How to play blackjack

Do you want to become a freaking pro player at blackjack? You think it is difficult? Well, of course, it is. But don’t worry because in this guide you will learn how to play blackjack from scratch. Blackjack is not just a game of luck. Player’s ability is also very important. This fact, combined with the simplicity of the rules of the game, made blackjack the most popular card game in casinos all over the world. So, take our hand, and let us lead you to the path where blackjack winners are made!

How to play blackjack (For Beginners)

The goal of blackjack is to make a hand as close as possible to 21, beating at the same time dealer’s hand without going over 21. However, there are 3 scenarios you can win at blackjack:

  • Your hand is higher than dealer’s hand and lower than 21
  • Your hand is lower than 21 and the dealer is busted (>21)
  • You get 21 with two cards, which is called “Blackjack”
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Blackjack – Dealing

The process of card dealing is pretty much the same at any blackjack table. The dealer starting from the left, deals one card to each player, and one for the house. All cards are facing up. Then the dealer deals a second card for everyone. The second card of the dealer is faced down.

Starting from the player on the left, he asks if the player needs another card, or even more cards, until he is satisfied with his hand, or he is busted. In this case, he loses immediately.

After all players have completed their hands, the dealer reveals his second card, and based on the rules he hits or stands. The play of the dealer is absolutely dictated. He has to hit on all 16’s and stand on all 17’s or above.

*At some blackjack tables dealers have to hit on soft 17, but we will explain later what that means.

When the dealer completes his hand then it has to compare it with the player’s who are still on the game and haven’t been busted. If he loses, he pays, and if he wins, he takes the bets, if the result is a tie he pushes, meaning he returns the bet to the player.

Learn how to play blackjack

So far everything looks pretty easy. However, blackjack for beginners, can be a little bit more complicated as we continue explaining some other aspects of the game you have to be familiar with, like:

  • The value of cards
  • Player’s betting options
  • Dealer’s play

While playing blackjack, you might notice some other smaller betting boxes around the main betting box. These are called “side bets” and naturally are not part of the game. They are added as a gambling feature and are included in some blackjack versions but not the classic ones.

What are the card values in blackjack?

The blackjack card rules are very clear to be honest. All 52 cards of a deck are used although most casinos use 6 or 8 decks. The value of each card is:

  • K-Q-J cards are valued as 10
  • 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 cards have their printed value
  • Aces are valued as 1 or 11

Soft and Hard hands

“Soft hand” is called any hand that has an Ace and is counted as 1 or 11. When a hand does not have an Ace, or the Ace only counts for 1, then we call it “Hard hand”. As you can imagine, hitting on a hard card is more risky.

How to bet on blackjack

In every hand played player’s bets are placed before the dealers start dealing the cards. When the round is about to start the dealer makes a circular move with his hand above the betting boxes, indicating that bets are closed and dealing starts. That’s happening in both land-based and online blackjack tables. Blackjack instructions are slightly different during the hand, as online players have specific time to make a decision which is around 10-15 seconds, depending on the provider.

A great feature that most online blackjack games have, is the option of “initial decision” meaning that you can make your decision before your turn comes. This way the flow is faster and more enjoyable. Let’s take a look at the betting options a player has at blackjack:

What does hit mean in blackjack?

It’s the option of getting another card. This option is based on your total sum so far, and of the face up card of the dealer. You can indicate your decision by either tapping slightly on the table, or by just saying “hit”. You can hit as many times as you want until you bust!

What does stand mean in blackjack?

When you don’t want another card you stand. That means that you are satisfied with your total sum or that you don’t want to risk more, expecting that the dealer will bust. This is more probable when the dealer’s face up card is 2-6. You can indicate this decision by waving your hand the sign “over” your cards, or by saying “stand” to the dealer.

What does double mean in blackjack?

Double means that after getting two cards you place another bet with the same value getting only one more card. Some tables allow you to double anytime you want, while some other only when having 9, 10 or 11. That’s an advantage players have if they use it correctly. Doubling at the right situation can be very winning in the long-term.

What does split mean in blackjack?

When you get two cards of the same value you have the option of splitting them in two separate hands by placing another bet of course with the same value as your initial bet. There are pairs you always have to split, like AA’s and 88’s, and others you never split like 55’s and 1010’s. Don’t worry, we will explain all these scenarios thoroughly.

What does surrender mean in blackjack?

There are some blackjack variations who give you this option in case you are not satisfied with your hand and you feel you are going to lose. This happens mostly when you have 15 or 16 and the dealer has a face up card a 10 (J-Q-K) or A. If you decide to surrender you lose half of your bet and the hand stops right there.

What does insurance mean in blackjack?

When a dealer has an Ace as the face up card, you have the option of betting that he will make a blackjack. This bet has payout 2:1 and it’s a genius way casinos invest on your fear of losing. The house edge on this bet is huge, while the odds of a blackjack when the dealer has an Ace are 30.80%. So, you NEVER BET on insurance.

What does even money mean in blackjack?

Another clever way casinos exploit your fear! If you get a blackjack but the dealer’s face up card is an Ace he will ask you if you want “even money”. That means that he will only pay you 1:1 and not 2:1 before he checks if he also has a blackjack where in case you will have to “push”. Again, never accept “even money” as it’s more possible that he will not make a blackjack!

Blackjack for dummies

When you start learning a new game obviously you are going to make mistakes. For example, taking insurance or gamble on side bets is clearly blackjack for dummies. Usually, a blackjack table has 7 player seats. The decisions you might make, the moves you make, will not only affect your game, but also the way the whole game will shape. That’s because a player’s move might, at any time, affect the way the whole game will end up.

So, if the table you are sitting consists of experienced players, a wrong decision from your side, might give them the idea that you are another dummy, when you are just a beginner.

If you want to avoid these uncomfortable situations we definitely advise you to start playing for free until you feel comfortable with the game and the crucial decisions you will need, at some point, to make.

On the other hand, if a free game is not fun for you, but you still wanna have a peace of mind while playing, there is the perfect blackjack variation for you! It’s called Blitz Blackjack by Netent, or Infinity Blackjack by Evolution, where all players play the same hand, accepting very low bets. It’s not ideal, but is definitely easy, simple and fun!

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Variations of Blackjack rules

So far we have explained the simple blackjack rules that exist in all blackjack games. However, many variations of the game, even in blackjack basics, might differ, and you have to be aware of all of them. We won’t go through all the variations that exist in the whole world, but we will examine all the major differences you might find in online casinos.

The 17 rules

Ιn most blackjack tables dealers stand on all 17s no matter whether it’s hard or soft. However, there are some blackjack tables where dealers have to draw from soft 17. As you can understand this rule favors the casino and you should avoid playing on these tables.

Double down

Most casinos give the option to players to double down on every two cards. In this rule it doesn’t matter what’s the sum up of the player’s cards. On the other hand, some casinos allow double down when the two initial cards have a certain value. Usually, this value is 9-10-11, more rarely 10-11. Any variation which is different from the most common, double down in any two cards, favors the casinos and should be avoided.

Splitting Hands

After splitting a pair, two separate hands are formed and the player can hit as many times as he wants unless he splits Aces. In this case, he only receives one more card. If he gets a 10, it’s not counted as blackjack and he gets even money. However, you might find some blackjack versions, limited though, where a player can get more than one card. If you find this table, you should definitely play! Furthermore, some casinos allow players to double down after splitting while others don’t. Generally, when the double down option is available is a plus for us!


There are two types of surrender. The early surrender and the late surrender. Early surrender is when the player surrenders BEFORE the dealer checks if he has a blackjack. In addition, when a player surrenders AFTER the dealer check for blackjack, we call this a late surrender. Of course, both options give an advantage to players, but the early surrender is much better!

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How to play blackjack FAQ's

Initially, the name of the game was “21”. Around 1931 in Nevada it became very popular and in order to attract more players casinos offered a special bet. Every hand with a black Jack, spades or clubs, combined with an Ace of spades, had a payout 10:1. Therefore, they named it “blackjack”. After a while, the casinos stopped this payout but the name remained until now.

When a player's hand ties with the dealer’s, no one wins and it’s a push. That means that the player takes back his bet. Only when the player has a blackjack, and he asks for “even money” he gets a 1:1 payout, even if later the dealer has blackjack as well.

The dealer starting from the left, deals one card to each player, and one for the house. All cards are facing up. Then, the dealer deals a second card for everyone. The second card of the dealer is faced down.

No. Even if the goal is the same, 21 has completely different rules, not all the cards are used, and the concept of the house has many differences with the casino ones.

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