Blackjack – Playing Guide and Rules to Playing
If you’ve never played the game before, Blackjack or 21, can seem a little intimidating at first glance. But don’t worry, once you get the hang of the basics you’ll be off and running at the best bet in the casino.
Blackjack offers the player the best odds of any game in the house – depending on the rules and assuming perfect play the edge is less than ½ of 1%. This means that on average you can play a lot longer than any other casino game. And once you master the fundamentals and learn how to read and use a basic Strategy card, you’ll stand a good chance of beating the game and cashing out a profit.
Here we’ll look at the very basic game of Blackjack. Top online casino sites like Bovada Casino offer a wide variety of Blackjack and several rule variations within any given game. All variants are based on these rules so knowing them will help you understand any game of 21.
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- The Wager – You may place a bet. All tables have a minimum and maximum bet, check the felt for limits.
- The Deal – Cards are dealt one at a time around the table in two passes – Dealer last. Online you will get 2 cards face up and the Dealer will have one card down and one card exposed.
Depending on house rules you will be able to split, double or surrender – but you will always hit or stand. This means you can take another card or stop taking cards at any time. The object of the game is to beat the Dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible without going over.
- Blackjack – If your first two cards add up to 21 this is a Blackjack and it pays 2:1 or 3:2. Ace counts as 1 or 11, whichever benefits you most. A two card hand other than Blackjack with an Ace is called a soft hand. A six and an Ace is a soft 17 because it can be counted as 7 or 17.
- Surrender – If allowed you may ‘surrender’ your hand by folding and giving up half your wager. There are early and late surrenders. Online you will only find a late surrender, meaning the dealer will check his hand for 21 before you have the option. Surrender is rare online.
- Hit – Depending on the Dealers up card and how near your hand is to 21 you may choose to Hit – another card will be dealt. If you don’t bust, go over 21, you may choose to hit again until you are satisfied. If you go over 21 you will lose your wager.
- Stand – Any time you are satisfied that you will have a hand totaling more than the Dealer’s without going over 21 you will Stand, and take no more cards.
- Double – You may be able to double your wager if confident a third card will make your hand beat the dealers final hand.
- Split – A pair can become two hands by Splitting and adding another wager no more than your original bet to the new hand. If a split hand equals 21 in two cards it is not counted as a Blackjack and only counts as 21. Blackjack can only occur on the initial deal.
- Insurance – If the Dealer’s up card is an Ace you may be offered Insurance. You will basically be betting that he has a Blackjack if you take this option. It is a side bet with the end result being that if he has 21 you lose nothing. If you take insurance and Dealer’s hand is not a Blackjack you will lose an amount equal to ½ your original wager.
- Once you have decided to Stand the Dealer turns over his hole card. If the Dealer beats your hand Dealer wins. Dealer must hit on 16 (or less) and Stand on 17 (or higher). Some rules let the Dealer Hit on soft 17 giving them a slight advantage. Dealer will turn over cards until he must Stand, beats your hand, or busts by going over 21.
- If your hand beats the Dealer’s final hand your wager is paid even money. If the Dealer wins you lose your wager.
- Push – If your hand adds up to the same as the Dealer’s it is a tie or Push and the bet is negated. You may place another bet within Table Limits and play another game.
Almost every casino online offers Blackjack and most offer the game in practice mode so you can get a feel for the speed of play and practice your strategy. Until you know the game and any variant you are playing by heart it is highly recommended that you use a blackjack strategy chart.
Simply find the hand you are dealt along the left side of the card, then see the card the Dealer is showing along the top and reference where the column and row intersect. This will tell you whether it is best to Hit, Stand, Double Down, Split, or Surrender if allowed.