Blackjack is one of the most famous card games – and games period – globally.
Whether you’re in Monte Carlo, Macau, or good old Las Vegas, you’ll find people playing blackjack.
But how do you play blackjack?
Blackjack is a casino game played with cards.
The aim of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand by either having a total hand value higher than the dealer’s or by getting the dealer to “bust” – that is, have a hand value exceeding 21.
If neither of these things happen, then it’s a draw and your stake is returned to you.
You play blackjack with one or more standard decks of 52 cards.
In most online blackjack games there will be between four and eight decks in play.
At the start of each hand, you place a bet in the designated betting area.
The dealer then deals two cards to each player and two for themselves, with all cards dealt face up.
The value of each hand is determined by adding together the values of the individual cards.
Cards from 2 through to 10 are worth their pip value (that is, the number shown on the card).
Jacks, queens, and kings are each worth 10 points, while aces can be worth either 1 or 11 depending on what will give you the best hand total.
If your first two cards make a total of 21 – an ace and a 10-valued card – this is known as blackjack and pays out at 3:2 odds.
So if you bet $10, you’d win $15.
The dealer will then compare their hand to yours. If they have a higher total, you lose your stake.
If you have a higher total, you win and are paid out at even money (1:1). If the hands tie, it’s a push and your stake is returned to you.
If the dealer has an ace showing, they will offer “insurance” to players with a blackjack.
This is effectively a side bet that pays 2:1 if the dealer does indeed have blackjack.
It’s a sucker bet as the chances of the dealer having blackjack are only about 9%, but some people like to take it anyway!
Dealers blackjack strategy
Once all players have either bust or stayed, the dealer will then reveal their hand.
If the dealer has a total of 16 or less, they must hit.
This means they draw another card and add it to their hand. If the dealer has a total of 17 or more, they must stand.
Once the dealer has finished hitting or standing, all players who have not bust will have their hands compared to the dealer’s.
If your hand is higher than the dealer’s, you win and are paid out at even money (1:1). If the dealer’s hand is higher than yours, you lose your stake.
If the hands tie, it’s a push and your stake is returned to you.
In blackjack there is something called basic strategy.
This is a set of rules that tell you how to play your hand depending on what the dealer is showing.
Basic strategy takes into account things like the number of decks in play, whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17 (a hand containing an ace that totals either 7 or 17) and whether doubling down (explained below) is allowed after splitting pairs.
If you want to play blackjack with the best chance of winning, then you need to learn basic strategy.
This can take some time and effort, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
If you are dealt a pair of cards of the same value (for example, two 8s), then you can choose to “split” them into two separate hands.
To do this, you place an additional bet of the same size as your original bet and then the dealer will deal a second card to each hand.
You then play each hand separately, with the aim of beating the dealer’s hand as usual.
If you split aces, you are usually only dealt one more card to each hand and are not allowed to hit or double down.
If you think you have a good chance of beating the dealer with your current hand, then you may want to “double down”.
This involves doubling your original bet and taking just one more card. Once you have doubled down, you cannot hit again.
In some casinos, you are allowed to “surrender” your hand and give up half your bet if you think you have no chance of winning.
This option is not always available, so be sure to check the rules before you play.
The house always has a slight edge in blackjack, equal to about 0.5% of your total bet.
This may not sound like much, but over time it can add up to a significant amount of money.
Some players try to overcome the house edge by using a technique called card counting.
This involves keeping track of which cards have been played and then making bets based on this information.
Card counting is not illegal, but casinos will often ban players they suspect of doing it.
There are all sorts of card counting systems, but usually players who count cards will bet more when they suspect more face cards and aces are available versus lower-value cards.
This can give the player a slight edge, but it’s not foolproof and take a lot of practice to get good at it.
Free Online Blackjack
The Washington Post has a free online blackjack game located here:
Blackjack is a popular casino game that offers players a good chance of winning if they learn basic strategy.
Some players also try to count cards in order to give themselves an even greater advantage.
Whether you play blackjack for fun or profit, we hope this guide has been helpful!