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Beginner’s Guide on How to Play Blackjack | Updated for February 2024

Are you ready to learn how to play blackjack step by step? Online blackjack is one of the top casino games that gamblers love to play. This simple game is easy to learn and difficult to master. It requires high strategy to be successful, but the odds lean towards the players, making it ideal to learn and master. If you want to learn how to play casino blackjack, then you’ve come to the right place. We will share everything you need to know in this complete beginner’s guide by MySer-Gambling!  

The Set-Up

Whether you want to learn how to play blackjack online or how to play blackjack at home, the rules and set up of the game are the same no matter where you play. Online Blackjack uses the standard set of playing cards, and often multiple decks are used. The standard deck of cards has 52 cards that are divided into four suits. In most cases, the suits do not matter in blackjack. Each card has a rank that is based on their worth in value.  

  • Aces – are the most valuable and worth 1 or 11 points 
  • Face cards – i.e. Kings, Queens, and Jacks are worth 10 points 
  • Remaining cards – i.e. cards two through ten are worth their value, so a two card is worth 2 points, the three is worth 3 points, and so on 

Typically, there are 7 players at a table. If you want to learn how to play live blackjack, follow these same steps. Each player at the table is playing against the dealer only. This means you are comparing your hand to the dealer, and other players’ hands do not matter in this game. When the game begins, players place their bets. Once all bets are placed, two cards are dealt to each player. The dealer will also deal two cards to himself; one is laid face up and the other face down. The face down card is also known as “in the hole” or “hole” card.  

With just two cards dealt, it is possible to have 21 off the bat, with an ace and a ten. This is known as blackjack and has a payout of 3 to 2. The dealer could also have blackjack. If the dealer’s face up card is an ace, players are given a chance for an option side bet known as insurance. This pays 2 to 1. If the dealer ends up having blackjack, this side bet safeguards your bet, so your net loss is zero. The house edge is high, however, so it is not recommended to take this side bet. If the dealer does not have blackjack, then the game proceeds. 

From here, players have several options to proceed. One of the options is to “hit” and the dealer will deal you an additional card for your hand. Remember, you want to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. Another option is to “stand”. This is when you stick to your current hand and do not take an additional card from the dealer. These are the two basic moves players make when playing blackjack.  

There are three additional options as well. Splitting is an option where you split your hand into two hands. This can only be done with a pair, and you must make an additional bet. For example, say you have two aces and want to split. First, you must place an additional bet, then the aces are split into two hands. The dealer will deal an additional card for each new hand. These two hands are played independent of each other. The advantage is you can win twice as much, but the disadvantage is you can also lose twice as much. Make sure to use this move wisely.  

The next option you have is to double down. When doubling down, you place an additional bet and are dealt one more card. For example, let’s say you have a six and a four and decide to double down. (This is a good hand on which to double down, and we’ll get into the reason behind this in the next section.) Therefore, you’ll need to place an additional bet and will receive an additional card in return.  

The last option available is to surrender. Half of your bet goes back to you and the other half is given up to the house. When this option is available depends on the casino, but the majority offer a late surrender. This means surrender is an available option only after the dealer checks for blackjack. But if he has blackjack, then there is no surrender option. An early surrender, which is rarely offered by casinos, is when players can surrender before the dealer checks his cards for blackjack.  

Something beginners may not be aware of is that dealers are required to play by a set of blackjack rules. Even if they wanted to, the dealer could not deviate from these rules. How it goes is the dealer must hit on any hand that is equal to or below 16. Anything 18 and above, the dealer must stand. If their hand is a soft 17, then it depends on the casino whether to hit or stand. A “soft” hand is a hand that includes an ace. Since the ace can count as a 1 or 11, it is flexible and, therefore, “soft”. These parameters that the dealer must play by make conditions a bit more favorable for the player.  

The Strategy

In the game of blackjack, the house edge is favorable for the player in comparison with other casino games. This is especially true once you can play strategically or, for an extra boost, are able to count cards. Therefore, learning strategies and playing smart is important. With some knowledge and experience, you can play blackjack in a way that will improve your odds of coming out on top.  

We mentioned earlier what a soft hand means, but there is also its opposite, a “hard hand”. A hard hand is a hand without any aces, or it can also be a hand with an ace where the ace must be counted as 1 or else it will be a bust. How you play your hand will depend a lot on whether your hand is hard or soft because a soft hand has more flexibility. A hard hand has less wiggle room for the player.  

Another factor to consider in how to play your hand is what the dealer’s up card is. For example, if the dealer has an up card of 7, then one would do well to play more aggressively. This is because there is a greater likelihood that the dealer will have a higher total to beat. Now, if the dealer’s up card is a 6 or lower, then it would be a good idea to play more conservatively. The reason for this is that the likelihood is greater that the dealer will go bust.  

One blackjack strategy that is often shared is to assume the dealer’s hole card is a 10. The reason it is a popular theory is that in one deck, there are more cards with a value of 10 than anything else. These account for approximately 30% of the deck, which is a high percentage depending on who you’re talking to. Some discount this strategy, while others continue to see its value. We find it is a useful tip to know and be aware of.  

Next, let’s discuss when to split. It is always a good idea to split aces and eights. If you have a pair of aces, you should split, because each ace gives you a high chance of making 21. Thereby, you increase your odds. Splitting a pair of eights is also a smart move because if your next card is a ten, then you get a hand totaling 18. Whereas, having a pair of aces would be a hard 12 and a pair of eights in one hand gives you a hard 16, both are not good hands. Never split 4’s, 5’s, or 10’s. Do the math on these to figure out why. With a pair of 4’s, you have a hard 8. If you get a 10 card, then you’re at 18, which is a pretty good hand. The same logic applies to a pair of 5’s and 10’s.  

Now, let’s see when to double down. This move may not happen very frequently. It is common for online casinos to only allow doubling down on hands that total 9, 10, or 11. You should almost always double down on hands totaling 10 or 11. These are strong hands to have because there is a good chance you will get a 10 or an ace. Before doubling down on these hands, make sure the dealer does not have an ace. If they do, don’t double down, or do so at your own risk. Another opportune time to double down is if you have a soft 16, 17, or 18 and the dealer has a low card showing.  

Ready to Play

Are you feeling ready to hit the blackjack tables with these new tips and strategies? Now you not only know how to play blackjack for beginners but also like an expert. It is important to know how to play blackjack with friends first. Therefore, you will have no issue knowing how to play blackjack at a casino! These tips that we shared will get you started off on the right foot as you test out new strategies and gain more experience. Blackjack is simple to learn and one of the most popular casino games for a reason. Happy gambling!  

FAQ: How to Play Blackjack

How to play Blackjack 21 for beginners? 

Blackjack 21 is the same as the traditional blackjack we discuss in our article. We share a step-by-step how-to guide for anyone who is just learning the game. Check it out and make sure to read the section on strategy for pro-tips!  

Where can I learn how to play Blackjack card game? 

Blackjack is simple to learn, but it takes time, practice, and knowledge to master. We recommend starting off with free demo games before moving on to real money games. Our casino reviews have recommendations on top online casinos. 

  • Mustapha

    Mustapha, former journalist turned content writer, expertly combines his writing prowess and gambling passion at MySer-Gambling.com. With keen insights and engaging storytelling, Mustapha delivers captivating content, elevating the online gambling experience for our readers.