Of all the casino card games, blackjack is the most popular and has the richest history. Blackjack, aka 21, has historical roots in France in the 1700s, and today it is played at every casino in the world. These days, you can play live dealer blackjack online. Thanks to video streaming technology, you can bring this classic casino card game to your living room, your office, or wherever you are.
In this blackjack guide for beginners, we’re going to show you how to play blackjack from A-Z. Whether you’re a total beginner or a novice player who wants to refresh your memory about blackjack rules, this guide is for you.
The Objective of Blackjack
There are multiple different blackjack variants, but the core objective of all of them remains the same. You must use the cards you are dealt, plus any new cards which you request, to make a hand with a value of 21. However, your hand must not exceed 21 or you automatically lose the game. In blackjack, this is called “going bust”. Understanding blackjack card values will help you understand this concept better.
Blackjack Card Values
In blackjack, jokers are removed from the deck. There are then three things to remember about the cards:
- Aces can be worth 1 or 11. They can be played either way to your advantage.
- All face cards such as jacks, queens, and kings are worth 10.
- All other cards are worth their face value. For example, a 9 of spades is worth 9, and a 3 of hearts is worth 3.
In blackjack, the dealer will deal you two cards to begin with. The best possible thing that can happen is that you get “natural blackjack.” For example, you might get an ace and a jack. If this happens, you automatically win, and in many cases, you will receive a 3:2 payout.
How to Play Blackjack
So, you now understand the point of blackjack and what the cards are worth. It’s now time for a walkthrough of a standard blackjack game. Let’s pretend we’re playing classic blackjack at a live dealer casino. This is what will happen in a typical game.
- The dealer will welcome you to the table and will invite you to place your bets. You can drag digital chips of various values onto the table. If you’re a blackjack beginner, ignore any side bets and just place a standard blackjack wager.
- You will then receive two cards from the dealer. All other players at the table will also get two cards. The dealer will give herself two cards – one of these will be facing up, and the other will be dealt face down.
- At this point, you need to add up the value of your cards. Let’s say you have two eights in your hand. The total value is 16. You can now request another card (hit), or you can choose to play your hand as it is (stand). If you hit and still aren’t satisfied, you can hit again multiple times.
- Once you are satisfied with your hand, you will enter the showdown with the dealer. She will turn over her down-facing card and then it is your hand versus hers. There are rules about what the dealer has to do at this point. She’ll stand on 17, but will automatically hit when her hand is worth less than 17.
- Your hand is then compared to the dealer’s hand. Whichever is closest to 21 wins. If you both get 21, the hand is declared a “push” which is blackjack language for a draw. Otherwise, the hand closest to 21 wins. If you’re the victor, you’ll win even money (1:1) unless you win with natural blackjack, in which case you’ll usually win 3:2.
Depending on which blackjack variant you’re playing, there can be some variations to the above steps. We’ve kept the above as simple as possible for beginner players. It’s basically how a basic classic blackjack game would go.
There are plenty of online casinos that offer live dealer blackjack games, but just because there are a lot of options doesn’t mean that they are all good!
We recommend playing live dealer blackjack only in online casinos with a good reputation.
As we said above, each blackjack variant has its own rules. You’ll have to study the game rules for yourself before playing. However, there are common elements to these rules no matter what variant you are playing. While the details may be slightly different, they all revolve around the same ideas. Keep these things in mind when playing live blackjack online or at a real casino.
Going Bust –If either you or the dealer exceeds 21, it’s over. You automatically lose if you exceed 21, as does the dealer if she does. You should be careful about requesting hits when you have a hand worth 17 or more.
Surrender – Some blackjack games allow you to surrender after your first two cards are dealt. Generally speaking, most blackjack pros advise against this. If you surrender, you’ll get half of your wager back.
Insurance –If the dealer is showing an ace as their up-facing card, you may place an insurance wager at half of your original stake. If the dealer does turn out to have blackjack, this bet pays 2:1.
Splitting Pairs –Most blackjack games will allow you to split pairs. For example, if you are dealt a pair of 7s, you can split these and play them as different hands. This will require an additional wager. In many games, you can split up to four pairs.
Doubling Down –In many blackjack variants, you’ll have the option to double your original wager after your first two cards are dealt.
Dealer Rules – There are automatic rules about what the dealer does when she shows her down-facing card. For example, she stands on 17 and automatically hits if her hand is of lower value.
Some blackjack variants have other additional rules. For example, in Pontoon, you have to pay an additional fee for each hit you request.
Don’t get confused by these rules. Stick to classic blackjack until you have mastered it and then focus on learning one additional blackjack variant at a time. While these variants can be interesting and novel, you’re almost always better off playing classic blackjack with live dealers.
This has been a basic guide to blackjack for beginners. If you remember everything written here, you’ll be well on your way to mastering blackjack.
Remember that blackjack has one of the lowest house edges of all casino games. If you use basic blackjack strategy, you can bring the house edge down to just 0.5%. It doesn’t get much better than that!
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