The Basics of Online Blackjack

by Tim | Oct 05, 2021

The Basics of Online Blackjack

Blackjack is an easy-to-learn gambling card game that’s been enjoyed by millions of players around the world. The simplicity of this game means that it has remained relevant to gambling culture for hundreds of years, even if it’s not quite as popular today as it was in the past.

If you’re new to online blackjack, check out our guide to the basics of the game so you can learn how to play blackjack and some of the exciting versions of the game that you can find on the internet. Be sure to check out our blog to develop your blackjack strategy once you have mastered the fundamentals.

The basic rules of blackjack

Before you start, you’ll need at least one 52-card deck and a minimum of two players. If you play at a casino online or a brick-and-mortar venue, you can expect a maximum of seven players in a blackjack game. Once you or the dealer have a complete deck of shuffled cards and all the players are ready, it’s time to begin.

In a game of blackjack, the goal is to build a hand that is worth more than the dealer’s but equal to or less than a total of 21. A player can also win if the dealer’s hand exceeds a value of 21. If either a player or the dealer’s hand exceeds 21, they go bust and lose the game. In rare instances where a player and dealer are tied, a push occurs, and neither wins the hand. In the event of a push, bets are returned. 

Here is the value of each of the cards in a game of blackjack:

Ace 11 or 1
King 10
Queen 10
Jack 10
10 10
9 9
8 8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2

A perfect hand is an Ace combined with a King, Queen, Jack or 10. This hand equals 21 and is also known by the title of the game: blackjack. 

How a game plays out

A live game of blackjack in progress at a blackjack table.

Before the cards are dealt, each player must place their bet for the round. Depending on the game and venue, these bets usually have a minimum and maximum value. The dealer will then deal two cards, one at a time, to each player, as well as themselves. The cards that each player receives will both be dealt facing up, while the dealer will only have one card visible to the players in the game. Each player will then have an opportunity to “hit” (receive another card) or “stay” (keep their current hand). If they remain under 21, they will have an opportunity for another hit, but if they go over 21 they are “bust.”

Once all players have decided to stay, the dealer will reveal their face-down, or “hole card” and the total value of their hand. If the dealer has a hand that is equal to 17 or more, the dealer must stay. If the dealer has a hand that is equal to 16 or less, they must hit. If the dealer draws a card that results in a hand of greater value than any of the other players, but less than 21, they are the winner. Of course, if they go above 21, they are bust, and the players win.

Splitting pairs

If a player receives a pair of cards in their starting hand, they can choose to split these cards into two separate hands, but in order to do so, the player must make another bet that matches the value of their first wager. This then creates what is effectively a second hand for the player. The dealer will treat these two hands as separate hands as if the hand belonged to another player. The dealer must always deal cards to the split hand that is on the player’s left first before dealing cards to the split hand that is on the player’s right-hand side. 

If the player has two Aces, they are only allowed to receive one additional card for each Ace if they decide to split their hand.

Blackjack insurance

If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, players can choose to place a side bet. This side bet is half the value of the original bet and is made with the assumption that the hole card is a 10. If this turns out to be the case, they receive double the value of their insurance wager. This side bet occurs completely independently of their main wager, which plays out as normal, regardless of the insurance side wager.

A few of the different versions of blackjack

  • 4/6/8 Deck blackjack: This uses standard blackjack rules but is played with four, six, or eight decks of cards.
  • Blackjack Switch: Players wager on and receive two hands, with the option to switch the second card they receive from one hand to the other hand.
  • European blackjack: European blackjack has its own unique rules, such as the dealer standing on 17, and the option to double down on hands with a value of nine, 10, or 11.
  • Face Up 21: Both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face up.
  • Spanish 21: All cards with a value of 10 are removed from the game.

Many of these games can be played as regular online blackjack, which is run by software, or as a live blackjack game, with a real dealer handling the cards and players engaging via live stream.

Great blackjack games that you can enjoy online

If you’re looking for exciting online blackjack games to try out, be sure to take a look at these great titles:

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