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So you want to play blackjack? The good news is that online blackjack is one of the easiest casino games to learn. The bad news is that the blackjack game is one of the most difficult to consistently win. The challenge and excitement of this simple game draws millions of players to online blackjack tables every day. With a quick overview of blackjack rules, even you can join the ranks of eager players! So pull your computer chair closer to the screen and get ready to learn all you’ve ever wanted to know about the notorious blackjack game.
First we’ll start with blackjack rules for the cards. Virtually every card game in the casino utilizes the 52-card deck, so familiarizing yourself with this deck is crucial not only to playing blackjack games but to playing a number of other popular casino games as well. Online blackjack may not use a physical card deck, but the software that supports the game runs on the same concepts and odds and is represented by a virtual deck that is identical to the real thing in both features and content. To play blackjack well, you must know the deck well.
Blackjack online and off follows the same rules in regards to cards. Each number card has the same value as the number on its face. Each face card is worth ten. The Ace is something of a wild card as it can represent either a one or an 11 as the player sees fit. Blackjack is also commonly referred to as “21” because this is the ultimate goal of the game; to build a hand as close to 21 as possible without going over (also called “going bust”). To begin a hand of blackjack online, the computer (or occasionally a live dealer) will distribute two cards face up to each player. They will then deal two cards to themselves; one face up and one face down. The best possible two-card hand you can get is of course the coveted 21. This is achieved with an Ace plus a face card or ten. A hand of 21 with the first two cards is also called a “natural.” It results in an automatic win and carries its own special payout.
If you don’t automatically get a 21, then the next objective in a blackjack game is to get closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand. This is done through a number of different moves. As a player, you have the option of hitting, standing, splitting, or doubling down. To hit is to request an additional card. This may be done repeatedly until the player gets 21, busts, or stands. To stand is to accept your existing hand. To split is to double your bet in order to separate two cards of the same value into two different hands. To double down is to double your bet on the condition that you will receive only one more card. These options are offered in all blackjack games. Some blackjack games offer an additional move: the surrender. In a blackjack game where surrender is offered, players may fold their hand immediately after receiving their first two cards in return for getting half of their original bet back.
Speaking of bets, it is important to note that blackjack rules for betting differ greatly from poker rules. With the exception of splitting and doubling down, players make one initial bet that will ultimately determine their payout. Each table has minimum and maximum bets that determine how much a player can or must wager on each hand, and the payout scale remains fixed from one hand to the next.
If you are new to the game, then these blackjack rules may be hard to absorb immediately, but sit at a table and you will quickly see the simple logic behind the game. It’s certainly not hard to play online blackjack, but if you want to win then you’re going to need more than the basic rules. Want more? Then continue on to Expert Players’ blackjack strategies page!
So you know the rules and maybe you’ve even played a few blackjack games. Chances are if you’re reading this then you’re not winning as often as you’d like. True to our name, Expert Players has the blackjack strategies you need to take your game to the next level. While knowing the fundamentals of the game is a necessary foundation for any blackjack strategy, luck alone won’t keep your bankroll afloat. The best part of blackjack is that it’s one of the few casino games whose odds improve with a player’s skills. So grab a notebook and clear your minds—we’ve got some crucial blackjack strategy advice sure to cut your losses and pump up your stack.
The simplest element of blackjack strategy is to play the dealer’s hand. Obviously you can’t see one of their first two cards, so the most popular approach is to assume that the face down card is a ten. Thus if the dealer has a Queen face up you are to assume they have a 20; likewise a two face up would translate to a hypothetical dealer hand of 12. At both online and live casinos, the dealers are required to play their hands by house rules. That means that they always stand at a certain hand. Sometimes that hand is 16; sometimes it’s 17. The dealer’s standing point is the first thing you need to determine, as it will also determine when you stand. In other words, if the dealer stands at 16, you will usually hit on anything under 16 and will hit on a 16 when the dealer’s hypothetical hand is 17 or more. That said, you should never hit on a hand of 17 or more. Never! You’ve already got a solid hand, and the odds are just too high that you’ll go bust.
The second component of blackjack strategy that we are going to discuss is the Ace. Generally getting an Ace is a very good thing because it’s the only way you can get a natural, and its transient qualities reduce your chances of busting. A hand with an Ace is called a “soft” hand because the Ace’s value as either a one or an 11 means the total is not set until the player stands or busts. Many players make the mistake of hitting on a good soft hand. We recommend hitting on a soft hand of 17 (just slightly higher than traditional strategy dictates), but always hold on 18 and up unless the dealer has a hand of 19 or more. In that situation, we recommend standing at nothing less than a soft 19.
Other blackjack strategies advise making the most of less common moves like splitting and doubling down. Paired Aces and Eights are the only hands that experts consistently agree to split, while 5’s and 10’s should never be split. Doubling down is likewise a move that should be used conservatively. A two-card hand of 10 or 11 is the best bet as your odds of hitting a high hand or even a 21 are good, but a two-card hand of 8 or 12 is better left alone. Doubling down on any soft hand is rarely recommended.
Word to the wise: no blackjack strategies worth their chips will recommend surrender or buying insurance. A surrender of course is an automatic loss while insurance carries some of the worst odds in the casino.
As you learn the ins and outs of the blackjack table, you’ll quickly realize that the odds aren’t the only thing that can affect your game. Many observations fall outside the category of blackjack strategies; Expert Players prefers to think of them as blackjack tips. Players at every level are susceptible to internal and external distractions, apart from the many less obvious mistakes that newer players often make. Expert Players wants to save you the stress (and losses) associated with these common mistakes. We’ve compiled a list of the most simple but valuable blackjack tips that most pros wish they’d known when they started playing the game.
Know the Game Before You Play the Game:
When sitting at a cash blackjack table, learning the game via “trial by fire” is NOT a good strategy. Make a commitment to yourself and your bankroll and take the time to really learn the game, its rules, and its lingo prior to playing for money. Not only will you save yourself some chips, but you’ll save your versed competitors the frustration of waiting for you to decide if you want insurance or not. The good news is that many online casinos offer FREE blackjack games that give you all the time and free hands you need to familiarize yourself with the game and hammer out an effective strategy.
You may feel ready for the cash tables, but the only way to know is to play them. Most amateur players have limited bankrolls. The best way to make the most of yours is to budget it by setting session limits. Start slow by playing only an hour or two a night, and leave the table when you hit your limit—whether you’re up or down when that time comes. And don’t blow your whole bankroll at a high roller table the first night you play. Choose a table with a minimum/maximum that allows you to stretch your limit for the full session.
Stick to Your Guns
You should have both a playing and a betting strategy before you hit the tables. Don’t go chasing luck and don’t go chasing losses; if your strategies are good, then it’ll all average out in your favor in the long run. Many players get excited and stop playing the odds, thinking “luck” is on their side. Other players will have a bad streak and start betting big thinking they’re bound to hit soon. Both of these mistakes can quickly destroy your stack. The only way to come out on top in this game is to keep a level head and stick to your strategy.
Whether you’re playing blackjack live or online, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the table, to get sidetracked by chatter, or to let the activity around you distract you from your cards. One of the most important blackjack tips we can give you is to always put your cards first. It seems obvious, but for many amateurs the experience can become more exciting than the game itself. If you’re playing blackjack online, then do it at a time when all’s quiet and you can really concentrate. Never play when you’re emotional, and space your sessions to avoid fatigue. Remember that you can stand or sit at a blackjack table at any time; if now’s not the best time for you to play, then don’t.