How to Play Blackjack

How to Play Blackjack like a Pro. We thoroughly research each online blackjack casino to be sure it has the best graphics, highest payouts, great bonuses and is safe and secure for your protection. A player blackjack beats any dealer total other than blackjack, including a dealer's three or more card Fortunately, there are still plenty of games available in most areas that do not use CSMs. The dealer is then required to play his hand in a very specific way, with no choices allowed.

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It's because Blackjack is ridiculously easy to play. The goal is simple - to get as close to 21 without going over, and to have a higher hand than the dealer. If the dealer goes over 21, he busts. The same goes for you. But there are still a few rules you need to know about before you play for real cash, which is why we recommend playing for fun first.

Let's walk through a typical game so you know how it all works:. But there are a few more rules to know about if you're thinking about playing blackjack online or live:. Apart from the original version of Blackjack, many casinos offer variations on the game, with the following being among the most popular:. This version of the game is played out in the same way as the original version, except with Blackjack Surrender the player has the option to surrender after the first two cards are dealt.

Blackjack Switch is an interesting option with some quite novel twists on the basic game. In this game the player plays two hands at the same time, and after the first four cards are dealt has the option to switch the top card from each hands to try and improve the chances of winning. There is also a Super Match side bet which pays out if the first four cards dealt to the player contain a pair, two pairs, or three of a kind. This variation on the game of real money blackjack allows players to make a side bet on whether either they or the dealer or both will be dealt two of the same cards.

Once you have decided that blackjack is your game of choice, the next step is to find the best online blackjack casino for your needs. We cover some of the factors to take into account below, so make sure that your chosen casino ticks the right boxes before you make your first real cash investment.

Many online blackjack casinos entice players by offering huge welcome bonuses for signing up with their site. Most of the larger bonus offers you will see involve the casino matching some or all of your initial deposits, sometimes up to as many as your first five deposits to the site.

As you can imagine, this can lead to some pretty hefty bonus packages, although it does rely on the player making equally large deposits to get the maximum out of the offer. When you come to play blackjack online, it is very important that you are playing at a trustworthy casino. There is not much point in winning big at the blackjack tables to find that the casino is reluctant to pay out, for example.

Any reputable online casino will be licensed and regulated to ensure that the games are fair and that the casino must act in a fair and honorable manner to its clients. Check the bottom of the page to see where a casino is regulated, and also check to see whether it is eCOGRA approved, as this means that the games on the site have been independently tested to ensure fairness.

All the sites recommended on these pages are credible and trustworthy casinos, so you can rest assured that we only ever direct our readers to the most reliable of online betting sites. The bigger online casinos will usually have a selection of different blackjack games on offer, so real fans of the game will be on the lookout for casinos offering options such as Surrender, Perfect Blackjack, Pontoon, Switch, and Multi-hand games.

The original form of blackjack offers plenty of excitement on its own, but variations on the game allow players to profit from different side bet options, as well as offering alternative gameplay features such as the ones mentioned on this page.

Blackjack is a game with one of the lowest house edges of all online casino games, which is why it remains a favorite with canny gamblers. By using the correct strategy players can reduce the casino edge to almost zero. It is important to be wary of some of the side bets on offer though, as these may not provide the same value as the original game. It is quite possible to find blackjack games with a house edge of just 0.

You should never even consider sitting down at a virtual blackjack table until you are absolutely certain about how the game works. A good knowledge of the mechanics of the game is an absolute must.

Playing for fun initially will help you in the long run. Most of the card values in blackjack are self-explanatory, but there are a few cards which can trip up newbies when it comes to their value. Aces are the cards which have a unique value in blackjack, as they can be worth either 1 or 11 depending on which is liable to benefit you in a given situation. A starting hand of A5 will have a value of 6 or If the next card drawn is a 9 then the Ace becomes a 1 for a total value of If you draw a 3 instead, then the Ace will be used as an 11 to make a strong hand of We told you that you'll have to make a decision with every hand you're dealt.

Figuring it all out can be a bit tough, but there's good news. We actually have a Blackjack strategy cheat sheet that tells you exactly what to do if you're unsure. Before you print this out, you should know that most land-based casinos won't welcome this cheat sheet to the table. It's not against the rules to know this information, but casinos don't like players bringing this kind of helpful information to the table. However, that is not a problem when you are playing at online Blackjack casinos.

No one will know that you're using a Blackjack strategy guide, so go right ahead. You've probably heard that counting cards in Blackjack is illegal. Well, you've heard wrong. It's actually not against the law to count cards in Blackjack, as long as the only thing you use to count is your brain. If you use a computer or any type of electronic device, that's called cheating - and that could get you tossed out of a casino, thankfully, you don't have to worry about that when you play online blackjack for real money.

Never heard of counting cards? In a nutshell, you're using fast math to figure out whether you should bet more on a hand or keep your bets low. There are tons of different card counting methods and we have them all detailed on our Card Counting page.

Every card in the Blackjack card has a value. We're not talking about the face value, like the 6 on a 6 of diamonds. We're talking about three numbers that you'll use to count cards. That's pretty much all there is to this basic card counting Blackjack strategy.

A higher count means you're more likely to hit a Blackjack or be dealt a face card. A lower count means you're likely to get unfavorable cards. Use this information to win big at the tables. In order to help you out along the way, we have developed a great game to help you count cards like a pro. Below, you can practice keeping count and learn as you go along. Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world, enjoyed by huge numbers of people every day, both in land-based and online casinos.

The history of blackjack is a long and complex one though, as well as one steeped in myth and folklore. Therefore, it is tough to pin down the exact moment when blackjack - or any of its potential predecessors - was conceived.

What is known is this though: There are others though who think that the game dates back even further, possibly even back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. There are other theories as to the origins of blackjack though.

One of the most widely supported is that it originated in France in the 18th century, with a game known as Vingt-Un.

This game saw betting rounds between each card being dealt, as well as the dealer being the only person allowed to double down, but the basic object of the game was still essentially the same as the blackjack played in casinos today.

References to this game can be found in the book Round Games with Cards, which was written by Baxter Wray in , and in this book he describes the game as a popular one. Even Wray fails to pin down the exact origins of the game though, once again suggesting that Vingt-Un had predecessors. He says in the book "Its name would seem to imply that it is of French origin; but in reference to this, as well as in regard to the date of its introduction into the country, we have no definite details.

Regardless of where the original form of blackjack originated though, it can then be shown that the game gradually spread around both France and Spain. It would then migrate to the casinos of the United States, where it was referred to as twenty-one - a name still commonly used to refer to the game today. Blackjack is one of the classic casino favorites that you're bound to find at every site, but sometimes you'll discover a new aspect that you're not certain about. For that reason, we've collated this list of frequently asked questions so that you can focus on enjoying your game and leave any queries you have behind.

The first place to look is on the pages of our website. We thoroughly research each online blackjack casino to be sure it has the best graphics, highest payouts, great bonuses and is safe and secure for your protection. Don't rest your fate upon the outcome of a simple Google search.

Also look for a site that offers both real cash and free play - free blackjack games allow you to 'test drive' the casino before taking the plunge with a real bankroll. A computer or mobile internet device and an internet connection are all you need to begin. You will have to download the casino's software, or for Mac and iPhone users, play at online blackjack casinos that offer web-based, no download software platforms.

You get each online casino's blackjack software at that casino. They are not interchangeable so if you want to play at a different real money blackjack casino, you have to download the new casino's software too. You can also play at no download online casinos but you still have to complete a player registration form first.

Don't worry though, the registration process if free and it only takes a couple of minutes. Yes, most online casinos with real money games also offer free online blackjack games so you can get used to the game, develop your strategy and have fun without risk. However, even though these games look, sound, and feel just like the real thing, you cannot keep any of the winnings that pile up while playing for fun.

For the sake of brevity, most of the table rules are abbreviated. Knowing what is allowed and not allowed will make the game easier for you. Some of the abbreviations used can seem like foreign languages until you get used to them.

The most common ones are:. The dealer can also bust under the same circumstances, which is a great thing for you. Insurance is a side bet, of up to half your original bet and can be made when the dealer's "upcard" is an ace. If the dealer has a natural 21 your insurance bet pays out at 2: This might sound negative, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.

If you are new to casino table games, it can be a bit intimidating the first time that you sit down at a blackjack table. Everything seems to move so fast, and more importantly, everyone else sure seems to know what they are doing!

Blackjack is pretty simple. The basic premise of the game is that you want to have a hand value that is closer to 21 than that of the dealer, without going over Other players at the table are of no concern. Your hand competes only against the hand of the dealer. The rules of play for the dealer are strictly dictated, leaving no decisions up to the dealer.

Therefore, there is no problem with the dealer or any of the other players at the table seeing the cards in your hand. In fact, if you're playing at a shoe game, the player cards are all dealt face up. In any event, when you're just learning to play, don't hesitate to show the dealer or other players your cards and ask questions.

The suits of the cards do not have any meaning in the game. The value of a hand is simply the sum of the point counts of each card in the hand. Any hand that goes over 21 "breaks", or is "busted", and is an automatic loser.

An Ace can be counted as either 1 or You need not specify which value the Ace has. It is assumed to have the value that makes the best hand, and that may change as more cards are added to the hand. A soft hand is any hand where an Ace can be counted as either 1 or 11 without going over The name reflects the fact that the hand can't break if you draw another card.

We no longer have the option to count the Ace as 11, because that would go over This hand is now a hard 17, despite having an Ace in it. Once all the bets are placed, the dealer will deal the cards to the players. He will make two passes around the table starting at his left your right so that the players and the dealer all have two cards each. The dealer will flip one of his cards over, exposing its value as the "dealer upcard".

In games dealt from a shoe, the players' cards will be face-up, and players are not allowed to touch the cards. If you are just beginning, this is the best kind of game, because you don't have to worry about handling the cards.

Hand-held games are slightly different. In these games, the players' cards are dealt face down, and players pick up the cards. When handling the cards in a hand-held game, here are a few important things to remember. Once the initial hands are dealt, play proceeds around the table starting at the first seat to the dealer's left, also called "first base". Each player in turn indicates to the dealer how he wishes to play the hand. All of those choices are explained in the next part of this series.

After all of the players have finished their hands, the dealer will complete his hand, and then pay the winning bets and collect the losing bets. The dealer will first flip over the "hole card" to reveal his two-card starting hand. The dealer is then required to play his hand in a very specific way, with no choices allowed.

He must draw cards until he has a total of 17 or more. The dealer has no choice in how to play the hand. He must continue taking cards until his total is at least A slight variation of this rule is discussed below. After flipping over the hole card, the dealer's hand was Ace, 5. That makes a hand value of 16, so he must draw another card. He drew a 7, making the hand value 13 the Ace can no longer be counted as With a total of 13, he must hit again. He drew a 6, making the hand total Since that is "17 or more", the dealer stops with a final total of If you draw a card that makes your hand total go over 21, your hand is a bust.

That is an automatic loser. The dealer will immediately collect your bet, and discard your hand. Assuming you did not bust, the dealer will play out his hand at the end. If he busts by going over 21, all the remaining players win their bets. If his total is higher than yours, you lose the bet, and he will collect your bet and put the chips in his tray.

If your total is higher than his, you win the bet, and he will pay the entire amount you have bet. After he pays you, you'll have your initial bet plus the amount you won in the circle. So, what happens if you and the dealer tie, with the same exact total? A tie is called a "push", and you do not win or lose your bet. Your chips stay in the betting circle where you can leave them for the next hand if you want, or you can add to or remove from them as you wish before the next hand.

A blackjack, or natural, is a total of 21 in your first two cards. A blackjack is therefore an Ace and any ten-valued card, with the additional requirement that these be your first two cards. If you split a pair of Aces for example, and then draw a ten-valued card on one of the Aces, this is not a blackjack, but rather a total of The distinction is important, because a winning blackjack pays the player at 3 to 2.

A player blackjack beats any dealer total other than blackjack, including a dealer's three or more card If both a player and the dealer have blackjack, the hand is a tie or push. The dealer will usually pay your winning blackjack bet immediately when it is your turn to play.

In the face down games, this means that you should show the blackjack to the dealer at that time. Some casinos may postpone paying the blackjack until after the hand is over if the dealer has a 10 card up and has not checked for a dealer blackjack.

Other casinos check under both 10 and Ace dealer upcards, and would therefore pay the blackjack immediately. Regardless, when you are dealt a blackjack, turn the cards face up, and smile. It only happens about once every 21 hands, but it accounts for a lot of the fun of the game. The most common decision a player must make during the game is whether to draw another card to the hand "hit" , or stop at the current total "stand".

You will be required to make hand signals rather than just announcing "hit" or "stand" to the dealer. This is to eliminate any confusion or ambiguity in what you choose, and also for the benefit of the ever-present surveillance cameras. If you go over 21, or "bust", the dealer will collect your bet and remove your cards from the table immediately. In the face-up shoe game, you indicate that you want another card by tapping the table behind your cards with a finger.

When you decide to stand, just wave your hand in a horizontal motion over your cards. In the face-down game, things are a little different.

You will hold the first two cards with one hand. To let the dealer know that you want to draw another card to your hand, scratch the table with the bottom of your cards lightly. Watch another player at first to see how this works. The dealer will deal your additional cards on the table in front of your bet. Leave those cards on the table, but mentally add them to your total hand value.

If you go over 21, just toss the two cards in your hand face up on the table. The dealer will collect your bet and discard your hand. When you decide to stand, tuck the two cards you are holding face-down under the chips in your betting circle. This can be a bit tricky the first few times.

Don't pick up the bet to place the cards underneath. Remember, once the cards are dealt, you can't touch the chips in the circle. Simply slide the corner of the cards under the chips. Describing these moves makes them sound complicated. Just pay attention to what other players are doing and you will fit right in. Much of the excitement and profit in blackjack comes from hands where you are able to "double down".

This option is available only with a two card hand, before another card has been drawn. Doubling down allows you to double your bet and receive one and only one additional card to your hand. A good example of a doubling opportunity is when you hold a total of 11, like a 6,5 against a dealer's upcard of 5.

In this case, you have a good chance of winning the hand by drawing one additional card, so you should increase your bet in this advantageous situation by doubling down.

If you are playing in a hand-held game, just toss your original two cards face-up on the table in front of your bet. In either type of game, add an additional bet to the betting circle. Place the additional bet adjacent to the original bet, not on top of it. The dealer will deal one additional card to the hand. In a shoe game, he will probably deal the card sideways to indicate that this was a double-down. In a hand-held game, the card will be tucked face-down under your bet to be revealed after the hand is over.

Depending on what the dealer makes on his hand, it can be an exciting wait to see that card revealed at the end! You are allowed to double down for any amount up to your original bet amount, so you could actually double down for less if you wanted. That's a bad move though. Remember that you do give up something for being allowed to increase your bet: If the correct play is to double down, you should always double for the full amount if possible.

And just when should you double down, you ask? For that information, just use our Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine. When you are dealt a pair of cards of the same rank, you are allowed to split the pair into two separate hands and play them independently.

Let's say you are dealt a pair of eights for a total of sixteen. Sixteen is the worst possible player hand, since it is unlikely to win as is, but is very likely to bust if you draw to it.

Here's a great chance to improve a bad situation. If you are playing a hand-held game, toss the cards face-up in front of your bet just like a double down. Then, in either type of game, place a matching bet beside the original bet in the circle. Note that you must bet the same amount on a split, unlike a double-down where you are allowed to double for less. The dealer will separate the two cards, and treat them as two independent hands. He will deal a second card on the first eight, and you will play that two-card hand to completion.

Many casinos will let you double-down on that two-card hand if you want. No matter what happens on your first hand, when you are done with it the dealer will deal a second card to your next hand and the process starts all over. If you get additional pairs in the first two cards of a hand, most casinos will allow you to resplit, making yet another hand.

Typically a player is allowed to split up to 3 times, making 4 separate hands, with 4 separate bets. If double after split is allowed, you could have up to 8 times your initial bet on the table! Note that you are allowed to split any valued cards, so you could split a Jack, Queen hand. However, this is usually a bad play. You will make more money on the pat 20 than you will trying to make two good hands from it.

I wrote a post about just that: Why Splitting Tens is a Bad Move. Another oddity comes when splitting Aces. Splitting Aces is a very strong player move so the casino limits you to drawing only one additional card on each Ace. Also, if you draw a ten-valued card on one of your split Aces, the hand is not considered a Blackjack, but is instead treated as a normal 21, and therefore does not collect a 3: With all these limitations, you may wonder whether it makes sense to split Aces.

The answer is a resounding YES. For accurate advice on what other pairs you should split, consult the Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine. If you want to win at Blackjack, you will eventually need to learn basic strategy from a basic strategy chart or play the interactive strategy trainer. However, there are some quick rules and tips that you can learn as a beginner to decrease the house edge and formulate a strategy. Remember there are more 10 value cards 10, J, Q, K than any other cards in the deck—so when a 10 will get you close to 21 and you are against a card that is bad for the dealer, you should double.

A player 9, 10, or 11 would always be a good double when a dealer is showing a 3, 4, 5, or 6. This is because the 3, 4, 5, and 6 are starting cards that are more likely to make a dealer bust. The Ace is such a powerful card because pulling a 10 on a split will give you a Even though a 21 gained through a split is still only paid 1: Two fives total 10—which is a hand much better suited for doubling.

Insurance in blackjack is often misunderstood by players, and is a big money-maker for casinos. Naming this side-bet "insurance" was a brilliant marketing ploy, and some otherwise solid players will frequently make this bad bet to "insure" when they have a good hand. But actually, insurance is not always a bad bet. For players who can recognize when the remaining deck is rich in ten-valued cards, this can actually be a profitable side-bet.

Insurance is a proposition bet that is available only when the dealer's upcard is an Ace. When the dealer turns up an Ace, he will offer "Insurance" to the players. Insurance bets can be made by betting up to half your original bet amount in the insurance betting stripe in front of your bet.

The dealer will check to see if he has a value card underneath his Ace, and if he does have Blackjack, your winning Insurance bet will be paid at odds of 2: You will still lose your original bet unless you also have a Blackjack , so the net effect is that you break even assuming you bet the full half bet for insurance.

This is why the bet is described as "insurance", since it seems to protect your original bet against a dealer blackjack. Of course, if the dealer does not have blackjack, you'll lose the insurance bet, and still have to play the original bet out. Insurance is simply a side-bet offering 2: Not surprisingly, the casino has a substantial edge on this bet. In a single deck game, there are 16 ten-valued cards. Assuming that you don't see any other cards, including your own, the tens compose 16 out of 51 remaining cards after the dealer's Ace was removed.

That creates a 5. It's even worse in six decks with a 7. Card counters can still beat the insurance bet, by only making the bet when they know that more than one-third of the remaining cards are tens. Unless you are card counter and know the deck is skewed sufficiently, just ignore the insurance bet. It doesn't matter whether you have a good hand or a bad hand. If you have a blackjack when the dealer turns up an Ace, he is likely to offer you "even money" instead of the insurance bet.

If you accept, the dealer will pay you the amount of your original bet and discard your hand of blackjack, before he even checks under his Ace to see if he has a blackjack as well. Many players think this sounds like a good deal, guaranteeing a profit even if the dealer has a blackjack. But that guaranteed profit comes at a price.

Let me show you how it works:. So, casinos allow you to eliminate the insurance bet altogether, and simply declare that you want "even money" for your blackjack when the dealer has an Ace showing. The problem is that you are still making a bad bet on insurance, which costs you money.

A player who does not count cards should simply never take the insurance bet, even the "even money" variety. Some games offer the player a chance to fold their hand, and forfeit half of their bet. This surrender option must be done as the very first action the player takes on the hand. In other words, you can't draw a card and then decide to bail out! Even when surrender is available, it is rarely used by players. Often, the rules posted at the table won't mention it even if the casino allows it.

And many players just don't like the idea of surrendering a hand. But for a smart player, it is a useful option, and reduces the house advantage by about 0. When surrender is available, make sure you know the correct strategy for using it. Most players who use the option surrender too many hands.

If your game offers surrender, I recommend reading my complete explanation of blackjack surrender. In the most common variety known as "late" surrender , a player cannot surrender until after the dealer has checked for blackjack. If the dealer has blackjack, you will lose your entire bet with no chance of surrendering for half the cost.

Generally, the dealer in blackjack must hit if he has a total of 16 or less, and stand if he has 17 or more. Seventeen is a weak hand, so if the dealer is allowed to try to improve the soft 17 hands, it makes the game tougher.

When a dealer is allowed to hit soft 17, it adds about 0. Almost all other areas used the better rule of standing on all 17s. Over the years, more and more casinos have switched to hitting soft 17, and there are now far more H17 games than S17 games. You can still find some games where the dealer stands on all 17s, even in casinos where some of the tables use the H17 rule. After splitting a pair, many casinos will allow you to double-down on a two-card hand that arises as a result of the split.

For example, if you split a pair of eights, and draw a 3 on the first hand, it is valuable to be able to double-down on the resulting hand of As mentioned in the previous section discussion on pair splitting, there are several common restrictions on splitting Aces.

You will receive only one card on each Ace after splitting. Some casinos will allow you to resplit if you draw another Ace, and some will not. That's true even if the casino allows resplits of all other pairs. Many casinos in Europe, and some in other parts of the world, handle the dealer's second card differently.

In these "European No Hole Card" games, the dealer only deals himself one card at the beginning of the round. After all the players have completed their hands, he deals his own second card and completes the hand.

Contrast that with the normal US style of play. There, if the dealer has a ten or Ace card up, he checks the other card immediately to see if he has a blackjack. If he does, the hand is over. This process of "peeking" under the hole card to check for blackjack means that players can only lose one bet per hand if the dealer has a blackjack. In a No-Hole-Card game, a player might split or double and have multiple bets at risk to a dealer blackjack, because the dealer cannot check ahead of time.

This changes the optimal strategy, and means that players should usually not split or double against a dealer ten or Ace upcard. An exception is splitting Aces against a dealer ten. Note that there are a few no-hole-card games where the rules specifically say that only one bet will be collected from a player if the dealer has a blackjack. In those games, although there is no hole card, you can play the game as if there were.

That means you should play it as a Peek game, even though there's not really a peek! It's all a bit confusing. When the No-Hole-Card rule is in use, and all bets are at risk to a dealer blackjack, it costs the player 0. Use the "No-Peek" option at our Strategy Engine. Ok this one's an extremely rare variation which I doubt you will see in any casinos today but I thought I'd mention. Similarly there is a rule variation whereby the player automatically wins when drawing 7 cards without busting which is called a "Seven Card Charlie".

The most important item is the sign declaring betting limits.

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