How to Play Blackjack

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The Ultimate Guide to Playing Blackjack Online - Rules, Strategies & Tips

Blackjack is one of the world’s oldest and most-loved casino games. Dating back to around 1700 in France, where it was known as vingt-et-un (21), its popularity comes from how easy and engaging it is to play.

This article explains all you need to know about playing the game and is one of our extensive how-to guides which help you get the most from your gaming entertainment at .

What is Blackjack?

Blackjack is a popular casino table game , loved by many blackjack players around the world in both traditional brick-and-mortar and online social casinos .

In its simplest form, the idea of blackjack is to get a total closer to 21 than the dealer or hold any score of 21 or below should the dealer bust.

Stake social casino offers a wide range of blackjack games, from computerized dealer tables to live dealer blackjack , where you sit down and play against a real dealer with other players. It’s the closest you’ll get to playing in a real casino.

How to Play Blackjack?

You’re dealt two cards while the dealer also gets two, but only one of them is face-up. Add the value of your two cards and decide whether you want to stand or hit and take another card.

When you’re done, the dealer reveals their other hand (the downcard, otherwise known as the hole card) and plays it to a conclusion. You win if your total is closer to 21 or the dealer busts. If you bust, you lose the amount you chose to play.

Basic Rules of Blackjack

Like in other casino table games, you must choose your playing amount before the cards are dealt. Twos to tens play at face value; kings, queens and jacks are also worth ten, while an ace is worth one or 11.

Each player at the table plays their hand in turn, standing or hitting to take one or more cards. There are two more options:

  • Double down – if your starting two cards are favorable and the dealer looks weak, you can double down on your original play. You’ll get one more card and then have to stand. The advantage is that if you win, you win twice as much. But of course, the same is true should you lose the hand.

  • Split – if you’re dealt a pair, you can split the cards into two hands, matching your original amount on the new hand. You get an additional card on each separate hand, and then play them as normal. Splitting pairs tip: don’t split two tens because you likely have a winning hand already, but if you have a pair of aces, you should always split.

Learn more about when to hit, stand, split, or double down with our guide .

The best hand is called a natural blackjack, where you’re dealt a 10 (a picture card or a 10) and an ace, making an unbeatable 21. On all other winning hands, you receive a win of 1:1, and with a natural blackjack your win will be 3:2.

Objectives of Blackjack

Unlike other card games, where you try to beat other players, the goal of blackjack is all about beating the dealer.

It’s a game of incomplete information because you only get to see one of the dealer’s cards while you make your playing decisions.

Ultimately, you need to get closer to 21 than the dealer without busting. Or you can stand and hope the dealer busts.

How to Beat the Dealer

Blackjack is a game of chance, so no one can guarantee you can beat the dealer. However, some ways of playing the game greatly reduce the house edge, bringing it down from around 2% to as little as 0.5%.

As a rule of thumb, the key to successful blackjack betting is to remember that the most likely value of the next card will be ten since all tens, jacks, queens and kings in the deck have that value.

This will help you make better decisions about whether to take another card. And it will guide you in predicting the overall value of the dealer’s two starting cards.

Hard or Soft Hand?

A hard hand in blackjack contains no ace. So, a ten and an eight is a hard hand of 18. But a soft hand is one containing an ace. If you have an ace and a seven, you have a soft 18 (or you can elect to play it as a total of 8 and take another card).

Why does this matter? Well, if the dealer shows strength, perhaps with an up-card of a nine or a ten, you might think a soft 18 is not strong enough to win, and play it as a total of eight, hoping to improve to a total of 19, 20 or 21.

Types of Blackjack Games

We’re always working on bringing new games to, so you’ll find all sorts of blackjack variations to keep you entertained.

As well as different variants, there are two key ways to enjoy your blackjack games: playing computerized tables that use real number generators to deploy the cards fairly or trying our live dealer blackjack tables with real virtual dealers.

Some of the games you can play at Stake social casino for free online include:

Blackjack Strategies, Tips & Tricks to Win

As mentioned in the article, the basic strategy to grasp in all blackjack games is that the next card to come out of the deck is most likely to 10-value cards.

So look at the dealer’s up-card. If it is a poor card for them, like a four, five or six, you can assume the down card is a ten, and their total is 14, 15 or 16. In this case, they must take another card, and with that comes a high risk of going bust. Here, you can stand on any total over 11 – why risk busting yourself if that’s what you think the dealer will do?

In the above scenario, and when you have a strong starting total like eight, nine, ten or 11, you can double down because you’ll be getting more chips in the hand to win if and when the dealer goes over 21.

Reversing this logic, if the dealer’s up-card is strong, like a nine or a ten, you must assume their other card is a ten, so you need to be more daring and take another card to try and nudge your total closer to 21.

If you think this all sounds a little complicated, it’s not. All it takes is a little practice to by playing our range of free blackjack games online. Good luck at the tables!

If you're looking for more information, check out our guide to online social casinos , our table game guide , or our online card game guide !