How to Play Blackjack

Whether looking online or at land-based casinos, blackjack is one of the most popular games around. If you don’t yet know how to play blackjack, then we have some good news for you: parts of the appeal of the game are in its simplicity. Now, don’t get us wrong. Simple doesn’t equate to it being easy to win (even if it is the casino game with one of the lowest house edges). To become a regular winner at this game, you need to know how to play and then you need to start learning all about strategies.

We’ve put this guide together for all types of players. If you’re a complete newbie then you’ll benefit by learning how to play blackjack. If you’re a little more experienced, you’re still going to pick up some hints and tips that can see your game improve. When you know how to play blackjack properly, that’s when your wins start to become more consistent. If that’s something that you’d like to learn, then read on.

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Decks and the tables

Before we start getting into playing blackjack itself, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what there is to know about the decks of cards and the playing tables. If you’ve ever tried to play blackjack casually at home, there’s a good chance that you’ve used a single deck of cards. That can happen in a casino too, but it’s worth knowing that it’s possible for a game of blackjack to use as when it comes to the blackjack table, when you know what you’re looking for, this is a trove of useful information. You see, there are details about the game that can vary from casino to casino. They even vary from table to table in the same casino. By studying the table, you can learn things such as how much a blackjack pays out, how insurance pays, and when a dealer has to stand. This is all vital information that you’ll need to play blackjack properly. Many as six decks in a game. This means that a game could involve 52 cards, or as many as 312.

You may be wondering why it matters how many decks of cards are involved in a game of blackjack. Well, the total number of cards has an effect on the house edge. The fewer decks being used, the lower the house edge is. Strategies, such as card counting, become much easier the fewer cards that there are in a game too.
how to play blackjack

The main goal of the blackjack

With several players seated at a blackjack table, it’s understandable for newcomers to the game to be mistaken about the aim of the game. The big point to note here is that you’re not competing with the other players. The only person who you’re playing against, and who you need to beat, is the dealer. So, let’s take a look at what you have to do to achieve that.

To win at blackjack, you need the cards that you’re holding to be as close to totalling 21 as possible. When you hit 21 itself that’s classed as a blackjack. If you go over 22, you go bust and are out of the game. If you’re not sure what each of the cards are worth, then here’s a quick look:

  • 1. Cards 2 through to 10 are worth their face value
  • 2. Jacks, queens, and Kings are all worth 10
  • 3. An Ace leaves you to decide – it can be worth one or it can be worth 11

You start by being dealt two cards and then, based on what you have, you have various options to choose from:

Hit

hit

Stand

stand

Split

split

Double Down

double down

Surrender

surrender

Insurance

insurance

How the game begins

While playing at an online casino may look a little different, the way in which a game plays out follows exactly the same principles. That means that what you read about how to play blackjack, and how a game starts, can be applied to both online and land-based casinos.

When you first take to a blackjack table, and before you can play, you’re going to need to place a bet. The amount you have to wager will depend upon the casino that you’re playing at, although it’s common for this to range from $2 up to around $500 (that’s if you don’t take into account the high stakes tables). If you want to know the minimum and maximum wagers, you’ll find this information on the table itself – usually to the left-hand side.

As soon as everyone at the table has placed their bets, the cards are then dealt. The dealer will deal a single card to every player and the card will be face up. Before going on to deal everyone a second card, the dealer will also give themselves a face-up card.

The dealer will then deal another card to each player. These cards will also face upwards so that everyone can see what they are. The dealer ends with themselves by dealing a second card, but this time it’s face down.

It’s at this point that players need to decide what their first move is going to be.

Your options in blackjack

If you manage to make 21 with your first two cards then congratulations: that’s what’s known as a natural blackjack. If you didn’t manage to pull this off, but the dealer did, then the game is over and you’ve just lost. What if neither of you makes 21 at the first time of asking? Well, that’s when you have a decision to make.

So, what are the choices that you face after you’ve been dealt your first two cards in blackjack? Let’s take a look:
soft and hard hands

Hit

This means that you ask the dealer for another card so that you can try and get closer to 21.

Stand

This is when you don’t take any other cards. You’re either happy with what you’re holding or you fear the next card could lead to you going bust.

Double down

If your cards total, 9, 10, or 11 you can ask for a third card, face-down.

Split

If you have a pair, you can split these and play them as separate hands, although this involves an extra side wager.

Surrender

Some casinos will allow you to surrender after your first two cards have been dealt. When this happens, half of the wager goes back to the stack where the other half goes to the dealer. This can be a way to cut your losses if you’ve been dealt a particularly bad hand.

What you need to know about insurance

As well as knowing all about the previous decisions that we’ve discussed, to know how to play blackjack properly, you also need to understand what is meant by insurance. Insurance is offered by some casinos as a side bet and it comes into play when the dealer’s up card is an Ace. This is because, with an Ace being displayed, the dealer has a chance of a natural blackjack.

If you opt to take this side bet, you’ll be paid 2:1 if the house has a natural blackjack. While this may sound appealing, the truth is that side bets like this rarely pay off and it’s usually the house that wins. If you’re intent on taking the insurance option, you need to be sure that the deck is hot. This means that there are plenty of cards left in the pack that are worth 10 – these are what the dealer needs for a natural blackjack.

Knowing when you get paid playing blackjack

A vital part of knowing how to play blackjack is knowing when you’ll receive a payout. One thing that’s worthy of note is the fact that if you go bust, your wager is lost. There is no getting back a single dime of it. That’s still the case even if the dealer goes bust too.

If you haven’t managed to achieve a blackjack, but you have 20 or less and still beat the dealer, you win. This means that as soon as the dealer reveals their down card, and if your total beats theirs, you’ll receive your payout. It is possible that you’ll make a black and that the dealer will too. If this happens it’s known as push and this sees you getting your money back.

Top tips to get started playing blackjack

If you’re new to the game and still getting your head around how to play blackjack, the best piece of advice is to only play at a table where the limits are low. This means that, if you lose, you’ll manage to control your bankroll. and live to play another day.

When choosing which table to play at, it’s worth going for the one that’s using the fewest decks. Of course, playing with more adds another level to the game, but you can build up to this. Just remember, you’ll only become a consistent winner with plenty of patience and practice.