Blackjack is a game that is as much luck as it is strategy. That is what makes it instantly accessible, but endlessly rewarding. As one of the most popular casino games, finding blackjack available online is usually as easy as finding an online casino site. You can pretty much be guaranteed to find blackjack played at any online casino site.
But what if you have never played the game before and want to try it out? Or what if you are only vaguely familiar with it and want to know more? Well, that’s what this guide is for. We will walk you through all the rules and variations of blackjack and what you should expect as well as what you need to do to succeed at it.
Basic Blackjack Rules
The basic game of blackjack is very simple. The main goal is to get as close to 21 points as possible without going over. If you do go over (get more than 21 points) then you automatically lose the hand. This is known as going bust.
In blackjack, as in every other card game, each card has a specific value. A standard 52 card deck is usually played on physical games, but online games usually play from multiple decks at once, making it more difficult to guess which cards have been played and which ones are left.
The value of the basic number cards (1-10) is the same as their face value. The jacks, queens and kings are all worth 10 points apiece, and the ace can be worth either one or 11 points. The value of the ace is up to the player who is holding it.
The game is played with two or more players, one of which is always the banker or host. Generally, the host has a slight advantage in these games, particularly if you are playing online or in a casino.
How the Game Works
Now you now the card values and the goal of the game; so let’s look at how it is actually played. A typical blackjack game begins as the dealer (banker/host) deals out two cards to himself and to all other players. All the cards are dealt face down, except for one of the dealer’s cards. Then the players look at their hands, keeping them hidden from everyone else. They can then decide if they want the banker to hit them with another card or if they want to stand. This means they can request another card or keep the ones they have. At this point, they could have 21 points with the two cards. If they do, then they win the game. If not, then the next card could put them over 21 (a bust) or keep them under. They can continue to ask to be hit (have another card dealt to them) until they are satisfied with their point total, until they hit 21 or they bust.
The dealer has to continue to take hits (deal himself cards) until he reaches 17 points or busts. Once everyone has been dealt their cards and decide that they do not want anymore, the cards are shown. The person with the most points that did not bust wins the game.
Now because this is a gambling game, bets are placed at the beginning of the hand, before cards are dealt. There are free versions of blackjack online, but many of them operate as gambling games using real currency.
Variations on the Rules
Now the rule listed above are just the basics. Many casino and blackjack sites have their own rule sets which expand on what is covered above. The most common variation on the basic game is to include more decks. If you would like to know how many decks are being used in a game, you can usually just ask and find out. Online games will usually tell you in their rules section of the site.
But most variations come in by adding in more player actions. In fact, most online blackjack sites have these additional actions available to use.
Surrender- After the first two cards are dealt, the player has the option to surrender their hand. This means their cards are given back to the dealer and they forfeit their hand. They also lose half of their bet. This is ideal for players who do not like their initial hand and would prefer something they feel more secure about.
Split- When both cards in the initial hand have the same value, then the player has the option to split them into two separate hands. This adds a second bet of equal value to the first onto the other hand, so the player now has two active bets. The two hands would then be played separately, and their bets would act independently of one another. Some additional actions like doubling down may not be available for a split hand.
Double Down- The player has the option to double their initial bet and then take only one more card to their initial two-card hand. They would not be able to ask for another card once they have doubled down and received the third card, and they cannot cancel out of their double down. The bet is usually only allowed to be increased by 100% and nothing less.
Insurance- Insurance works as a side bet to the main bet, and it is a method of protecting the player against loss, in most cases. The insurance pays out in 2:1 odds; so the player would receive two dollars for every single dollar from the original bet. Insurance is taken out if the dealer’s first card is an ace. The insurance is a way to protect the player should the dealer’s second card be a card with a value of 10 (and remember that four different cards hold that value, so the probability is high).
There are many different rules for insurance, and they change depending on the casino or casino site, so it is important to ensure you understand those rules fully.
Strategy for Success
While winning blackjack does come down to blind luck for the most part, careful strategy can help you make quite a bit more money, especially if additional actions beyond the basic ones of the game are allowed. By doubling down, splitting your deck and making the most of your cards, you can make back far more than you put down, or you can lose it all.
Some players prefer to play cautiously and be careful about how many cards they take. But if that is your strategy, then you will likely not beat the dealer very often. Playing a bit bolder gives you more chances of winning, though it can also make you bust.
The best approach is to consider your odds carefully. If a single deck is being played, you can try to keep track of the cards being dealt. In most cases, you will only know what your cards are and one card of the dealer’s. With multiple decks, you can still try to guess the odds of getting a favourable card, but it will be much more difficult.
If you have not played much blackjack, then your best bet is to try your hand at free games first. Get familiar with the different rule sets that are available and see how you manage playing against live dealers and computer dealers. This will give you a good idea of how well you will fare once money is on the line and you are playing for real.