A Blackjack Guide – How to play 21 Card game

The BlackJack card game is one of the most popular casino games in the world. In this article, A BlackJack Guide, online casino experts from our SmartCasinoGuide.com team will explain to you how to play this game.

TOP questions about Blackjack
Who invented Blackjack❓

The most popular theory is that Blackjack was invented by French back in the 1700s. It was derived from card games such as Chemin de Fer and French Ferme.

Why is it called Blackjack❓

When the game first came out it was called “21” but later on casinos began giving bonuses attached to the name Blackjack (extra pay if you got a black Jack, either spades or clubs) to make it more appealing. Eventually, this phrase stuck.

Is Blackjack the same as 21❓

Yes, it is completely the same game. Just that nowadays more and more people are using the name Blackjack instead of “21”.

Is card counting illegal❓

Counting cards is not illegal, neither is it against the rules. But it is quite a complicated procedure so unless you’re an extremely dedicated and patient person, this is not the kind of complications you want to get into.

What is a soft 17❓

A soft hand is any hand with an Ace and a number. As the Aces can be counted as 1 or 11, a soft 17 is the hand consisting of an Ace and a six.

Blackjack who wins a tie❓

Usually, if it is a tie, the player gets back his initial stake. But you should always check the game’s rules before playing because there are some casinos which take half of your initial stake away.

Blackjack when the dealer stops❓

Usually, the dealer must stand if he has 17 or more. In case he has a soft 17 (Ace and 6) – he needs to stand as well. These rules may differ depending on the casino.

Should you make Blackjack side bets❓

Making “21+3” or “Perfect Pairs” Blackjack side bets is a really risky move and can result in bigger losses. If you are a beginner, we would recommend you to stick to the base game.

blackjack-logo-ace-jackWhat is a Blackjack?

Blackjack is a card game in which the player’s goal is to score more points than the dealer, but not more than 21 points. Players compete just with the dealer not against each other. And the game is played with one or more decks of 52 cards.

The alternative name for this game is Twenty One or 21 card game.

blackjack-logo-ace-jackOnline BlackJack game

Every at least a bit bigger online casino invites their players to play Online BlackJack, so finding the right place will not be difficult.

The online game is very similar to the real casino. It is you with other players, and a card dealer, a casino representative. It can be automatic, or it can be a real person dealing real cards (Live Casino Games).

What is a blackjack cards Jack and Ace witht casino chips on the casino table

An automated card dealing and gaming with the casino one-to-one is better if you are unsure whether you can properly concentrate on the game – there will be no other distractions. There are almost always no time limits, so you can think as long as you want. It is especially relevant for the beginners, but there’s no authentic feeling that online live games can give you.

The real dealer in front of the cameras, other players and real cards – this creates a more fun feeling of reliability. Which is why many players are interested exclusively in the Live BlackJack games.

In addition, Online BlackJack is also checked often as if it was a game in a real casino, to ensure that there is no fraud in the algorithm and you can be calm that everything is going well.

Different BJ games on online casinos

Over the years, dozens of Blackjack variations have popped up, with some making a significant impact in online gaming. While the rules are quite similar, some subtle differences set the variations apart.

Classic blackjack – the principal aim of the game is to create a hand coming as close as possible to the number 21 without going over. It uses between 2 and 4 decks of cards, and the dealer will hit soft 17. It allows for doubling, splitting, and up to 2 resplits with doubling being allowed following a split.

What is a blackjack cards Jack and Ace witht casino chips on the casino table

European blackjack – typically played with two decks of cards, European blackjack allows the dealer to stand on soft 17. But this is usually covered for the house through the rule imposed of the dealer not checking for blackjack. Players are permitted to double down only when they have a total of 11, 10, or 9. Players can also double after splitting but cannot further resplit.

Pontoon – also referred to as Spanish 21, pontoon stands out mostly because the dealer’s hole cards are both placed down. This lack of information, fortunately, gives the player a higher payout. The player will stand only when there are a total of 15 or more while the dealer will hit on soft 17 and wins all the ties.

perfect pairs european blackjack

Perfect Pairs blackjack – it adheres to regular rules except the extra side bet offered at the start of each hand. The side bet is an additional bet on the first two cards that have the same value. Doubling down and splitting is allowed, and the players can play up to 5 hands per round.

Matchplay 21 – this variant is different from conventional blackjack as all 10s are removed from the deck except for face cards. Dealers will hit on soft 17 while players can split and double, and some hands will receive extra special bonus payouts.

Face up 21 – with this version, the dealer’s cards are faced up, and that can give you an advantage on your next move. While the dealer hits on soft 17, a dealer blackjack against a player’s blackjack leads to a loss. The players can double after splitting, but the double is allowed only on totals of 9, 10, and 11.

Multi-hand blackjack – one of the most popular and preferred variations, the game allows you to play more than one hand at a time. The dealers do not check for blackjacks and can stand on soft 17. Players can double on totals of 9, 10, and 11 and can split only once.

blackjack-logo-ace-jackHow to play 21 Card Game?

In the standard casino, no matter how many players there are at the table, your goal is to win against the dealer/bank/casino (often the names are used differently, but the point is the same).

1. How to deal Blackjack cards?

The card dealer gives two cards to each player.

He takes two for himself, the first of which opens.

In some 21 card game variations, the dealer takes only one card and waits for all players to end their actions. The chance to see the dealer’s first card gives you the opportunity to create a BlackJack strategy, evaluate the casino and increase your chance of winning.


Your goal is to have a better combination than the casinoas big as possible, but not more than 21. All combinations above 21 are considered to be defeated (bust).

By collecting 21 points with two cards, you will find that you have BlackJack. This happens when you combine a picture with an Ace. So you can win, even if the casino collects 21 with 3 or more cards. If the casino also has Black Jack with two cards, the hands tie.

2. Blackjack card values (Blackjack points)

Cards in the range from 2 to 10 have the same number of points as their value.

Face cards Jack, Queen, and King each have 10 points.

Whereas Ace can have 1 or 11 points. The player chooses the value.

The same as in many card games the Ace is a very desired card as it always means that you can gain the edge compared to your opponents.

A blackjack guide_Blackjack card values (or Blackjack points)

3. Blackjack hands

A hand’s value is the sum of the card values.

A hand with an Ace is called “soft”, meaning that the hand will not bust by taking an additional card because an Ace may still count as 1 or 11 points. The value of the Ace card can become 1 to prevent the hand from exceeding 21.

A hand called “hard” is one that has no Aces or has Aces that are forced to count as 1 to prevent from exceeding 21.

4. What choices has a Player?

When you have your two cards and you see one dealer card, you can do the followings:

  1. Stand
  2. Hit
  3. Split
  4. Double
  5. Surrender (in some games)
A blackjack guide_Blackjack card values (or Blackjack points)

4.1. Blackjack when to Stand?

Stand means that you do not want more cards.

That is, you are happy with the cards you already have (2, 3, 4 or more – you can stop at any time). After, you will not be able to take more cards or take any other action, so that is the final amount of your points. For example, if you have a king, two and seven, then you have 19 points.

4.2. Blackjack when to Hit?

Hit means that you take another card from the dealer.

You can take as many cards as you want until you exceed 21 points.

When you collect 11 points, there is no risk to receive another card. However, with 12 points you have to evaluate whether to take another card or expect that the dealer will have less than you do.

It is essential to know that by the standards the dealer must take cards if he collected 16 or fewer points. Once the bank hits 17 points, it can’t receive any additional card. It would be best if you had this in mind when working on your strategies.

How to deal blackjack-Blackjack payout 3 to 2

4.3. Blackjack when to Split?

Blackjack split means that the same cards could be split.

Once the cards are split your bet doubles, hence the risk doubles too. Please note that only the same cards which have the same value can be split (e.g. 10 and 10, 9 and 9). Even if King or any other face card has the same value as 10, you can’t split.

4.4. Blackjack when to Double down?

Blackjack double down means that your bet can be doubled at any time.

However, once you do it you can get only one card, and you can’t take any additional cards. The question that might pop up for you: how do I know if it makes sense to double the bet and whether it pays off? It depends on your chosen BlackJack strategy and even on your flair.

4.5. Blackjack Surrender

Some games give a fifth option – Surrender. Depending on casino rules, sometimes it is not allowed at all.
This option is only available as the first decision of a hand (on the initial two cards). If the player surrenders, the bank/house takes half the player’s bet, but the player keeps the other half and does not play out his hand.

5. When to use Blackjack Insurance?

When the bank flips over an Ace, you can obtain insurance.

Its price is half the size of your bet.

If the second card turns out to be in favour of the dealer and he gets the Black Jack, you will get the double insurance amount which equals your bet. It will decrease your loss. In other words, your full bet amount is returned to you.

21 card game Blackjack Insurance-when the bank has an Ace

What are the Odds for Insurance Bets?

The precise winning odds of an insurance bet are not always the same. They depend on the deck’s number being utilized in the game and the number of ten-point cards that have already been dealt. Since in online blackjack, decks are shuffled before every single hand, card-counting is virtually is impossible, and hence the odds are usually against you when you take insurance.

Also, the more the decks are used in the game, the worse the odds get for players. On an estimate, the house edge on the insurance bet in a single-deck game is 5.8%, but that number shoots to about 7.5% when using eight decks.

6. Blackjack payout

If you win you always get as much money as you bet (doubling your money) – the payout odds are 1 to 1.

But you’ll always get more with Black Jack. Your winnings with Black Jack depend on casino and game variation you play, but usually, the payout odds are 3:2 (or 1,5 to 1).

blackjack-logo-ace-jackHow to win BlackJack?

1. Blackjack Basic Strategy

There are plenty of different strategies. Every gambler is given an opportunity to choose the most suitable one and to choose the best game logic. Some players follow the most popular and well-known strategies. Others prefer to wing it and do not develop any clear blackjack basic strategy for their game.

We strongly recommend you to be very savvy instead of making reckless decisions. All in all, unfortunately, there is no such strategy that could guarantee the success of 100 %.

How to deal blackjack-Blackjack payout 3 to 2

1.1. Principles of Basic Strategy

It is suggested to double your wager or bet only when you have 10 or 11 points. Getting another 10 points card is highly probable. A number of such value cards is the highest in the deck compared to the other cards. In such case scenario you would end up with 20 or 21 points and that is a very reasonable amount to claim your win.

You can always take an additional card until you have 10 or fewer points in your hands. Once you reach the 11 points limit you are in the danger zone as you can get another Ace and end up with the least favourite combination of 12 points.

It is recommended to stop taking cards once you reach the 17 points or more. When you have a combination of an Ace and 8, you could receive another card and hope to get lucky, but 19 is a powerful result that can bring you the victory. Another card brings you more risk than adds value.

As was mentioned previously you can split only the same cards. It is not recommended to split a pair of 10 or 5. However, you should always split Aces. There are many discussions going on around splitting the pair of 9. But the pair of 8 is recommended to be split by all Twenty One card game experts.


1.2. What advantage can give you a Dealer’s Face-up Card?

Knowing the open dealer card can give you plenty of advantages. This is the reason why it is flipped over.

When the bank has a 2 or 3 points card, you can consider stopping at any time especially if you have 13 or more points in your hands. When the bank has 4, 5 or 6, the same approach applies.

Once you hit 12 points limit, you can stop. The risk that you outgo is much higher than the probability that the dealer wins.

If the flipped card is 7 you have to apply a more risky strategy. You can’t stop until you collect 18 points. The chance of winning with less than 18 points is almost equal to zero.

To sum up, you have to use all the information that is given by the open card and adapt your game to reach the best result.

1.3. Blackjack basic strategy chart


2. Card counting strategy – How to count cards in Blackjack?

This is the one strategy that has been talked about for a long time and might be one of the most used card strategies. This strategy was first brought to action by Harvey Dubner in 1963 and it has been widely talked about by Black Jack enthusiasts.

This is a technique that lets the player (counter) know when the advantage shifts in his favor. When this occurs, the card counter can increase his bets. When the advantage shifts in favor of the dealer, the player will make a smaller bet or no bet at all (by not playing).

A card counting is based on a mathematically proven fact that high cards (10, J, Q, K, A) benefit the player more than the dealer, while the low cards (2-6) are more beneficial to the dealer. The remaining cards (7, 8, 9) are essentially neutral, which means that these cards don’t help the counter or dealer very much.

After the dealer shuffles the cards, there is an equal number of high and low cards in the deck(s). And by the accounting of the exposed cards, a player can make inferences about the cards which remain to be dealt.

How to count cards

The first thing you need to do is assign the point value for each rank as follows:


The next thing should be running a count of zero at the beginning of the deck. As you get cards revealed, you will subtract or add from the running count and this will be according to the point system in the initial step described above.

On the third step, you will divide the running count by the number of decks that are remaining for you to arrive on the true count. This will be the part that newbie counters will not like. But the good news is that you need not be accurate; an estimate will work for you.

When you will get the true count, the greater it is the bigger bet you need to place. At this point, card counting becomes an art and not a science. When you look at Black Jack books, you will learn in a better way how you should do the true counting.

Note that dealers have also read about these patterns and older patterns will raise red flags and the way you get this done needs to be in your unique style. This will come a long way in lowering the heat and getting the ratio of the maximum bet at the least and this is known as the bet spread.

For some of the hands, you will play with regard to the true count and an index number table and not necessarily the Blackjack basic strategy. If the count is big, you will be inclined to Stand, Split, Double or Surrender.

Does card counting work on online blackjack games?

Typically, the majority of online sites will shuffle cards after each hand, and that makes it impossible for card counting. But, some offer multi-deck games with a card cut. The game only deals 50% of the cards and then reshuffle.

So you should check the instructions of the site for information on when the cards are reshuffled. Card counting is viable if the site reshuffles after more than 50% of the cards are dealt. But even with a 50% cut, you can have a slight edge with card counting if the playing rules are fair.

3. BlackJack Betting Strategy

If you want to try other strategies and have a decent bankroll, it is worth thinking about numerical sequence systems. But they can never guarantee you the 100 percent winnings. What they can give you is an increased probability to win if you are lucky that day.

3.1. Labouchere

This system consists of a sequence of random numbers. It’s a pretty confusing system so you might need some time until you can completely understand and use it effectively.

How to count cards in Blackjack-casino table-card-game-players-and-chips

Write down any 5 desired numbers (the length of the sequence can vary, but 5 numbers are thoroughly enough), e.g.: 5-4-2-7-1.

When placing the wager you add up the first and the last number of the sequence: 5+1=6, so you place €6.

In case of a loss, you write the number 6 at the end of the sequence.

If you win you delete the first and the last number from your sequence. Then add up the first and the last digit from your new sequence.

To sum up, the size of the bet is created by adding the first and the last sequence numbers. In case of a win, the numbers are eliminated. In case of a loss, a new number complements the sequence, and it is calculated by adding up the first and the last number from the sequence.

3.2. Martingale system


Martingale system is the most popular not only in the 21 card game. It is popular in many other casino games and other spheres of gambling.

It is the loss doubling system when the player expects that sooner or later he will win.

You place a bet and if you lose you double your next bet and place it again. You continue to raise (double) the previous bets until you finally win.

The most important thing is not to hit the table betting limit which is designed by the casino to prevent players from using such systems. In theory, there is a probability that you will not win 10 times in a row.

3.3. Paroli

This is the positive progression betting system, which is sometimes also referred to as the Reverse Martingale system.

The main idea is that you double your bet every time you win.


Every time you lose you decrease the bet amount until you reach the original wager.

It is recommended to set your limits beforehand, in order to control the size of your loss.

There are days when this system brings only losses.

3.4. Parlay

Parlay system is similar in theory to the Paroli. But the advantage is that you don’t need to risk very much of your own money, but still can score a big win by playing with house money.

This numerical sequence is also called Pyramid betting. If you win the new bet is formed by putting the previous bet size and the sum that you won together.

For example, you placed a bet of €5 and won another €5, then your new bet is €10. It is essential to decide the limit until you will continue placing bets, because eventually you will lose and if you do, then you will lose everything. It is recommended not to go over 4 times limit in a row.

Even if you start just with €5, you can win at the end quite a nice amount of money:

  • 1st bet 5, winning 5
  • 2nd bet 10, winning 10
  • 3rd bet 20, winning 20
  • 4th bet 40, winning 40

Let’s see an example with Black Jack. Your initial bet is 10, and you hit a Black Jack on your first hand at the table. Since BJ pays out 3:2, now you have a total of €25 (your initial €10 bet and the €15 in winnings). Now you can make a €25 wager instead of just doubling to a €20 wager after the win (as in Paroli).

There are other variations to the Parlay system such as using a certain percentage (e.g. 50%) of your profits on top of your original bet.

The biggest flaw of the Parlay system is that you can lose everything, however, you have a chance to win a reasonable amount by investing a small amount of your money. That applies even if you do not get lucky several times in a row.

How to count cards in Blackjack-casino table-card-game-players-and-chips

3.5. The System 1-3-2-6

This system requires a strict order of actions. First of all, you need to choose the initial sum for the first bet (x1).

If you win you triple (x3) the amount of the second bet.

The third bet has to be two times (x2) bigger than the first.

And the last fourth bet amount is six times (x6) the size of your original bet.

After one round finishes, you start over.

Where to play Blackjack online?

There are plenty of websites that offer you to play BlackJack for real money or to play for free.

However, it is the most interesting to play where the Live casino games are.

Online BlackJack - Live casino games

Clear and fair systems are also important. Every certified casino has to comply with a set of rules, so it means that it is safe to play in such casinos.

We offer you to choose the most popular casinos that have already attracted millions of players around the world and allowed them to enjoy the game and win impressive amounts of money.

There is a very high competition among different online casinos, so each casino does everything to attract as many new clients as possible. Be sure to take advantage of the registration bonuses offered by each casino.

Do not forget to check out the main casino features as well as license, terms and so on.

To avoid distractions in the selection process find out below our list of the best online casinos 2023 where you can play Black Jack.

Zigmas Pekarskas

Written by:

Casino card games and poker expert

Founder and CEO of SmartCasinoGuide.com also well known poker professional player, with more then 15 years of playing poker and other card games. 10 years of writing articles, doing reviews of poker rooms and teaching other poker players how to improve their game.