Blackjack is one of most well-loved casino games at both online and mobile casinos and land-based venues.
The game dates all the way back to the 17th century, and it’s continued popularity stems from the fact it manages to be a rewarding and entertaining game, without being overly complicated.
As such, learning to play blackjack is a relatively simple affair. On this page, you can learn all about blackjack, including:
- What makes blackjack so appealing
- What a game of blackjack entails
- The basic blackjack rules of play
- The most common variations of blackjack, and how they differ from the original game
The Rules of Blackjack
Although the rules of blackjack are straight-forward, you need to know them fully in order to play successfully. Fortunately, you can find out everything you need to know below, so let’s get started.
The Aim of the Game
In blackjack, the aim of the game is simple – to create a hand which is closer than 21 than the dealer, without going over 21.
Blackjack Game Set Up
Blackjack can be played by one to five players. That being said, each player plays against the dealer separately, and so no players are in competition with each other.
Blackjack is played with up to 8 standard decks of 52 playing cards. In most instances, the game will either be played with 4 decks, 6 decks or 8 decks of cards.
Blackjack Card Values
In blackjack, as with most card games, different cards are worth different values:
- Ace – Ace can be low or high, so worth 1 or 11
- Face Card – Jacks, Queens and Kings are all worth 10
- Number Cards – All cards from 2 to 10, regardless of suit, are worth their face value
How to Play Blackjack
As we mentioned earlier, in blackjack the number of players at the table does not impact gameplay. You are only ever competing with the dealer and, as such, the gameplay is the same if you’re playing multiplayer or regular blackjack.
To start playing Blackjack, you first need to place a bet. Each individual blackjack game has its own table limits, which tell payers the minimum and maximum bet amounts. So, for instance, if the table limits are £1 – £50, you can place a bet which is £1 or more, up to a maximum of £50.
When the game begins, you’ll first be dealt two cards. The dealer will also deal himself two cards, one face down and one face up. You then need to look at your own cards, and decide which of the following three actions to take:
- Hit – Take another card.
- Stick/Stand – Take no additional cards. This means your total value of cards will stay as is.
- Double Down – You can request to take one further card and to double the size of your bet.
- Split – If you have a pair of identical cards, you can decide to split them into two separate bets. This doubles the size of your bet and allows you to play on as normal, now with two hands in the game.
- Bust – If your hand already exceeds 21, you have ‘gone bust’. This is an automatic loss.
The Dealer’s Hand
In blackjack, the dealer only has a specific amount of moves he can make, depending on which cards are already in his hand.
- If the dealer’s hand is equal to or less than 16, he must hit.
- If the dealer’s hand is equal to or above 16, he must stand.
- If the dealer goes bust with his first two cards, he automatically loses and must pay 1:1 odds to any player who is still in the game.
Finishing the Game
A game of blackjack is over when both the dealer and the player have decided to stand, or when either go bust. As such, there are various different winning conditions:
- If the player’s hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, the player wins. This is paid out at 1:1.
- If the dealer’s hand is closer to 21 than the player’s hand, the dealer wins, taking the player’s entire bet.
- If the dealer’s hand and the player’s hand are equal, the bet is ‘pushed’. This means that the player’s bet is returned to them.
- If the player receives a hand which equals 21 with their first two cards (Ace+10/Face Card), their hand is deemed a ‘Natural Blackjack’. This pays out at 3/2.
Why is Blackjack So Popular?
Before we get started discussing how a blackjack game is played, you may first be wondering why the game is so popular.
Blackjack has many advantages over other traditional casino games and, as such, there are several reasons why Blackjack is so appealing to casino players:
✔️ It’s easy to get to grips with
✔️ It’s fast-paced
✔️ It boasts the smallest house edge of all casino games
✔️ It can be very lucrative
✔️ You can improve your results by learning basic strategy
At many casinos, both online and offline, you can enjoy different variations of blackjack. These games do not aim to completely change the classic game, but they may allow players to place additional bets, to up their chances of winning or simply to try out a unique twist.
Below we’ve listed some of the most popular blackjack variations, along with a short summary of what unique features the variation offers.
Blackjack Perfect Pairs is played in the same way as classic blackjack, however, it also includes an additional side-bet. In this bet, players can wager money on the chance that their first two cards will be a pair.
You may be able to bet on having a mixed pair (two cards of the same rank), a coloured pair (two cards of the same rank and the same colour), or a ‘perfect pair’ (two cards of the same rank and suit).
The side bet is paid out separately to the main game, and the result of the side-bet will not impact gameplay.
At first glance, Blackjack Double Exposure may seem like a dream come true. This is because, in this variation, players can see both of the dealer’s first cards.
However, whilst this automatically puts the player at an advantage, the house does make up for this advantage in other ways. For instance, in Blackjack Double Exposure, the rules usually state that the dealer wins all ties.
In Blackjack Switch, players can play with two hands of cards at the same time. Players can also switch cards between the two hands, which is obviously a huge advantage.
To make up for this advantage, the dealer will tie on 22, if the player has 21 or lower. The only exception to this rule is if the player has a blackjack.