How do you play Blackjack?
First, you need to understand how you win. In blackjack, your goal is to beat the dealer. There are three ways you can do this:
- Get a higher total than the dealer without going over 21
- Get a blackjack
- Dealer busts
Here is a blow by blow account of how a hand in blackjack progresses:
- Place a wager
- The dealer will deal each player at the table a 2-card hand
- The dealer also gets 2 cards, one face down
- If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, insurance is offered (never accept insurance)
- Each player decides on the appropriate action. This only happens if the dealer doesn’t get a blackjack
- When all players have a bust or stood on their current hand, the dealer reveals the hidden card and decides on the most appropriate action
Stand, Hit, Double Or Split
There is a range of decisions you can make in a game of blackjack. The perfect basic strategy dictates the most appropriate action.
Let’s take a closer look at your options.
Hit: This is when you request more cards from the dealer. You hit to get a better score, which is closer to 21 without going over.
Stand: This means that you are happy with your score and do not need any more cards. You can also stand if you believe the dealer has a higher chance of busting.
Doubling down: The games differ on when you are allowed to do this. But it involves placing an extra wager equal to the first and receiving one more card.
Split: You split when you have 2 of a kind in your first pair. It’s your choice. You split by placing a separate wager and creating 2 separate hands.
Surrender: This decision, again, depends on the variation you play. But when you surrender, you lose half your wager.
Blackjack Types & Variations
All blackjack games can be narrowed down to 2 main branches, that is, American and European.
The main difference is when the dealer gets the second card. In European blackjack, this only happens after everyone else has finished playing.
How does this affect you? Well, a lot. It alters your playing strategy. Think about it for a second. In European blackjack, you only know if the dealer has a blackjack after making all your game decisions.
Below, we have a list of some other off-shoots of these 2 main variants present in most online casinos.
- Free-bet blackjack
- Single deck
- Blackjack switch
Online Blackjack Side Bets
Side bets are optional stakes you can make to increase your profits. These do not have a bearing on the outcome of the main game, and players usually wager relatively less here.
Some examples include:
Perfect pairs: Pays out when you get a pair of same-value cards on your initial hand. The amount you receive depends on the cards, but aces attract bigger rewards.
Blazing 777’s: You get a payout when your first 3 cards are sevens.
It’s easy to see that the likelihood of landing side bets successfully is low. This is because they have a higher edge than the base game. So when starting, we suggest you stay well clear of these.
Blackjack Odds – House Edge
The house edge, blackjack odds, is a common concept in online casino gaming. You need to familiarize yourself with it if you plan on choosing the best blackjack variant for you.
Most online blackjack games have a house edge of between 2% to 3%. This figure is affected by how well you apply and follow basic strategies.
A change in the game rules, like a casino paying 6:2 instead of 3:2 on blackjack also skews the balance.
The best online blackjack variants you can play have less than 1% house edge. Look out for games with as few card decks as possible. You also want a game that forces the dealer to hit on a soft 17.
Blackjack Card Counting & Advantage Play
Card counting requires a lot of practice. If you are going to be good at it, and plan on using it without detection, you will need to apply yourself.
Card counting does not involve counting individual cards, as the name might falsely imply. Here, players try to keep track of big numbered cards and see if they are still in the deck. A large number of big numbered cards swings odds in the player’s favor.
When card counters operate, they change their betting style when they sense that the game is shifting. This is also one of the most common ways casinos use to find out who is counting cards.
Yes, it’s frowned upon. But card counting is a skill, just like any other. Though impossible to implement online, it can help you have an enjoyable experience in land-based casinos.
Should You Count Cards In Blackjack?
Yes, if you can. While card counting is frowned upon by many casino operators, it is a perfectly legal strategy that you can use to shift the odds in your favor.
But bear in mind, if you are caught card counting in a land-based casino, you may be asked to step away from the table.
What about if you are playing online? Well, you can try, but the chances of your success are slim to none. This is because online casinos use an automatic shuffling system.
It activates, sometimes as often as after each hand, to ensure that there are no detectable patterns. This makes it virtually impossible to count cards.