How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a popular casino table game where the player's main objective is to get a better hand than dealer. It's a game that requires discipline, proper money management, quick calculations, and again, discipline. Combined, they enable the player to get an advantage over the house. We're going to start with the basics.

Blackjack Win Conditions

Understanding the win conditions when learning how to play blackjack is key. That's because it is the only way you will know how to apply your strategies to beat the dealer.

In case you are a new player, here is how to win in blackjack:

  • When the dealer ends up with a bust – hand count higher than 21.
  • Have a hand whose value equals 21 and the dealer doesn't.
  • Have a hand whose value is higher than the dealer's.

When Does the Dealer Win?

A lot of blackjack players completely miss the underlying rules of the game. It's not about getting 21, it's about the other party losing. If you consider your hand only, you will be at a disadvantage.

In that case, note that the dealer wins:

  • Their hand value is higher than the player’s hand.
  • When a player draws a bust – a hand of 22 or higher.

Steps to Playing Blackjack

The best way for a beginner to enjoy their first blackjack session is to go through the simple blackjack rules. Each instruction acts as a guide designed to enable players to understand the necessary blackjack gaming procedure.

For easy understanding, the whole process is summarized below.

1. Buy Chips

Purchase your chips, or if you play online, simply make a deposit. How much you decide to play with depends on your budget and sometimes your strategy. Besides buying chips, you should also find a table that's appropriate to your budget.

There should be a balance of playtime and excitement. Playing with too-low bets won't get the thrills, but playing too briefly is also not fun. Luckily, with proper money management, you can play blackjack hours on end, having fun and still maintain high returns.

2. Place Your Bets

The second step on how to play blackjack is learning how to bet. It is also the part where blackjack wagering rules apply. Whether a live dealer or virtual blackjack, each game comes with specific wagering limits indicated on one side of the table. Keep in mind that players can only use their chips within the provided range. That’s whether it is $10 or $5. 

The amount you wager will determine your actual winnings if you end up on the winning end.

3. Dealer Deals Cards

After placing bets, the dealer will distribute cards from the shoe, starting with the first base. Each player, including the anchor, receives a single card during the first round of dealing. The dealer also gets one faceup card. The second round follows shortly, and this time, the dealer receives a hole card or a face-down card.

The deal is over when each player has two cards.

4. Player Decides How to Play

The dealer then instructs participants to make their move. You should consider the value of the two cards you have. If you are lucky to have an ace with a face card (card with value of 10), then you have a blackjack. You are the winner of the round if the dealer does not have a blackjack.

If it's a tie, then it's a push, which means you neither lose your stake nor win the session. You simply get your bet back.

There's also an instance where your cards don't sum up to 21, neither do the dealer's hands. In this case, the dealer will continue to the next player as you deliberate on which of the following moves to make.

Hit

A hit means taking another card in an attempt to raise your hand value to 21. According to blackjack dealer rules, the croupier can only serve a player one card at a time. You are free to add as many cards as possible until you bust or win.

There's no limit to how many times you can hit in blackjack.

Stand

Standing or sitting is a move made by players who have acceptable card values, so they decide not to take another card. Make sure you make it clear that you are standing so that the dealer can continue to the player on your right. A stand enables you to examine other players' actions on the table and come up with a decision. 

Split

You can only split if you receive two face cards, for instance, a King and a Queen. By splitting each card, you get to have two hands and two cards. Splitting is a common decision for players who don’t want to double down.

Note that this move only applies in this particular situation. Thus, you can't use it whenever you want.

Double-Down

Players usually double down when they are at an advantage. By doubling down, you chose to double your initial wager and, in turn, receive one card.

Different casinos have different doubling-down options. That’s why you don’t need to learn how to double-down in blackjack. You also have to know which doubling down possibilities are likely to be presented to you.

Surrender

Finally, you can choose to surrender if you want to keep half your original wager instead of losing the whole amount. This step is necessary if you feel the value of your hand is not suitable. Most blackjack players use surrender as a bankroll managing strategy.

Surrendering is not available in all blackjack games.

Once you understand how to play blackjack, you will find this step to be crucial for long-term success.

5. Dealer Plays Hand

After every player has made a move, the dealer will have to play a hand to determine the outcome. The action can be stand or hit depending on each player's hand. The final outcome is determined only after the dealer finishes playing.

6. Outcome and Payouts

With all the cards dealt, comes the time for payouts. The dealer, out loud, says who has busted, who has won, and who has lost.

  • If no player busts, yet the dealer does, all players win.
  • Players that have a hand higher than the dealer's, yet 21 or up to 21, are winners as well.

When it comes to payouts, the numbers vary slightly. Regular wins are paid 1:1, meaning you get your bet back, plus the same amount on top. In most cases, Blackjacks are paid out at a rate of 3:2. An example would be placing a $10 bet. If you get a Blackjack, you win $15.

Number of Decks

The question of how many decks are there in a blackjack game is vital since it determines so many things, including the house edge. Standard blackjack games use one or two decks. However, when talking of professional blackjack or shoes, games use six to eight card decks.

Casinos use more card decks to increase the house edge, thus minimizing players' chances of getting a blackjack. Therefore:

  • a higher deck count is beneficial to the house,
  • whereas a lower deck count is beneficial for the player.

Blackjack Basic Strategy

The basic strategy of blackjack entails applying statistics to evaluate a particular move in different blackjack situations. It is among the leading methods suitable for any player learning how to win at blackjack without counting cards. Nearly all blackjack players apply this basic strategy because of its advantages which consist of:

  • When applied correctly, the Blackjack basic strategy can virtually reduce the house edge to less than 1%.
  • The strategy allows you to know your winning chances as soon as you are dealt with the first card.
  • Basic blackjack strategy makes players understand that imitating the dealer increases their losing chances significantly. 

Card Counting

Card counting is a popular method of how to cheat on blackjack. The whole process is broken down into four steps, the first one being assigning a specific value to every card in the shoe. You then have to keep the count running while computing the value of the true count. Lastly, you need to change your bets based on your findings. 

Note that card counting is challenging despite being an excellent method of increasing your winning chances. To make matters worse, there are methods in place to prevent card counting, for example:

  • Table limits: Some casinos have table limits to keep players from making massive bet changes in the middle of a blackjack session.
  • Decks are shuffled: Other casinos make sure dealers shuffle cards regularly so that a card counter can lose track of the count. The idea also discourages wonging which usually results from card counting.
  • Outcomes are independent: Virtual blackjack games make sure every result is independent, so it is hard to run the count.

Splitting Cards

Splitting cards is a blackjack move where the player separates two cards, thus prompting the dealer to serve them an extra card on either hand. The action is only necessary when you are dealt with two cards of the same value. For example, if you are dealt with two Aces and don't separate them, one ace will be assigned the value of 11, and the other card will receive one.

Apart from aces, it is advisable to split eights. After splitting your cards, make sure you check the rules of splitting cards to avoid making vague moves.

Here are the pros and cons of splitting cards in blackjack that you must know.

Pros

Cons

Special Situations in Blackjack

When playing blackjack, you will always come across situations that need special attention. These cases are unique because they put a player in a position that may make them ditch the basic blackjack knowledge. Some of these circumstances include:

Insurance

Insurance allows a player to make a side bet. It can also be even money, especially if you get a blackjack. Another vital aspect to note is that an insurance stake can only be half the sum of your initial wager or less.

Side Bets

Side bets are wagers placed simultaneously as the actual bet, only that they cover minor events. However, professional blackjack players don’t recommend side bets. That’s because they tend to favor the house. One instance that may trigger a player to place a side bet is when predicting whether the first two pairs will be a blackjack.

Payouts

Blackjack payout is the last event that happens after a blackjack session. In short, it takes place immediately after the dealer reveals their cards. The odds that will determine the payout amount usually depend on the blackjack games.

Here is a table that will give you an insight into the kind of payouts to expect depending on the outcome.

PayoutWhen They Apply
1:1The player ends up with a winning hand.
3:2The player gets a blackjack.
No PayoutWhen the dealer has the same hand value as the player that is not bust.

Play Online with Casino Bonus Money

Online blackjack is gradually becoming popular among blackjack enthusiasts. The form of gaming is ideal and comfortable, especially if you are an indoors kind of person. Furthermore, most of the games come with bonuses that will keep you from digging deep into your pocket but see you have adequate fun. Keep in mind that you can use the above steps, procedures, and guidelines to play blackjack online and increase your winning possibilities. 

So far, below are benefits that make online blackjack ideal. They are easy to play compared to those of land-based casinos.

  • The games are convenient and easy to access.
  • They tend to have high payouts. Most of them guarantee anonymity.

Blackjack Glossary

  • Anchor- The player to the immediate right of the dealer or the last blackjack player dealt from the shoe.
  • Ace- A face card that either counts as 1 or 11.
  • Advantage- Precise and legal methods used by players to increase their winning chances.
  • Balanced count- A count that results in zero after counting the complete deck of cards.
  • Bust- A term used when the value of the cards at hand exceeds 21.
  • Blackjack- A situation where the total value of your cards sums up to 21 also the best hand possible.
  • Bust card- A card that is likely to make the value of cards at hand go higher than 21.
  • Basic strategy- The move a blackjack player makes depending on their hand and the dealer's upcards while sticking to the blackjack rules.
  • Bet spread- The lowest and highest wager made by a player during a particular blackjack session.
  • Box- A bet placing area usually in front of every player.
  • Burn card- The first blackjack card of a shuffled and cut deck.
  • Chip down- Staking lower than your previous bet value.
  • Chip up- Staking more than your previous bet value.
  • CMS (continuously shuffling machine)- An electronic machine used to shuffle a deck of cards.
  • Cut card- A plastic card used to cut a deck of cards, thus indicating where the next shuffle will start.
  • Double down- To wager the size of your original amount and receive, have only a single card added.
  • Even-money- A staking position where a player stands equal probabilities to lose and gain a similar amount of cash.
  • First base- The first player dealt with on the table and usually on the left of the blackjack dealer.
  • Five-card Charlie- A situation where the player wins by having only five cards on the hand without busting.
  • Flat bet- Wagering similar amounts of cash consecutively.
  • Griffin book- A book provided by Griffin Investigations containing names of every supposed card counter.
  • Hard hand- A hand either containing no single Ace or one whose Ace value is 1.
  • Hit- A play that forces the dealer to deal a player with another card.
  • Hole card- The blackjack dealer’s card with the face down.
  • Hole carding- Seeing the blackjack dealer's face-down card during dealing and using the information to your advantage.
  • Insurance- A side wager made only after an Ace is shown by the dealer.
  • Natural- A blackjack or when a player's first two cards total 21.
  • Penetration- The fraction of the number of decks likely to be dealt prior to card shuffling compared to the sum of all decks in the game.
  • Pitch game- A game of blackjack where one or two decks are dealt from the dealer’s hands.
  • Push- A situation where the player and the dealer’s hand achieve a tie.
  • Shoe- The section where blackjack cards are sourced from before dealing.
  • Shoe game- A game where dealers deal cards from the shoe.
  • Soft- A hand with an ace whose value is 11 or can double to 1.
  • Split- A situation where a player receives two similar ranking cards and decides to play them separately.
  • Stand- Also called sitting, an action where a player decides not to take additional cards.
  • Stand off- A position where the player and the dealer’s hand value are similar.
  • Stiff- A hard hand where a single draw of 12, 13, 14, 15, or 16 may lead to a value above 21.
  • Surrender- The action of sacrificing half your wager as soon as you notice you cannot beat the dealer.
  • Third base- A wagering spot that is last to act, mostly on the right of the dealer.
  • Upcard- A card whose face is open for viewing.
  • Wonging- Back counting then wagering once you hint an edge.

Conclusion

Blackjack is one of the most interactive table games worldwide, with easy-to-understand rules and exciting gameplay. Even so, the game can be quite challenging to master, especially if you are not committed. But then, the trick to having fun is ditching the complex rules. Instead, learning the basics is key. Leave it to us to break down every part of blackjack, even something like the number of decks. 

You should also know how to win in blackjack so that you don't end up making losses every time you play. But overall, you will have fun thanks to the many exciting features available.

Blackjack Rules FAQs

How much is an ace worth in a blackjack?

An Ace is worth 1, 10, or 11 in blackjack. That's why an Ace with a king or queen is a blackjack, whereas two aces can lead to a split. It's by far the most versatile card that can give you a huge advantage. Whether you get it after a hit on 15, or at 4, it will improve your odds of winning

Is there an explanation on how to cheat on blackjack?

You can't really cheat in blackjack, unless you know the exact sequence of the cards in the shoe. Card counting is considered cheating by casino operators. While it gives the player big advantage, it's very stressful if done properly. Some take years to master it. It also takes away the fun out of the game.

Do other players' actions affect my gameplay?

Other players' actions will not affect your gameplay. Instead, it is only the card they take or don’t take that can influence the direction of the game. The goal of the game is to beat the dealer. Tables with more players simply allow for faster penetration of the shoe if you are trying to card count.

Between a single-deck blackjack and a multi-deck blackjack, which one is preferable?

Single-deck blackjack is preferable since it increases the winning possibilities of a player. On the other hand, multiple decks upsurge the house edge. The house edge the casino has is gets added up. In a way, the chances of winning are the number of decks in the shoe times the regular house edge.

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