How to Play Blackjack – A Brief Guide on Terms, Rules, and Tips

Before you join the excitement in blackjack tables, you should learn how to play blackjack. It’s a classic casino game that’s playable in most casinos and available in different variants. Among the popular table games, the blackjack game offers you the best odds of winning with just a 1 percent house edge. Also, in this online card game, you’re just playing against the casino dealer, and not experienced poker players. These are just some of the reasons why now is the right time to learn and play this game.

Basic Blackjack rules and objective of the game

The game of blackjack is a casino banked game which means that you play against the house. Your task on the table is to beat the dealer’s hand value by getting close to 21 without exceeding this. If you go beyond this number, you go bust and lose the round. At the beginning of the round, you get two cards. These cards are dealt face-up with the dealer’s hand receiving one card that’s face-down (a hole card). 

When you play blackjack, the best possible start is to get an Ace with a ten-point card. In assessing the hand value, there are a few rules that you should keep in mind. Also, you can choose from at least five options when deciding what to do with your first two cards. Read more about the blackjack rules on betting below.

Blackjack Card Values

Card Values

In the game of blackjack, you should learn how individual cards are scored on the blackjack table. The deck’s royals from Kings to Jacks get a value of 10 while the Aces can assume a value of 1 or 11 depending on how you want to play the game. All other cards in the deck retain the card face values.

For example, if you get a King and a 3, it means that your two cards get a value of 13. Now if your first card is an Ace and the other is a 10, it’s considered a natural or ‘Blackjack’ which beats all hands except for another natural. If that happens, the game results in a push with no winner, and the original bet of the player is returned.

Number of decks used

In many casinos, a deck of 52 cards is used to play blackjack online. However, some operators use several decks of playing cards that are shuffled together before the start of the round.  The most popular variant of the game is played using six decks or a total of 312 cards. The number of decks in play often depends on the blackjack variant. For example, in Blackjack Switch, the dealer can use up to eight decks of cards!

Value of the Chips

When you place a bet in a physical casino, you’ll need chips. These chips come in different colors and each color will represent a specific value. In some casinos, the most common colors used are white, pink, red, green, orange, and black to name just a few. By tradition, the white-colored chip represents a value of 1.00 credit while the black-colored chip comes with a 100.00 value. At the start of the game, you’ll need to decide on your bet and use the chips to represent your wager.

Blackjack Gameplay Options

Blackjack Gameplay Options

As mentioned, this game starts with two cards to beat the dealer. Your two cards are dealt face-up while the dealer gets one card that’s face down which we call the hole card. In learning how to play blackjack, you’ll need to assign the value for the first two cards. At this point, you’ll need to choose one of five possible options: Hit, Stand, Split, Double Down, or Surrender. These options are explained in detail below:


Let’s say that the value of the first two cards is low, like a ‘9’. In blackjack games, there’s an option to take another card which we call a ‘Hit’. In mastering how to play blackjack in a physical casino, you just signal to the dealer by pointing to the hand. In the online variant, simply click the button that says ‘Hit’, and you’re awarded another card. If the total is less than 21, there’s another option to hit or stand. But if the total is 21, you automatically stand.


If you’re happy with the card face values, then you don’t have to take another action and just pass the opportunity to the other player. In the rules of how to play blackjack, we call this to ‘Stand’. In a physical casino setup, you simply wave a flat hand over your cards. But in an online casino, you have a button that represents the action which you can click at any time.

Split Blackjack


If the first two cards are of the same rank or value, there’s an option to split these into two hands with an additional bet equal to the original bet. For example, you get a 7-7 as your two cards in a particular round. Under the rules on how to play blackjack, you can make two hands with equal bets. Now, if on the second card you get another match, you’re given another chance to split the card into two. Traditionally, you can split up to a maximum of four hands and from there, no splits are allowed.

Double Down

In many tips on how to play blackjack, a double down is a risky move that pays big time.  If you think that you have a favorable hand, say a total of 10 or 11, then you can choose this option. To beat the dealer, you need to place a second wager similar to the first bet. With this, you receive one more card face up and you need to stand regardless of its value. When you play blackjack, this option is only applicable on your starting hand. Also, some operators may restrict the hand totals that can be doubled.


In blackjack games, the challenge is to create the best hand value to collect a payout. If you’re not happy with the card, there’s an option to get another or if you’re confident, you can double down for another card. However, there’s one final option in this card game that you can take if you’re sure of losing: to surrender. This is not offered in all casino games but if the operator allows it, you take back half of your wager and end the round. For example in the European versions of the game, you will not find this option.

Other betting options in Blackjack

Other betting options in Blackjack

In the standard rules on how to play blackjack, you’ll also find other betting options that can add excitement to the table. These betting options are insurance and even money which are all explained below. Not all blackjack online variants offer these betting options so make sure you check with the casino before you play.


Insurance is a type of side bet that you can play in most variants of this casino game. An insurance bet is offered if the dealer’s up-card is an Ace. It’s your insurance or protection for the possibility that the dealer may score a blackjack. As part of the rules, this type of bet pays out 2 to 1, and the maximum bet that you can play here is half your main bet.

Even Money

This is similar to the insurance option that’s available if you’re being dealt a 21 and if the dealer’s initial card is an Ace. If you choose to accept this option, you’ll need to end your hand and collect a payout of double your stake. This means that you no longer have to risk the possibility of a dealer getting a 21 which will potentially result to push, which will only award you with the original stake.

Hard and Soft Hands in BlackJack

Hard and Soft Hands – What are they and why are they so important?

When you play blackjack, you can enjoy several variations of the hand thanks to the different card values. On a random round, you can form a 9, an 11 or if you’re lucky, you can get a natural or a blackjack hand. Aside from this, your hands can be categorized as a soft or hard hands.

In this game, a soft hand is one with an Ace which you can count as eleven. Collecting a soft hand in the game is beneficial since you can easily adjust its total by requesting another card. Here, you cannot go bust by hitting since you can always change Ace’s value. If you land a soft hand, the basic strategy to follow is to always hit 17 or less if the dealer’s face-up card is a 9 or 10.

Also, there’s a chance that you can collect a hard hand or one that doesn’t contain an Ace. Or a hand that boasts an Ace that must be counted as one otherwise you’ll go bust. In blackjack, the dealer gets the advantage in this hand since it’s very risky for the player as the odds of going bust is high. With this hand, you need to hit if your total is 4 to 8 and the dealer’s face-up card is 2 to 6 or 7 to Ace. In short, understanding if it’s a hard or soft hand is a basic strategy if you want to master the game.

how to play blackjack

Blackjack Odds/Payout

Blackjack is one of the best casino games to play if you’re looking for potential wins. Compared to online slots, this card game offers you friendly odds with many casinos featuring an average of 1 percent as a house edge. Aside from the odds, it’s also important to review the game’s payout schedule. The actual payout that you’ll receive will depend on the round’s outcome.

For example, if you win a hand in a blackjack game, you’re paid 1:1 on the total bet wagered. If you score a natural or a blackjack hand, the payout is set at 3:2. But if the round ends up with the same hand total, it becomes a push and your bet is returned.

Blackjack Tips and Hints

Compared to other popular casino games where outcomes are at random, the game of blackjack introduces some form of skills and strategies. In short, you’ll need to understand the rules, follow some tips, and set up a basic strategy for you to improve your chances on the table.

One of the best approaches to use in the game is to understand the rules, particularly at the right time to use a specific betting action. For example, in splitting a hand, experts recommend that you always split Aces. Although you’ll only receive just one card, an 11 offers you a strong starting hand to play blackjack. You will also encounter side bets like even money and insurance on the blackjack tables. As a rule, don’t take these bets since these work against the players.

To improve your chances, you may want to consider a double down. This option reduces the house edge and allows you to capitalize on your strong position. As a basic strategy, you double-down on an 11 except when there’s an Ace on the dealer. Also, you can double-down on a 10 or a 5-5 except when the dealer has a 10 or Ace. If you’re a beginner and can’t memorize these recommend tips and actions, you can download a basic strategy chart that’s available online. A chart details what you can do if you have a soft or hard hand, and tells you the recommended action based on the total value and the dealer’s card.

Is Card Counting an option when you play live?

Is Card Counting an option when you play live?

Speaking of a basic strategy, one popular trick used by many experienced players is card counting. A card counter tracks every card dealt on the table and pays attention to the running total of all cards based on a specific system. The card counter works on a basic principle that low cards are beneficial to the dealer and the high cards will help the player more. This basic strategy to blackjack is difficult to follow especially among beginners. And many operators now use advanced shuffling machines when preparing cards for release to the dealer’s left. This card counting more difficult to sustain regularly.

Betting Systems that you can use while playing blackjack

You can also improve your chances in this game by following a betting system.  As the term suggests, this is a form of strategy that allows you to plan your bets accordingly. For example, you can increase your bet after a loss or reduce your bet after an initial win, and increasing it again if you make a second win. Described below are the most common types of betting strategies you can use online.


A popular betting system is the Martingale approach which’s also used in other casino games like roulette. This is considered a negative progressive betting system that requires you to double your bet after a loss. The idea behind this approach is that you’ll end up covering your losses when you snatch a win. So if you bet $20 in a game and lose, you’ll need to wager $40 on the next round. But if you win, you simply continue wagering using your original bet.


This is another negative progression betting system for blackjack online with a twist. Instead of simply doubling your money on a loss, the actual wager that you’ll make on the table will follow the Fibonacci sequence. To play this strategy, you need to set up first your bet unit that you’re comfortable playing with. Under this strategy, every time you lose your bet, you move one number up the sequence and bet this number of units. And every time you win, move two numbers down the sequence.

Betting Systems that you can use while playing blackjack

D’ Alembert

For players looking for an easy-to-follow betting strategy, then the D’ Alembert approach is recommended. This shares some similarities with the Martingale system with a few tweaks. If you will follow its principle, you need to increase your bet by one unit for every loss and decrease your bet by one unit in case of a win. Again, you’ll need to identify first your bet unit before starting to play. If your bet unit is $5 and you lose, your bet on the next round should be $10 and so on.


For experienced players, the parlay betting system is the best option. It’s a high-risk strategy that works on a positive betting system. This means that you will increase your wager if you get a winning hand and decrease it if you lose. It’s the opposite of the Martingale betting system and this can deliver big payouts if you sustain a winning streak. Although this can provide you with a potentially good run, it can be risky. Some say that this strategy is a ‘all-or-nothing’ approach where you risk all your bankroll in a single round.

Blackjack games house edge

Online blackjack is popular among players and enthusiasts for several reasons. Aside from its easy-to-remember rules, this card game also offers a friendly house edge. It offers players higher odds of winning compared to slot machines or even poker. On average, the house edge of most casinos in this game is set at roughly 1%. In a Single Deck Blackjack, the casino’s advantage is at 1.5%.  Even if the house edge goes up to 2%, it still offers players better odds of winning compared to other popular casino games. To improve your chances at the table, you can follow a set of strategies. And if you stick to a winning strategy, you can even bring it down to 0.5%.

Common terms used in live blackjack

Common terms used in blackjack

One of the ways to master blackjack is to learn the different terms used in the game. Among the most essential terms are the different betting options that you can use: to hit, stand, double down, or split the cards. Also, regular players of the game should be familiar with the different types of side bets like insurance and even money bets. Aside from these betting terms, there are a few more terms that you should know and they’re listed below:

  • Burn card- This is the card removed from the top of the deck before the game.
  • Bust – If your hand’s total exceeds 21.
  • Cut – To split the cards after they had been shuffled.
  • Hole card – The dealer’s face-down card after the initial deal.
  • Natural – This is another term for a blackjack where a hand boasts an Ace and a 10.
  • Push – A tied hand where you get your original wager.
  • Re-split – To split the hand after an initial split.
  • Shoe – This is the container on the blackjack table that holds the cards.
  • Surrender – To forfeit your hand in the round and get half your stake.
  • Up-card – This is the card that the casino dealer is showing.

FAQs on How to Play Blackjack