Blackjack beginners guide – master the basics!

How To Play Blackjack

Learn how to play Blackjack today. Familiarize yourself with the basic and advanced Blackjack rules and enjoy one of the most fun casino games in the world.

Blackjack cannot be recommended highly enough. When it comes to casino games, Blackjack is in some ways the best of them all. Blackjack is a game of skill that has a much lower house edge than most other popular casino games such as Slots and Roulette.

Blackjack is a game mixed with excitement, anticipation and as with any casino game, the element of chance. Read on for a full beginner’s guide to Blackjack, where we will teach you how to play this much loved game like a natural, as well as providing you with tips on how to win at Blackjack.

When you’re ready, take your pick from our list of recommended casinos that are legal and regulated in your area. You are just one step away from playing one of the most popular games ever conjured up by the human mind.

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An Introduction To Blackjack

When you are learning how to play Blackjack, casinos will do all they can in order to assist you. Many online casinos provide an in-game Blackjack strategy card which will help you as you play.

Blackjack can be played by up to seven people at the same time. You will not be competing against other players, however; you will be competing against the dealer. Incidentally, competing against the dealer makes Blackjack a great game to play with your friends too!

Remember, Blackjack is a game which requires skill and thought - which is a good thing for all of you who would rather showcase your intellect than rely on luck. The video below contains everything you need in order to learn how to play Blackjack. Alternatively, carry on reading our beginner’s guide to Blackjack which follows after the video.

Blackjack Rules

Fundamental Blackjack rules are the same at every online casino. If you learn how to play Blackjack once you will never have to learn how to play again. If you know the basic rules of Blackjack, you will be able to play online Blackjack at any of the casinos listed above.

Blackjack: The Basics

Blackjack is usually played with between 1-8 standard decks of cards. Blackjack card values are always worth the same amount. Blackjack card values are as follows:

  • Aces: 1 or 11.
  • 2-10: Face value.
  • Picture cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks): 10.

Before you receive any playing cards, the first thing you have to do is place your bet. After the bet has been placed you will be dealt two face-up cards. The dealer will also be dealt two cards however one of them will be face-down – the face-down card is known as the ‘hole card’.

The aim of the game is to ensure that your card values add up to as close to 21 as possible but never more. If the total value of your first two cards adds up to 21 then this is called Blackjack and you are paid out at 3:2 odds immediately. That is unless the dealer also has a Blackjack, in which case it is a ‘push’ (this is casino-speak for a ‘tie’) and your bet is returned to you.

Example: You are dealt an ace and a queen. The value of a queen is 10 and the value of an ace you can choose to be either 1 or 11, 11+10=21, so you have a Blackjack.

If your hand value ever gets to 22 or above, then you bust and automatically lose. Similarly, if the dealer’s cards add up to a value of 22 or above then the dealer goes bust and all the players who have a hand value of below 21 win.

Blackjack hands typically revolve around a single decision: hit or stand. You can increase your hand value in Blackjack by choosing to hit, and the dealer will give you another card, face up. Alternatively, you can decide to stand and you will receive no more cards.

Blackjack: Hit

Hitting in Blackjack is when you take an additional card, increasing the score of your hand. When you are playing Blackjack, when to hit is an important factor of the game. You will frequently have to ask the dealer to ‘hit’ in order to get your total card value as close to 21 as possible. Hitting is always a calculated risk, as if you’re total goes above 21 then you will bust and lose.

Example: You are dealt a 9 and a 3 giving you a total of 12. The best option here is usually to hit, given that the only way you can bust is if you receive a picture card or a 10.

Blackjack: Stand

Getting a Blackjack (21 comprised of an Ace and a 10, J, Q or K) will almost always make you a winner -  if both you and the dealer makes Blackjack, then the bet is a tie and money is neither lost nor paid. Nevertheless, due to the unlikelihood of hitting a Blackjack (you will hit a Blackjack around once in every 21 hands in fact) it is important to know when to stand.

Standing in Blackjack is when you decide to keep the hand that you have any not receive any more cards. Standing is also a calculated risk as the dealer may have a better hand than you do. So it is important to learn when to stand on a total. Your number one rule here should always be to stand if you hit a total of 17 or higher.

Obviously a lot of decision making on when to stand and hit depends just as much on what cards the dealer has as it does your own. Blackjack strategy cards are a fantastic guide that you can use in order to decide whether you should hit or stand depending on what cards you and the dealer have. Our Blackjack strategy guide has several Blackjack strategy cards which can be viewed on screens of any size for your convenience.

How The Dealer Plays His Hand

Learning how to win at Blackjack requires a large element of work and study. If you want to become a successful Blackjack player, then you need to pay attention to the dealer’s hand. Players can play their own hands any which way they like. If they want to hit when they are sitting on a hand value of 20 then they are entitled to do so, although of course we would not recommend this. However, the dealer has to play his hand according to a prescribed strategy based on the casinos rules.

There is always variation but the rules of most Blackjack games require that dealers must hit any total that is 16 or below, no matter what. They must also stand on a 17 or higher. For example:

  1. You bet $5. You’re dealt a total of 15. The dealer has a 6 as his face up card.
  2. You stand.
  3. The dealer looks at his other card which is a King. He has 16 and has you beat but he can’t stand. He must hit because of the rules of the game.
  4. He then deals himself a 9, meaning he busts and you win.

If the dealer was allowed to make decisions, then he would stand at 16 and bust you – but crucially. He does not have that option.

This is balanced out by one huge edge that the casino has over you – this being that the dealer will always act last. Since a player loses their bet immediately when they bust, they don’t have the chance to see how the dealers hand plays out. So you can bust out and lose even if the dealer busts out and loses simply because you act first.

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Advanced Blackjack Rules

Knowing how to play Blackjack is not just about deciding when to stand or hit - you have other options available to you during the course of the game.

Double Down

This is where you choose to double your original bet to receive only one more card.

Example: You bet $5. You’re dealt a 7 and a 4 so you have a total of 11. You double down putting $5 more into your action. You’re dealt a 10, giving you a total of 21 with $10 in action.


This involves splitting the first two cards that you are dealt. You can only do this if the first two cards you are dealt are a pair (i.e. two 7s). In order to make a split, you must make a bet of equal value to the first bet you made on each card. Your two initial cards are then separated and the dealer gives you a second card on each. You then play each hand out until you either stand or bust.

Example: You bet $5 and you’re dealt two aces. You decide it is best to split so you place an additional $5 bet. You now have two hands with the first card of each hand an ace. The dealer gives you an additional card on each of those two hands meaning that you now have two cards in each hand. You now continue with each hand independently until you either win or lose.

Blackjack Insurance

This is a side bet that you can choose to make when the dealer shows an ace. You are essentially betting that the dealer will make a Blackjack. This bet pays out 2:1 and is an insurance in that if the dealer makes a Blackjack then you won’t actually lose any money that hand. This bet has an extremely high house edge and here at CasinoGuide we strongly advise against.

Blackjack Surrender

Available at certain casinos in some variations of the game, Blackjack surrender is essentially akin to folding your hand. The Blackjack rules state that choosing to surrender your hand in a game of Blackjack will result in you losing half of your bet. This play is quite rare and should only be used in certain situations.

Example: If the dealer is showing a 10 in the hole and you have a Queen and a six (16). In this situation it is risky for you to stick as it is likely that the dealer will make more than your 16 without going bust. At the same time if you choose to hit then there is a high chance that you will bust yourself. So in this situation it makes sense for you to surrender cut your losses and move on to the next hand.

How To Win At Blackjack: Top 5 Tips

Now you have read through the rules of how to play Blackjack, remember these pointers in order to give yourself the best chance of winning at Blackjack:

  1. Always double down on an eleven.
  2. Use the basic Blackjack strategies which can be found right here on CasinoGuide. These will enable you to minimize the house advantage.
  3. Choose a good Blackjack casino – take your pick from any of our recommended online casinos listed at the top of this page to ensure that you choose a safe, fun and secure casino to play on. The casinos we offer on this page all offer a wide selection of the best Blackjack games for you to choose from.
  4. Stick to your limits – never deposit an amount more than you can afford to lose. Remember that playing Blackjack is just as much about fun as it is about winning money.
  5. Ensure you know the rules and practice – as long as you know the rules of Blackjack, you are good to go. Remember, you can practice for free with no signup or download on our free Blackjack game page. Practicing the game will give you first-hand experience of how to win at Blackjack.

Common Blackjack House Rules

The following Blackjack rules apply in the majority of Blackjack games, but vary slightly depending on the casino and particular Blackjack variations you play.

  • You can double or spilt only on the first move.
  • The house wins even if both the player and the dealer bust.
  • Winning payout Is normally 1:1 and a winning Blackjack payout is 3:2.
  • If the dealer receives a face up 10, Jack, Queen, King or Ace, he/she immediately checks their hole card for a Blackjack. The house wins all the bet amounts if it is a Blackjack, except for those made by players who also have Blackjack.
  • The dealer must continue to hit until their card total is 17 or higher, at which point they must stand.
  • Three or more cards totaling 21 are not a Blackjack. Only a hand made up of two cards totaling 21 is a Blackjack.

Blackjack Terms

  • Hit – say this word when you want the dealer to deal you another card.
  • Stand – end your turn by keeping your current card total.
  • Double Down – double your original bet but only receive one more card.
  • Split – spilt your initially dealt cards into two separate bets (can only be done with two cards of the same value).
  • Push – when the player and the dealer have the same value of hand. If this happens, bets are returned to the player.
  • Insurance – a side bet that the dealer has Blackjack.
  • Surrender – retrieve half of your bet back by folding your hand.

Play A Game Of Blackjack Today

Now you have learnt how to play Blackjack the next logical step is to try out a game of Blackjack online for yourself. Our legal and regulated recommended casinos at the top of this page will make it quick and easy for you to play your first game of Blackjack – take your pick and give it a try today.

If you’re the type of player who would rather do as much research as possible before playing, visit our in-depth Blackjack strategy guide for more on Blackjack odds and beating the dealer!

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