Alongside roulette, blackjack is by far the most popular casino table game around. From the rich elite to the casual gamblers, online or at a land casino, blackjack is the card game everyone wants to play. And win.
Blackjack, also known as ‘Twenty-One’, is popular partly due to how straightforward it is to play. However, the real trick to playing blackjack is understanding strategy. Professional gamblers might say that there’s no real strategy to it, but it’s probably because they don’t want to reveal too much. As with everything, there is indeed a good way and a bad way to apply strategy to this game. The good news is you don’t have to be a mathematical prodigy to do it.
Keep scrolling to find out how to play blackjack and where to play blackjack online.
Originating from 1760s France when it was called ‘Vingt-et-Un’, i.e. ‘Twenty-One’, blackjack has pretty much retained its popularity. Beloved all round the globe, most players tend to confuse the aim of the game when it comes to facing off with the dealer.
Contrary to the dictionary-like explanation, the point of blackjack is not to get as close to the number 21 as you can. The point is to beat the dealer, or the casino if you’re playing blackjack online. As long as you manage to best the opponent, then the money is yours any how. No need to be overly risky.
You ‘beat’ the dealer/casino in one of three main ways:
Don’t go bust (in other words, don’t go over 21)
Get a higher score than the dealer/casino
Wait it out until the dealer goes bust
In reality, you should see the score of ’21’ as a sort of line in the sand. You should really really try hard not to go over it.
No matter if you’re playing online or at a physical casino, the basis of how blackjack is played remains the same. The casino will typically shuffle together several card decks, usually six, so that there’s around 312 cards in the game. The 6-deck version of blackjack tends to be the most common.
The blackjack table is semi-circular in shape at both live blackjack (played at live casinos), table blackjack, and the blackjack played at physical casinos. Once you’re seated, the process is easy.
Player buys into the game using account credit/chips
Player makes their wager
Dealer or computer will deal out cards to the players
Player plays their hand (more on that down below)
Dealer plays their hand
Cash-outs ensue for one of the parties!
Every time the dealer gives out a draw, it will be two cards at a time. The minimum and maximum bets are usually set to general limits. These limits are somewhere between $2 and $500.
Take a look down below to get bearings on how a blackjack table is organized:
Across all casino platforms: physical, computerized table game or live blackjack – this table format is pretty much the same. The dealer stands behind the chips tray, and draws cards from the shoe. In the middle there is the dealer’s hand – which should be the player’s primary focus because it is this hand you have to beat. Players sit or are virtually positioned, round the semi-circle. There is a position for each player to sit, and where to play bets and cards. Most tables can fit between five to six players at a go.
The ‘rules’ of blackjack come down to two main things:
The value of the cards themselves
You can check down below what value cards have in blackjack game. The value for most cards is set, and remains the same from game to game no matter where you play them. That goes for online and land casinos.
However, there is one particular type of card – the Ace– the value of which is decided according to the cards you draw. An Ace can be either worth 1 point or 11 points. The difference between the Ace values determines the difference between a hard hand and a soft hand.
A hard hand is either a hand that has no Ace card at all, or a hand where the Ace is worth 1 point. On the contrary, any hand that contains an Ace worth 11 points is known as a soft hand. The value of either 1 point or 11 points fluctuates according to the benefit of the player.
For example, if you draw 5-Ace-10-3, this would be a hard 19 because the Ace here is worth 1 point. Otherwise, if it were worth 11 points, the player would go bust just from the first draw.
If the player draws a combination of 6-Ace, then this is considered a soft 17 where the Ace is worth 11 points. The player can then draw another card.
It is extremely important to remember and instinctively understand the difference between the two hands. Not because
The type of play you’ll be making
In blackjack, there aren’t really types of ‘bets’ as in craps, roulette or sic bo. This is because the latter two table games are played by placing chips on a specific bet-section of a table, and then hoping for the best odd-payout.
Instead of types of ‘bets’ there are types of hands. You can check out all of the different types of hands down below too. The game is decided based on the type of hand the player and the dealer make.
Question is – how do you know when you should play a certain type of hand over another?
1 point or 11 points
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
According to pip/face value (i.e. a ‘7’ card is worth 7 points)
10 AND FACE CARDS (J, Q, K)
BLACKJACK - TYPES OF PLAYS
When you ‘Stand’, it means you’re satisfied with the first two cards drawn by the dealer. You’re telling the dealer that he/she can move onto the next player, because you require no further cards.
Movement (Land Casino): Lay your hand flat down on the table, or wave your hand to indicate not proceeding.
Hit me baby one more time! The direct opposite of ‘Stand’, ‘Hit’ means that you’d like more cards. Probably because you want to have a higher total than what you’re currently holding. You can keep going until you go bust, or until you choose to stand.
There is no limit to how many times you want to get Hit.
Movement (Land Casino): With either one or two fingers, tap the table once or twice.
Say you like your current hand, but you’d like to risk a slight improvement. You don’t want the dealer to give you two cards because you’re likely to go bust with two. You only want one card. If so, you have the option to ‘Double Down’.
When you Double Down, you have to match your initial wager so that it’s worth double the amount. By doing so, the dealer will then only give you one more card instead of two.
Movement (Land Casino): Stack up your chips next to the original wager, and the dealer/croupier will automatically hand you just the one card.
If you’re dealt with two cards which have equal value, you are allowed to ‘Split’ them into two new hands. Of course, as you can observe from above, this does not only apply to number cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) but also to face cards like Queen, Jack, King (which are all worth 10 points) and then pairs of the face cards with 10.
The catch is that you can only ‘Split’ cards by putting down a second wager. After all, having two hands not one means double the chances of winning and also provides a safety net.
Movement (Land Casino): First thing you should do is put down a second stack of chips for your second wager. Then, making a sort of peace sign, put two fingers on the table facing downwards.
Let’s say you’re given a hand, but you’re not really feeling it or liking the looks of it. Not all hope is lost. You can choose to ‘Surrender’ your hand to the dealer but you’ll only get half your wager back, instead of the full amount. Still, it can prove the wiser choice when you have a really weak hand and you’re sure to lose.
Movement (Land Casino): Using your index finger, draw a line just underneath where both your hand and bet are. Since the movement is somewhat similar to a Hit, it’s sometimes necessary to verbalize the request. Just say ‘Surrender’ out loud if that’s the case.
When playing blackjack, there is what is known as ‘Basic Strategy’. This isn’t strategy reserved for professionals, or for rich people who want to get richer. This is the most fundamental gameplay structure that any blackjack player should know before entering a game.
Basic strategy is based off of two limits beyond the player’s control:
The player’s hand
The dealer’s hand
Although these dealing of these cards is indeed beyond control – players can still manipulate the situation using the above types of plays. Basic strategy is about figuring out the most mathematically sound way of turning a hand to your advantage.
2 to 6
7 to Ace
4 to 8
Double Down when your hand is higher than the dealer’s
12 to 16
17 to 21
2 to 6
7 to Ace
13 to 15
16 to 18
19 to 21
2 to 6
7 to Ace
2|2, 3|3, 6|6, 7|7, 9|9
4|4, 5|5, 10|10
There are a few exceptions to this, mostly you should never take insurance and to surrender when it’s 16 versus 10.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS BLACKJACK STRATEGY?
Blackjack strategy is incredibly effective, mostly because it is based on cold hard maths and not individual theories and ideas. As stated above, you definitely should never go into a blackjack game without having studied and learned basic strategy.
Basically, if you just follow the set strategy, you’ll also take out an element of the ‘gamble’ from playing blackjack. There are books written about how effective the strategy is. One of them includes the text ‘Gambling 102: The Best Strategies for All Casino Games’, written by Michael Shackleford – the guy behind Wizard of Odds.
Heck, if you’re not a fan of reading books – you can even buy yourself the Basic Blackjack Strategy charts. They’re like chemistry charts, but with blackjack combinations instead of chemical elements. They’re both scientific in nature. Follow the blackjack rules and blackjack strategy, and you’ll definitely be playing smarter and winning more often.
HOW CAN I PLAY BLACKJACK ONLINE?
Playing blackjack online is much easier than playing at a land casino. For one, you don’t have to be wearing a tux or an expensive dress to sit at a table. For another, you don’t have to drive anywhere.
All you have to do is sign up to a reputable online casino, deposit some money into your account, and then choose a blackjack table. If you scroll up you’ll find our recommended list of blackjack casinos. Each of these online casinos has been hand selected by Playcasinos.ca thanks to their wide range of blackjack variations, as well as excellent customer service and banking options.
There are two types of blackjack that you can play online, depending on what you’re looking for. These are table blackjack and live blackjack.
Table blackjack is a computerized blackjack game between just you, the player, and a computer dealer. There are many gaming providers that have created table blackjack games, like Microgaming, Play’n GO and NetEnt. For Canadian players, Microgaming is your best bet when it comes to table blackjack gaming.
Even with table blackjack, players can access different selections like Blackjack Gold and Exclusive Blackjack.
Live blackjack is filmed in a live studio, with a real dealer and a real table, only the players join the session virtually. Providers like Evolution Gaming and Ezgui provide some of the highest quality and fastest connections.
With live blackjack also comes considerable variation. For instance, Evolution not only streams live blackjack. It also streams live blackjack Paris and live blackjack party. Just choose the session with an open chair, and wait until your screen loads up!
HOW TO WIN BLACKJACK ONLINE?
Winning blackjack online follows the same formula as winning blackjack at a casino. Meaning, you should make full use of the basic blackjack strategy.
Although different platforms are being used, as well as different planes of reality, the rules of blackjack remain exactly the same. As do the types of hands and play. So make sure to study up on those charts and those player hand-dealer hand combinations. They could truly be the difference between a winning streak and a massive fail!