How to Play Blackjack


The card game we know as blackjack is known as twenty-one in Europe. This is because the name “blackjack” is an American “invention”. Twenty-one is a very old game, dating as back as the 16th century. It is also the most popular casino game of all times, because of its simple rules and big payouts. When it first introduced to the US casinos, bonus payouts were added to the game to gain player attention. This is where the name comes from; blackjack refers to a special hand which consists of an ace of spades and a jack of clubs (or spades). This hand had a high payout and was specific to US casinos. For some reason, players loved the name of this hand and it stuck to the game.

Blackjack is not a card game based on pure luck and it is possible to use strategies. There is more than one blackjack strategy but only some of them are useful. Let’s take a closer look at blackjack rules and tactics.

Blackjack Rules

Blackjack requires at least two people to play, but up to a total of five players can play at the same time. As can be guessed by the name, the goal is to reach a total of 21 with each hand. Blackjack card values are simple, cards with numbers count as for their numeric values, picture cards (jacks, queens, kings) count as 10 and an ace can be 1 or 11, depending on the player’s choice. A player can enter the game anytime, or one player can play on all betting sections of the blackjack table (there are four sections in total).

The dealer starts with dealing two cards, for both the player and himself/herself. The player’s both cards are visible. The dealer takes one visible and one closed card for himself/herself. (The closed card is called the “hole card”.) The player needs to decide how to move on according to the total of the dealt hand. The main goal is to reach a total of 21 as we mentioned, but if this is not possible, the player must have a total higher than the dealer to win. If the player exceeds 21 in total, he/she loses that hand. The player can make these decisions:

  • Hit: If the player decides to take one more card, he/she simply says “hit”.
  • Stand: If the player decides to take no more cards, he/she says “stand”. This means that the player is confident that his/her current hand is higher than the dealer. Or, he/she is close to a total of 21 and decided not to take unnecessary risks. In this case, the dealer opens his/her closed card and checks the total. If it is higher than the player’s total, the house wins. If not, blackjack dealer rules enforce the dealer to draw more cards. If the dealer reaches 21 or a total higher than the player, the house wins again. If the dealer exceeds 21, the player wins.
  • Double Down: The player decides to increase his/her wager by up to %100. But this decision comes with a price: the player must stand after getting one more card. In other words, if the player decides to double down, he/she gets one more card and that’s it.
  • Split: If the player’s first two cards have the same value, he can split those and move one card to the outside of the betting section. This means the player wants to play in both sections at the same time. Most casinos have very strict rules about splitting and which cards can be split like this.
  • Surrender: If the player decides to surrender, the dealer half of his/her bet and returns the other half to the player. The player loses, but only half of the wager.
  • Insurance: If the dealer’s visible card is an ace, the player can decide to take an “insurance”. This is a side bet, independent of the main wager. The player limits his/her losses, because the hole card of the dealer may be of high-value and can result with a blackjack.

How to Win at Blackjack?

Or, as we like to call it, how to count cards in blackjack. There are lots of strategies for blackjack, but most of them require card counting at some point. The most basic strategy is to stand when the player reaches a total of 17. Blackjack odds are in favor of the player at this total, and he/she is most likely to win that hand. There are other blackjack strategies which involve complex techniques too, such as;

  • Composition-dependent strategy: This strategy requires checking both the player and the dealer’s hands. For example, if the dealer’s visible card is a 4 and the player has a total of 12, he/she must stand. But if the player reached this total by getting a 10 and a 2, he/she must hit. 10 and 12 are the magic numbers in this strategy, and it really works in the long run, but if more than one deck is being used, the difference it makes is very small.
  • Shuffle tracking: This strategy requires tracking of group of cards and following them during the shuffle. Basically, you try to understand what the next card will be by trying to track their positions during the shuffle. The technique works, but require an exceptional eye-sight and visualization. Professional gamblers usually prefer this strategy.
  • Card counting: Mathematically, it is possible – if the player manages to count all the cards in the deck to determine what cards are left, he/she always can win. The only problem is that you need to be a mathematical genius to manage this. Casinos use at least eight decks to prevent card counting but it still can be done. A group of MIT students tried this method in the early 1990’s and won hundreds of millions of dollars.

Play Blackjack Online

It is possible to play blackjack for real money of free, like any other casino games. All you need is a computer or a mobile device. You can play live blackjack games too, against a real dealer with other people. You don’t need to be in a casino to play blackjack and other casino games, mobile devices made it possible to enjoy these games wherever and whenever you want.

We recommend starting with the basic strategy – always stand when you reach a total of 17. After that, start using composition-dependent strategies, these will also make you understand the game better. You can always try your luck at card counting of course, but let us remind again that it is not doable for everyone.