Blackjack got its name when casinos offered bonus payoffs for a hand that had an ace of spades and a jack of spades or a jack of clubs (a blackjack). The game has since evolved so that a blackjack hand doesn’t necessarily have to have a jack. Today, blackjack is one of the biggest draws for online casinos. If you want to try your hand at blackjack at an online casino, read on to learn the fundamentals of this exciting game!
The rules of blackjack are straightforward enough. Cards have specific values and you’ll be playing against the dealer.
Your objective is to have a higher hand than the dealer, but the collective value of your cards shouldn’t go over 21.
The hand that goes over 21 (called a bust) loses, whether it’s yours or the dealer’s.
Each card is worth a certain value and it’s very important to know what they are before you play.
- Number cards = face value
- Jack, Queen, King, and 10 = 10
- Aces = 1 or 11 (depending on the situation)
How to Play Online Blackjack
To start playing blackjack online, you’ll need to join an online casino and enter one of their blackjack tables.
You may be joined by several other players at the blackjack table. Don’t worry, this game is only going to be between you and the dealer.
Once the other players are ready, you can begin placing a bet. When everyone has placed their bets, the dealer can begin handing the cards.
The dealer gives each player two cards to start. The dealer will also give himself two cards, but one of those cards will be facing down.
When you get your cards, start adding the value of your cards.
- For example, if the dealer hands you a King (worth 10) and a 7 (worth 7), your hand is worth a total of 17.
- If, by chance, your hand contains a face card (worth 10) and an Ace (in this case, worth 11), then you have a Natural 21.
Hard Hands and Soft Hands
These terms relate to how the Ace card is used, whether as a 1 or an 11.
- Hard Hand – any hand without an Ace or when the Ace is used as a 1.
- Soft Hand – any hand where the Ace counts as an 11.
If we go back to the case above, the King and the 7 is a soft 17. But if the dealer hands you an Ace and a 3, for example, then you have a Hard 14.
How to Play Your Hand
Depending on the value of your cards, you can make several choices in order for you give yourself the best chance at winning against the dealer. You can choose to either Stand, Hit, Split, Double, or Surrender.
- Stand – You can choose to stand if you’re happy with your cards. This will tell the dealer not to give you any more cards.
- Hit – If you aren’t satisfied with the cards you’ve been dealt, choose to hit. The dealer will give you one more card to add to your hand. You have the option to hit several times before deciding to stand.
- Split – You will typically have this option if both your cards are worth the same value, like if you have a pair of 4s.
If you choose to split, both cards will be separated to create two hands that you can play at the same time.
In this case, the dealer will give you two extra cards, one for each hand. You will also have to match the initial bet you placed for this new hand.
You can choose to either Hit or Stand for each hand you now have.
- Doubling – Choosing to double means you double your initial bet. Players typically do this if they believe the next card will win them the game.
- Surrender – When you think there’s no chance of winning with your cards, then you can choose to surrender your cards. By doing this, you will lose half of your initial bet.
Once every player on the table is done making their choices for their hand, the dealer will reveal their hidden card. You win or lose, depending on the total value of the dealer’s cards.
- If your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, you win. You get a 1-to-1 payout of your initial bet.
- If you have a Natural 21, you also win. You get a 3-to-2 payout for this hand.
- If you bust, meaning the total value of your cards goes over 21, then you lose. The dealer will take your initial bet.
- If the value of your cards is lower than the dealer’s, you lose and your initial bet will be taken.
- If your cards have the exact same value as the dealer’s cards, then this is called a Push or a tie. You neither win nor lose your bet.
Now that you’ve understood the basics, here is one of the most useful strategies for beginners to familiarize themselves with to increase their odds of winning:
The Blackjack Strategy Chart
This chart breaks down your plays according to the value of your hand and the dealer’s visible card. With this cheat sheet, Blackjack becomes less of a game of chance and more of a game of statistics.
To use the chart, all you have to do is refer to the left column for your hand.
- A = Ace
- S = Soft
- H = Hard
- Two numbers = both cards are number cards
Now that you know where your hand is on the chart, align that with the top column which refers to the dealer’s first/visible card.
The point where those two intersect is the kind of play that would be the most ideal for you to make.
For example, your initial cards are a 9 – 9, meaning you have two 9 cards. And let’s say you see that the dealer’s visible card is a 7. According to the chart, the place where they intersect says you should Stand.
In that case, the best move for you to do is to choose Stand so that you don’t add any new cards to your hand. This makes sense because the total value of your hand is 18 and any hand that’s 18+ already has a good chance to win.
If you have an H14 or a Hard 14, and the dealer’s first card is 7, then your best choice is to Hit. So on and so forth.
Of course, there are dozens of strategies and methods you can use to win at blackjack, but we think this chart is a great place for beginners to start. It has helped millions of players get better at blackjack. Our tip is to start playing free or low-stakes blackjack online to help you get a feel for the game without the risks.
So what are you waiting for? Now that you have the fundamentals under your belt and a handy cheat sheet in your pocket, you’re properly ready to play one of the most enjoyable online casino games in the world. Get yourself a seat at an online blackjack table and start playing!