Introduction to Blackjack

by Nav | Feb 01, 2023

Introduction to Blackjack

It’s you against the dealer, and you’re both vying for 21 – or as close to 21 as possible, without going over. The rules are simple, and the house edge is among the lowest of all casino games, which makes blackjack one of the most played table games in casinos. However, knowing the rules and mastering your strategies sets this game apart from those of pure chance.

In this introductory blackjack guide, we talk you through the basic blackjack rules and strategies to help get you started.

Blackjack rules

Let’s get familiar with the basic rules of online blackjack. The objective is to beat the dealer’s hand in the following ways:

  • Having a total that exceeds the dealer’s total
  • Not going over 21 when the dealer does go over 21 or
  • If the player’s and dealer’s points total are equal, then this is a tie, which means nobody wins or loses.

Blackjack rules

Points on cards

  • Aces are counted as 1 or 11
  • Face or Picture Cards count as 10
  • 2 to 9 count according to their Face Value
  • A soft hand has an ace counted as 1
  • And other hands are labelled hard in point value

Blackjack - Card values


If a point count exceeds 21, that means the hand is busted, and the bet is automatically lost. Other terms like “break” are also used when the dealer’s hand exceeds 21. For example, if a player is dealt a 10 and 6, then draws a 9, the player is busted, as his hand adds up to 25.

Blackjack - Busted

Hard vs. soft hand

A hard hand is any hand that either does not contain an ace or, if it does, it counts the ace as 11. For example, 10 and 8 is a hard hand 18; 5, ace, 2, 10 is a hard hand 18.

A soft hand contains an ace that counts as 11. For example, ace and 5 is a soft 16; ace, 2 and 5 is a soft 18; and 3, 2, ace, 3 is a soft 19. When you receive your first two cards, and one of them is an ace, count the ace as 11.

A lot of the time, when you are dealt a soft hand and draw more cards, your hand will convert to a hard hand.

For example, suppose a player is dealt a 5, ace (which is a soft 16), and draws another card. Then the draw card was a 6. The player now has a hard 12 (i.e., you can never bust when you draw to a soft hand). You need to know the dissimilarity between a hard and soft hand in blackjack because the playing strategy is usually different, even though the sum of the hand is the same. For example, a 10 and 6 (hard 16) is played differently than an ace and 5 (soft 16).

Blackjack - Hard Hand Vs Soft Hand

Doubling down on your stake

Playing a stake that’s out of your comfort zone can cause players not to take full advantage of the “Double Down” option. Doubling Down empowers the player to increase full value when they have a decent situation against the dealer. If a player’s original stake is too large, they are often dissuaded from making the Double Down and are incapable of increasing that value.

Blackjack - Doubling down

Splitting pairs

In comparison to the reluctance players might feel to Double Down, people tend to split pairs of value cards (generally aces, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, and 8s. If the dealer is showing a 5 or a 6, the player might think they have an easy chance to win two hands. The reason is that the dealers generally have to stand on hard 17, but if they are showing a 5 or 6, the dealer has to draw a minimum of another two cards. This increases the chances of the dealer busting.

Blackjack - Splitting pairs

Blackjack strategy

To optimise your gameplay, consider implementing the following blackjack basic strategy:

  • For totals 12 to 16, draw a card only when betting against a dealer’s 7 or higher. 
  • The worst face-up cards for the dealer are 5 and 6. Here, the chance that his total exceeds the limit is highest. Use this situation to your advantage by doubling the bet on soft combinations up to soft 18. 
  • When dealing a pair of cards, never split two 10s, and split two 9s only against a dealer’s 7, 10 or an ace. A pair of 8s is always split with the exception of the European form of the game – in this case, draw a card only against 10 or an ace. Split pairs of 4s the least – it should only be split if the dealer has a 5 or a 6.
  • If there is a possibility to surrender, do so only if your total is 16 and you’re against the dealer’s 9, 10 or an ace. Having the total of 15, surrender only against a dealer’s 10.
  • Bets are most commonly doubled when the total of your hand is 10 or 11. In this case, you should double, unless you’re against a dealer’s 10 or ace. In such cases, you should hit. When the sum is 9, you can double the bet if you stand against a dealer’s 3, 4, 5, or 6.

Are you ready?

Now that you’re equipped with the rules of blackjack, you can try your luck at the real thing. When you register at The Phone Casino, you’ll have access to a range of blackjack games, as well as other table and casino games. Good luck!

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