How to Play Online Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the world's most popular casino table games, and is one of the games you can expect to find at almost any physical casino you may visit. Its popularity means it's also a game that all online casinos will offer. See our top picks below.
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New to Blackjack?
If you've never played Blackjack before, sitting down at a live table in a physical casino can be an intimidating prospect. No one wants to look like they don't know how to play Blackjack, or to make any obvious or silly mistakes to look foolish in front of other players.
If this sounds like you then don't worry – we have three pieces of very good news for you:
- learning how to play Blackjack online lets you learn the game at your own pace, with no one watching or judging your play
- if you learn how to play online Blackjack, you can go on to use those skills at any Blackjack table in the world
- we have everything you need to learn how to play online Blackjack right here!
So let us break it down for you, and explain step by step how to play Blackjack like a winner!
How to Play Blackjack – Online Blackjack Rules
Online Blackjack rules are pretty simple: the aim is to get a higher score than the dealer using the values of cards you are dealt; the ideal score is 21 – or as close to it as possible – without going over (or 'busting').
Cards are worth their number value, so an 8 is worth 8, a 3 is worth 3, etc, while all court cards are worth 10. Aces are worth either 1 or 11, whichever gives you the better score.
The great thing about Blackjack is that with just a little practice any player can learn to reduce the house edge for a better shot at a winning session. And the first step towards that is learning what your options are during the play of a hand.
Blackjack Gameplay Options
Various formats and choices of Blackjack exist – especially online – but all follow the same basic gameplay patterns. That's the great thing about learning how to play online Blackjack – those skills will be transferable to most Blackjack games you'll find.
Each player will be dealt two cards, face-up, while the dealer will also receive two cards but keep one face-down.
Players then have several options. When learning how to play online Blackjack, it's the mastery of these options that will give you confidence and make you a successful player. Let's take a closer look at each of these gameplay options:
Hitting, sometimes also known as 'twisting', involves drawing another card. The value of this new card will be added to your total, for example if you hit holding a 5 and a 4, and draw a 6, your total will increase from 9 to 15.
There is no limit to how many times you can hit, other than the fact that if your total reaches 22 you will automatically lose.
The dealer will automatically hit until they reach a designated total, which is often 17. Rules for what a dealer must draw to will usually be indicated on the table itself.
When you stand, 'stick' or 'stay', you tell the dealer you will draw no further cards. The total you have is the total you will stick with. Once you have taken this option, you have no further decisions to make in the hand.
You may choose to stand if you have a good score, for example if you are dealt a Jack and a Queen for 20 points, which is good enough to stand with but far too risky to draw a further card to.
You may also decide to stand if the dealer is showing a poor card as their up-card, like a 4 or a 5. Starting with this as their up-card, the dealer is more likely to bust themselves – and if that happens, you win the hand whatever your score!
Like hitting, dealers are obligated to stand on certain totals, which will usually be indicated on the table itself.
The double down option sees you receive a single card in addition to your two starting cards, while doubling your wager for the hand. Once you double down, you have no further decisions to make in the hand.
A great example of when to double down is when you are dealt a total of 11 (e.g. a 6 and a 5, a 7 and 4, an 8 and 3 or a 9 and 2). There are more cards in the deck worth 10 points than any other amount, so drawing a single card to 11 gives you a good chance of making 21. You also cannot bust by drawing a single card to 11.
In these favourable conditions, doubling your wager is a wise move!
This option is available when you are dealt any pair of the same rank. When splitting, you take each card you are dealt and create a new Blackjack hand with it, adding a second card to each of your original cards. You must wager your original stake again in order to split the hand to create two hands, effectively doubling your bet.
There are occasions where splitting a pair makes no sense, for example if you are dealt two Kings (as a score of 20 is strong enough to stand with). However, for other pairs it makes a lot of sense to split them. For example, a pair of aces should always be split, given the higher proportion of 10-value cards in the deck which, when added to an ace, make 21.
A pair of 8s would also be a great candidate for a split, as each hand would have a good chance of making an 18. The alternative for a pair of 8s would be to stick on 16 – not a very high total, but too high to risk drawing a third card to.
How to Play Online Blackjack – Further Options
When it comes to online Blackjack rules, a couple of other options may be offered, depending on the table. It is possible to develop a sound strategy using only those moves described above, but to gain complete mastery over online Blackjack rules you should be aware of these additional options.
The dealer reveals a single card at the start of the hand, and if this card is an ace you may be offered Insurance.
The Insurance bet is a wager that the dealer has a 10-value card to go with their ace for a winning total of 21, effectively hedging your bet in the even that they beat you.
Some tables may offer this option, which lets you surrender half your stake if you want to immediately move on to a new hand.
When it comes to how to play online Blackjack – or how to play Blackjack at any casino, physical or online – the above will give you all the tools you need to develop a winning strategy!
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