How To Play Blackjack Online For Beginners
Welcome to BLACKJACK 101! Blackjack is a very approachable game that even a beginner can understand. Blackjack or sometimes referred to as 21, is an incredibly simple game but takes a lot of practice to really learn how to play effectively. It’s a great game for newcomers as it’s just you versus the dealer, and the rules are incredibly easy to understand. The goal of the game is to have two or more cards where the numerical value meets or is less than 21 while still being a higher value than the dealer. If you get more than 21 you’ve busted and the game is over for you, and you’ve lost your bet. But the great thing about this game is if the dealer busts, everyone at the table wins. It’s so cool, isn’t it?! So, in this article, I will walk you through this simple yet daunting game.
In this article, you will find:
- What are the rules of Blackjack?
- Is Blackjack easy to learn?
- How to play Blackjack?
- Blackjack card values and counting
- When to split and double down in Blackjack?
- Where to play Blackjack online?
- Expert tips to play effectively and increase your odds of winning
- Alternative names: Twenty-one
- Type: Comparing Players: 2+, usually 2–7
- Skills required: Probability
- Cards: 52 to 416 (one to eight 52-card decks)
- Deck: French Play: Clockwise Random chance: High
Fundamentals of Blackjack
Since this is a guide for freshman students without any experience or real Blackjack skills, I need to introduce the game before I can jump into explaining the rules.
Blackjack might not be the easiest way to spend your free time, but it is a good choice when you play Casino games. Also, you can always host a Blackjack party at your home. All you need is some Casinos chips and a few decks of French playing cards to get the game going.
You cannot learn a language if you do not know its alphabet. The same scenario applies to this game. This is why I am going to start this guide from the A-B-C of the game. BTW, this may be your last chance to clear any confusion surrounding card symbols and to finally learn to read them right. So, don’t miss it!
I start from a classic French deck of cards because this is what you need to play Blackjack.
In total, the deck has 52 cards divided into 4 different suits:
- Clubs (♧)
- Diamonds (♢)
- Hearts (♥)
- Spades (♤)
A traditional deck has 13 ranks, and each suite has one card per rank. The first card is the ace (A), but it’s not exactly the equivalent of a 1. In fact, this card can be the highest-ranking card on the deck.
The other ten cards form a string from two (2) to ten (10/T), while the last three are the Jack (J), Queen (Q), and King (K). The J, Q, and K are called face cards.
Sounds too simple? I know! But I had to start from the very bottom because Blackjack has some restrictions for using the suits, and suits are of value only in some variants of this game.
Blackjack cards value and values counting
There are four suits, and each suite has one card of each rank, so mathematically, there are only four cards of each rank in the deck, right?
Scoring in Blackjack depends on the ranks you hold in your hand, and your ability to count them according to the rules.
Blackjack values counting rules
As I mentioned earlier, you want your cards to value 21. You can do that by adding up the values of the cards you are holding.
- You have cards with face values of 2 to 9. These cards are all worth their face value. For example, if you hold a 5, you hold exactly 5 points.
- The tricky part is understanding the tens: 10, J, K, and Q all worth 10 points. Jacks, Queens, and Kings have a value of 10. These cards are called monkey cards because they quickly add up to a 20, which is a very good score!
- Things get really tricky when you have an ace That card can have either a value of 1 or 11.
Here is a visualization of what I already explained:
So, just translate the ranks of cards you hold to their point value and add them up. This is it!
Your score in Blackjack = the sum of the value of your cards – not one point less than that.
The easy Blackjack rules
When you are playing blackjack, you are always playing against the dealer. It doesn’t matter how many of you are at the table. Don’t care about other players. In this game, there are always two hands in play: the dealer’s hand versus the player’s hand.
The winning hand in Blackjack is the higher hand. If you are lucky enough to get a natural or “blackjack”, it is the hand of 2 cards: an ace and a 10 card (a face card or a 10). Remember, if you are playing in a casino, you should keep the natural rules in your mind:
- If you have a natural and the dealer does not, the dealer immediately pays you one and a half times the amount of your bet.
- If the dealer has a natural, they immediately collect the bets of all players who do not have naturals, (but no additional amount).
- If the dealer and another player both have naturals, the bet of that player is a stand-off (a tie), and the player takes back his chips.
- If the dealer’s face-up card is a ten-card or an ace, they look at their face-down card to see if the two cards make a natural. If the face-up card is not a ten-card or an ace, they do not look at the face-down card until it is the dealer’s turn to play.
Remember, the natural or blackjack is not an easy hand to get. But it is also the one you’ll be always hoping to receive.
Wait! What about losing hands rules?
Well, the losing hand, the dead hand, or the bust, is every hand with a total sum of 22 or higher.
That is because as soon as you go over the 21-point limit, you are busted, no matter what the dealer’s score is.
Sadly, that’s not the only losing hand in Blackjack. Because each hand that is one point short compared to the dealer’s score…is a losing one.
And this was the Blackjack rules for dummies! Let’s move on to the play.
Oh, BTW, I forgot to tell you an important rule:
When you are playing in a casino, make sure you do not touch any card. The only person who is allowed to touch the cards is the dealer, ALWAYS! If you touch the cards, you will be thrown out of the casino. So, make sure to play by the rules.
I am going to show how to play Blackjack, step-by-step.
Step1: Join a Table
You’ll join the blackjack table that looks like this
Here you should know where to sit. Because position does matter here. However, statistics prove all seats are equal for the basic strategy player. Although they don’t have anything to do with the odds of the game, they do have certain advantages and disadvantages.
Blackjack tables at brick-and-mortar casinos can feature up to six or seven players, but the tables aren’t always full so these seats may not always be taken.
Blackjack first base – The first seat on the far right facing the dealer is referred to as the first base position. This is because this first base positioned player will get the cards first. Also, being in this position enables the player to be the first to hit, stand, split, double down, or surrender on their hand (I will explain these later on in this article).
Blackjack third base –Many blackjack players mistakenly think third base is the third or middle seat. But, the third-base position is actually the last seat from the right or the first seat on the left. This position is referred to as the anchor. Here, the player receives the first two cards dealt by the dealer last. Also, the player is the last one to decide and act on what they want to do with their hand.
Shortstop position – This position isn’t as commonly mentioned as the two above. Because this position doesn’t come with as much responsibility. This seat is located in the middle of the table and actually prevents other players to the left of them from joining the table.
Remember, if you do not like the responsibility of being dealt the first and last cards of a hand, I recommend sitting in the second or fourth seats depending on how many players are at the table. Meanwhile, if there is only the third or first base position available when you join the table, don’t worry, because statistically, it doesn’t affect the table’s odds at all. So, try to enjoy the experience.
All right, when all players are seated and ready, the dealer will give each player 2 cards face up. The dealer receives 2 cards as well, one face up and one face down.
Step2: Decide what to do
Here, you will have 4 different options, and each option has a corresponding hand signal:
- Hit: Take another card.
Signal: Scrape cards against the table (in handheld games); tap the table with a finger or wave hand toward the body (in games dealt face up).
- Stand: Take no more cards; also known as “stand pat”, “sit”, “stick”, or “stay”.
Signal: Slide cards under chips (in handheld games); wave hand horizontally (in games dealt face up).
- Double down: Increase the initial bet by 100% and take exactly one more card. The additional bet is placed next to the original bet. Some games permit the player to increase the bet by amounts smaller than 100%.
Signal: Place additional chips beside the original bet outside the betting box, and point with one finger.
- Split: Create two hands from a starting hand where both cards are the same value. Each new hand gets another card so that the player has two starting hands. This requires an additional bet on the second hand. The two hands are played out independently, and the wager on each hand is won or lost independently. In the case of cards worth 10 points, some casinos only allow splitting when the cards are the same rank. For example, 10-10 could be split, but K-10 could not. Doubling and re-splitting after splitting are often restricted. A 10-valued card and an ace resulting from a split usually aren’t considered a blackjack. Hitting split aces is often not allowed.
Signal: Place additional chips next to the original bet outside the betting box; point with two fingers spread into a V formation.
NOTE: Hand signals are designed to help the eye in the sky. It makes a video recording of the table, which resolves disputes and identifies dealer mistakes. It is also used to protect the casino against dealers who steal chips or players who cheat. Recordings can also identify advantage players. When a player’s hand signal disagrees with their words, the hand signal takes precedence.
In short, in this step the player to the left goes first and must decide whether to “stand” (not ask for another card) or “hit” (ask for another card in an attempt to get closer to a count of 21, or even hit 21 exactly). Hence, a player may stand on the two cards originally received, or they may ask the dealer for additional cards, one at a time, until deciding to stand on the total (if it is 21 or under), or goes “bust” (if it is over 21). If the player goes bust, the player loses and the dealer collects the bet wagered. Then, the dealer turns to the next player to their left and serves them in the same manner.
Let me explain about the soft hand, too. An ace along with a card other than a ten-card is known as a soft- hand. Because the player can count the ace as a 1 or 11, and either draw cards or not. For example, with a “soft 17” (an ace and a 6), the total is 7 or 17. Although a count of 17 is a good hand, the player may want to draw for a higher total. If the draw creates a bust hand by counting the ace as an 11, the player counts the ace as a 1 and continues playing by standing or “hitting” (asking the dealer for additional cards, one at a time).
Step3: What is your hand value?
You just made a move and as a result, you’ll probably have a new hand value. You’ll remain in the game if your hand is valued at 21 or anything less.
Step4: Dealer cards
Remember, a hand can “hit” as many times as desired until the total is 21 or more. Players must stand on a total of 21. After a bust or a stand, play proceeds to the next hand clockwise around the table. After the last hand is played, the dealer reveals the hole card and stands or draws according to the game rules.
Step5: Who is closer to 21?
If your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, you bust the dealer and win. If the dealer has 21 or a closer score to 21 than any of the players, the dealer is the winner. On the other hand, If the dealer also holds a 21, the result is a Push. This means that your initial bet is returned to you and you neither win nor lose. If you are the lucky winner, your payment amount depends on the type of bet you placed.
Wondering what is this nonsense written on the table?!?!
- Blackjack pays 3 to 2, or in some Casinos, Blackjack pays 6 to 5. This refers to payoffs and odds. If you win against the dealer’s hand, your initial bet is paid off 3 to 2, or in some casinos, 6 to 5.
Insurance; Yes, or No?
Insurance is a side bet that the dealer has a blackjack. This means when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, any of the players may make a side bet of up to half the original bet that the dealer’s face-down card is a ten-card. Once all side bets are placed, the dealer looks at the hole card. If the card is a ten-card, it is turned up, and those players who have made the insurance bet win and are paid double the amount of their half-bet – a 2 to 1 payoff. When a blackjack occurs for the dealer, of course, the hand is over, and the players’ main bets are collected – unless a player also has blackjack, in which case it is a stand-off. Insurance is invariably not a good proposition for the player unless they are quite sure that an unusually high number of ten-cards still left undealt. So, a pro suggestion is: NEVER take insurance or even money, because the house edge on insurance is 5.9% in single-deck Blackjack.
I start with the basic strategy; remember this chart and practice more:
Another strategy is Composition-dependent. It describes the Blackjack strategy where the player uses the total of his cards as well as the composition. The fewer the decks, the more beneficial using a composition-dependent strategy is. For example, in single-deck Blackjack, the player should stand with 12 against a 4. However, if the 12 is composed of a 10 and a 2, the odds favor hitting.
Doubling down strategy:
According to this strategy, with a total of 11, you should always double down. With a total of 10, you should double down, too (unless the dealer shows a ten-card or an ace). With a total of 9, you should double down only if the dealer’s card is fair or poor (2 through 6). Also, when you have a soft 16, 17, or 18, this means you have a card plus an ace. Here, you should only double down if the dealer is showing a lower card.
You should never double down if:
- The dealer is showing an ace.
- You’re showing anything higher than an 11(because here the chances of going bust are too high to risk).
- In the vast majority of hands, you should not double down. Double down only when you are a clear frontrunner.
You can always split aces because you have a high chance of making 21, twice. Also, split the eights, no matter what the dealer shows. Because starting with an 8 can easily lead to a good finishing total. But remember, as the size of the pair goes down, your splitting potential for other pairs diminishes.
- Split 7s if the dealer shows 7 or less.
- Split 6s if the dealer shows 6 or less.
- Always split pair of aces.
- Do not split 5s, but double down if the dealer shows 9 or less.
- Do not split 4s.
- Split 3s only if the dealer shows 4-7.
- Split 2s if the dealer shows 3-7.
Most players get confused when they are dealt 2 aces. The basic Blackjack strategy suggests that players should always split the pair of aces. Because two hands with a value of 11 each, have much better opportunities of a win than one single hand valued at 12 or two. This gives you not only twice the chance to win, but the possibility of receiving a card with the value of 10 to get a winning “Blackjack”.
Expert Tips for Beginners at the Table
- Be responsible and make wagers that fit your bankroll. Remember, it is all about having fun, not going bankrupt!
- Stand when your hand is 12-16 when the dealer has 2-6.
- Hit when your hand is 12-16 when the dealer has 7-Ace.
- Always split Aces and 8s.
- Double 11 versus the dealer’s 2-10.
- Hit or double Aces-6.
- Do not play insurance.
- It’s better not to seat in the first base position.
- Start small when you arrive at the table.
- Always check the dealer’s face-up card before you take action.
- Practice well before you get into real casino play and bet real money.
Where can you play and practice online?
If you are a newcomer and want to get into some easy Blackjack action, this site is a perfect option:
All right, this is it with my Blackjack for dummies guide. In the end, I would like to remind you that you can download the pdf format of this guide here and do more practice on it. Besides, I give you a link to download the Blackjack for dummies book if you want to spend more time studying the concept. Also, make sure to download the cheat sheet I made for you.
Have fun Blackjacking and DFTBA!!!!