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Blackjack Guide

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Blackjack is considered the most popular card game in the world, and all casinos offer a selection of online blackjack games. Most people know more or less what the game is about, but quite a few also misunderstand what the aim of the game actually is. It’s well known that 21 is the highest score you can get in a hand without going bust, but many people also think the aim is to get 21 points. This is wrong because beating the dealer without passing 21 is the goal. However, if you get 21 with only two cards, this is the best hand you can get, and this is what’s known as Blackjack. In this casino guide from GoodLuckMate, we’ll take you through how to play blackjack, as well as teaching you all the rules and the best blackjack strategy.

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How to Play Blackjack

When you play blackjack online, you play against a dealer. On a normal blackjack table, there will be up to seven players and one dealer. Your battle is strictly against the dealer's hand, and the other players’ results are irrelevant to you since they won’t impact whether you win or lose. The course of the game and which blackjack rules apply depend on the version of the game you’re playing. The steps are simple:

  1. Open the game.
  2. Place a bet.
  3. Select your action - stand, hit, double up, or split.
  4. Complete all your actions.
  5. Wait for the dealer’s hand to complete.
  6. Take your winnings or lose your bet.

This is a general overview of the typical blackjack action. If you want to learn more about the concept, make sure to read our beginner’s guide on how to play blackjack.

Blackjack Card Value

In blackjack, the best hand you can end up with is when you get 21 with the two first cards that you’re dealt. If that happens you have a ‘Blackjack’, and this has its own payout. However, it doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily win over the dealer since the dealer could also get 21, either as a ‘Blackjack’ or with more than two cards.

Value of cards in blackjack:

  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9: Same value as the number on the card
  • 10, J, Q & K: 10
  • Ace: 1 or 11

Players’ Choices

The dealer is the last one to play their hand, so the players always start. There are several different moves you can make to play your hand, and each of them has its own name. Here’s an explanation of each of the options you’ll have, along with some other terminology:

  • Hit – get a new card
  • Split – play with multiple hands
  • Insurance – in case the dealer has blackjack
  • Double Down – double your bet and get one more card
  • Stand – stop with the hand you have
  • Push – it’s a tie
  • Bust – you just lost
  • Surrender – give up your hand

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Dealer’s Choices

Players can play blackjack in almost any way they choose, which means the player is the one who decides how the hand they’re dealt will be played until they bust or choose to stand. For the dealer, it’s different, though, because they have to play by the house rules, which are usually the standard rules for the blackjack game that is being played. They can never split or double down since the only option they have is to hit until they reach the limit set by the house blackjack rules.

How to Win At Blackjack

To come out on the winning end of a game of blackjack, you’ll need to beat the dealer. There are several ways to do this. You can get a higher valued hand than the dealer, without passing 21. You know the dealer will always get either a minimum of 17 or bust out since the dealer can’t stand before this value is reached. You can still win by standing at less than 17, but then you’re basically betting on the dealer busting. There’s of course much more to learn when it comes to cracking the game. That’s why we also have an in-depth guide on how to win at blackjack for those who want to learn more.

Blackjack Strategy

Since this card game is a game of skill, you should always make sure you use a blackjack strategy when you’re playing. No matter what strategy you use, you’re never guaranteed to win every hand you play, but you’ll be sure to win as often as possible. You can, of course, also just trust your luck and your gut feelings; this might work for a while, but in the long run, it will make you lose. There are several strategies you can use, but all of them are based on a blackjack strategy chart

Blackjack strategy chart

There are many online charts for blackjack, and you should know that not all of them will work optimally for all blackjack games. For instance, you can’t use the same chart for American Blackjack as you do for European Blackjack, Double Exposure Blackjack or any other kind of the game. Since each version has its own rules, you have to use a chart made especially for the game you’re playing.

How to count cards in blackjack

Perhaps the most common and best-known blackjack strategy is counting cards. However, unless you have a photographic memory, trying to count every card will be impossible. Therefore, if you want to learn how to count cards in blackjack you should instead try to count high and low cards. This means you don’t have to keep track of every card, just whether the card is high or low. 

House Edge and Blackjack Payouts

Since blackjack is not just a casino game of luck but also very much a game of skill, there’s never a fixed house edge. The minimum house edge you can get, if you play with a perfect strategy, is 0.5%. However, if you don’t use a blackjack strategy but instead just play according to your gut feeling, the casino’s edge over you can be 2% or even more. 

The payout you’ll get if you win in blackjack is 2:1, meaning you’ll double your money if you win. The standard payout for a “Blackjack” hand is 3:2, but here, as well, some versions may give you more or less. 

Different Versions of Blackjack Online

There are so many different versions of blackjack that it’s almost considered more of a game type than just one game. But, if you find a game marked only with Blackjack at an online casino, it will be the American Blackjack version that’s played. The payouts for different games are usually found on the table felt or in the game information. Here are some common picks:

  • European Blackjack
  • Double Exposure
  • Pontoon
  • Single Deck Blackjack
  • Blackjack Switch

Online Blackjack Bonuses

If you wonder if there’s some juicy online blackjack bonus waiting for you at one of our recommended casinos, the answer is - probably. There’s one tricky thing about online casino blackjack games - they have a low house edge. That’s why casino sites tend to exclude them from bonuses or minimize their wagering contribution. So, if there’s a standard deposit match bonus that you can use for playing online blackjack for real money, expect a rollover contribution between 2% and 15%. Alternatively, there may be exclusive blackjack online casino bonuses and promotions. 

Mobile Online Blackjack Apps (iOS/Android)

If you are always on the move and prefer entertainment from your smartphone, that’s not an issue. Online mobile blackjack is a reality because most games these days are built in HTML5. This means that they work perfectly on any device, regardless of their display size. Mobile blackjack online offers the same quality as desktop play. The same applies to the different blackjack varieties, bonuses, and everything else.

Live Blackjack

Online blackjack for real money is a huge hit. However, we can’t conclude this guide without mentioning live blackjack online. The live dealer casino concept has been gaining popularity over the past years and has become a must-have section. Unlike blackjack online, whose outcomes are RNG-generated, live dealer blackjack offers real action in front of your eyes. These games have human hosts who lead the games and socialize with players.

Eve Luneborg
Eve LuneborgUpdated: 07 Dec 2021
Eve started working at an online casino back in 2014, and she's been involved in the iGaming industry ever since. Starting off as a support agent at LeoVegas Casino, she later took...
Q: 

When to bet in blackjack

A: You place your bet before the game round starts, meaning before the cards are dealt. Additional bets can be placed later on, either by splitting your cards, by doubling down or by placing a side bet. Your bets must be within the table limits for minimum and maximum bets.
Q: 

How to count cards in blackjack

A: To count cards in blackjack, you can count each and every card, or you can count high and low cards. High and low is the easiest way to count. If you want to count every card, you assign a value to them, and calculate + and -, depending on which cards are being dealt. The sum will tell you the value of the cards left in the deck, depending on whether you end up with a positive or a negative number.
Q: 

What is a blackjack?

A: “Blackjack” is when you get 21 with only 2 cards, meaning you’re dealt an ace and a 10, J, Q or K. If you get 21 with more than two cards, it doesn’t count as a “Blackjack” but as a hand valued at 21. Only a true “Blackjack” hand will give you the extra payout for this combination of cards, which is normally a 3:2 payout. 
Q: 

How do you play blackjack?

A: You play blackjack against the dealer, and whoever gets the highest valued hand, without exceeding 21, wins. Players can choose to hit, split, double down or surrender when they play their hands. Dealers, who are playing for the house, have to play by set rules. The players always start, and the dealer plays the house hand once all players have busted or chosen to stand.
Q: 

How to win in blackjack

A: You can win a game round in blackjack either by winning against the dealer or by getting “Blackjack,” or both. Winning against the dealer, meaning you have a higher valued hand without going bust, will give you a payout of 2:1, so you’ll double your money. Getting a “Blackjack” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll win since you might get a push with the dealer. But no matter what, you’ll get an extra payout of 3:2 for this card combination.
Q: 

What is insurance in blackjack?

A: Insurance is a side bet that protects you and doubles your insurance bet if the dealer has “Blackjack.” It can only be used if the dealer's face-up card is an ace.
Q: 

When to hit in blackjack

A: Hitting is the most common move players make in blackjack because it means you’ll get a new card, and you keep your options for all other moves open, except for surrendering and buying insurance. You can choose to hit when you don’t believe you can get a good hand with just one more card because you should double down instead, when you can’t or don’t want to split your cards, or when you think standing isn’t a good option.
Q: 

When to split in blackjack

A: When you have two cards of the same value, you have the option of splitting them into two hands. You can only do this as the first move in a hand, so if you’ve already chosen to hit and you now have three cards, the hand can no longer be split. Some versions of blackjack only allow you to split cards with certain values. Generally, you can split all cards of the same value, but in some blackjack games you can only split a 10 and a 10, a J and another J, a Q and another Q or a K and another K, even though all of these cards are worth 10. To understand whether you can split or not, check out the blackjack strategy chart. 
Q: 

What is double down in blackjack?

A: Doubling down is a move you can make when you think you can win by getting just one more card. This is the last move you can make in a game round since no more moves can be made after this one. In addition to limiting yourself to only one additional card, you also have to double your bet. Have a look at the blackjack chart to see when this is considered a good move and when it’s not. 
Q: 

How to play blackjack at a casino

A: There are several ways to play blackjack at a casino because this is a game all casinos offer. When you play online, you can play a digitally controlled game against a random number generator, or you can play against a live dealer in the live casino. Most casinos not only offer several tables and machines with blackjack, they also offer different versions of these games. You’ll also find tables with limits for casual players, as well as tables for professional high rollers. Just find the table that suits you best: make sure that the version of the game you choose is the one you’re best at and have the best strategy for, and then place your bets. 
Q: 

What is surrender in blackjack?

A: Surrendering is also known as folding. This is something you can choose to do if you don’t want to play the hand you’ve been dealt. You can only surrender before you’ve chosen to hit or before you’ve played your hand in other ways. Some games have limits on when you can surrender, based on the cards the dealer has. If you surrender your hand, you’ll get half of your bet back. 
Q: 

What is an Ace in blackjack?

A: The ace is the special card in blackjack. This card can be used as either 1 or 11, and the value is determined by which of these makes the best hand. If an ace is used as 11, this means the hand you have is soft, whereas the hand is hard if you use the ace as 1. At casinos the dealer will call out the value of the hand before you play your cards, and if you have an ace, they’ll call out both the hard and the soft values. 
Q: 

How to deal blackjack

A: The cards are always dealt clockwise, one card at a time. A player is never assigned to the dealer position, which is how it’s done in some other card games, because it’s always the house that deals the cards with the help of a dealer/croupier.
Q: 

Is online blackjack rigged?

A: No, it’s not. If you follow our advice and common sense when selecting where to play, you have nothing to worry about. For example, the casinos listed here are licensed, certified, and reliable. These have results generated by fair RNGs that guarantee safety and fairness. There are scam operators, but you won’t find such websites here.
Q: 

Where to play blackjack online?

A: Almost all online casinos offer at least one online blackjack game. Unless you find an exclusive slots gambling destination, it’s likely you’ll have blackjack options to try. At GoodLuckMate, we have nearly 700 online casinos with table games, blackjack included. Some of these top-class desitnations include BitStarz, Betsson, and Videoslots.
Q: 

Does card counting work for free blackjack?

A: Online blackjack card counting isn’t possible, regardless of whether you play for real money or for free. Card counting is possible when you play in person and when the deck isn’t shuffled after each hand. When you play blackjack online the deck is refreshed before each session. Moreover, the outcomes come from a random number generator. So, card counting isn’t a viable online blackjack strategy.

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