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Whether you’re interested in playing blackjack online in Ireland or at your local brick-and-mortar casino, it’s important to approach the game with a solid knowledge of the rules and best strategies to use. Blackjack is a game of luck and skill, so you must know how to play your cards to get the best odds.
We’ve prepared an in-depth blackjack – how to play guide to help you learn the rules, how the game is played, and how to beat the dealer. If you’re new to blackjack and unsure where to start, this page will explain all the basics.
- 👩🏫 Blackjack Objective
- 📝 Calculating Hands Total
- ✍🏽 How to Play?
- ⚖️ Special Situations
- ❔ FAQ
What Is the Objective of Blackjack?
The objective of playing blackjack is simple: beat the dealer by getting a higher hand value without going over a total of 21. When learning how to play blackjack, the first thing to remember is that every player is playing against the dealer. You’re never competing against the other players.
🔵 Beat the Dealer
Because the number 21 is so important in a blackjack game, there’s a misconception that the aim of the game is to get a hand of 21 or as close to this value as possible. However, the most important objective in the game is always to beat the dealer.
🔵 How Can You Beat the Dealer?
There are three ways you can beat the dealer in blackjack.
Let’s look at each scenario in some detail:
- ✔️ Drawing a natural blackjack – If you’re dealt an Ace and a 10-value card on your first two cards, you automatically beat the dealer unless they also get a blackjack.
- ✔️ Getting a higher hand value than the dealer’s – If your hand’s value is higher than the dealer’s (but not over 21) once everyone has played their hand and the dealer reveals their hidden card, you also win.
- ✔️ Dealer busts – If the dealer’s cards exceed a value of 21, they bust, and you win the game.
🔵 How Can the Dealer Beat You?
The dealer can beat you in one of two ways in a typical blackjack game:
- ✔️ Your hand goes over 21 – If you draw a card after receiving your first two cards and your hand exceeds 21 points, you bust and lose the game. This means the dealer beats you and wins the round.
- ✔️ The dealer’s hand has a higher value than yours – If the dealer has a higher hand total at the end of the round when they’ve revealed their facedown card, they win.
How to Calculate Your Hand Total Value?
The next step to learning how to play the blackjack card game is to know how to determine the value of your hand.
These are the blackjack card values:
|2 – 10
|1 or 11
All the number cards count at face value – suits and colours don’t matter in blackjack. For example, the 2 card counts as a two, the 3 counts as a three, and so on.
Face cards are always worth 10 points. So, if you have a 2 and a Queen, the value is 12.
The Ace’s value depends on what is best for your hand. For example, if you have an Ace and a nine, the Ace counts as an 11, giving you a value of 19.
How to Play Blackjack?
With an understanding of the game’s objective and the card values, you can start learning how to play blackjack online step by step. Although there are multiple blackjack game variants, the basic steps to play the game are always the same.
Below is an overview of how a typical blackjack game is played:
1️⃣ Players buy their chips.
2️⃣ Players place their bet.
3️⃣ Cards are dealt by the dealer.
4️⃣ Players decide how to play their hand.
5️⃣ The dealer takes their turn and plays their cards.
6️⃣ The results are determined, and any payouts are awarded.
*To get used to the rules blackjack, you can test your skills with a blackjack simulator. Another opportunity if you do not feel confident is to play with a blackjack trainer first who will give you an explanation for every move you make.
🔵 Players Buy Chips
Before you start playing blackjack, you must first buy your chips. Most casinos don’t allow you to give the dealer cash to place your wager, so you’ll need to go to the cashier and purchase your chips there.
Remember to keep your gambling budget in mind here. For example, if you intend to gamble a maximum of £50 on the game, exchange this amount for chips and no more. Once the dealer counts your chips, you can touch them to place your bet in the next step.
🔵 Wagers Placing
The next step is to place your wager on the table. This is done by dragging the desired number of chips onto the betting area, usually a rectangle or circle in front of you. Every blackjack table has betting limits, so the chips you place must not be less than the minimum bet and not higher than the table limit.
Your chips should be neatly stacked on each other in the betting circle on the table. All the players around the table must place their bets within the betting time frame before cards can be dealt.
🔵 Cards Dealing
Once bets are placed, the dealer begins dealing the cards to every player. The dealer goes clockwise, starting from the player on the dealer’s left. One card is dealt face up to every player around the table, including the dealer. However, the dealer’s card is dealt facing down.
This is followed by another round of cards for every player and the dealer, all dealt face up. Now, every player has two face-up cards while the dealer has two cards, but one remains hidden. Players can see each other’s cards because they’re not competing against each other.
🔵 Players Make Decisions on How to Play the Hand
Now comes the most important part of learning how to play casino blackjack: playing your hand. First, look at your two cards and determine the value using the card values described earlier.
Once you’ve determined the total, you must look at the dealer’s visible card to decide your next move. Your options are to stand or hit; sometimes, you can double down, split, or surrender (if allowed). The player on the dealer’s left plays first. Let’s have a look at some tips on how to play your hand the best possible way.
Hand Signal: Wave your hand over your cards (without touching them).
Standing refers to keeping your first two cards and playing your hand as it is. Generally, you should stand on a hard 17 and higher, but there are many instances when you should stand on a lower total.
If the dealer has a low card (between two and six), you should also stand on 16 or lower. With a hard 12, you should hit only if the dealer has a two, three, or seven and higher. Using a basic strategy card to decide when to stand is the best way to go.
Hand Signal: Tap the felt once with two fingers to signal hitting.
Hitting means you want to receive a third card from the dealer. Once again, it’s best to follow basic strategy to see if you should hit or stand.
You should hit if you have a low hand value that can’t compete against the dealer, but be careful not to bust. For example, if you’re holding anything from eight to 11, you should hit (or double on some hands). You should also risk hitting if the dealer has a high card and you have anything between 12 and 16.
⚪ Double Down
Hand Signal: Put a stack of chips on the left of your original bet. The new chip stack must be equal in value to your original wager.
Doubling down is an available move that can be done to take advantage of very strong hands. Instead of hitting, you can double your original bet and receive another card. You can only receive one extra card when doubling.
You should always double on 10 or 11, and a nine if the dealer’s upcard is between three and six. Basic strategy also states to double on some soft hands, but it depends on what the dealer has.
Hand Signal: Place an equal wager next to your original bet and make a ‘V’ with your pointer and middle fingers.
If you’re dealt a pair, it’s better to split your cards and play them as two separate hands in some cases. A new card will be added to each hand, giving you two pairs.
Two pairs that should always be split are a pair of aces or eights. You should also split a pair of nines unless the dealer has a seven, 10, or Ace. A pair of fours or fives should never be split.
Hand Signal: Draw a line with your finger on the felt below the area where you’ve placed your chips.
Some blackjack games allow you to surrender your cards if dealt a bad hand. If you surrender, you get half of your original bet back, and you’ll be out of the game for that round. Check the blackjack rules carefully before playing because the option isn’t always offered.
Some of the worst hands you should surrender include a 16 against a dealer’s nine and a 15 or 16 if the dealer has a 10.
🔵 The Dealer’s Move
According to most blackjack rules, the dealer now takes their turn to play their hand once all the players have played theirs. Here’s what happens in a blackjack game at this stage:
- ✔️ The dealer flips their facedown card.
- ✔️ If it’s an Ace, players are offered insurance (explained later).
- ✔️ If it’s any other card, they play their hand according to the blackjack rules in the game.
- ✔️ In most games, the dealer must draw additional cards until they reach 17.
- ✔️ Dealer must stand on 17 or higher.
The dealer blackjack rules may vary between blackjack games, but these are the most common. It should also be noted that, unlike the players, the dealer must follow specific rules for playing their hand.
🔵 Time for Payouts
The results/winners are determined when the dealer has played their hand. If the dealer has a blackjack, every player loses automatically. However, if any player also gets a blackjack, the result is a push.
This means neither the player nor the dealer wins the round, and the player’s initial bet is refunded. A push also happens if the player’s hand and the dealer’s hand have equal points.
Any player with a higher hand value wins if the dealer doesn’t get a blackjack. Winners are paid, and the round ends. At online casinos, the winnings are added to the player’s balance.
Blackjack: How to Play Special Situations
Using basic strategy is the optimal way to play blackjack, but there are a few special scenarios where you might need to deviate from these rules. The insurance bet, ‘dead hands‘, and side bets are the trickiest ones, so we’ve explained how to handle them like a pro in the next sections.
🔵 Blackjack Insurance/Even Money
The dealer offers Insurance as a side bet when their visible card is an Ace. In this case, players can place an additional wager equal to half their original one so that if the dealer gets a blackjack, they get a payout of 2:1. This means they break even, which is why insurance is sometimes called even money.
According to basic strategy, you should always avoid taking insurance. The dealer doesn’t always get a blackjack when they show an Ace, so it’s often a losing bet. The insurance bet will be lost if the dealer doesn’t reveal a 10-value card.
🔵 Non-Insurable Blackjack
There are instances where the dealer has a blackjack but doesn’t offer the players insurance. For example, if the dealer has a 10 card, they check their facedown card before players play their hands. If it’s an Ace, they get a blackjack and win the round. If any other player has a blackjack, the result is a push.
Insurance is only available if the dealer has an Ace, so in this case, there’s nothing you can do to improve your odds of winning. You can only hope that the dealer doesn’t reveal an Ace.
🔵 Blackjack Dead Hand
A dead hand is a scenario where every player at the table busts before the dealer gets their turn. In this case, the dealer reveals their hole card (the facedown card), removes all the players’ cards, and places them in the discard tray.
When a ‘dead hand’ occurs, the dealer skips playing their hand since every player would have lost already. The dealer obviously wins the round in this case.
🔵 Blackjack Side Bets
Other blackjack side bets exist besides the insurance side bet, and they’re usually available in all blackjack games, both at online casinos and brick-and-mortar ones. The most common is the 21+3, a bet that your first two cards and the dealer’s upcard will form a three-card poker hand.
There’s also the Perfect Pairs side bet, a bet that your initial cards will form a type of pair, such as a mixed or coloured pair. These bets can be interesting to try, but in terms of winning odds, it’s not recommended to place them.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Play Blackjack
❓ How to play blackjack online for money?
You must create an account first to play blackjack games for real money at an online casino. You can easily sign up at Betiton UK by completing the quick registration process.
❔ Is 21 the same as blackjack?
Yes. Blackjack is also called ’21’.
❓ What beats blackjack?
Nothing beats blackjack because it’s the strongest hand in the game.
❔ What is even money in blackjack?
Even money in blackjack refers to a side bet you can take when the dealer has an Ace. It’s the same as taking insurance and protecting half of your initial bet if the dealer gets a blackjack.
❓ What is a 21 called in blackjack?
Getting a 21 on your first two cards in blackjack is called a ‘natural’ or ‘natural blackjack’.
❔ What is the yellow card in blackjack?
The yellow card is the ‘cut card’ used to cut the shoe after the cards are shuffled.
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