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Blackjack Guide

Aria-AutorAria BrownStefan-AutorStefan Weber
4 min read

casino-chips-tableYou can easily play blackjack online. Whether you're a seasoned shark or a curious beginner, we're here to cover all the questions you might have on how online blackjack works. Skills, strategies and a bit of luck – we'll dive into the endless possibilities you'll find in this popular card game.

Blackjack.Guide is your one stop shop for all things blackjack online.

Stefan"Welcome to Blackjack.Guide. We're obsessed with online gambling here, and especially with Blackjack. Just a few players wanting to share our love for the game. From players, for players."
Stefan Weber

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Blackjack Do's and Don'ts

Blackjack Do'sBlackjack Don'ts
  • Start with Classic Blackjack
  • Play at tables with fewer decks to increase your Blackjack odds
  • Learn basic strategy
  • Don't split two10s
  • Don't buy insurance bets
  • Don't play tables with 6:5 payouts. House edge is higher by 1.4%

How to play Blackjack – Step by Step Instructions

Game objective: the player with a hand of cards adding up closest to 21 – but without going above 21 – wins. Any hand over 21 goes "bust" and will automatically lose.

Coin 1Decide on your bet size, and put your chips down on the table.
coin-2The game starts with the dealer dealing two cards to each player, including the dealer themselves. Players will receive two cards face up, while the dealer will have one face up (Up Card) and one face down (Hole Card).
Coin 3 Take a look at your two cards. You can then choose to
  1. Take a Hit: you want to still get closer to 21 and take another card.
  2. Take a Stand: keep your hand as is and end your turn.
Note: If you take a Hit, and the next card pushes your hand above 21, you go "bust" and lose.
Coin 4 Once all the players have had their turn, the dealer will reveal their hole card.
Coin 5 The dealer must Hit until their cards are at least 17.
Coin 6 If the dealer goes bust, all remaining players win.
Coin 7If the dealer doesn't bust, then all remaining players whose hands are higher than the dealer will win.

For more advanced Blackjack play, you can also consider the options to "Double Down", "Split", and "Surrender" at Step 3.

  • "Double Down" will double your bet size.
  • "Split" is when you have two cards of the same number. Like two 8s. Splitting creates two hands from the two cards and adds a bet that is the same size as your original bet to your second hand. You will then be dealt another Up Card so you have two cards again. You then decide to Hit or Stand for this hand. Once you've played through this hand, you move on to the other hand.
  • "Surrender" is when you give up on your turn and forfeit half your original bet to the dealer but get to take the other half back. Surrender is only available in some Blackjack games.

Blackjack Rules

The main rule in blackjack is that your hand cannot go above 21. If in your first two cards, you are dealt an Ace and a 10 card, that is a Natural 21, aka Blackjack. This is the strongest hand possible and pays out more at 3:2.

While other card combinations – that is with a 3rd card or even a 4th card – can give you a hand of 21, this is not called a "Blackjack" although you can still win if the dealer's hand is not 21. If the dealer's hand is a Blackjack, then they win.

Cards IconThe dealer's first card is always face up and is called the "Upcard". The second card is face down and is called the "hole card". Some games allow players to buy "Insurance" if the dealer's has an Ace upcard. If the dealer has a blackjack, insurance pays 2:1.

blackjack-table-casino-1024x576Blackjack is very popular among gamblers.MoreLess

That's the basic rules to Classic Blackjack. But there are many different versions of Blackjack, each with slightly different rules. From the number of card decks used, to how many hands you play with, each Blackjack game is a little bit different to suit your strategy and style. Standard or Classic Blackjack used to be a single deck game, for example, but nowadays it's quite common to see 6 decks of cards used.

Below are popular Blackjack variants:

  • American Blackjack vs European: the dealer deals their two cards together, while in European Blackjack the dealer only gets their second card after all players have had their first turn.
  • Blackjack Switch: You get two hands instead of one. Players can switch the second card between the two hands.
  • Single Deck Blackjack: Blackjack games can have between 1 to 8 decks of cards in play. The single deck has the lowest house edge.
  • Double Exposure Blackjack: the dealer's first two cards are both dealt face up.
  • Pontoon aka Spanish 21: All the 10 cards are removed, although Face cards (J, Q, and K) stay. Players can also win when you have 5 cards under 21.
  • Multi-Hand Blackjack: You play up to 5 hands simultaneously, sometimes even more. Compared to Single hand, you can try different strategies at the same time.

What this means is that you should try to play demo games to get a better understanding for each variant's rules and how you want to adapt your strategies.

Blackjack Tips and Strategies

Blackjack is widely known having the lowest house edge among casino games. While there is certainly an element of luck, more experienced players will be exercising some strategies. Here are some tips from more seasoned players.

1. Start with the basics

Make sure you are familiar with the rules of the specific Blackjack game you are playing. For beginners, we suggest starting with Classic Blackjack and getting a good feel for the basics like Hit, Stand, Split and Surrender.

2. Split 8s and Aces

When you have two high value cards, especially with 8 and Ace, it's good to split into two hands. 16 is unlikely for a win, but also risks a bust.

Meanwhile, two Aces can add up to either a 12 or a 2; but if you split them you will have two hands of 11 (or 1). 11 is one of the best starting values because there are more 10 cards in the deck than other cards, which means you have a higher probability of getting a 21.

3. Don't split 10s or 6s

On the other hand, two 10s or Face cards (Jack, Queen, King) would be close enough to 21 and we would take a Stand instead.

With two 6s (or anything below), you get a 12 (or less) which gives you room to take another Hit. If you Split you have a high probability of getting a hand of 16 because of all the 10 cards; 16 isn't a strong hand since it's not close to 21 and could be relatively easily beaten by the dealer.

4. When to Hit or Stand

18 or 19 is a pretty good hand and it's generally advised to take a Stand. 17 is borderline, and if it's a Soft 17 (with an Ace) then you can take a Hit, while if it's a Hard 17, the advice is to Stand.

5. Knowing a Soft and Hard Hand

A Soft hand is when one of your card is an Ace. Because the Ace can be a 11 or a 1, depending on your needs, a Soft Hand gives you more room for taking a Hit.

6. When to Double Down

Double down when you know you have an advantage over the dealer.

  • If the dealer has an Ace, do not Double Down.
  • If you have a hard 12 or higher, do not Double Down.
  • If you have 10, 11, or a Soft 16 to 18, then you can also Double Down.

7. Avoid Insurance

In the long run, insurance is a losing game. Since it's only available when the dealer has an Ace Upcard, you are betting that their hole card is a 10. It's not about protecting your bet, but betting on the dealer having a blackjack. The probability does not pay unless you are counting cards.

Paying out at 2:1, the costs of insurance add up more than the gain in the long run.

8. Practice with free games

Finally, use online casinos to your advantage. There are sites with RNG blackjack games you can play for free in demo mode. RNG stands for Random Number Generator and are software based games. As compared to live blackjack games which are always real money play only.

Play Blackjack in Demo Mode

Popular Blackjack Variations Online – Live 21 Games

Single deck, multi hand – that's just the tip of the numerous Blackjack variations available.

At online casinos, you'll find that there are also particular online Blackjack games that you might not find at Vegas. Here are player top picks for playing 21 online, many of which are live blackjack games.

Speed BlackjackSpeed Blackjack - after the cards are dealt, the dealer reacts to the player who is first to respond, rather than in the order in which the cards were dealt. Not only is this game fast, but there's an extra bit of competition between players.
Infinite BlackjackInfinite Blackjack - the number of players at the table is unlimited. That also means you will never have to wait to play.
Free Bet BlackjackFree Bet Blackjack - you can double down and split for free, with the casino covering the additional bet. There is also the Push 22 rule, where if the dealer busts with 22, then all players will "push", meaning tie.
Lightning BlackjackLightning Blackjack - Standard Blackjack plus a random multiplier up to 25x is added a win. All in the fabulous live studio setting that Evolution's Lightning games are famous for.
Salon Privé BlackjackSalon Prive Blackjack - only you against the dealer. No other players at the table. Designed for high rollers and VIPs, these Blackjack tables can have a high minimum bet.
Blackjack PartyBlackjack Party - more relaxed with music in the background, the vibe in this game is much more casual. Dealer must stand on a soft 17.

Blackjack FAQs

  1. What is a Blackjack?
  2. Is Blackjack the same as the 21 card game?
  3. What is a side bet?
  4. Are side bets worth it in Blackjack?
  5. What is a basic Blackjack strategy for beginners?
  6. Can I play Blackjack online for free?
  7. What is live Blackjack?
  8. What is RNG Blackjack?
  9. Is card counting legal?
  10. Are there Blackjack card counting apps?
  11. Are Blackjack Bonuses worth it?

1. What is a Blackjack?

A Blackjack is when you are initially dealt a hand that is an Ace plus a 10 or a Face card, equalling to 21. It's also called a "Natural Blackjack" and you win immediately.

2. Is Blackjack the same as the 21 card game?

Yes, some people call Blackjack 21 and it's the same game. However, in the game itself, a Blackjack is only when your first two cards add up to 21. When you reach 21 with a third card, it is technically no longer a blackjack.

3. What is a side bet?

Blackjack side bets include the insurance bet, along with bets on the specifics of each hand, such as Easy Match where your two cards are of the same suit, or Super Sevens which pays progressively more with each 7 card you have in your hand.

4. Are side bets worth it in Blackjack?

Side bets let you fine tune your gambling and add a lot more excitement, and potentially higher winnings. However, because side bets have higher house edges, that don't add up for the player in the long run. Therefore, we would avoid them as a general rule of thumb.

5. What is a basic Blackjack strategy for beginners?

Start with Classic Blackjack to practice when to Hit, Stand and Split. Avoid side bets. But practice is really where it's key.

6. Can I play Blackjack online for free?

Yes. Many online casinos let you play blackjack for free in fun mode. No money will be won though, and these free games are almost never live games.

7. What is live Blackjack?

Live Blackjack are online games where you play with a dealer – and possibly other players – live over a video streams. Most online casinos offer live blackjack and other casino games today.

8. What is RNG Blackjack?

RNG Blackjack means blackjack games you play against software rather than a live person. RNG stands for Random Number Generator and it is an algorithm used in computer games involve luck to ensure each round of your game is truly random and therefore fair.

9. Is card counting legal?

Even basic card counting can improve your edge as a player and card counting is a legal technique. You can't ban someone from using their brain. However, because of your extra edge, a pit boss at a land-based casino may ask you to stop playing if they suspect you are card counting.

10. Are there Blackjack card counting apps?

Yes, there are Blackjack card counting apps. Whether they will help you is a totally different story. RNG blackjack games are virtually shuffled after each hand, making card counting much more difficult. In live Blackjack games, typically 6 to 8 decks of cards are used, reducing the edge counting gives you. Additionally, while using your brain to count is fine, using an app while gambling will likely be considered as cheating and void all winnings.

11. Are Blackjack Bonuses worth it?

Lots of online casinos will offer bonuses. Many casino bonuses were designed for slot play and Blackjack games won't contribute to the requirements as much, if at all. For pure Blackjack players, cashback rewards may be a better choice due to the lower requirements and you should always check the offer's terms to avoid surprises.

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Compiled by Stefan Weber & Aria Brown
Authors: Aria Brown and Stefan Weber
Last Update: