How to Play Blackjack and Win

Blackjack is the most popular casino game out there, drawing in new players and experienced pros online and at the casino. This game of ability provides great odds, fast action, simple rules, and needs only a basic strategy to enjoy.

With a brief overview of gameplay and a few quick guidelines, you’ll be ready for the action in no time. Follow this guide and begin playing like a pro– with a basic idea of not just the gameplay and technique, but even how to count cards (it’s not as difficult as it sounds!).

Beat the Dealer

Let’s start with the essentials. The goal of blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand on each play. The majority of people think you’re “trying to get 21,” however this is not entirely true. It’s not so much about getting 21 (and most likely ‘busting’ while trying) as it is playing to have the best chance to beat the dealer (who can also ‘bust’, of course). It will just take 1 or 2 tries of this game to understand this concept.

Skill Plays a Role

You have decisions to make in blackjack, and this is what makes this game stick out from the rest as a game of skill– not just luck, as holds true with slots, roulette, craps and most other casino games. This is also what makes blackjack such a favorite– it’s fun when you genuinely can influence the result. Keep reading to learn everything about the gameplay and skill required.


The action at a blackjack table – in person or online – is straightforward. There are far fewer options for wagering than with other table games like craps or roulette.


Online, you will pick your wager amount. Face to face, you will move your chips into the wagering circle. In a live game at the casino minimum bets are usually $5 or more, because the dealer’s time costs money. Online, minimums are lower, making it a good location to sharpen your skills prior to a night out at the casino.


After you lay down your bet, the dealer will deal one card – face-up – to each player at the table and then one card face-down to themselves. One more card will be dealt face up to each player and to the dealer.
At this point, each player has 2 face-up cards in front of them, while the dealer has one card face-up and one face-down.


Now that you have your cards, you will add up the points in your hand. The objective is to beat the dealer’s hand, so whatever card you can see from their hand is valuable info as to their possibility of having a greater hand or striking a blackjack.

Card Values in Blackjack

2-9 – Worth their number in points.
10-J-Q-K – Worth 10 points.
A – Worth 1 or 11 points. If your point total would go above 21 when counting the Ace as 11, it is instead counted as 1 point.

If you hit a blackjack (Ace plus a card worth 10 points) off the initial deal, you win, payments are issued, and the next round of betting starts.

If you do not have a blackjack and neither does the dealer, play continues, and you must pick what to do next from the following five choices:


This is what you do if you think you have a winning hand and do not want to run the risk of taking another card and possibly busting your total over 21. Common hands to stand on are 16-17-18-19 and 20, however, consult our wagering chart below for a more exact method.


If you still want to improve your hand after being dealt two cards, you can ‘hit,’ and the dealer will deal you an additional card. The outcome will be either ‘bust’ (exceed 21), or you can stand when you hit a point total you are ready to keep. There is no limit on the number of times you can hit.


If you have a good hand but you need to take an extra card, you can double your original bet. The dealer will deal you one and only one extra card. At the casino, you indicate this by placing chips equal to your initial bet behind your first bet. Online, just click the Double option.


If you’re dealt a pair (2 cards of equal value) you have the choice to lay down a second wager. The dealer will split the two cards so that each card will become the first card of two new hands. This can also be done with face cards. You are permitted to divide a hand consisting of a King and a Jack since they both have the exact same value, even though they are not really a pair. At the casino, you indicate this by placing chips equal to your initial bet to the side of your first bet. Do not touch the cards; the dealer will rearrange the hands for you. Online, just click the Split option.


If you don’t like your hand, you typically have the choice to give it up in order to get half of your original bet back. Ask the dealer to see if this option is available at their table.

Insurance Bet

Insurance is a side bet that lets the player stake half their initial bet to insure against the dealer getting a blackjack. The dealer must be showing an ace in their hand for the player to have this choice.


There are just a few possible outcomes in blackjack. While it’s not as simple as ‘win’ or ‘lose,’ it isn’t much more complex than that either.


You have the higher hand, but not a blackjack.


The dealer has a higher hand, perhaps a blackjack.


You drew a cards that brought your point total over 21. This is considered a loss.


You either received a blackjack off the initial offer or drew your hand up into a blackjack. This is a win that will get you the greatest payment.


If the play and the dealer have a tie – even including blackjack – the hand is a ‘push,’ with your bet being returned to you in full.

Even-Money Proposal

The even-money proposal (sometimes called “chicken money”) enters play only when you have actually been dealt a blackjack, and the dealer shows an ace. At this moment, you have the chance to make a proposal to the dealer for an even-money payout.
With this outcome, you win the hand while eliminating the possibility of the dealer matching your blackjack with a 10 in the hole (face-down and not yet revealed). You give up the opportunity of a better payment if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, but also avoid the possibility of a push if the dealer does have blackjack.

Should you choose an even-money proposal?

A lot of players will take even-money, but that’s the wrong play mathematically. Assuming a 6-deck shoe, 30.7 percent of the time the dealer will get a blackjack and a ‘push’ will result. That leaves 69.3 percent of the time where the dealer won’t have the 10, and your payout would be considerably greater.


There are 3 different payouts in blackjack.

Highest Hand

If a player wins by having the highest point overall without a blackjack, they are paid winnings on their wager at a 1:1 ratio. If the player wagered $10 on their hand and won, they would end up with $20: the initial $10 wager plus the $10 they won.


If the player has Blackjack, they are paid winnings at a 3:2 ratio. A wager of $10 would be paid $25: $ 10 bet plus the $15 they won.
* Keep in mind that some casinos have begun to offer a decreased payout on Blackjack, often 6:5, which is considerably smaller than 3:2. This increases the house’s edge significantly. You should avoid any game using a lowered payout on Blackjack. Usually, online casinos will use better odds on blackjack due to lower general costs to run the game.

Insurance Win

If the player has placed the Insurance bet and the dealer has Blackjack, the player’s hand loses, however, the insurance bet is paid at 2:1.
Example: If you bet $10 on your hand, you can buy insurance for $5: half the wager. If your hand loses and the dealer gets a blackjack, you get your bet quantity back in ‘insurance’.


As stated above, blackjack is a game of ability, not solely chance. By using certain playing and betting techniques, it is possible to swing the chances in your favor. This is not possible in the majority of other casino games, where the main strategy comes down to how to bet efficiently given the games’ odds and payouts.
And since blackjack is a game of skill, it is very important to watch your technique and improve it with time. This section will begin with a basic strategy, and give you the tools to bring your technique in-line with that of true blackjack specialists.

Soft and Hard Hands

Before starting on strategy, there are two terms you must understand. Hands in blackjack are described as ‘hard’ or ‘soft.’ Any hand holding an ace is a ‘soft’ hand (because you can take the risk of busting as the ace can be either an 11 or a 1). ‘Hard’ hands are anything not consisting of an ace, with the reasoning being that if you draw a card and bust over 21, you’re done.

Start with Basic Strategy

It’s best to start with a sound basic strategy for play, and after that work on tweaking it into a perfect strategy. The following is the most basic strategy for beginners:

Hit or Stand Standard Strategy

– Always hit with hard 11 or less
– Stand on hard 12 versus a dealer 4-6, otherwise hit.
– Stand on hard 13-16 against a dealer 2-6, otherwise hit.
– Always stand on hard 17 or higher.
– Always hit with soft 17 or less.
– Stand on soft 18, unless dealer shows 9, 10 or A, in which case you should hit.
– Always stand on soft 19 or more.

It might sound like a lot to remember, however when playing for yourself, you’ll see this really makes sense.

Basic Strategy Table

The following strategy table goes beyond the guidelines described above to let you know when to make use of other choices, like splitting or doubling down, given the hand you have vs. the dealer’s hand. It’s by no means required to devote this to memory when first taking a seat at a table, however, every professional blackjack player has dedicated this chart to memory.

Card Counting: Beat The House

Curious about how one would find out how to count cards? The very best place for learning how is with blackjack at the casino. It is possible to count cards since they will be dealt from a shoe with six to eight 52-card decks. Online, blackjack software doesn’t normally work the same way, because the programmed shoe of cards is shuffled every round, with previously played cards returned into the shoe.

How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Counting cards in blackjack is just a matter of keeping track of the ratio of high to low cards left in the shoe. All you need is this basic system:

Step 1: Appoint A Value to Every Card

Assign card values as follows:
– 2-6 = +1
– 7-9 = 0
– 10-Ace= -1

Step 2: Keeping a Running Count

You will be counting each card played to all players and the dealer. Starting from 0, you and and subtract the running count based upon the cards dealt. Then, depending on the count (whether the tally is negative or positive), you will understand whether the shoe has a high or low percentage of high value cards.

Step 3: Determine the True Count

Casinos have started using multiple decks to prevent card counting, however that doesn’t get in the way; it simply adds an extra step to counting. This is what’s referred to as calculating the True Count.
Imagine, for example, a casino is using a 6-deck shoe. Having a running count of +5 implies a lot more to the player when you are nearing the end of the shoe, playing through the last deck of cards, than if you had actually counted +5 and are still on the very first deck of cards.
To compute the True Count, simply take the running count, and divide by the number of decks remaining. If your running count is +6 with three decks remaining, then your True Count is +2.

Step 4: Adjusting Your Bets Based on the True Count.

The True Count does not change your basic strategy; it simply influences how much you are betting. If it appears like the deck is stacked in your favor with aces and high cards (that is, a high positive count), then bet a bit more than usual– that’s the only modification you need to make on the fly.

Live Dealer Card Counting

Many online casinos provide live dealer tables, including those for blackjack. Depending on the setup, it can be possible to count cards at live dealer tables online. Check to see the number of decks are being used and how frequently the shoe will be shuffled.

Play Online Blackjack at These Fantastic Casinos

Now that you have an idea of how to play, you can begin enjoying the game for yourself. You can evaluate your knowledge and skill from the convenience of your own home. Take a look at these respectable online casinos we’ve played at, and take advantage of generous welcome bonuses for brand-new gamers – something you will not find at the local casino

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