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How to play blackjack

In a live casino game of blackjack, you aren’t playing against other players at the table. You are playing against the dealer. There are three methods of winning the game: get a score of 21 with your first hand and hope that the dealer doesn’t, get a higher score than the dealer without you going over 21 yourself, or hope that the dealer exceeds a score of 21, which is known as going ‘bust’.

In the first hand, you are dealt two cards, and the dealer deals himself a single card. You then have a decision to make: leave your hand as it is (stand) or take an additional card (hit). You can take further cards, one at a time, until you either stop or exceed a score of 21.

Each numbered card (1-10) is counted as face value, with picture cards (Jack, Queen, and King) counting as 10, and Ace counting as either one or 11.

Once you’ve either decided not to take any more cards or you’ve exceeded 21, the dealer shows his hand. As the dealer has to comply with blackjack rules, he continues to take cards until he has either reached a score of 17 or goes bust.

Once the dealer has finished, his hand is compared with yours. If you have a higher score than the dealer, you win. If he exceeds 21, you also win. Bear in mind, however, that you always act first, so if you exceed 21, you go bust and lose the game.

Learn about the different Blackjack versions available.

There are ways to play your hand other than hit or stand. You can either ‘split’ or ‘double down’. If you are dealt two cards of matching values, you can choose to split them into two separate hands, which means that each hand gets dealt an additional card. If you double down, you get one more card. If you get Ace and either a 10 or a picture card (known as blackjack) on a split hand, however, it’s counted as a regular 21, rather than blackjack.

There’s one more thing that you can do, and that’s place an insurance bet. If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, you can insure yourself against the dealer getting a blackjack. This acts as a side bet that pays 2:1 should the dealer get blackjack. If the dealer gets any other hand than blackjack, how-ever, you lose the insurance bet.

Now you're all caught up on how to play the game, head over to the tables and give it a try.

How to Win With Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is unlike casino table games such as roulette, where the outcome is solely determined by luck. Blackjack involves skill, and by understanding the game and using what you know, the house edge can be reduced to 0.1%. The skill in blackjack is based on mathematics, where you factor in both the value of the two cards dealt to you and the value of the dealer’s exposed card. These two factors combined inform you whether you should hit or stand, or even split or double.

There are some basic truths you would need to bear in mind when starting out with this strategy, such as knowing that the worst exposed card for the dealer is six because if his hidden card is 10, he risks going bust when dealing himself a third card. With that in mind, if the dealer reveals a six, you should stand if your two cards equal a value of at least 12, as you want to avoid risk going bust when the dealer is already likely to do the same.

Here is a table featuring basic blackjack strategy, showing which decision you should make for each combination of player/dealer hands.

DEALERS UP CARD
Y
O
U
RH
A
N
D
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
8 or less H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D D H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H/SU H
16 S S S S S H H H/SU H/SU H/SU
17+ S S S S S S S S S S
A8-10 S S S S S S S S S S
A7 S D D D D S S H H H
A6 H D D D D H H H H H
A5 H H D D D H H H H H
A4 H H D D D H H H H H
A3 H H H D D H H H H H
A2 H H H D D H H H H H
A-A, 8.8 SP SP P SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
10-10 S S S S S S S S S
9-9 SP SP SP SP SP S SP SP S S
8-8 SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
7-7 SP SP SP P SP SP H H H H
6-6 H SP SP SP SP H H H H H
5-5 D D D D D D D D H H
4-4 H H H H H H H H H H
3-3, 2-2 H H SP SP SP SP H H H H
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
DEALERS UP CARD
H = Hit S = Stand D = Double Down SP = Split H/SU = Surrender if able to, otherwise Hit

Mathematically-speaking, the player wins 44% of the time, and the dealer 48% of the time, with 8% of hands resulting in a draw (also known as a ‘push’).

All casino games give an edge to the house, and that includes blackjack. The fact that the player is required to make a decision on their hand before the dealer deals himself a second card is an ex-ample of this. However, as mentioned above, the house edge can be significantly reduced. Alt-hough, by how much depends on the house rules.

Some casinos, for example, allow the dealer to hit on a hand value of 17 that includes an Ace (known as a soft 17), which gives the casino more of an edge. Other casinos don’t allow that, forcing the dealer to stand. Some casinos allow doubling on any hand value, while others only on certain values.

Find out more about blackjack odds and blackjack strategy.

Practice blackjack strategy and take on the house!

Blackjack Online vs Live Blackjack

Online Blackjack and Live Blackjack

Playing online blackjack offers a very different experience than playing in a brick-and-mortar casino. As there are no other players at the table in the online version, it means that you are free from pres-sure when it comes to standing or taking a card. When it comes to live blackjack, however, there can be pressure on the last player to act prior to the dealer (known as ‘the last box’), regardless of any blackjack strategy used. They could ultimately make the wrong decision either way, depending on what the dealer’s second card turns out to be.
Another aspect of the game you don’t need to worry about is identifying opportunities to either dou-ble or spit, as it’s automatic and you simply need to click a button. A real-world casino can be an in-timidating environment for a player just starting out, so online blackjack is a more relaxed alterna-tive, allowing you to learn the rules and improve your strategy without pressure.
If you enjoy the experience of playing in a land-based casino, explore the live blackjack options available through live streaming. You get many of the benefits, such as playing in real-time with real-dealers, without having to make the effort associated with going out to a land-based venue.

Experience live blackjack via live streaming for all the excitement of a real-world casino!