How to Play Blackjack

The objective of blackjack is commonly understood to get a hand as close to 21 as possible. In reality, the aim of the game is to beat the dealer's hand without going over 21. It's a small distinction but an important one, because sometimes players can win by staying on a hand that feels lower than ideal. Let's take a look at how to play blackjack step by step, and how hands may unfold at a typical online table.

  • Choose the variation of blackjack you want to play and find a table
  • Place your desired bet, or use Rebet to duplicate your previous bet
  • Select Deal and look at the cards dealt to you and the dealer
  • Use basic strategy, and/or your gut instincts, to figure out your next move
  • Once you are happy with your hand, stand to close out your turn
  • Watch for the outcome as the dealer plays out their hand
  • Take your winnings and run or repeat this process to play another round
Justin Flynn
Video by Justin Flynn, Blackjack Innovator

Blackjack Beginners Guide

Justin Flynn
Video by Justin Flynn, Blackjack Innovator
  • Transcript

    How to Play Blackjack

    Hello, I’m the blackjack innovator and in this exclusive video for OnlineGambling.com I will be discussing the basics of the casino game blackjack.

    This is a video designed for beginners and I will be providing you will all the information that you will need to be able to sit at any online or even live casino blackjack table.

    Sit back and enjoy the blackjack tutorial.

    Blackjack Tutorial

    Whether you’re sitting at any online or live casino blackjack table, both can be very intimidating, it can have you skipping this otherwise very rewarding and profitable game. I want to make sure that that has not happened to you.

    Now blackjack, otherwise known as 21, is a game that’s played with 1 or even up to 8 decks of cards. The object of the game is for the player to get closer to 21 then the dealer, without going over. If you do go over, that’s called the bust and you will lose your hand immediately. You don’t want to do that but its okay, it happens to the best of us. Its just part of the game.

    Now first, I want to cover deck composition, but were going to take a look at the point value of each card in a single deck of cards.

    There are 13 different types of cards in a single deck of cards.

    Here you have the 2 through to 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace. There are four suits in each deck you have Spades, Clubs, Diamonds and Hearts.

    Now let’s take a look at the point value for each card.

    2 through 10 are equal to their face value, a three would a three. Jack, Queen and King are all equal to 10, an ace is special, an ace can be a 1 or it can be an 11. Whichever is best for your hand.

    A soft hand is any hand that includes an ace. Here we have an ace and a 7, this could ether be considered an 8 or an 18, whichever is better for you hand.

    A hard hand, would be any hand, not including an ace. Here we have a 10 and a 7, that’s simply 17.

    Now, there are 52 cards in a single deck of cards.

    Now that you understand the point values of each card, I will be discussing general game play, in doing this we have to ignore betting, I’ll be covering two of the player options here:

    That is the ‘hit’, the hit is when the player requests an additional card to his hand and I’ll also be discussing the ‘stay’, the stay is when the player refuses any additional cards because he is satisfied with his hand.

    The dealer will deal the cards, dealing the player one card up, himself one card down, the player his second card up and then dealing himself the second card and only flipping over one of his two cards, its important to know that as a player you only have the ability to see one of the dealers two cards.

    It’s now the players option whether he wants to hit or stay, the player takes a hit, the player has a 20, the player stays, he doesn’t want any more cards, its now for the dealer to flip over his card and the dealer has 13, now we discuss what the dealer has to draw to, a dealer must always draw to at least 17, so the dealer will draw a card, dealer has 19, player has 20, the dealer has 19, player wins.

    So, what happens when the player and the dealer both have the same point value hand? This is called the push, in this situation neither the dealer nor the player will win. Everybody breaks even.

    So, the games called blackjack, but what is blackjack? Well blackjack is when the player or the dealer gets 21 on their initial two cards, this is an exciting hand because it guarantees a win for the player given the dealer does not have blackjack also.

    This is a major advantage for the player because blackjack pays out a higher odds, then any other winning hand. I will discuss the odds later in table rules.

    Player Options

    Now let’s discuss some additional options. In order to do this, we will consider when a player places a bet, these options are splitting, doubling down, surrender and insurance.

    These options are at the players discretion to use to either improve their hand or their profits and they can only be taken after the dealer has dealt the first two cards and the player uses it as an initial request. Let’s take a look at those.

    Splitting

    Splitting occurs when a player has two cards of the same point value, here the player has two 8’s, the player will option to split, in doing so he has to double his wager and he will now play these as two separate hands. Player has an 18, player stays, player has another 18, player stays. Dealer has a 17, the player will win both of these hands, paying two chips, which was his initial bet to each hand he was able to double his profits.

    Doubling Down

    Doubling down as another player option. The player will place an additional bet up to a max bet of their initial bet and request the double down. Here the player requests the double down, he will only receive one card and that will compete his play. That’s now the dealers turn, it’s good to note that this option is best utilized if the player feels he can improve their hand with only one additional card and possibly double their profit. The dealer has 19, the player has 21, the player was able to double their profits here.

    Surrender

    Surrender is not always an option at the table and I later talk about this in the table rules. If this option is available a player may surrender their hand, sacrificing half of their initial bet, this is often used if the player feels they have no chance of winning the hand and relinquishes half of their bet to escape risking losing their entire bet. Here the player has 16, the dealer has an up card 10, the player wants to sacrifice his bet, he will be eliminated.

    Insurance

    Insurance can be a very confusing option, so be patient and follow me here. Insurance is just a way for the player to protect his hand of when the dealer potentially has blackjack. Let’s take a look at that. If the dealers up card is an ace, the player will have the option to take insurance. Here the player has a 20 and he’s going to opt to take insurance, he’s going to go ahead and put in half of his initial wager in the insurance section on the table and in doing so the dealer must check to see if he has blackjack. The dealer does have blackjack, the player loses his initial bet, but it paid at 2-1 odds on his insurance bet. He virtually breaks even here. Here’s an example of when the player decides not to take insurance, the player has a 14, the dealer has an up ace card, his going to offer insurance, the player is going to decline his insurance, the dealer will check and he does not have blackjack so now play will resume for the player, the player options to hit, player has a 19, player stays, dealer has a 20, the player still loses his initial wager.

    Ultimately if the player did decide to take insurance here and the dealer does not have blackjack, the player would lose his insurance bet and then play would resume as normal with the players initial bet.

    Table rules, often referred to as table conditions, are like rules of the table, they’re going to be displayed either on the tabletop or somewhere on a sign next to you. I’m going to discuss a couple of those table rules. Let’s take a look at those.

    Blackjack odds are almost always going to pay out at 3-2 or 6-5. If a player gets a blackjack on a $10 bet, the payout is going to be $15 on a 3-2 odd blackjack table. If surrendering is offered as a table rule, it will be defined somewhere. Make sure that you check this out cause it’s a major advantage to the player.

    Lastly, hard 17 or soft 17 table rule, this is also going to be defined on the table somewhere on the top or on a sign.

    Now I’ve already discussed what a hard and soft hand is and I also explained to you that the dealer must draw till he reaches 17, so lets say that the dealer has an ace and a 6, this is a soft 17, does he stop play or does he continue to draw cards? If it’s a soft 17 table, he will stop drawing cards on that hand, otherwise if it’s a hard 17 table he will have to continue to draw cards until he reaches his hard hand.

    This concludes the end of your blackjack tutorial training; I hope you’ve enjoyed the information that I’ve provided you and it helps you find your way on a blackjack table soon, with great success. Be sure to check out OnlineGambling.com for advanced playing techniques and make sure to have fun, play responsibly. Thanks for watching.

Download button Download icon

Blackjack Rules

The rules of blackjack are fairly consistent across different variations of the game. There are subtle nuances, but the below basic set of rules will feature in some capacity across all games.

The Basics

1 Card Values
In blackjack, each card has the value represented on the card itself with the exception of picture cards (which have a value of 10) and Aces, which can be either an 1 or 11. A hand comprised of a 7 and a 9, for example, is worth 16. A hand of an Ace and an 8 can be worth either 9 or 19 depending on how you play the hand.
King of hearts Queen of hearts Jack of hearts
Ace of hearts
10 of diamonds 9 of diamonds 8 of diamonds 7 of diamonds 6 of diamonds 5 of diamonds 4 of diamonds 3 of diamonds 2 of diamonds
2 Chip Value
Most casinos use standardized chip colors – white $1 chips, red $5 chips, green $25 chips, black $100 chips, purple $500 chips and orange $1,000 chips – but this can vary in online casinos. You may see some casinos using names to describe colored chips, with red $5 chips and green $25 chips being called nickels and quarters respectively. Purple $500 chips are sometimes called Barneys, while orange $1,000 chips might be referred to as Pumpkins.
3 Number of Decks
Six to eight decks are most commonly used in blackjack, but this is entirely dependent on the casino. A smaller number of decks is beneficial to players because it means there’s a higher probability, you’ll draw a Blackjack. The more decks used, the more your odds drop.
4 Hand Types – Soft/Hard
A hand which contains an ace functioning as an 11 is said to be soft. This is because if cards are added to the hand which causes it to go over 21, the value of the ace can reduce to 1.
5 Busting
When a hand exceeds 21, it (and the player it belongs to) are said to have gone bust. Let’s say that you hit a hand of 16 and receive a 7. That puts the value of your hand at 23 and you’ll go bust, unless your original hand was an Ace and a 5. In that case, the new value of your hand will be 13.

Blackjack Betting Rules

1 Hit
If you want another card, this is the button or command that will get you one from the dealer. Whether you should hit or stand (see below) depends on the dealer's upcard.You can typically hit hands as many times as you want, with some online casinos offering a win for a “5 Card Charlie” (a hand comprised of 5 cards that doesn’t go bust). If the dealer’s upcard is a 6 or lower, it’s rare that you should be hitting unless your hand is 12 or lower.
King of hearts 4 of diamonds Back side of playuing card
2 Stand
If you think the dealer will go bust trying to beat your hand, pressing or indicating that you want to Stand is how to finish your hand. You’ll usually be standing on hands worth 17 or more, as well as hands valued 13-16, unless the dealer has an upcard of 7 or more. Once you stand, the dealer (and other players) will then draw until all of their hands are also complete.
Queen of diamonds 9 of hearts
3 Split
When presented with two cards of the same value, you can split your hand and play it as two separate hands. This does mean, however, that you’ll have to match your original bet to cover your new second hand. Pairs of Aces and 8s are always worth splitting, as are MOST pairs of 2s, 3s, 6s and 7s as long as the dealer’s upcard is 7 or lower.
4 Double (Down)
Doubling down allows you to double your bet and receive an additional card. However, it's a risky move because you only receive ONE extra card and can’t hit your hand afterwards. It’s worth doubling down on almost all hands of 10 or 11 and doing so can pay dividends on many hands that contain an Ace and 2-7 as long as the dealer has a low upcard.
5 Surrender
If you’re not impressed with your hand, some variations of Blackjack will allow you to surrender your hand (usually once the dealer has checked that they don’t have a Blackjack). If you want to surrender, you’ll need to do so before drawing any additional cards. The dealer will then take your cards and return half of your original bet to you.
6 Insurance
This side bet is available when the dealer has a face up Ace and is effectively a wager on the dealer’s hole card being worth 10. A winning bet pays out at 2:1 in most Blackjack variations, but the insurance bet is not typically recommended because of its high house edge.
7 Even Money
When a player has a Blackjack and the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, they may ask the player if they want “even money.” This means accepting a 1:1 payout on their original bet before the dealer checks for Blackjack. Like insurance, this bet isn’t generally advisable because players are statistically better off not taking the bet.

Blackjack Table Rules

1 Placing Bets
You must get all of your bets in before any cards are dealt when playing blackjack offline or in live dealer blackjack. In online blackjack this won't apply, since you control when the cards are dealt.
2 Hard/Soft Hands
Any hand with an ace is considered a soft hand, as you can change the value of the ace from 11 to 1. A hard hand is one which doesn't contain an ace, or one with an ace which can't be counted as an 11, offering less flexibility with the option to hit.
Ace of hearts 6 of diamonds
10 of diamonds 7 of hearts
Ace of hearts 6 of diamonds 10 of diamonds
3 Odds/Payout
In standard blackjack, getting a 21 pays out 3 to 2, which is often indicated on the table itself. However, there are some blackjack variations in which landing a blackjack pays 1 to 1, in order to offset other rules that are more favourable for players.

Blackjack Player Rules

If you're playing in an offline gambling venue or live dealer blackjack online, then there are certain rules of etiquette you need to follow. While these won't be relevant to most online blackjack players, it's still important to know the right way to act at a blackjack table.

1 Leave Face Up Cards Alone
Nervous or fidgety players may feel inclined to rotate, flip or fiddle with their cards. This isn't something that will be well received in brick and mortar venues, where there's no need to disturb cards that have been dealt face up.
2 Don't Take Too Long
There's taking some time to make your next decision and then there's dragging your feet for no good reason. If you're playing in person, or in live dealer games with other players, make your next move as quickly as you're comfortable doing.
3 Handle Cards with One Hand
Casinos are understandably concerned about players tampering with their cards and using two hands to handle dealt cards. Stick with your dominant hand and don't remove cards from the table.
4 Signal AND Say Your Decision
Signals are appreciated by casino security camera operators but also serve to avoid errors due to confusion at the table.
Hit
Hit
Tap the table
Split
Split
Place extra bet outside of usual betting area and split fingers
Stand
Stand
Waving hand over cards
Double Down
Double Down
Place extra bet on in the same area as previous bet

Blackjack Dealer Rules

1 Don't Hand Bets To The Dealer
When placing a bet, the correct process is to simply place your chips on the table. Although dealers are happy to help you, they can't place chips down on your behalf.
2 Hard/Soft 17
In a standard game of blackjack, the dealer stands if their hand is equal to 17 or higher, although they'll hit on a soft 17. If the dealer's hand contains an ace and is worth between 17 and 21, they will stand. In some variations, dealers stand on ALL hands worth 17 or more.
3 Remember To Tip Your Dealer
Dealers in reputable land-based venues are paid well but, especially in US venues, tipping is common. We wouldn't expect you to tip the random number generator powering your game of online blackjack, but there's certainly nothing stopping you tipping a friendly dealer you've encountered elsewhere.

Online Blackjack Explained

While online casinos will display blackjack tables slightly differently, many of the features will be the same. Below is a screenshot from one of our top partner’s online blackjack games, with labels to help you understand the layout of an online table.

Rules Table
1
Dealer Cards
This is where the dealer’s upcard and hole card are dealt.
2
Shoe
This is where all cards in the game are dealt from.
3
Player Cards
Each circle represents a potential player bet, and is where your cards will be dealt.
4
Chips
Choose your chip denominations for setting your bet level here.
5
21+3
This refers to a side bet in this variation of Blackjack, in which you wager on your hand.
6
Player’s/Dealer’s Pair
This refers to a side bet in which you can wager on the appearance of pairs in your hand.
7
Your Balance
Here you’ll see the total amount of casino credit you have to play with.
1
Dealer Cards
This is where the dealer’s upcard and hole card are dealt.
In addition to a space for the dealer’s cards, you’ll notice that this area contains information about payouts and at what points the dealer must hit and stand. It’s a useful cheat sheet for the rules of this particular type of Blackjack.
2
Shoe
This is where all cards in the game are dealt from.
In online Blackjack, multiple decks are used and all cards are automatically shuffled between hands. In other words, this means that there’s no benefit in trying to count cards unless you happen to be playing live dealer Blackjack.
3
Player Cards
Each circle represents a potential player bet, and is where your cards will be dealt.
While circles are usually allocated to different players at a brick and mortar casino, you can play a number of different hands at once online by placing bets on multiple circles. Just be aware that this might increase the rate at which you go through your bankroll.
4
Chips
Choose your chip denominations for setting your bet level here.
Using these colored chips offers an easy way to set your desired bet level with just a few clicks. If you’re playing multi-hand Blackjack and lose track of how much you’re spending, the Total Bet field in the bottom right of the screen will tell you.
5
21+3
This refers to a side bet in this variation of Blackjack, in which you wager on your hand.
This is a lucrative side bet available in this variation, with payouts of 100:1 available. You’ll notice that it uses poker terms to describe the winning hands in the upper left corner of the screen. These side bets have high payouts but also a high house edge associated with them.
6
Player’s/Dealer’s Pair
This refers to a side bet in which you can wager on the appearance of pairs in your hand.
This side bet, with payouts of up to 25:1 on offer, allows you to place wagers on whether your hand (or the dealer’s) will contain a pair. The payout chart is visible in the upper right of the screen, with “perfect” referring to two cards of the same suit and value.
7
Your Balance
Here you’ll see the total amount of casino credit you have to play with.
The more bets you’re placing, and the more hands you play, the quicker this number might change. We suggest keeping a watchful eye on the rate at which you’re losing or winning so you know how long you can expect a typical Blackjack session to last.
Justin Flynn
Verified by Justin Flynn, Blackjack Innovator

Justin Flynn boasts over 6 successful years of traveling the world, playing blackjack and spending countless hours methodically analyzing the game. Now, as the Blackjack Innovator, Justin is sharing his extensive learnings and educating players on the best way to play blackjack.

More Guides

FAQs

What does double down mean in blackjack?

When a player doubles down in blackjack, they double their bet in the middle of the hand in exchange for one card only. This wager is risky as it can end a player’s betting early on a low second card. However, many players incorporate doubling down into their blackjack strategy, particularly if their cards equal 11 and the dealer has a low card.

What is free bet blackjack?

Free bet blackjack is a variant of the traditional game. The main differences are in the bets. Players can double down for free anytime on hard 9, 10 or 11, and enjoy free splits on all pairs except 10s and fours. For the dealer, free bet blackjack means all hands equaling 22 become a push instead of a win for the player.

What does push mean in blackjack?

When the dealer and a player have the same hand value in blackjack, that is a push. When this happens in the game, the dealer returns the player’s bet. This means the player has not lost any funds in that round of the game, but hasn't won anything, either.

What happens when you get blackjack?
Blackjack rules state that when a a player or dealer reaches 21 in their first two cards they get blackjack. If a player gets blackjack, this beats any other hand in the game, unless the dealer also hits blackjack. The payoff for reaching blackjack is 1.5 to 1.
What are face cards in blackjack?

Face cards refer to jack, queen or king cards of any suit in blackjack. Each face card has a value of 10, which makes them particularly valuable to players in a game of blackjack. When paired with an ace card, face cards can make blackjack.

How do side bets work in blackjack?

These are additional wagers players can make at the beginning of the game alongside the main bet. Casinos offer a variety of blackjack side bets, but the most common are perfect pairs, blackjack insurance and 21+3. The odds and payouts of side bets vary, so players should research these before using them in blackjack games.

How much is an ace worth in blackjack?

Ace cards are worth either 10 or one in blackjack – it depends on the player's choice. Paired with a face card (jack, queen or king) an ace can make blackjack, which is why it is a popular hand with players.

How much is a king worth in blackjack?

A king card has a value of 10, regardless of suit. Besides ace cards, which can be worth 11, kings have the highest value in blackjack, alongside queens and jacks.

How much is a jack worth in blackjack?

A jack is a face card, which is worth 10 in blackjack. Along with king and queen cards, jacks have the second-highest value in blackjack. When paired with an ace, face cards can hit 21 (blackjack).

How much is a queen in blackjack?

In blackjack, a queen is defined as a face card. Face cards are worth 10 per card, the highest value (besides aces) in the game. When a queen is paired with an ace card, the player hits blackjack. As a result, face cards are an integral factor to any blackjack strategy.