it for you.