Home News How to Play Blackjack: Ins and Outs of Blackjack

How to Play Blackjack: Ins and Outs of Blackjack

By Manny Wood.
Fact checked by Wilbur Thompson.

BlackJack, also well-known as Twenty One or Vingt-Un, is one of the most popular table games in online casinos. It has a number of variations all over the world, but it always stands as a simple game with easy-to-understand rules. If you were interested in how to play blackjack, it uses 52 card decks and that’s all. This gambling entertainment is a comparing card game where each player competes against the dealer.

In BlackJack, players need to make only two things: to reach a twenty-one score, or not over that number, and to beat the dealer’s score and scores of other players if they are present. Gamers can find several different versions than the Classic Twenty-One, playing virtual Blackjack. Also, this game has such configurations as Classic Blackjack, Double Exposure, European Blackjack, Vegas Style, also called Twenty-First-Century Blackjack, Double Attack Blackjack, Super Fun Twenty-One, Single Deck Blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack and Spanish Twenty-One.

The Origins

The origins of Blackjack continue to be a subject of debate, but the prevailing belief is that it emerged in French casinos around 1700, as evidenced by its mention in Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote, which dates back to the late 16th or early 17th century. At that time, the game was known as “Vingt-et-un,” meaning 21 in French. Another theory suggests that the Romans may have played a similar game using wooden blocks.

During the 18th century, as Blackjack gained popularity, casinos and gambling establishments introduced special bets to attract more players. One notable special bet offered 10:1 odds for a player achieving a hand consisting of the Jack of Spades or clubs and an Ace, giving rise to the name we know today. Although casinos eventually phased out this particular bet, the name “Blackjack” endured.

The game of Vingt-et-Un was enjoyed by French royalty and the elite, including King Louis XV’s mistress and Napoleon Bonaparte, the renowned military leader and Emperor of France. Napoleon himself was a devoted fan of Vingt-et-Un, often playing it to relax and celebrate after battles, although there are rumours that he prohibited card games among his soldiers, fearing they would become distracted.

The popularity of the game spread to North America through French colonists in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, with the first legal banked game of Blackjack taking place in New Orleans. When Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, Blackjack grew to become the iconic casino game it is today.

As a result of European colonization, Blackjack found its way to numerous countries worldwide and is now featured in over 140 countries, solidifying its status as one of the most renowned casino games today.

Basic Terminology


The player who acts last before the dealer at the blackjack table is referred to as the Anchorman.


The funds allocated specifically for gambling purposes are known as your bankroll. It is important to distinguish this from your overall available cash, as your bankroll consists only of the portion you are willing to risk at the casino.


Blackjack is both the name of the game and the term used to describe the perfect hand – an ace and a ten or picture card, totaling 21.

Burn Card

Prior to dealing, the dealer sets aside the first card face down, known as the burn card. This ensures that the first player cannot anticipate the value of the initial card, which could affect their betting decisions.


Bust is a term you want to avoid. It means going broke or running out of money. While losing your bankroll is not ideal, it is important to separate it from your everyday finances.

Cold Deck

When the shoe, which holds all the cards, consistently deals unfavorable cards causing players to lose, it is referred to as a cold deck, in contrast to a hot winning streak for the players.

Colour Up

If a player possesses numerous low-value chips, they may request the dealer to exchange them for higher-value chips. This process is known as coloring up.

Cut Card

When a new shoe with shuffled cards is introduced, a player is selected to cut the deck using a cut card. The cut card indicates when the current shoe’s action concludes, signaling the need for a new one.


Discards are the cards that have already been dealt and are set aside until a new shoe is required. They are reshuffled and reused during gameplay.

Double Down

When dealt a promising initial hand and the dealer appears weak, a player can choose to double down by doubling their initial wager. If the hand is successful, the player wins twice the amount. However, if the hand loses, it can be disappointing.

House Edge

The house edge refers to the advantage the casino has in a specific game. In blackjack, against players who utilize basic blackjack strategy, the house edge is slightly over 1%. This means that on average, for every $100 wagered, a player can expect to lose $1.

Flat Betting

Consistently wagering the same amount for each hand is referred to as flat betting. While it is a valid approach, it lacks excitement and risk-taking.


To request an additional card from the dealer, you “hit.”

Surrender / Late Surrender

In certain variations of blackjack, players have the option to surrender their hand without making any further decisions. In exchange, they receive half of their initial wager back. This option can be beneficial when the hand appears to be weak, potentially saving money.

Multi Deck

Most blackjack games in casinos use multiple decks instead of a single deck of cards. Typically, six to eight decks are used simultaneously.


The designated area where the blackjack table is located is known as the pit. It is supervised by a casino employee called a pit boss, who oversees the game.


If a player is dealt two cards of the same value, they have the option to split their hand by placing an additional wager equal to their initial bet. This allows them to play two separate hands.


When a player is satisfied with their initial two cards or has chosen to hit and received another card, they can decide to stand, indicating they do not want any more cards.


A toke is a casino term for a tip. While tipping the staff is not mandatory in brick-and-mortar casinos, it is a gesture of appreciation for their service.

Up Card

During gameplay, players can see one face-up card of the dealer’s hand. This is known as the up card, while the dealer’s other card remains face down.

Card Value

First thing first to play Blackjack requires understanding of card values and rules of the game. In the exciting game of Blackjack, a standard deck of 52 playing cards is used, where the suits hold no significance. Here’s how card values are determined:

  • Cards numbered 2 through 10 have a value equivalent to their face value. For example, a 2 is worth two points, while a 9 is worth nine points.
  • Face cards, such as Jacks (J), Queens (Q), and Kings (K), all carry a value of 10 points each.
  • The Ace (A) is a special card that can be counted as either 1 or 11 points, depending on which value benefits the hand the most.

By familiarizing yourself with these fundamental rules, you will be able to navigate the card values effectively and make strategic decisions during your blackjack gameplay.

How to Play Blackjack at Casino?

To win players need to: Obtain a hand value higher than the dealer’s hand value, watch as the dealer exceeds a hand value of 21, secure a hand value of 21 on your initial two cards, while the dealer fails to do the same. On the other hand, losing to the dealer can occur in two ways: player’s hand value surpasses 21, the dealer’s hand possesses a greater value than yours at the conclusion of the round.

It’s crucial to recognize that the hands of other players at the table have no impact on winning the game of blackjack, unlike in poker games. In practical terms, it boils down to a one-on-one competition between you and the dealer. Although some inexperienced players may argue that it’s a team endeavour, it’s important not to be deceived by such claims.

Step By Step Game Process

There are various rule variations and deck configurations in blackjack games. The most prevalent version involves using a “shoe,” which is a plastic device that dispenses cards, typically with either 6 or 8 decks. While single and double-deck games still exist, they are not as commonly found in all casinos offering blackjack. Therefore, “shoe games” are more widespread. In this example, we will outline the procedure for the most common form of blackjack played with 6 decks. Here is a general overview of a round of blackjack:

  1. Get Some Chips to Wager. In order to play at the table, you will need to acquire some chips. Nowadays, most casinos no longer accept direct cash wagers, so you must approach the dealer to exchange your money for casino chips. This can be done by walking up to the table and placing your money on the felt surface. It’s important to note that you should not hand your money directly to the dealer, as they are unable to accept it for security reasons. Once you’ve laid your money on the felt, the dealer will arrange it on the table, ensuring the cameras have a clear view of the amount. A pit boss will then come over to verify the sum. The dealer will proceed to count out chip denominations equivalent to your buy-in amount and slide the chips toward you. At this point, you are free to handle the chips and make your wager. The dealer will position your buy-in on the felt, allowing the cameras to clearly capture the amount. This process also applies to online blackjack, where virtual chips are used for wagering.
  2. Placing a Wager. To begin a round, the first step is to put your bet in the designated betting area on the table, which could be a circle, square, or a specific logo representing the casino. The betting limits will be indicated by a small sign on either the right or left side of the table. In the United States, most tables require a minimum bet of $5 per hand, but the minimum and maximum bet amounts may vary depending on the specific casino and its regulatory environment.
  3. Dealing Cards to Players. Once you’ve placed your bet, the dealer will distribute the cards in a clockwise direction. Each player at the table will receive one face-up card, followed by the dealer dealing herself one card face-down and another card face-up. As a result, each player will have two face-up cards in front of them, while the dealer will have one face-up card and one face-down card. The arrangement will resemble the illustration below. At this point, the game is ready to commence!
  4. Player’s Decision on How to Play the Hand. Starting from the player seated on the dealer’s left (also known as “first base”), the dealer will wait for each player to make their move. You will have two face-up cards placed in front of your bet. To determine your course of action, you need to calculate the total value of your cards, which can range from 4 to 21. If you happen to receive a ten-value card and an Ace as your first two cards, you have obtained a Blackjack! Congratulations! Blackjacks are paid out at 3 to 2 (or 1.5 times your wager) immediately, without the need to continue playing the round, as long as the dealer doesn’t also have a Blackjack. If both you and the dealer have a Blackjack, it results in a “push,” meaning you neither win nor lose your original bet. In the absence of a Blackjack for you or the dealer, the dealer will sequentially point to each player, allowing them to decide on their preferred play. When it’s your turn, you must communicate your decision using the appropriate hand signal. Verbal instructions are not accepted by dealers since the cameras need to capture your decisions as well. There are five ways you can choose to play your hand: Stand, Hit, Double Down, Split, and Surrender.
  5. Dealer’s Play. You might be wondering, “Wow, that’s a lot of options. How do I know which one is the best?” Well, that depends on the dealer’s face-up card, which is visible to all players and known as the “up-card.” Based on the dealer’s up-card and your own hand, you should follow the choice recommended by basic strategy. Basic strategy represents the mathematically optimal way to play every possible combination of player hand and dealer up-card. It was developed by a computer that played millions of rounds of blackjack, determining the most successful approach for players in each hand scenario. By adhering to basic strategy, you eliminate guesswork from your decisions. 
  6. Resolving the Player’s Hand. When you follow basic strategy and utilize one of the five options listed earlier, one of three outcomes will occur:
    • Immediate Stand: Your hand is dealt in a way that basic strategy advises you to refrain from taking any additional cards.
    • Hand Completion: You take additional cards (hit, double down, or split) and achieve a hand total of 21 or less without exceeding it.
    • Hand Elimination: Either you exceeded 21 by hitting your hand one or more times, resulting in a “bust,” or you chose to surrender your hand. If your hand busts, you instantly lose your bet. This is how the casino maintains an advantage in the game. Since the player acts first, even if the dealer eventually busts, the casino retains the player’s money due to the player’s earlier bust.If your hand has not gone bust and you haven’t surrendered, it’s now the dealer’s turn to play their hand. The dealer will reveal their face-down card (the “hole card”) and calculate the total value of their two-card hand. If the dealer has a hand total of 17 or higher, they must stand. If the dealer’s hand total is 16 or lower, they must take additional cards (hit). Doubling down, splitting, and surrendering are not available options for the dealer, and they have no choice in how they play their hand, unlike the player. The dealer must follow the same set of rules for playing their hand every time. The only exception occurs when the dealer has a 17 consisting of an Ace and a six, known as a “soft 17.” Depending on the casino’s rules, the dealer might hit on a soft 17 because it can also be counted as a 7 (owing to the flexible value of an Ace), offering the dealer more chances to obtain a better hand than 17. This grants the casino a greater advantage compared to situations where the dealer stands on all 17s. Information about whether the dealer will hit a soft 17 is usually clearly displayed on the table felt, providing players with expectations regarding the dealer’s play. Again, dealers do not possess the option to deviate from the casino’s prescribed rules.
  7. Payouts. Now that you’ve completed your hand and the dealer has finished playing according to the aforementioned restrictions, one of two outcomes will arise:Dealer Bust. The dealer’s hand exceeds 21, resulting in a bust. In such cases, the dealer will pay out even money (equal to the original wager) to all hands still in play on the table.Hand Comparison. The dealer makes a hand with a total between 17 and 21. If your hand is still active, it’s a straightforward comparison to determine the higher hand. If the dealer has the higher hand, they collect your bet. Conversely, if you have the higher hand, the dealer pays you an amount equal to your wager. If both you and the dealer have the same hand total, it’s considered a “push,” allowing you to keep your money without receiving a payout for your bet. With that, the round concludes! The cards are gathered, and you can proceed to the next round.

Online Blackjack: Free / Demo version or Real Money Titles?

Many players are interested in both free versions of Blackjack and playing Blackjack for real money. Both options offer value but provide gamblers with different experiences and benefits, catering to the preferences of newbies and experienced players alike.

Benefits of Free Blackjack Games

Ideal Learning Environment: Free Blackjack is an excellent choice for newcomers as it allows them to learn the rules without the risk of losing money. Playing Blackjack online for free provides a stress-free environment for beginners to practice their skills and become comfortable with the game.

Strategy Testing: Free Blackjack games are perfect for trying out new strategies or exploring different versions of the game. This benefits both newbies and experienced players who want to refine their techniques.

Benefits of Blackjack for Money

Real Cash Winnings: Playing Online Blackjack for money adds an element of excitement as players have the opportunity to win real cash. The potential for both wins and losses intensifies the gaming experience.

Access to Tournaments: Engaging in Blackjack for money opens up the possibility of participating in online casino tournaments. This allows players to compete against others and showcase their gambling prowess.

In summary, while free Blackjack games provide an ideal learning platform and an opportunity for strategy exploration, playing Blackjack for real money offers the thrill of potential winnings and access to competitive tournaments. Both options cater to the needs and preferences of different players, whether they are beginners or seasoned enthusiasts.

How To Choose BlackJack Title To Play Online

To determine the top-rated Blackjack Casinos on the web, experts employ a comprehensive four-step evaluation method. Merely providing a great gambling experience is not enough for a casino to make the list. Let’s explore these four significant criteria for evaluating online Blackjack casinos that prioritize player safety.

Trustworthiness and Security:

The foremost consideration is ensuring the safety of players during gaming sessions. It is crucial that casinos are licensed and regulated, offering a secure gambling environment. Any site with a history of payment issues or offering untested games is automatically excluded from our list.

Blackjack Games Selection:

While every online casino offers classic Blackjack games, such as Classic Blackjack and Vegas Style Blackjack (also known as Twenty-First-Century Blackjack), players sometimes seek unique variations to break away from the routine. The availability of a diverse range of alternative Blackjack variants developed by reputable software providers is a vital criterion for selection.

Generous Bonuses:

Players value their bankrolls and seek the most enticing bonuses. Casinos that offer promotional offers and bonuses specifically applicable to playing Blackjack capture the interest of our experts. We carefully evaluate and select promotions that cater to the preferences of Blackjack enthusiasts.

Live Blackjack Games Availability:

The inclusion of live dealer games is paramount to replicating the excitement of playing Blackjack in a physical, land-based casino. Witnessing a physical table, decks of cards, and an actual dealer in real-time provides the closest experience to traditional Blackjack gameplay. Casinos offering live Blackjack games score higher in our evaluation process.

By considering these four weighty standards, we ensure that the chosen casinos provide a safe and enjoyable environment for playing Blackjack online.

Fun Facts

  • There is an actual Blackjack Hall of Fame in San Diego, California, within the Barona Resort and Casino. This wall of honour pays tribute to the greatest experts, players, and authors of Blackjack. Inductees are granted lifelong hospitality benefits by the casino, on the condition that they refrain from playing any of the casino’s tables.
  • Blackjack was prohibited in the United States at the beginning of the 19th century and remained banned until the emergence of Las Vegas casinos and gaming establishments.
  • Eleanore Dumont, famously known as Madame Moustache, holds the distinction of being America’s first professional blackjack player. She later went on to launch her own gambling establishments.
  • The card dispenser in blackjack, commonly referred to as a “shoe,” earned its name due to its resemblance to a woman’s high-heeled shoe when it was initially invented.
  • Translucent red card trays are exclusively used in land-based casinos for blackjack. These trays are designed to deter cheaters who attempt to mark cards with ink. Although the marks may be invisible to the naked eye, casino staff wearing tinted glasses or contacts can detect them.
  • In August 2001, at the Oracle Casino in Malta, a dealer achieved the impressive feat of dealing blackjack continuously for a duration of 51 hours and 33 minutes.
  • The likelihood of obtaining a natural 21 in blackjack is approximately 4.8% when playing with a single deck, although this probability can vary depending on the number of decks used.
  • Blackjack tables in land-based casinos are equipped with small mirrors known as “peepers” or “peekers.” These mirrors allow dealers to discreetly check the hole card for a potential blackjack hand.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte, the famed historical figure, was an avid fan of the game of blackjack. During his exile, he frequently indulged in playing the game.
  • The Viejas Casino in California is home to the largest blackjack table ever constructed, boasting a surface area measuring 2,226 feet and 6 inches. In 2013, a single hand of blackjack was played on this colossal table using oversized cards and chips.
  • Card shoes, used for dealing cards, incorporate two cut cards. One cut card signals the shuffle, while the other prevents players from seeing the last card in the shoe.


Do I need to install any applications to play games like Blackjack?

While you have the option to download certain apps to play, it is not mandatory. Mobile casinos can be accessed through web browsers on smartphones, tablets, or laptops. This means you can play online at any time by simply using your web browser, as long as you have an internet connection.

What is the method for counting cards in Blackjack?

To begin card counting, assign a value to each card in the deck. For example, cards from two to six have a value of +1, cards from seven to nine have a value of zero, and cards from ten to Ace have a value of -1. Maintain a running count based on the cards dealt to determine your optimal moves. By using the assigned values, you can determine if the running count is increasing or decreasing based on the cards you hold. A positive running count indicates an advantage for you, while a negative count favours the dealer. If there is more than one deck in play, calculate the true count by dividing the running count by the number of remaining decks. Adjust your bets accordingly based on the true count—increase them if the count is high and decrease them if the count is low.

How can I play Blackjack with other players, such as my friends?

Free versions of the game usually involve playing against computer opponents. However, in real-money versions, you can play with live dealers, allowing you to compete against other players.

How can I switch to the real-money version of Blackjack?

To start playing with real money, you will need to create an account at your preferred online casino. Afterward, you will need to make a deposit. Once these steps are completed, you are ready to pursue exciting winnings! Remember to never wager more than you can afford to lose.

How can I improve my Blackjack skills?

You can enhance your Blackjack skills by following professional blogs, reading their reviews of different Blackjack games, and practicing in free mode using their winning strategy tips.

What are some effective strategy tips for Blackjack?

Here are some valuable tips: The first one is to learn the basic strategy, and the best way to do this is by playing online free games using a basic blackjack strategy chart. The second tip suggests hitting if your card total is eight or less. The third tip advises against splitting fours, fives, or tens. The fourth tip discourages standing if your cards have a combined value of 12 to 16 and the dealer's cards total seven or more. Finally, tip number five suggests avoiding insurance bets.