Blackjack is a casino card game with a relatively simple premise: Beat the dealer’s hand without going over 21. The catch? The value of the cards in each player’s hand is constantly changing, which makes calculating the best move an exhilarating challenge.
Whether a newcomer or an experienced player of online casino games, this guide will teach you everything you require about blackjack, from the basics of the game to more advanced strategies. By the end, you’ll be ready to hit the casino floor and try your hand at beating the dealer.
Blackjack Basics: The Goal of the Game
The object of blackjack is to have a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand value without going over 21. All face cards (jack, queen, and king) are worth 10 points, while aces can be worth 1 or 11 points (more on later). All other cards are equal to their numerical value.
To start a hand, all players must place a bet. Once the bets get placed, the dealer will deal two cards to every player and two to themselves. One of the dealer’s cards will be face up, while the other will be face down.
After the cards get dealt, the player whose turn it is will have a few different options:
- Hit: Take another card from the dealer.
- Stand: Keep your current hand and end your turn.
- Double down: Double your bet and take only one more card from the dealer.
- Split: If you have two cards of the same value, you can split them into two separate hands by placing another bet.
Once the player has decided, the dealer will take their turn. The dealer will always hit if their value is 16 or lower, and they will always stand on a hand value of 17 or higher.
If at any point during the game, your hand value exceeds 21, you have “busted” and automatically lose the hand, regardless of the dealer’s hand.
Winning and Losing
There are two ways to win a blackjack hand:
- Having a higher hand value than the dealer without busting
- Having the dealer bust while you have not
- When you and the dealer have the same value, it is a “push” or a tie, and you do not win or lose.
If you score a hand, you will get a payout based on the odds of that hand getting dealt. For example, a blackjack (an ace and any 10-valued card) typically pays 3-2, meaning you would receive $3 for every $2 you bet. A winning hand of any other value typically pays 1-1.
Now that you know the basics of blackjack let’s move on to more advanced strategies to help you beat the dealer.
Card counting is one of the most popular, albeit controversial, blackjack strategies. Card counting tracks the high and low cards dealt during a blackjack game to estimate the likelihood of certain cards getting dealt.
This information can get used to make betting and playing decisions accordingly. For example, if the count is high (meaning there are many high cards left in the deck), the player may be more likely to win if they bet more money.
While card counting can be an effective strategy, it is essential to remember that casinos do not take kindly to players who get caught counting cards. If caught counting cards, you may be asked to leave the casino and will likely get banned from returning.
Another way to help increase your chances of winning is to use a betting strategy. Betting strategies are systems that dictate how much money you should bet based on your current hand value and the dealer’s up-card.
The most popular betting strategy is the Martingale system, which dictates that you should double your bet after every loss. The thinking behind this is that you are bound to win eventually, and when you do, you will regain all of your losses and some.
While the Martingale system can be efficient, it can also be very risky, requiring you to have a large bankroll to cover your losses.
One important tip is to always play at a full table. This is because the more players there are, the more decks of cards will be in use, and the more likely you are to get lucky and win a hand.
Another important tip is never to take insurance. This side bet gets offered to players when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. The bet pays out two to one as soon as the dealer has a blackjack, but the chances of the dealer having a blackjack are only about one in four. The bet is a bad investment, and you should never take it.