Blackjack

Summary - Blackjack is a popular casino table game that is played against a dealer and can seat up to 6 players at once.  The object of the game is to get the closest hand to 21 without going over, but while beating the dealers hand.

Blackjack is the world's most popular casino table game and is well liked by players for the skill and thrill involved with playing the game. Learning to play blackjack is very easy, however mastering the strategy and tactics associated with blackjack takes a diligent player who is strict and abides by a basic strategy of betting rules. On this page, you will find an overview of the game of blackjack along with an in-depth guide to playing casino blackjack as well as popular blackjack games.  We also provide separate pages on Blackjack Strategy & Card Counting for our visitors.

Want to practice blackjack?  Try out our Free Blackjack game to test your skills!

How to Play Casino Blackjack

For those of our visitors looking to learn how to play casino Blackjack for Money, we have compiled a detailed guide for you on this section of our website.  Playing blackjack is not as complicated as it might sound, and although getting the hang of blackjack strategy can take a while, generally you can be ready to play within a few minutes.  Take a good read through this page to familiarize yourself with the game & rules.

Blackjack Table

The main thing to keep in mind when playing casino blackjack is that it is you versus the dealer. While there may be other players at the table, the object of every player is to beat the dealer in that particular game or session. The point of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over and having a higher value hand than the dealer. Below we have outlined the main principles and decisions in the game to give you an overview of playing blackjack.

Blackjack Rules

  • The object of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible, without going over 21 (called busting) and while beating the dealer's hand
  • Blackjack is always played against the dealer, and if your hand is higher than the dealer than you win the game (as long as you don't go over 21)
  • Players at the table are dealt two cards face up and the dealer is dealt one card face up and one card face down (known as the hole card in BJ lingo)
  • Cards values in blackjack are taken at face value (except for an ace), with face cards representing 10 and aces representing 11 or 1
  • This means if you are dealt a 7 and an ace, your hand has a value of either 8 or 18 and you may play according to either, this is known as a soft hand
  • Getting a blackjack means that you have a face card (10, Jack, Queen or King) plus an ace dealt in your hand immediately as your first two cards
  • If you do not have blackjack, normal play will begin at the table left to right
  • The game starts when all players place their wager, they are then dealt 2 cards face up, while the dealer gets one card up and one card facing down
  • Once the cards have been dealt, the action is on the player assuming that there is no dealer or player blackjacks, which are describe in detail below

Note On Being Dealt Blackjack

  • If the dealer gets blackjack straight out of the deal, all players will lose unless you also have blackjack in which case you would tie push
  • If the dealer has an ace as their up card, they will offer insurance to the players, which can be bought for half of your inital bet and will pay back 2-1 if the dealer does have a blackjack
  • If the dealer has a face card showing, they will check for an ace as the hidden card, if they have an ace, all players will lose unless you also have blackjack in which case you would tie the game
  • If you are dealt blackjack and the dealer is showing an ace, you can opt for even money, which means you will be paid 1-1 for your bet instead of the usual 3-2 paid in most blackjack games
  • The reason that even money is offered is this allows you to avoid a tie if you think the dealer has blackjack

Player Moves In Blackjack

Hit: Taking a hit means you would like to add another card to your hand to bring the total value closer to 21. You should always hit when you have a hand 11 or under and sometimes if your hand is 12 or more (depending on the dealer's up card discussed more in blackjack strategy). If you hit and go over 21, you will have done what is know as busting and in this case you will lose your wager immediately.

Stand: When a player wishes to stand, that means they are happy with the total value of their hand against the dealer and would not like anymore cards added to it. When you stand, it will be the next players turn until it reaches the dealer and you will not be able to change your decision regarding your hand for that game.

Split: A split option is given to the player when they receive two cards of the same value (ex. two 10's, 5's, etc.). When they occurs, players have the option of splitting their hand into two separate hands for play. If you choose to split your hand, you will need to place a bet equal to your initial wager beside it and announce a split to the dealer. The dealer will then give you a new card on each hand and they will be played independently as two separate hands. If you are dealt two aces, you may split them but will only receive 1 card on each hand, you must stand with those cards.

Double or Double Down: Another option when playing casino blackjack is to take a double or double down on your hand. Doubling your hand in blackjack means that you place a bet equal to your initial wager beside your bet in order to only receive one more card for your hand. You may not hit again once you have received your double card and must stand with whatever card is dealt to you. The reason that doubling can be a good tactic for players is that it allows you to increase your wager after you have seen the dealer's exposed card. If the dealer has what is known as a bust card doubling is a good idea as you are maximizing your potential return on that hand assuming the dealer busts.

Rules for the blackjack dealer:

  • The dealer always acts last after all players have made decisions on their hand
  • The dealer must hit 16 or below and stand on 17 or above in most games
  • If the dealer receives a face card as an up card they must check for a blackjack before play begins, if they have blackjack players lose except for a tie / push
  • If the dealer receives an ace as the up card they will offer an insurance bet for 1/2 your wager which pays back 2:1 if the dealer ends up having blackjack
  • Insurance bets are not mandatory, however some players like them if they have a lot of money on that particular hand or a solid hand to compete with

Online Blackjack Games

Playing online blackjack is virtually the same as playing in a regular live casino and the same strategy methods should be used when playing to ensure that you are giving yourself the best odds possible of winning. In online casinos, a number of different blackjack games are offered to players with varying rules & payouts designed to offer some differentiation in blackjack games. Below we have listed some of the more popular variations of blackjack with any rule differences and special payouts available.

Spanish 21 Blackjack:

  • All 10's are removed from the deck meaning it is played with a 48 card deck
  • Players are able to surrender, late surrender, double and split any two cards
  • Any five card player 21 pays out 3-2 immediately before dealer plays
  • Any six card player 21 pays out 2-1 immediately before dealer plays
  • Any seven card player 21 pays out 3-1 immediately before dealer plays
  • A player combination of 6-7-8 to 7-7-7 pays out 3-1 immediately before play
  • Some variants of Spanish 21 offer a bonus payout for 7-7-7 of spades against dealer 7 as a side bet, which can be wagered on usually between $5 and $25
  • Some Spanish 21 games make dealer stand on 17 while some games don't

Blackjack Switch:

  • Players must bet two equal size wagers for which they will be dealt two hands
  • Players are allowed to switch the 2nd dealt card on each hand with each other to improve their overall hand against the dealer's up card
  • Dealer is allowed to get up to 22 without busting & total of 22 is a push, or even money for blackjack, meaning a player blackjack is push with a dealer 22
  • Natural blackjack payout is only 1-1 as compared to 3-2 in regular blackjack

Progressive Blackjack:

  • Normal blackjack rules, payouts and betting requirements apply
  • Progressive feature is a side bet that must be played each hand to be won
  • Progressive jackpot won with 4 ace of spades dealt with a dealer blackjack
  • This can also be called triple sevens blackjack where progressive prize is won when three 7 of diamonds are dealt to one player during one hand of play

Double Blackjack:

  • Similar to Spanish 21 blackjack, all 10's are removed and game is played with 6 or 8 standard casino decks, depending on casino and location
  • There is a side bet is known as the Bust Bet where you bet on the dealer busting on the 3rd card dealt to them, betting limits vary by online casino
  • Third card bust payouts depend on the card dealt to make the dealer bust
  • For all dealer bust combinations not mentioned below, payout is 1:1
  • Jack pays out 3:1, nine pays out 6:1, eight pays out 8:1, seven pays out 10:1 and Six pays out 15:1, all other bust cards pay out even money 1:1 on bets

Blackjack Tournaments

Playing in blackjack tournaments is a great way to practice the game of blackjack without having to risk a significant amount of your casino bankroll through regular blackjack betting. In online casinos, there are a number of blackjack tournaments available to players which can be played for different buy-ins and prize pools. In this section we will outline how blackjack tournaments work, tournament strategy and where to play online blackjack tournaments.  If you are an online casino player looking to play blackjack online, blackjack tournaments can be a great way to practice playing the game for a fraction of the cost of traditional table limits.

How Blackjack Tournaments Work:

Blackjack tournaments are comprised of multiple players who are competing against each other to win the most amount of chips during the tournament. Each tournament game usually has a fixed buy-in (ex. $10) and players are allotted a specific number of chips for the game, which usually lasts anywhere between 30 minutes and one hour. Once the tournament begins it's really no different than playing a regular blackjack game and the goal is to get as many chips from the dealer as possible and have more chips than everyone else once the tournament ends. The player with the most amount of chips at the tournament wins the prize pool comprised of everyone's buy in money.

  • The object of a blackjack tournament is to get more chips than all other enrolled players by the end of the tournament, then you are the winner
  • Players pay a buy-in and are allotted a specified number of chips for the game
  • Once the tournament starts, your goal is to get as many chips as you can from the dealer by playing a regular blackjack game & using blackjack strategy
  • The player with the most chips at the end of the tournament wins the overall prizes, based on the number of entries paid or a guaranteed prize pool

Blackjack Tournament Strategy:

When playing in blackjack tournaments, the strategy that you want to use will differ greatly from that of regular blackjack play since you are dealing with time constraints and need to accumulate more chips than everyone else in order to win. What this means is you can't be scared to make big bets in order to increase your bankroll, however in the end most of the strategy in blackjack tournaments boils down to luck. The main options are either to be aggressive in the beginning and bet huge hoping to create a sizeable lead or play semi-conservatively and build up your bankroll over the entire tournament. In our opinion, making big bets and gaining the lead is your best bet.

Blackjack Terms Glossary

This section is a dedicated blackjack glossary and was made to assist new players in learning the proper lingo and words associated with casino blackjack. The game of blackjack is very communal and the players at the table usually get very socially engaged with both each other and the dealer. Because of the amount of terms associated with the game, as a new player it can be somewhat confusing to figure out what everyone is talking about at the table. Below you will find an in-depth glossary to some of the more popular terms and expressions used by players in casino blackjack.

Anchor - The player sitting the last betting box position at the blackjack table

Blackjack - Blackjack occurs when a player is dealt a face card (10, Jack, Queen or King) paired with any ace from the deck (must be the first two cards dealt out)

Bust - When the player or the dealer hits and receives a total hand value over 21

Card Counter - A person who uses a blackjack betting system that uses counting and memory to give themselves a positive expectation over the casino house edge.

Dealer - Sits across from you at the table and is employed by the casino to deal cards to the players, be nice to them as they can't control the game outcome

Double Down - A bet in blackjack where you double your wager in exchange for one more card from the dealer, is used primarily to win more on easy to win hands

Early Surrender - Available in versions of blackjack like Spanish 21, early surrender is when the player is given the opportunity to take 1/2 their bet back before play

First Baseman - The player sitting in the first betting box position at the blackjack table directly beside the dealer shoe is known as the first baseman table player

High Roller - A player that bets large sums of money at the casino, usually over $50,000 per hand is known as a casino high roller or a casino whale

Hit - When the player asks for a "hit", the dealer gives them another card to add to their hand, the signal to hit is to tap the table behind your hand for the dealer

Hole Card - The unexposed card that the dealer is dealt during a game of blackjack

House - A nickname for the casino whom you are playing against

Insurance - When the dealer has an ace up, the insurance bet is offered at a price of 1/2 your bet, should the dealer have blackjack when checked, bet pays back 2:1

Natural - A slang term used by players for a blackjack, sometimes for an ace and a jack combination which is thought to be the most "natural" type of player blackjack

Paint It - A term used by players when their first card is an ace and they want a face card for blackjack, can also be used when first card is a ten hoping for an ace

Pit Boss - Stands behind the dealer and is responsible for overseeing table game player including enforcing rules, security, resolving problems and issuing comps

Push - When the player and the dealer have the same total in their hands

Shoe - A plastic box where the cards are put after shuffling and dealt to the table

Surrender - In some variations, the player can surrender for 1/2 their bet back if they think they will lose, this is most commonly available in version Spanish 21

Up Card - The dealer's card that is exposed to the rest of the table

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner - Glorified in the movie 21, another way of describing a player blackjack coined by a Las Vegas dealer in the 1980's