How to Play Blackjack in 2024?

Welcome to our detailed and expert guide on how to play blackjack. This guide will discuss the objectives, rules, card values, payouts, and other valuable blackjack-related aspects to help you improve your long-term results.

We know that the blackjack card game may seem complex. However, the truth is that it’s one of the simplest games you can try in a casino. Sit back and let us guide you through the process.

Objectives of Blackjack

We can divide the objectives of the blackjack game into two categories: main and additional.

The main objective includes two goals:

  • First, you should aim to get as close to 21 as possible with the help of your cards without busting (passing 21).
  • Second, you must have a hand value that’s higher than the dealer’s hand value, i.e., beat the dealer!

Regarding the additional objectives:

  • You may want to try to get a blackjack – precisely 21 points – for a boosted win.
  • You can also try to figure out when to split cards, stand, hit, or double down to reduce house advantage.

Obviously, the main thing will always be to win the game, but completing the task isn’t always a straight line. That’s why you need to learn how to play blackjack based on strategy and logic rather than thoughtlessly.

Now, let’s check the details.

How Do You Beat a Dealer?

As mentioned, the answer to this question is simple:

  1. You need a higher hand value compared to the dealer without going bust.
  2. Getting a natural blackjack with an Ace and a 10-point card when the dealer doesn’t have it.
  3. The dealer goes bust with a hand value over 21.

But how can someone make this happen more often?

  • First, you must master the basic strategy, which will help you understand when to stand, hit, double down, or split cards.
  • Next, you should observe what’s happening at the table and calculate the probability of winning based on this information.
  • Finally, it would be best if you never started playing with a thought about competing against the dealer. Your focus should be placed on the game itself.

How Does the Dealer Beat You?

Like most gambling games, blackjack casinos gives dealers an edge over players. So, there are several ways in which the dealer can beat you.

  1. For starters, they may have a higher hand value.
  2. After that, if your hand exceeds 21, the house wins even if the dealer exceeds this value.
  3. It goes without saying that if the dealer hits a blackjack and you don’t have one, they win.

Even though the odds aren’t in your favor, there are many things you can do to improve your chances of beating the dealer.

One thing we must highlight is how other players affect your game. Or, more precisely, how they don’t affect you in any way.

Blackjack is a game between you as the player and the dealer. Every active hand and player is a separate entity.

Outcome comparisons:

Player handDealer handOutcome
2018Player WINS
23Doesn’t matterBUST – Player LOSES
2121PUSH – Player gets initial bet back.
1925BUST – Player WINS
1820Player LOSES

Blackjack Card Values

Simple is an excellent word to describe the scoring system in blackjack. This reason is among the main reasons why most players find it attractive and exciting.

The following is a breakdown of blackjack card values:

  • Face cards – Jacks, Queens, and Kings count as 10.
  • Numbered cards – Playing cards between 2 and 10 count at their face value.
  • Ace – It counts as 1 or 11. It’s up to the player to determine the value.
blackjack-card-values

Hand count examples:

Card 1Card 2Card 3Total hand count
410317
10Ace/Natural blackjack – 21
Jack8/18
Ace7/8 or 18
Ace6815
King5QueenBust – 25

It’s important to remember that card suits don’t play any role in blackjack. Some variants, such as Perfect Pairs Blackjack, may consider suits for side bet resolution. However, the suit doesn’t affect the hand scoring.

How Does Blackjack Work in a Casino?

When playing in a physical casino, you usually find yourself at a semi-circular table with a green surface. The basic rules and betting options are written on the table itself.

On the other hand, although online blackjack games are based on their physical counterpart, there are some differences.

For example, you won’t see the other players at the table here. Instead, in most cases, you’ll be playing alone against the software, which represents the dealer. Additionally, you may be given the option to play multiple hands simultaneously.

It’s worth mentioning that there are many variants and versions of this card game.

You can find them in almost all online casinos. Some titles are played with one deck, others with two, and some with multiple decks. There are also some variants with bonuses and unique rules.

However, several elements are found in every blackjack game. Because of these elements, they actually contain blackjack in their titles.

If you’re wondering how to play blackjack, keep reading. It’s time to explain how this exciting game works in casinos.

The basic steps, which we will explain in detail separately, are as follows:

  1. Player buys playing chips.
  2. Player places one or more wagers (in the case of multihand blackjack games).
  3. Cards are dealt by the dealer.
  4. Player plays their hand by standing, hitting, splitting, or doubling down.
  5. Dealer resolves their hand.
  6. Game resolution happens, and the round ends.

Player Buys Chips

One of the basic blackjack rules is related to purchasing the chips necessary for the gameplay. Simply put, to participate in a round of a blackjack game, a player must buy chips.

Back then, you could place cash on the table in almost every casino.

Today, the situation is the opposite.

  • Now, you can visit the casino’s cage and purchase chips there if you want to play. These chips represent various values – typically, casinos have 3-4 values like 5, 20, 50, etc. – that match the amount of money you spend at the cage.
  • Sometimes, you can purchase chips from the dealer, and they’ll push them in your direction with a unique stick. The same stick is used to push chips when you win a round.

In any case, once you get them, you can start wagering real money.

We should note that the situation regarding online casinos is a bit different.

  • So, whenever you want to play blackjack at a casino site, you must open an account there and place a deposit. You usually have several payment options to top up your casino account.
  • After that, you can launch any blackjack game you want and use virtual chips by clicking and moving them at the table.

Regardless of your choice, you should be able to observe any game without participating. Still, if you want to get an opportunity to win real money, you must buy chips and wager real money.

Player Places a Wager

Our guide on how to play blackjack moves to the second step – placing a wager.

  • So, at the beginning of any round, you must place a bet in the designated area to participate in the game. Typically, you’ll see a circle or a square where you can place your chips.

Of course, the size of your bet depends on your budget and betting strategy.

  • When you play a multi-hand blackjack game, you must repeat the same process on each betting area you want to use. The good news is that you can wager different amounts on each option.

Furthermore, each table has a specific minimum and maximum betting limit.

The majority will require wagering at least $5 in a single round. A maximum limit of $100 is also pretty standard. Still, many options let players wager as little as a few pennies or as much as $2,000 or more.

Make sure to check these limits before taking your position at the table.

It’s common practice both online and offline to see a board with the table limits written on it. So, keep your eyes open and sit at tables with suitable requirements.

Dealer Deals Cards to Players

The dealer starts dealing cards once you use your chips to place a bet.

  1. Usually, this procedure runs clockwise and provides one face-up card to each active player.
  2. They deal the last card to themselves, a face-down card.
  3. After that, players receive another face-up card, just like the dealer.

So, you can see the cards of all players or all your hands when playing multi-hand blackjack. Also, you can see the one face-up and one face-down card in front of the dealer.

Experienced players will get a clearer picture of their odds of winning once this step of the game is over.

Still, even if you consider yourself a skilled player, you may want to keep reading this piece on how to play blackjack. We prepared lots of helpful info and advice here.

Player Decides How to Play Hand

In the next phase, the dealer deals cards to players. This part is among the most essential of this guide on how to play blackjack because you must make crucial decisions.

The player closest to the dealer’s left side is the first to play their hand.

If you’re in this position or it’s your turn to play the hand, you should first sum up your hand’s value.

A combo of an Ace and a face card or a 10 guarantees a Blackjack. In this case, you get 1.5x your bet instantly. The only exception is when the dealer also has a blackjack. You’ll end up with the initial bet, and this situation is known as a Push.

If you don’t have a blackjack, you can take one of the several available moves.

  • Stand – This is one of the two most used ways to play a hand. When you stand, you basically tell the dealer that you are satisfied with your hand. In that case, the dealer should ask the next player what their move is or reveal their face-down card if there’s no one else at the table. Typically, players use non-verbal communication to suggest they stand by waving their hands, for example.
  • Hit – As you may have already guessed, hit is the other popular choice of blackjack players. This move is logical when you believe that your hand has a very low value that can be improved. So, when you use the hit option, the dealer will provide one more card. If you want another card, use the same hit option again.
  • Double Down – Sometimes you’re confident your hand needs another card to win the round. In this case, you can utilize the double-down option. This move will multiply the starting bet by two, and you will receive one extra card.
  • Split – Whenever you receive two cards of equal value (a pair), you can split them. In this case, you place another bet, and the dealer will split the cards, creating two hands with identical first cards. To split your cards, place a second bet and split your index finger and middle finger while pointing to the betting area. Keep in mind that some casinos won’t let you split numbered cards, only face cards.
  • Surrender – Sometimes, your initial hand will have meager chances of winning. This is where the surrender option comes into play. Most blackjack games will let you give up your hand and receive 50% of your initial stake back.
options-at-blackjack

Dealer Plays Hand

We discussed your options, and now it’s time to see how the dealer plays the hand.

  1. So, as noted, it all starts with the dealer’s revelation of one of the two cards they have. This card is the so-called face-up card, which we mentioned earlier in this guide on how to play blackjack.
  2. Once you make your move, the dealer follows the predetermined rules by the casino. They don’t take any independent actions.
  3. Generally, they are required to ask for a card until their hand value is worth at least 17 points. On the other hand, they must stand once the hand is worth 17 or more.
  4. Some blackjack variants let the dealer hit on a so-called soft 17. This term means that the hand includes an Ace that counts as 11. Additionally, we have variations where the dealer must stand on any 17, soft 17 included.
  5. If the dealer’s hand goes over 21, they bust, and you win regardless of your hand value.

Basic Strategy

Discussing how to play blackjack without mentioning a basic strategy would be a mistake.

The basic strategy represents a set of predetermined guidelines highlighting the best decisions based on your hand value and the dealer’s face-up card.

Even though blackjack is primarily a game of chance, you can still calculate the mathematical probabilities of winning a round in this game. Basic strategy comes as a result of these calculations. Its main objective is to boost your chances of winning.

It’s good to know that there are blackjack strategy charts.

These help you understand when the right time to hit, stand, double down, split pairs, and surrender is. In fact, we have a separate article dedicated to mastering the blackjack playing strategy you should check out!

Player Hand Resolution

We have already concluded that every player has five options for playing their hand. Regardless of their chosen option, they can expect one of three outcomes.

First, they can choose to stand without asking for additional cards. If you believe your hand is of suitable value, then there’s no need to put yourself at risk. It makes sense, right?

Second, you can take one or more cards by choosing to hit, double down, or split cards. In this way, you can get a total close to 21 or precisely 21 without busting.

Of course, your hand may lead you to immediate loss because it’s busted. This situation occurs when you hit once, twice, or more, and you go over 21. Also, it can happen when you decide to surrender. Either way, your wager is lost entirely or partially.

  • Whenever the player’s hand didn’t bust and the player didn’t surrender, the dealer must make a move based on the value of their hand.
  • After revealing their face-down card, they will stand if the hand is worth 17 points.
  • Otherwise, they will take an extra card. The dealer cannot double down, split, or surrender.

As we said, the dealer has no right to make autonomous decisions. They follow the rules. There’s an exception, though, but only in some casinos. Namely, when the soft 17 rule is in play, the dealer can reveal another card because the Ace and 6 combo counts as 7.

Remember that the casino has better odds of beating players when this rule is active. If the dealer stands on all 17s, players have better odds.

Blackjack payouts

Unlike other casino games, like roulette, for example, blackjack doesn’t have various payouts based on the outcome of a single round. Of course, there are a few payout options, but that’s it.

Also, we’d like to highlight the fact that specific payouts may be applied in some casinos.

That’s why you should check the rules of the particular blackjack variant/version you’re playing. That’s also the reason why we recommend learning how to play blackjack before starting to wager money.

Anyway, here are the outcomes you can expect on the blackjack table:

  • First, there’s the standard win, which will occur most often. This situation happens when your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over 21. The payout is 1:1. For instance, if you wager $15, you win $15.
  • Next, whenever a player gets a natural blackjack because their first two cards are an Ace and a card worth 10 points – 10, Jack, Queen, or King, they can expect a 3:2 payout ratio. So, you receive $22.5 for wagering $15.
  • Players who use insurance as a side bet get a 2:1 payout when the dealer has a blackjack.
  • Finally, a push will return your initial bet, while the surrender option provides half your initial stake.

Conclusion

Our guide on how to play blackjack concludes that this popular card game has relatively simple rules. In fact, most players can master the gameplay in minutes, even though winning takes practice and luck.

The primary objective is to defeat the dealer, i.e., their hand, or to stay in the game when the dealer goes bust. Understanding how this game works and following a basic strategy can boost your chances of winning.

Regardless of whether you win or lose, blackjack will provide exciting gameplay that you’ll surely want to master and experience again.

Milena Petrovska

Written by:

iGaming content expert

Milena Petrovska has been writing and analysing the exciting iGaming industry for nearly a decade. Her professional portfolio includes hundreds of casino reviews, slot reviews, opinion pieces, and how-to guides. Milena is especially passionate about iGaming innovations and she focused her first eBook on that topic.