SuperCasinoSites provides all the information you need to play blackjack. Professional players have written the content, which teaches you the rules, card values and basic strategy. This may be helpful if you want to win money at the game.
Blackjack is a card game in which players compete against the dealer, hoping to get as close to 21 without going over. The game is easy to learn, widely available at casinos and can be a lot of fun. It’s also one of the few casino games where players have an advantage over the house.
Thanks to recent technological advances, online casinos have introduced many new variations of blackjack, drawing further interest to a game that has been around for centuries.
Players have the opportunity to play blackjack in live dealer casinos from the comfort of their homes, without having to go out of their way to find a land-based casino that offers the game.
Don’t worry if you’re intimidated by the numbers. We’ve laid out everything you need to know about blackjack in a simple, straightforward way. If you’re just starting out, start with the basics.
Blackjack Fixed Rules and Card Values
Surrender and Insurance
Soft and Hard Hands
The dealer shuffles the cards and asks a player to cut the deck. The top card is then burned, or placed in the tray with discards.
In the first round of a game, the dealer deals each player two cards. In subsequent rounds, players take turns dealing. In single-deck games, all cards are dealt face-down.
The object of the game is to form a hand that comes closest to 21 but without going over. The dealer must draw cards until she has a total close to, but not higher than, 17.
Here are the values of the cards:
- Cards 2 through 9 are worth the numbers shown on them.
- Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks have a numerical value of 10.
- Aces can be worth 1, 11 or any number in between depending on the player’s preference.
The highest payout in blackjack is for a hand totaling 21, formed with an ace and a ten-value card. Other winning hands normally return even money.
In blackjack, the dealer wins if he or she attains a total of 21 before you do. If both you and the dealer reach 21 at the same time, neither of you wins.
Players have a number of options from which to choose:
- When you want to draw additional cards in a game of cards, you hit your hand. In a casino, you indicate this by tapping the table.
- When a player is satisfied with their hand total and chooses not to draw any more cards, they are said to be standing. This decision is indicated by waving your hand over your cards.
- Doubling down is one of the most exciting parts of blackjack.You can double your bet after the initial deal, without taking any hits, if your hand totals 21 or less. You must place an additional wager equal to your original bet but this gives you only one more card. If you have a total of 21 or less it’s usually a good idea to double down.
- When you are dealt two cards of equal value, like 8-8 or A-A, you can split your pair into two separate hands. Each hand gets its own bet, so you’ll have to add another bet to your original one. The dealer will then deal a card to each hand; you play the hands one at a time.
- In some Blackjack variants, you are allowed to split Aces. casinos generally disallow drawing on split Aces.
Forfeiting a two-card hand in exchange for half of your original bet is called surrendering.
- Late surrender is a rule that allows you to forfeit your hand and receive half of your bet back if the dealer’s upcard is a ten or face card. This decreases the casino’s advantage by 0.08%.
- The early surrender rule is favorable to players, and it reduces the house edge by 0.63%.
- Insurance is a bet that the dealer has an Ace, which is revealed after your initial hand. Insurance has no effect on your odds of winning, but it does affect how much you win or lose if you get 21.
If the dealer has a blackjack, your insurance bet pays at odds of 2 to 1. If not, you lose the insurance bet and play out your hand as usual.
Novice players should learn the difference between hard and soft hands in blackjack. Aces have flexible value, so they can be counted as one or eleven when determining whether a hand is hard or soft.
- Players who have soft hands with an ace as one of their cards can decide whether to count it as 1 or 11. If they get a deuce on their next hit, the ace will be counted as 11 so they have a total of 20. If they pull a higher card like a nine, they have 17.
- A hard 17 or 20 is any Aceless hand whose Aces have a fixed value of 1. These hands are more susceptible to busting on the next hit than they would be if their Aces were not fixed.
Blackjack Rule Variations
Unlike other casino games, blackjack does not have a set of fixed rules. Each casino can establish its own rules for blackjack play. Some rules will increase the house advantage over players, while others will decrease it. Below are some of the most common blackjack rule variations you will encounter.
Blackjack is played with one to eight decks of cards. The house edge of the game increases with each additional deck, because the total number of possible hands decreases with each new deck.
The Dealer’s Fixed Standing Rules
Blackjack rules vary from table to table. Some casinos require the dealer to draw to a hand total as stipulated by the casino; others allow the dealer to make decisions when drawing cards. Based on these variations, we can divide blackjack games into two types:
- The S17 rule gives players an advantage because the dealer stands on soft 17, which is below the average winning total of 18.5. This rule decreases the house edge by giving players a better chance of beating the dealer.
- When the dealer’s first card is a 7 or higher, it is called a soft 17. This hand gives the dealer an advantage over you because he can draw out small cards like 2, 3 or 4 and bust you. However, if you stay with your hand, you will win if the dealer draws out a 10 or face card. The H17 rule increases the casino’s edge by 0.22%.
Doubling Down and Splitting Restrictions
In some games, you may be restricted to doubling down on specific two-card totals. In others, you can double down on totals of 11 and 10 as well.
Doubling the bet only on 9 through 11 adds 0.09% to the house edge. Doubling the bet only on 10 and 11 increases the casino’s advantage by 0.18%.
Some games have restrictions on splitting. For example, in some games you may only split one time to form two hands, or doubling down after a split may not be allowed at some tables.
One of the most important variations among blackjack rules is the payout for a natural blackjack. Some casinos pay 6 to 5, while others offer 3 to 2. The difference can be calculated with an example: Suppose you are playing with a $10 base bet and have a choice between two casinos with different rules.
In Casino 1, a blackjack earns you $12 for every $10 bet.
In Casino 2, a blackjack gives you 1.5 times your bet (3/2). Therefore, a $10 bet earns you $15.
The numbers on the payout table clearly show which is the better choice. A smart blackjack player would never sit at a 6-to-5 table because this payout reduction causes the casino advantage to jump by 1.71%
House Edge in Blackjack
Basic Strategy in Blackjack
Taking Your Blackjack Game to the Next Level
Each spin of the wheel is an independent event and therefore, it has no effect on the results to follow. Therefore, all players are fighting against the same house edge.
Blackjack is unique in that each card dealt out of the deck or shoe affects future hands.
Ten-value cards are an advantage to players while low-value cards help dealers avoid going bust.
The house edge in blackjack varies from hand to hand and from table to table. The reason for this is that the ratio of high cards to low cards changes with every shuffle, as does the number of decks being used. The casino also sets its own house rules which can affect the odds in a big way.
One way to reduce the house advantage in blackjack is by using a card counting technique known as “basic strategy.” Basic strategy requires memorizing only a few rules, but these rules can greatly decrease the house edge. Without basic strategy, the house edge increases to 2% but it may be even higher at tables with unfavorable playing conditions (for example, if the dealer hits soft 17).
If you use basic strategy, you can reduce the house edge and make blackjack a close game. Basic strategy is presented as a chart that tells you when to hit, split or stand. If you are not using advantage play techniques, this chart will help you win more money.
There are two basic strategies for playing the game.
- Using total-dependent basic strategy, players’ decisions are based solely on the up card the dealer has and the overall total of their starting hand. The chart below shows optimal playing decisions based on these factors.
- Many players use a strategy called basic strategy, which takes into account the dealer’s upcard and the number of cards in their hands. This is generally considered to be the most accurate way to play blackjack.
Perfect basic strategy leads to a long-term win rate of 49%–a significant improvement over the player’s natural abilities.
- When conditions are favorable, maximize your profits by taking advantage of the opportunities available.
- Be careful not to make things worse when you are in a difficult situation.
- Help your weak hands become winners.
The following chart corresponds to a multiple-deck, S17 game with DAS, doubling on any two cards, and late surrender.
Some players have become so skilled at blackjack that they can nearly eliminate the house edge.
A popular strategy used by some experienced blackjack players is called card counting. The idea is that you can stay ahead of the house by keeping track of the ratio of high and low cards remaining in the deck or shoe.
Each dealt card is assigned a value that helps the counter keep track of the number of high cards remaining in the deck(s). The running count must be converted into a true count in order for you to make accurate playing and betting decisions.
In blackjack, the cards 2 through 6 are good for the player and are called “soft” cards. The dealer has an edge over the player with “hard” cards such as 10, Jack and Queen. Card counters use a system of probabilities to determine when to increase their bet based on their advantage or disadvantage in the game.
Gamblers tend to bet more when there are more high cards remaining in the deck and vice versa.
When choosing a card counting system, it’s important to consider several factors.
- The betting correlation measures how well a system identifies profitable situations.
- Playing efficiency shows how often a system deviates from basic strategy.
- Insurance correlation is a measure of how well the system identifies cases where buying insurance will pay off.
The Hi-Lo Count
Dubner’s Hi-Lo counting system is the most widely used in blackjack and assigns a count value of -1 to tens, Aces and face cards, +1 to small cards 2 through 6 and 0 to 7 through 9.
Hi-Lo is the most popular card counting system. It’s easy to learn and use, and it offers better results than other systems. By converting the running count into a true count, you can make fewer mistakes, which leads to even better results.
The Red Sevens Count
The Red Sevens is a counting system created by blackjack legend Arnold Snyder. It assigns different count tags to the cards: -1 for tens and Aces, +1 for small cards 2 through 6, 0 for 8s, 9s and black 7s, and +1 for red 7s.
This is an easier way to keep track of the running count, which indicates when the odds have shifted in your favor.
Landbased versus Online Blackjack
Blackjack is a popular card game that can be played at a number of online casinos. The rules and betting limits for the game vary from site to site, but most blackjack games are operated by random number generators that reshuffle the cards after each round.
Licensed online casinos make sure their games are fair by having them audited by independent testing agencies. This way you can be sure that blackjack results are randomly generated and therefore 100% fair.
Major casinos also let you play blackjack against live dealers. The action is streamed directly to your computer or smartphone screen in real time. The tables are serviced by professionals that are there to help you have a good time.
When you play at the live-dealer tables, you can bet behind other players until a vacant seat opens.
Microgaming, Evolution Gaming, NetEnt, Felt, Playtech, Betsoft, and Pragmatic Play are all known for their high-quality online blackjack games.
The biggest advantages of playing online blackjack are: 1. You can play from home, 2. You can play whenever you want, and 3. It’s a lot of fun!
- You can play at your own pace on the computer, smartphone or tablet of your choice.
- Online blackjack tables have lower betting limits than traditional land-based casinos, with some versions allowing bets as small as $0.10.
- You can switch between blackjack variations quickly, without having to wait for the dealer to shuffle.
- Online players can consult their strategy charts without feeling rushed by other patrons.
- The online blackjack tables are open 24 hours a day, so you can play whenever you want.
- There are no strict rules to follow when it comes to table etiquette.
- Realistic graphics, authentic sound effects and an intuitive interface are what players enjoy most about this game.
- You can get used to the trading platform and its features with demo credits before risking real money.
One disadvantage to playing online blackjack is that the computer can make mistakes.
- Due to the absence of interaction with fellow players, the game may become monotonous after a while.
- Online blackjack games, which rely on random number generators and not cards, cannot be beaten by card-counting techniques.
- If you are not able to visit a land-based casino, you do not get to enjoy the exciting atmosphere of the casino floor.
The Best Online Blackjack Variations to Try
Online blackjack players have a lot of options. They can play at casinos that offer better rules, lower house edges, and progressive jackpots.
Please remember that you will need to adjust your basic strategy moves when playing blackjack variations. These are the most popular online blackjack games.
Atlantic City Blackjack
Atlantic City Blackjack is a casino game that uses eight decks of cards. It is similar to the standard blackjack game, although there are a few differences. In Atlantic City Blackjack, players must beat the dealer with a higher hand total. The rules of Atlantic City Blackjack are as follows:
- The dealer stands on soft 17
- Blackjacks pay 3 to 2
- When the player doubles down, he or she can choose to take another card from the deck in addition to the first two cards already played.
- The player can split three times, with each split creating a separate hand.
- Aces cannot be resplit
- If you split, you can double.
- Split Aces cannot be hit
- When showing an Ace or a ten-value card, the dealer checks for blackjacks.
- Late surrender is allowed
Vegas Strip Blackjack
Vegas Strip Blackjack is an interesting variation on the classic blackjack game. It can be found at Microgaming-powered online casinos, where it is often played with better rules than in land-based casinos. The Vegas Strip variation has a house edge of around 0.35%, which is quite decent compared to many other blackjack variants.
- The game uses four standard decks of playing cards.
- Blackjack pays at a rate of 3 to 2.
- A dealer must stand on soft 17 when the player has a blackjack.
- Surrendering is not allowed
- Doubling is a strategy that can be used on any two cards.
- Doubling after a split is permitted in some friendly games.
- Aces can never be split or counted as one-third of a hand.
- You can split your ticket into three parts.
In 1979, math expert Richard Epstein devised a new variation of blackjack that appeared at the Vegas World casino. It was called Face Up Blackjack, Zweikartenspiel, or Dealer Disclosure Blackjack.
Double Exposure is a variation of blackjack that can be found in online casinos using software provided by NetEnt, Microgaming, RealTime Gaming, and Play’n GO. The game follows these rules:
- At the beginning of each hand, the dealer receives two cards face-up.
- Eight decks are in play
- The payout for a blackjack is 1 to 1.
- The dealer takes all pushes
- The dealer hits soft 17
- Only on 9, 10 and 11 can you double the bet.
- Resplitting usually isn’t allowed.
- After you split, you cannot double.
- If the cards are not identical, you cannot split them.
- Surrendering is not an option
Invented by Geoff Hall, this variation of blackjack is one of the coolest because you get to play two hands at once and can switch their top cards, making their totals higher. A group of side bets called Dealer Match are also supported by this game.
Blackjack Switch is one of the most popular variations of Blackjack and it is available at Playtech casinos. Here are the key rules you need to remember:
- The game is played using six or eight standard decks of cards.
- Play two hands per round, and swap the top cards between them.
- The dealer peeks at the first two cards, trying to see if either is a blackjack.
- Blackjacks pay 1 to 1
- The dealer pushes with 22.
- Doubling on any two cards is possible, but it requires a bit of strategy
- You can split any pair of cards and resplit the deck to give each player a hand of four cards.
- Players cannot surrender
Pontoon is often mistaken for blackjack, but the two games are vastly different. There are two variants of pontoon: one with a short deck and another with a full deck.
There are two variants of pontoon, each with its own rules. The UK version is more popular than the standard game, and both can be played online with variations by software developers such as RealTime Gaming, Microgaming, Betsoft, and Playtech.
- The number of decks in a casino varies from place to place.
- The dealer deals both cards face-down.
- The dealer hits soft 17
- Players must hit a total of 15 points before the opposing team does.
- The dealer takes all ties
- You can double after a hit
- Winning five-card hands and pontoons pay an even money bet 2 to 1.
Spanish 21 is a variation of blackjack that differs from the standard game in several ways. It’s a good choice for players who are tired of traditional blackjack and want more excitement from their card games.
Online casinos that offer Betsoft or Microgaming software run Spanish 21 games. The rules for this variation of blackjack are:
- Six or eight decks of cards with 48 cards in each (the 10s are omitted)
- The dealer hits soft 17
- Blackjacks pay 3 to 2
- Late surrender is permitted
- You may double on any two cards.
- When you double, you can surrender
- You can hit two aces at once and then split them.
- The payout for a special total of 21 (blackjack) is higher than for other totals.
Some online blackjack variants support the option to play multiple hands simultaneously. These games are equipped with elegant design, realistic animations and an array of other features that make them extremely enjoyable.
Players can choose from a wide range of chip denominations. However, most online casinos have table limits that vary depending on the number of poker hands being played. We recommend playing multi-hand variants from suppliers Microgaming, Play’n GO, Pragmatic Play, NetEnt, and Playtech.
For those who enjoy blackjack and have access to the internet, one of the most exciting types of blackjack is progressive jackpot blackjack. This type of game offers a chance at a big payout if you can get close to 21 without going over. In order to win the jackpot, however, you must make an optional side bet that usually costs just $1.