To play it properly, get the most enjoyment out of it and, more importantly, potentially increase your chances of winning, it pays to take a closer look at this fascinating game. Read on and find out how to play blackjack.
THE HISTORY OF BLACKJACK
Originally called ‘21‘ (‘Vingt-et-un’ in French) or pontoon, the game sailed across the Atlantic and into the gambling houses of 18th-century America via European colonists. The gambling halls needed means of promoting these new games, often awarding bonus payouts for playing a jack of clubs or spades along with the ace of spades, hence the term ‘black jack’.
These bonuses were phased out over time, but the name stuck, with the two words eventually being pronounced as one. The rules of blackjack have evolved over the years, with several different formats arising – particularly when it comes to contemporary, online blackjack games. Perhaps unsurprisingly, online casinos attract players to their sites by formulating unique and intriguing variations. Still, the basic blackjack rules remain fixed.
Now that you have a better idea of its background let’s dive into the weeds of how to play blackjack!
BLACKJACK – THE MOST POPULAR ONLINE CASINO GAME
Wherever the game is being played, and however many players are involved, the rules will be basically the same. You will need to be aware of any Terms or Conditions, or variations, in the rules when playing any games.
HOW TO PLAY BLACKJACK IN LV BET — GETTING STARTED WITH BLACKJACK
The most basic rule that defines blackjack and can be described as the game’s main objective is to beat the dealer without going over 21 (called busting). A hand equal to 21 is the best scenario you can find yourself in, as this signifies an instant win. Referred to as classic Blackjack or a natural win, this ideal hand would consist of an ace and a 10-value card.
The mechanics of a game of blackjack work the same regardless of whether it’s being played virtually or on a real, physical table. Here’s what you can expect in a typical blackjack experience:
- Bets are placed using the different coloured, virtual casino chips found on the user interface. All bets will be displayed.
- To place a bet, players click on the desired virtual chip found on the user interface. Bear in mind all players must adhere to the table’s limits.
- The cards are then shuffled, either by an algorithm (if online) or a an actual dealer (if land-based or Live Casino).
- Players are dealt their first card facing up. The dealer deals their own first card, but unlike the players’ card, it faces down. This is known as the ‘hole card’.
- The second round of cards is then dealt face-up, along with the dealer’s last card. All parties on the table have two cards at this point.
- Depending on the value of their cards, each player in turn decides how they want to play their hand. If the player is happy with the hand dealt, they ‘stand‘ and decline to draw another card. If they need more points, they ‘hit‘ and receive another card. Players can continue to ‘hit’ until they choose to stop, reach 21, or go ‘bust’ by going over 21. In some cases, players can also ‘double-down‘ or ‘split‘. The options for each of these moves will be clearly indicated under the game’s rules.
- After all are finished making their choice, the total amount of the dealer’s cards is revealed. Those with a total hand value above 21, go bust (this includes the dealer) and thus lose their bet. Those with a higher score beat the dealer, while those with an equal value will tie (or ‘push’).
- If a player wins, the money is then deposited into their bankroll immediately.
Rules regarding the conditions under which the dealer can ‘hit’ will vary with each casino, but they should be stated beforehand or visible during the game. Likewise, many casinos differ on their rules for a push; some deem it a win for the player, while others consider it a loss. Make sure you know which it is before playing to avoid nasty surprises!
BLACKJACK PLAYING OPTIONS
You can make a variety of possible actions when the dealer deals your cards during a blackjack game, and you need to take into account both your hand and the dealer’s hand to take full advantage of the theory of probability as a basic strategy player. Each action is also regulated by a set of rules which may vary from one blackjack variation to another.
Here’s a quick overview of what each action is and the rules associated with each.
- Hit — The player draws one additional card.
- Stand — The player leaves the hand unchanged.
- Split — The player separates two cards of the same value into two hands, doubling the bet.
- Double Down — The player doubles their initial wager and draws only one additional card.
- Early Surrender — The player loses half the initial wager when forfeiting a hand BEFORE the dealer checks their face-down card for blackjack.
- Late Surrender — The player loses half the initial wager when forfeiting a hand AFTER the dealer peeks at their face-down card for blackjack.
In addition, there are two possible outcomes besides winning, of course!
- Bust — The player or dealer’s hand loses by exceeding a total value of 21,
- Push — The player and the dealer tie, and the player’s bet may be returned.
BASIC BLACKJACK RULES
To beat blackjack, you need a hand value of 21. Pretty simple, right? Well, there are a few more simple blackjack rules to follow.
A standard game in a typical casino follows these rules:
- The number of players ranges from one to seven (against the dealer).
- There are four possible options: split, stand, hit or double down.
- To split, a player needs two cards of the same value.
- Splitting two cards creates two hands, with an additional bet equal to the initial bet.
- Doubling down also doubles the initial bet for another card.
- Two hands of split aces aren’t always allowed because of excessive player advantage.
- You can only double down or split when making your first play.
- Standing refers to sticking with the hand you’ve got.
- Hitting means drawing additional cards to increase the value of your blackjack hand.
- Soft hands include an ace that can be counted as either one or 11. A considerably advantageous situation for you, soft hands will have an ace worth 11.
- Conversely, hard hands are tricky hands that do not feature an ace.
- In most tables, the dealer will stand on a soft 17 (at their advantage) and hit until scoring over a hard 16 (to lower the disadvantage).
WHAT ARE THE CARD VALUES IN BLACKJACK AND HOW DO YOU COUNT THEM?
Blackjack is played with a standard 52-card deck. The cards are numbered two to 10, along with a jack, queen, king (known as picture or face cards), and ace. Blackjack card values are the values given to each card. These cards make up your hand, and their values determine your hand’s leveraging position.
- All cards count as their face value.
- Jack, Queen and King — Can change in value according to the game. In blackjack, they are each worth 10 points.
- The aces count as either one or 11, depending on which betters your blackjack hand score.
Suits and colours do not affect the value of a card or come into play (the only exception being when they feature in a side bet).
Blackjack makes use of up to six or eight packs of cards with no jokers. Tables hosting a single-deck game aren’t as typical as double-deck games or a six-deck game even, the main reason being that one deck of cards facilitates a card counting system, which puts players at an advantage.
ONLINE BLACKJACK OR LIVE BLACKJACK?
As we covered above, online blackjack looks similar to a regular casino table, and most rules apply in the same manner. The gameplay is still the same but mainly quicker, as it is computerised. Sometimes, depending on the size or type of game you select, you will play with other ‘live’ players.
This brings the best of both worlds as you combine the speed and efficiency of playing online, with the human touch of a live dealer. Otherwise, you are essentially playing against a computer.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy playing against a computer; the thrill of the game and the possible chance of winning still remain. Some sites offer games that can be played simply for fun, with no payout. These free versions can be an indispensable tool to practise the basic rules without bankrupting yourself.
One of the main differences between online and traditional casinos is convenience. Granted, there are obviously Terms and Conditions to abide by. Still, the freedom from observing the codes of conduct and remembering every hand signal, plus the fact that you can log on anywhere, any time, is an attractive proposition for many.
One issue that deters more serious gamblers from partaking in online blackjack games is that digital versions cancel out the possibility of ‘card counting’. However, card counting is generally disallowed in casinos anyway due to the high player advantage.
Another point in favour of online blackjack is that the minimum bets are usually lower. This makes it more appealing than other games; although the casino has the odds slightly stacked in their favour, you stand a better chance of winning in the long run as you can play for longer with smaller bets.
POPULAR BLACKJACK GAMES IN LV BET
Today, players can play blackjack online in all its glory. However, the game rules are slightly different from those at the original land-based tables in most casinos, as online blackjack tables offer additional features. Here are some of the most popular online blackjack tables:
- Power Blackjack — Power Blackjack adds an extra dimension to classic blackjack. The same rules apply, but with a hot twist — the player can triple down or even quadruple their original bet on the first two cards and after a split. The nines and 10s have also been removed from the deck, allowing players to try new strategies while playing.
- Free Bet Blackjack — This other live blackjack variant is trendy and includes interesting features like Free Double Down and Split bets. Free Bet Blackjack offers players a free Double Down bet on two cards with hard totals of nine, 10 or 11, and Free Split bets on all pairs except 10s. The free bets are automatically offered to the player if their cards qualify. Side bets such as Any Pair, 21+3, Hot 3 and Bust It are also available, giving players a chance to win additional payouts.
- Speed VIP Blackjack — As you might have guessed, Speed VIP Blackjack is one of the fastest online live blackjack games. Compared to the standard live blackjack games, this table gives players greater control and reduces the waiting time; players make their decisions when they are ready, and the fastest player will be dealt their cards first.
- Blackjack Fortune VIP — Blackjack Fortune VIP is played at elegant grey luxury tables in one of Evolution’s gaming studios. Alongside the elite environment, this table offers interesting side bets and is one of the high-stakes tables, perfectly suiting the playing style of VIPs.
BLACKJACK AND OTHER TABLE GAMES AT LV BET
Table games have been popular for centuries, offering unique gameplay experiences. Steeped in neon stories of Las Vegas glamour, these games and their abundant variants can overwhelm a face fresh to gambling. Let’s see how they all measure up and what blackjack brings to the table.
BLACKJACK VS ROULETTE
Taking the American version as an example, your typical roulette wheel has 38 pockets in total (numbered one through 36, plus the zero and double zero). This means that when you place your bet on any number, you have a one in 38 chance to win.
Crucially, a spin on the wheel is not influenced by what came before it. Each spin is an independent trial process, so your odds remain constant throughout. In blackjack, there is much more leeway for the player to directly influence their odds (subject to the eternal house advantage), which is why blackjack strategy exists in the first place.
The most significant difference between blackjack and roulette is the lack of direct tactics one can use to shore up their chances at a roulette wheel. Roulette is more concerned with even-money odds than blackjack, as there are fewer outcomes possible for the original bet. Conversely, an insurance bet, which uses even-money odds in the context of your original bet in blackjack, is highly discouraged by most game experts.
Unsurprisingly, in terms of odds, blackjack offers better chances than roulette. Your probability of winning roulette is around 47%. However, the casino edge is about 5.26% compared to 0.5% in blackjack.
BLACKJACK VS BACCARAT
Even though these two games are strikingly similar, they could not be any more different in how they are played. Are you looking for the best odds and a chance to reduce the casino’s edge? Go for blackjack. Quick and straightforward gameplay? Opt for baccarat. Both games are incredibly entertaining and are a great starting point for anyone wishing to try out table games.
Blackjack has the upper hand in terms of being more favourable to the player. Blackjack is one of the few table games where all actions directly influence the house edge. Through effective use of strategy and optimal gameplay actions, the edge can be reduced to 0.50%; however, incorrect implementation of strategy (or lack thereof) pushes the edge upward to 2%. Depending on the table, blackjack rules may vary and impact your chance of winning.
BLACKJACK VS POKER
Unlike wheel-based roulette, shoe games poker and blackjack give space for strategic thought. Any rule differences or the number of decks you play with, whether it’s just two or eight, will affect the casino edge in blackjack.
In poker, the casino’s edge works a little differently. Games played at land-based venues or in tournaments often have no house advantage. Instead, the gambling establishment will take a cut for hosting the tournament or grab a small share of the pot.
On the other hand, online poker does have a house advantage. In fact, video poker is known to be one of the casino games with the lowest house advantage.
When comparing blackjack vs poker, some players will argue that the two are too different to draw similarities. Poker and blackjack players understand that the best way to approach either card game is with strategy and knowledge. Playing poker is significantly more complex than blackjack, but players can use similar approaches to reduce the odds of losing and minimise the incurred losses.
BLACKJACK ODDS AND PAYOUTS
Behind all the numbers and statistics is one central question: What are the overall odds of winning a blackjack game? While there are different blackjack variants and different rules at different casinos, the odds of winning a classic game are estimated at 42.22%. The dealer’s winning odds are around 49% in most casinos. In a third scenario, an average of 8.48% of the games you play will end in a push. A push occurs when there is a tie, returning the player’s original bet.
Another critical facet to mastering the art of blackjack odds is understanding how payouts work and how they impact the house’s advantage. Choosing the right blackjack games, whether the casino is online or in Las Vegas, will help you avoid wasting time on poor returns.
- A winning hand pays out its original wager at 1:1. If that hand totals 21, the payout is at 3:2.
- The insurance bet is infamous among blackjack side bets for its even-money odds. If an insurance bet is placed, and the dealer’s card makes a blackjack, the player’s hand loses, but the side bet pays out at 2:1.
- If both the player and the dealer have unbusted hands of equal value, resulting in a push, the player’s bet may be returned to them.
The first way to win a blackjack game is to have a higher number than the dealer without going bust. The second way is to win because the dealer busted their hand. The Shangri-la of blackjack games is when blackjack occurs with just your first two cards.
Your odds of winning will plummet if you are not playing with any strategy. You can use advanced blackjack strategies or stick to the basic strategy and blackjack charts to reduce the house’s advantage. Bear in mind, though, that counting cards is forbidden at casinos, so card counting is generally off the table.
OUR TIPS FOR PLAYING BLACKJACK
As you can see, blackjack is straightforward, but choosing a blackjack table requires some thought. Some tables have a higher casino edge than others, so you must be careful which one you place your chips on. Here are some things to keep in mind when making your decision:
The number of decks used
In general, four or more decks is the standard, but the fewer decks used, the higher your chances of applying the probability theory.
Tables where a dealer pays 3:2 are much better than ones with 6:5 payouts.
Are you allowed to double your bet after a split? Can you surrender before or after the dealer looks at their hole card?
Opt for a table with a low minimum bet limit to avoid rapid loss of funds.
Think carefully before opting for tables which offer side bets. Some bets may potentially win more money, but beware the insurance wager and even-money bets.
Does the dealer stand on a soft 17? Generally, it favours players when the dealer stands, as there is less chance of the dealer’s hand making blackjack.
Bear in mind that favourable rules generally have counteracting regulations (such as high minimum limits) to offset their advantage.
All of the above blackjack tips are intended to assist you in making the most of your game of blackjack. Hopefully, these blackjack tips have helped you to understand the different facets of the game in preparation to face a dealer at any blackjack hall!
BLACKJACK IS A GAME FOR AMATEURS AND PROFESSIONALS
There are many other ways of giving yourself an extra advantage at the blackjack table, but this all depends on how seriously you wish to take your game.
Take some time to familiarise yourself with the processes and strategies. Practice for fun, and you may build your confidence. And remember a few key things; ‘scout’ the tables and find the best mix of rules. Be sure to know the betting limits. A full table is better than one with only a couple of players.
One strategy runs constant throughout all casino games from Las Vegas to your desktop: play responsibly! Manage your bankroll, set a budget and stick to it, and check in with yourself to make sure you’re still enjoying yourself.
✅ Can I play blackjack on my mobile phone?
If you think playing online blackjack on mobile is not as fun as playing on a desktop, guess again! When playing on mobile, players can enjoy all the same features and game mechanics they can find on the desktop. The kicker is when playing on mobile, you can play all your favourite blackjack games while on the go! At LV BET, we offer blackjack on iOS or Android devices!
✅ What are the other table games at the LV BET online casino?
While playing blackjack games online is incredibly fun, we also offer a boatload of other games you can try! Dip your toes in table games like live roulette, bluff your way to the top in live poker or walk in 007’s shoes in live baccarat. If you’re lucky, a casino bonus or two might just come your way!
✅ Will using a blackjack strategy increase my chance of winning?
The basic blackjack strategy is arguably the most uncomplicated strategy to pick up as you play. It is often recommended for beginners as it is a mathematically calculated set of decisions that may help you make the best possible decision in any situation and possibly win at blackjack. With this blackjack basic strategy, blackjack players can potentially slice the house’s edge in half and bring it down to as low as 0.20%.
For this reason, this system is considered the best blackjack strategy to adopt. Bear in mind that these blackjack strategies do not offer the keys to success, as there is no guarantee that you can win at blackjack — they just give you slightly better odds.
✅ What happens if I choose to hit and I go over 21?
If you choose to hit, and the dealer gives you a card which pushes your total hand value over 21, you immediately lose the game. In blackjack, this is known as a bust.
✅ What is the house edge in blackjack?
The house edge refers to the advantage the house has over the player over time, so naturally, a lower percentage is much more favourable to the player. This can easily tie into your strategy as you actively seek out the best possible odds when you play.
When playing online, be it blackjack or any other game, it is vital to consider the house edge and the impact that different bets and strategies have on it. Blackjack is one of the games with the lowest house edge, of about 0.50%, but that is under the assumption that players utilise perfect strategy.
In reality, most players are inexperienced enough to give the casino a 1% freebie simply due to common mistakes and miscalculated decisions.
✅ If I choose a blackjack variant with a lower house edge, do I have higher chances of winning?
The change in rules between each blackjack variation can impact your long-term returns. The different blackjack variants will not only require a shift in strategy and rules, but they also offer other odds.
The best way to reduce the edge is by sticking to a basic strategy and studying the charts to make the right moves at the right times. In particular, you should learn when to split, double down and surrender. All these moves can reduce the house edge even further.