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How to Play Blackjack

Date of Publishing: June 09, 2021

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There aren’t too many rules for playing blackjack, compared to poker for instance. This is one of the many reasons why players have enjoyed this casino table game for over 250 years!

With a fairly low house-edge and various opportunities to strategize, there is no sign of popularity for this casino game slowing down.

Here at JeffBet we have heaps of great blackjack titles and aren’t shy of a promotional bonus. In this guide, we are going to divulge the basics of blackjack and some of the best strategies used around the world.

The Basics of Blackjack

The fundamental goal of blackjack is to keep a higher value hand than that of the card dealer. You must simultaneously get a hand as close to 21, without surpassing that total, as possible.

Here is a quick walkthrough of how to play blackjack:

  • The blackjack dealer starts by dealing 2 cards to themself and each player at the table
  • One card will be placed faced up so you can see it, and the other one face down
  • Ace equals 11 or 1, picture cards equate to 10, and the rest have their face value
  • You need to decide whether to ‘split’, ‘hit’, ‘stand’, ‘double-down’ or ‘surrender’
  • Next, the dealer needs to hit on 16 or fewer and will usually ‘stand’ from 17 to 21
  • If you or any other player has cards totalling 21 or fewer when the dealer goes past 21 (known as going bust) – you win
  • If your hand is worth less than that of the dealer or you go bust – you lose this blackjack bet
  • If your hand is the same as the dealer this is a ‘push’ or a ‘tie’ and means you are able to hold on to your bet

Whoever surpasses 21 loses the game – whether that be the dealer, another player, or you.

Blackjack Variants

There are a handful of really popular blackjack variants, so we are going to divulge the characteristics of each so that you have an idea of what might be preferable.

  • American Blackjack: In the American version of blackjack you will be dealt a pair of cards. The dealer will have a ‘hole’ card which will be faced down, and another one facing up. Let’s say the dealer initially reveals an Ace, followed by a 10 or a face card – you can’t do a thing. The dealer has what’s called a ‘natural’.
  • European Blackjack: This variant sees the dealer only having 1 card (which is showing), the other comes from the deck later. This offers you a greater house-edge than the American version of the table game. When playing European blackjack online, you will often be a part of a land-based casino experience, taking you to the likes of Monaco and France – all from the comfort of your home.
  • Perfect Pairs Blackjack: This is more of a side-bet than a game in itself – nevertheless, it deserves a mention. You may be offered this type of bet before the game begins, but after being given your cards. You can consider the side bet a winner if your initial 2 cards are an equivalent value or face – thus making a pair
  • Switch Blackjack: In contrast to traditional blackjack, you will be dealt 2 hands instead of 1. You can then proceed to trade the top 2 cards between your hands. This move would be considered as against the rules in the traditional game of blackjack

Other popular blackjack variants include ‘double exposure blackjack’, ‘pontoon’ and heaps more.

 

 

 

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What are the Rules of Blackjack?

We touched on how to play blackjack, however, let’s clarify some of the rules of the game.

  • Blackjack chips are usually colour coded by the amount they are worth. For instance, red chips might be worth £5, and white just a £1
  • The blackjack dealer will deal from a ‘shoe’ of between 4 and 8 decks of cards
  • Depending on the blackjack variant you opt to play – an Ace can be either a soft 1, or a hard 11
  • The King, Queen, and Jack are the equivalents of 10 each
  • After that, each card will be valued as its namesake suggests – so an 8 of diamonds quotes to 8, a 6 is a 6 – and so forth
  • If you hit a value of 21 from only 2 cards – this is a ‘blackjack hand’

Next, you must try to get the upper hand by adding together the value of your hand and deciding whether the dealer might have a better hand than you. 

This is when you decide between ‘stand, ‘hit’, ‘split’, ‘double-down’ or ‘surrender’. We clarify these options shortly.

Blackjack Odds and Payouts

As we have explained, if you ‘bust’, the dealer isn’t obligated to play their hand, so the casino will always have the house-edge. 

The house-edge percentage averages 0.5%, based on a simple strategy. With that in mind let’s have a look at what house edge you can expect to find when playing different variants of blackjack.

  • European blackjack: 0.39%
  • Double exposure blackjack: 0.69%
  • Atlantic City blackjack: 0.35%
  • Multi-hand blackjack: 0.63%
  • Single deck blackjack: 0.58%
  • Spanish 21: 0.38%
  • Blackjack switch: 0.17%
  • Super fun 21: 1.30%
  • Perfect pairs blackjack: 0.42%

As we said, the house-edge percentage will depend on the variant you are playing and which bets or strategies you use. For instance, if you decide to hit or stand and are correct to do so, the house-edge will fall.

Best Blackjack Strategies

The first thing to say about blackjack strategies, such as counting the dealer’s cards, is that they are often fruitless. As we mentioned, a blackjack shoe can contain as many as 8 decks of cards. Not only that but in a land-based casino, the deck is often shuffled before every single deal.

With that said, some commonly adopted strategies include:

  • Always split Aces and 8s
  • Never split 5’s or 10’s
  • On a hard 11 – double down
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Always stand on a soft 20 (A and 9) or 17 +
  • Hit on an 8
  • Double on an 11

Some players like to use a strategy chart to learn the ins and outs of the game, others take online video courses. Whatever strategy you decide on one of the most sensible tips is to be realistic with your winning expectations – this is a game of chance after all.

How to Play Blackjack Online

As we talked about the rules of blackjack, you will have a good idea of how to play it. With that said, we have listed below the bets you might use when learning to play this game of luck.

  • Let’s say the roulette dealer has dealt the cards, and you have counted them up – you need to place your bet.
  • If you don’t want another card because your hand already has a high value, you can select stand and the dealer will move on to the next player.
  • Alternatively, if you don’t think the next card will make you go bust, you can choose to hit. At this point, you will be dealt another card
  • As the bet split suggests, you are able to split 2 cards. Let’s say you have 2 cards that are the same, such as 6 and 6 or 8 and 8. You will split the pair and wager another hand – leaving you free to bet on each individually
  • If you double-down, this shows that you want to increase your original stake two-fold. In return, you will be given another draw card to play with
  • Should you elect to surrender you will lose 50% of your initial bet immediately, but will be able to forfeit your hand. Crucially, this is only an option for your first 2 cards. Furthermore, in most cases, you can only surrender when the dealer has confirmed they don’t have a blackjack. This is referred to as a late surrender on the dealer’s part

As you can see, there are various bets to use in blackjack. Crucially, if the dealer has a collective number between 17 and 21, they are usually required to stand. If their hand is a total value of 17 or less – the dealer usually has to hit.

Is Online Blackjack Safe?

There is no need to worry about any of our online blackjack games being rigged. Here at JeffBet.com we only work with well-respected game designers. Importantly, each game is tested for fairness and true randomness, by a third-party testing house approved by the Gambling Commission.

FAQ’s

You must beat the dealer's hand by trying to get a value of 21, or as near as you can, before the dealer does. You must not go beyond 21 - if you do, you go bust and lose the game. Bets include hit, stand, double-down, split and surrender.
It’s never been easier to play blackjack from home - all you need is an internet connection, and a regulated online casino. This way you can play in safety without leaving the house. Generally, you will have access to more promotions and bonuses than traditional land based casinos can offer.
Blackjack is considered one of the easiest casino games to learn for beginners. This is especially the case with the variant blackjack switch, which is almost the same as the standard version but with a house edge of around 0.5%.
There is a common misconception that 21 and blackjack are the same thing however this is not the case. When playing a game of blackjack you will only be trying to beat/bust the dealer's hand. In the game 21 (sometimes called Spanish 21), you are trying to beat the dealer, and also a table of other players.
There is a blackjack trick known as the ‘5 card Charlie rule’, whereby if a player is dealt 5 cards with a value of 21 or less they win the round. Whether this is accepted will depend on where you play it. Land-based casinos frown upon this particular rule.

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