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How to Play Blackjack for Beginners

Although most people have some familiarity with this game, you may not know the ins and outs of all the blackjack rules. The details of how to play blackjack online are a little different to playing in a land-based venue, so we’ll be taking a closer look at things like:

  • The different variants available in a top blackjack casino
  • Where to play free blackjack online and real money games
  • Blackjack strategy and how it works
How to Play Blackjack for Beginners

Blackjack Rules - A Step by Step Guide

When learning how to play blackjack, game newbies often think the aim of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. That’s not quite true; the real aim of the game is to beat the dealer without going bust. It’s a small distinction, but one that might shape how you play:

  1. Find a table and place your bet(s)
  2. Wait for the dealer to deal a hand for you and a hand for them, looking at both your cards and their face up card
  3. Based on basic strategy, your instincts, or a combination of both, decide if you’re going to hit, stand, split or double
  4. Once you’re happy with your hand, indicate that you wish to stand and wait for the dealer to play their hand
  5. Winnings will be issued to whichever of you has the highest hand that’s below or equal to 21. Now it’s time to play another hand!

Key Blackjack Terms You Need To Know


This is when a hand goes over 21 and consequently loses

Capping a Bet

A type of cheating that involves increasing an existing bet that’s very likely to win before it’s paid out


To cut the cards is to split them after they have been shuffled

Double Down

Double one’s bet in exchange for a single additional card

Double for Less

To take the action of doubling down for less than your initial bet

Double or Nothing

Another term used to describe doubling down

Down Card

Also known as a hole card, dealt face down

First Base

The seat immediately to the left of the dealer, which receives cards first

Five Card Charlie

A hand that’s made up of five cards without busting, often triggering a bonus or automatic win

Heads Up

When only a single gambler plays against the dealer


Adding another card to your hand

Hole Card

The dealer’s face down card


Offered if the dealer has a face up Ace and pays out if they have natural blackjack


A hand which totals 21 in the first two cards dealt


A player is said to “stand pat” if their hand is at least 17


When a player and the dealer have the same hand value, resulting in the player’s bet being returned to them

Soft Hand

A hand containing an Ace that is counted as an 11 but can also act as a 1 if needed

Split Hand

When a hand containing two cards of the same rank is split and played as two hands


Abandoning a hand and recovering half of your initial bet

Third Base

The seat to the right of the dealer, which receives cards last

Tips from Our Blackjack Experts

An understanding of basic strategy is just the beginning when it comes to playing blackjack online. The choices you make while playing have a big impact on the game, so we’ve listed our top six tips to help you get started.

Tips from Our Blackjack Experts
Understand basic strategy for your game

Most players are aware of the basic blackjack strategy. However, a lot of guides dictate what the ‘correct’ move is on the hands you and the dealer have. What many players don’t know is that the ‘correct’ move differs between variants, so ensure the guide you’re using applies to your game variant.

Avoid the insurance bet

Offering substantial wins, usually paying 2 to 1, insurance might seem like a good bet. After all, you wouldn’t own a house or drive a car without insuring it. In this case, however, insurance is a bad idea. Its house edge is substantially higher than that of the game as a whole and is best avoided.

Look at the house edge of different variants

The house edges of different types of blackjack, (some of which are available only as exclusives through certain providers) differ greatly. Check out blackjack variations with a low house edge to maximise your odds of victory - but learn their rules first!

Know your limits

From developing a sense of what you want to spend on each hand through to how much you’re willing to lose in a single game, you need to remember that playing with real money is a serious matter. Don’t chase losses trying to win back money you’ve lost or ever bet what you can’t afford.

Try blackjack online free first

The pace of playing online as opposed to in a brick and mortar venue is quite different, which will require some adjustments to your blackjack strategy. Playing for practice first, or with very small sums of money, will let you get a feel for how much you can afford to wager in a game.

Avoid betting systems

Some sites will suggest that there are “can’t lose” systems out there that guarantee player success. With the possible exception of card counting, which doesn’t work on the web anyway, that’s simply not the case. Avoid any systems that recommend following up losses with larger bets.

Playing Different Blackjack Variations

Although the aim of the game - get close to or reach 21 without going over in order to beat the dealer - remains the same, there are several blackjack variants you can try:

Live Blackjack

Live blackjack allows players to sit opposite a real dealer, dealing real cards with all the action broadcasted to players across the world via webcam. Players can enjoy the fun of casino gaming from the comfort of their own home; however, this means that the dealer controls the speed of the game.

Atlantic City Blackjack

The Atlantic City variant serves up some tweaks to blackjack rules that lower the house edge, making things a little easier for the player. For example, it allows late surrender and more opportunities to split hands. The dealer stands on all hands of 17, including soft 17.

Blackjack Surrender

The key change here is the addition of the surrender option, which gives players the opportunity to fold a hand that they don’t have much confidence in. In exchange, you get half of your initial bet back. Similarities between folding and surrendering mean this feels a little like a blackjack/poker hybrid.

European Blackjack

Adopting some of the rules from land-based venues in Europe, this variant is seen by some as a little riskier. Dealers don’t check their hole card when blackjack is a possibility, giving players the chance to play out their hand without knowing if the dealer has blackjack or not.

Play Blackjack Online

Although blackjack rules are straightforward, the game is often described as deceptively simple. The ‘secret’ of how to play blackjack online successfully, is balancing basic strategy with gut instincts - and a good dose of luck.

Armed with our blackjack betting tips, it’s up to you to hit the tables and develop your own unique blackjack strategy. If one variant of the game isn’t working for you, remember that there are plenty of others to try!

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