Posted in:

A Beginner’s Guide to Blackjack

© by iStock

Blackjack, also referred to as 21, is a game with an incredibly rich history and has been a source of enjoyment for millions of people around the world for many years. With its roots able to be traced back to the 17th Century, it’s fair to say that this is a game that has stood the test of time. There are plenty of possible reasons for this but two of the most compelling include that it’s such a simple game to play but still allows for a lot of strategic depth. Therefore, it’s a game that can be enjoyed by both beginners and experts alike.

In recent years, the evolution of technology has allowed new generations to take part in the joy of blackjack in modern settings. Although the experience of brick-and-mortar casinos can still be enjoyed, blackjack casino sites are now massively popular at online casinos, which has ensured that it remains as relevant and exciting today as it was many years ago.

In this post, we’ll look at the ins and outs of blackjack. If you’re a beginner to this wonderful game, you’ll learn about how the game works and strategies that could help you along the way.

Online vs. Brick-and-Mortar Blackjack

There’s no doubt that playing blackjack in a brick-and-mortar casino is a great experience. However, there are several advantages to playing at an online casino instead, including but not limited to the following:

  • Convenience: When playing on top sites specialising in blackjack, you can enjoy the game from the comfort of your home or even when you’re on the go. This is great for people who can’t or don’t want to play at a land-based casino.
  • Pacing: Online blackjack can be played at a pace you’re comfortable with. This can be beneficial for those who prefer a more casual experience but can also help beginners to feel more comfortable as they learn how to play.
  • Special Features: Many online casinos include special features at their blackjack tables. For example, you can often play several hands at once, place side bets, or make use of exclusive bonuses you won’t find at land-based alternatives.
  • Bet Size: Some land-based casinos have bigger minimum bet sizes than their online counterparts, which can be intimidating to new players or those with smaller bankrolls.

How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a simple game but there are a few steps to understand before you start playing. Let’s break it down into easy-to-digest sections.

Aim of the Game

Blackjack is a card game where the aim of the game is to end up with a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand without exceeding it. If you manage this, you win the hand.

Betting Phase

Before cards are dealt, players decide how much they want to bet on their hand. Most tables have minimum and maximum bet values. Once all players have placed their bets, the game can then begin.

How the Cards Are Dealt

Players and the dealer are all dealt two cards. The players’ cards are both dealt face up, so you can see their values. However, the dealer receives one face-up card and one face-down card.

  • Number Cards (2-10): Value of the card.
  • Face Cards (Jack, Queen, King): 10.
  • Ace: 1 or 11.  

Player Options

Once all cards have been dealt at the start of the round, the player must make one of the following choices:

  • Hit: When a player chooses to hit, they are given another card in the hope that their hand’s total value becomes closer to 21. Assuming the extra card doesn’t send the value above 21, the player can continue to hit if they want to.
  • Stand: When a player chooses to stand, they are stating that they are happy with their hand’s total value and do not want any extra cards.
  • Split: If a player’s initial hand has two cards of the same value – for example, two 10s – they can choose to split the cards into two separate hands. If they choose to split, they will need to place an additional bet on the second hand, which must be equal to their original bet. Each hand then receives an extra card and is played separately. 
  • Double Down: If a player chooses to double down, they must double their original bet and will then receive one extra card.

How Outcomes Are Revealed and Decided

Once all players have finished making their choices, the dealer’s second card is revealed. The dealer must continue to hit until their hand’s value is 17 or above. 

  • Win: If a player’s hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s without exceeding it, the player wins.
  • Lose: If a player’s hand is worth more than 21 or the dealer’s hand is closer to 21 without exceeding it, the player loses.
  • Push: If a player’s hand is the same as the dealer’s, nobody wins, and the original bet value is returned to the player.
  • Blackjack: If a player’s original two cards are worth 21 (Ace and 10-value card), this is a blackjack. A blackjack typically pays more than a standard win (3:2 instead of 2:1) unless the dealer also has a blackjack. If this is the case, the result is a push.

When Should You Hit or Stand?

Blackjack players have several strategies. Many of these are personal and not necessarily mathematically the best option. However, as a simple guide, here are some things to consider:

When to Hit

  • When your hand’s value is 11 or less.
  • If you have an Ace (11) and your other card is 6 or less.
  • If the dealer has an Ace (11) and your hand is worth 12-16.
  • If the dealer has a 7 or higher and your hand is worth 12-16

When to Stand

  • If your hand is worth 12-16 and the dealer has 6 or less.
  • If you have 17 or more unless it is a soft 17 (Ace and 6).

When to Split

  • If you receive two Aces.
  • If you receive two 8s.
  • If you receive two 2s or 3s and the dealer has 4-7.
  • If you receive two 6s and the dealer has 6 or less.
  • If you receive two 7s and the dealer has 7 or less.

Of course, the above is only a guide and there are lots of other strategies to research.