This how to play blackjack guide will teach you all the basic rules required to be able to play online blackjack efficiently. To start, let’s define the objective of blackjack because this is commonly misunderstood.
THE OBJECT OF BLACKJACK IS TO BEAT THE DEALER
Many people believe the objective is to get 21 or as close as 21 as possible. While achieving a total of 21 is desirable, it is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to beat the dealer and this can be achieved whether you have a total of 21 or not.
Remember, blackjack is a game played against the house and not other players, therefore, the sole objective is to focus on beating the dealer.
How do you Beat the Dealer?
There are 2 ways you can beat the dealer:
- By having a total larger than the dealers (making sure your hand does not exceed 21).
- When the dealer goes on to bust and your hand is 21 or below.
Blackjack Basics (Rules)
The objective of blackjack has been made very clear, so lets go over some of the basic blackjack rules.
Blackjack is played using standard playing cards without the jokers. There are some variants of blackjack, however most casinos use 6 decks.
The card values of blackjack are perhaps the easiest aspect of the game. As with any standard deck of cards, it contains 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A in one of four suits, spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts.
- The cards 2 – 9 have a value equal to its number
- The cards Jack, Queen and King have a value of 10
- An Ace has a value of 1 or 11 depending on which is more preferable to the player.
Blackjack Card Values
Number of Players
On a standard blackjack table, there are seven positions, therefore, one player up to seven players can play against the dealer at any one time.
Number of Decks
Blackjack is generally played with 6 decks of cards.
There are three outcomes, win, lose or draw.
- As previously mentioned a player wins when their hand total is more than the dealers hand total or when the player remains in the game and the dealers total exceeds 21 (goes onto bust).
- The player loses when their hand totals less than the dealers total or when the player busts.
- A draw or “push” as it is normally called is when the player and dealer both have the same total.
Hard vs Soft Hands
The concept of a hard and soft hand is relatively simple. An ace can have a value of either 1 or 11 depending on which is more preferential. When an ace is counted as 11 this is known as a soft hand, while hands which do not contain aces or when an ace is counted as 1 are referred to as hard hands.
A 14 comprising of an ace and a three is referred to as a soft 14 (ace counts as eleven). If another card is taken and a king is pulled this will then result in a hard 14 as the ace is now counted as a one.
Soft hands are generally very good for the player because it gives the player a free opportunty to take a card and improve their hand without the risk of busting.
You might have heard a blackjack player in the casino utter the words ‘hit me’. This means the player wants the dealer to deal another card. A player takes another card or hits when trying to improve his hand.
A good example would be – A player has a total of 13 (5 and 8) against a dealer 9. The best play is to hit and hope to improve the hand without going over 21. The reason for this is because you have to assume the dealer has 19 (there are more 10 valued cards in the deck than any other value, so therefore, a dealer 9 and a presumed 10 valued card equals 19).
Once the player has been dealt their starting 2 cards and the dealer their 1 card, the action is then on the player. The player can opt to stand and therefore not receive any more cards.
For example – player 14 (k and 4) vs dealer 4 – The best option is for the player to stand because the dealer will have to pull at least 2 more cards and will hopefully bust. The rationale for this is because, as just mentioned, there are more high valued cards in the deck than low valued cards. If the player stands on 14 and the dealer then pulls a 10 card and a 9 card, the dealer will bust.
This also highlights the reason why its important to understand of the objective of playing blackjack. A novice player may hit on 14 against a dealer 4 because they believe they need to get a total close to 21. However, the opposite is in fact true because the dealer is more likely to bust, therfore it’s best to stand on a low total of 14.
This is the situation all blackjack players dream of because this is where the real money can be made. A player may double their initial bet after receiving their first 2 cards, however it is only advisable in certain advantageous situations. For example 11 (6 and 5) vs dealer 5. Before your cards are dealt you will need to wager how much you would like to bet. Once you place your chip/s on the table the cards will be dealt. The casino will then allow you to increase your bet by doubling its value, after which you will receive one extra card. Remember, you’ll only be dealt ONE extra card.
Like doubling down, splitting the hand offers another opportunity for you to double your wager, however, this method is a little more complicated. If you are dealt two of the same cards, such as two 8’s, you can split them, meaning that each 8 will receive an extra card as if they were being played by different people. Each hand can receive as many cards as you like. The only time you are limited on how many cards you want is if you split two Aces. If you split Aces then each Ace may only receive one more card. The rewards on a successful split can be extraordinary. However, there is always the possibility of both hands losing. Pro Tip: NEVER SPLIT 5s
The best feeling as a blackjack player is when you are dealt an Ace and a card with a 10 value. This hand is known as blackjack. When a player is dealt a blackjack hand, and the dealer deals himself an Ace, the dealer will ask the player if they would like even money. This means the player will accept a 1:1 payout and the round ends. Alternatively the round would have continued where the dealer would have lost and the players payout would have been 3:2 or the dealer would have scored a blackjack himself, and the round would have been null and void (a push), with the player keeping the original wager.
Thats the basics explained, now it’s time to take your blackjack game to the next level. Advanced plays are key to becoming successful at blackjack as they allow you to gain an upper hand in terms of knowledge and percentages.
The best way to improve your skills whether you play blackjack in a casino or blackjack online is to learn and practice basic strategy and another advanced play called card counting.
Both are legal to implement, however, the casino frowns upon card counting. By using this model and combining basic strategy and card counting, you can get a good indication of what cards are left in a deck and the correct play to use. It takes some practice, so don’t bust into a casino and give it a first time bash. Take some time at home to fiddle around and get it right.