How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack table at a casino

One of the great things about the card game of blackjack is its simplicity. It offers genuine pick-up-and-play appeal. Nevertheless, there’s still basic rules and nuances that you must be aware of before you sit down for a session of blackjack online.

Below, we’ll explain the basics, how a hand plays out, as well as the limits and the types of side plays you may encounter to switch-up the action.

The Objective of Blackjack

Blackjack is all about creating a hand as close to 21 as possible without going over. You’re dealt two cards, and you can ask for more until you’re happy with your hand. But be careful – if you go over 21, you’ll bust your hand and lose your stake.

Of course, the dealer plays too, attempting to beat your hand without busting. Unlike some card games like poker, this is a heads-up battle between you and the dealer.

The Basic Rules of Blackjack

In blackjack, all face cards (King, Queen, Jack) have a value of ten. Aces can be worth either one or 11, whichever value improves your hand the most. All other cards are taken at face value.

You’re dealt two cards face up. The dealer is dealt two cards, one face up and one face down. You must then decide to either hit, stand, double down or split:

  • Hit
    Accept another card from the deck.
  • Stand
    Keep your existing hand.
  • Double Down
    Double the size of your initial play to receive one additional card only.
  • Split
    Split paired cards into two hands, requiring a second play equivalent to your first wager.

How Does a Hand of Blackjack Play Out?

  1. All players place their coins in the play circle. Active players immediately receive their first two cards.
  2. Any player which is dealt an ace and another face card wins a “blackjack”. This is usually rewarded at odds of 3:2 or 6:5.
  3. Each player takes the decision on their respective hands. Players act from right to left, moving in clockwise fashion.
  4. Once each player’s hand is complete, the dealer reveals their face-down card and must hit or stand based on the predetermined rules. In most cases a dealer must hit until their hand is worth 17 or better, when they must stand.
  5. The dealer compares their hand to each player’s hand, delivering wins at odds of 1:1 to winners.
  6. All losing hands and coins are taken by the dealer. The cards are reshuffled ready for the next round.

Popular Side Plays in Blackjack

In many online blackjack games, you’ll also find the optional side gaming options which you can play alongside your hand. We’ll explain what they mean below, but will go into more detail on a separate page:

Perfect Pairs

This side play allows you to choose whether your first two cards dealt will form a pair i.e. two cards of the same rank.


This side play relies on whether or not your first two cards and the dealer’s upcard form a poker hand. The better the hand, the bigger the reward.

Royal Match

This side play is based on whether your first two cards dealt create a suited match i.e. two face cards of the same suit.

Blackjack Variants to Try

If you ever fancy adding an extra dimension to your blackjack gameplay, be sure to give any of these blackjack variants a whirl online:

Atlantic City Blackjack

This blackjack variant is more flexible than traditional versions of the game, as well as generally being more favorable towards players. This variation allows more flexibility about when you can double down and also has a late surrender option.

Blackjack Switch

In Blackjack Switch, you’re dealt two hands instead of one. You can swap the second cards between them, giving you a chance to strengthen your hands before the action kicks off.

Double Exposure Blackjack

In this blackjack variant, both of the dealer’s cards are exposed. This gives you further information to help make your betting decisions. Blackjacks are valued at even-money rather than 3:2, though.



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