Blackjack is a casino classic for a reason. It’s easy to learn, fun to play and fast as lightning at the tables.
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This has to be one of the easiest casino games to learn. The rules are simple: beat the dealer’s hand, without going higher than 21.
Aces can be valued at one or 11, picture cards are worth 10 points and numbered cards keep their standard value.
Here’s how a typical game usually plays out:
Standard games often feature the following options, and useful terms.
That said, each different type of game has a unique set of rules. For example, in classic blackjack, you have a minimal number of decks in play. This means it’s much easier to calculate the odds of winning.
For more information on the rules, check out our guide on how to play blackjack.
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Our classic variant plays by the iconic, much-loved rules:
Here, you have a choice to play one, three or five hands at a time. Different rules also apply, including:
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To beat the dealer, you simply need to put together a stronger hand than theirs, without going higher than 21. You’ll be dealt two cards faced up. You can then choose your action:
If you make the right choices and get a higher hand than the dealer without going ‘bust’ – congratulations, you’ve won!
An insurance bet becomes an option when the dealer’s face up card is an ace, and is there to protect you if the dealer lands a blackjack. However, the odds of them having a 10-value card alongside their ace is only 30.77%. You can factor that in against the 2:1 payout, as you may end up losing more than you would win.
Over the years, many blackjack games have changed from 3:2 payouts to 6:5 payouts. This means if you bet $10 on a 3:2 game and win, you’ll get $15. But in 6:5 blackjack, a $10 winning bet only equals $12. In other words, you get better payouts at a 3:2 blackjack table.
Card counting is where players keep a ‘running count’ of the number of high and low cards in the deck. Values of 1 and -1 are assigned to specific ranges of cards. If there is a negative count, it means that more high cards have been dealt and few remain in the deck. If the count is positive, this means more low-value cards have been dealt – and more high value cards remain in the deck.
However, card counting is ineffective when multiple decks are used, and when continuous shuffling is employed, such as in the majority of online blackjack games.
Blackjack charts present players with statistical information that helps provide advice on what action to take.
To use the chart, players simply match their hand total with the dealer’s visible card until the ‘intersection’ point. Abbreviations are used for actions the player might want to take, based on the stats:
You can find blackjack charts for games that use four, six and eight decks of cards.
Blackjack is a game of skill and strategy, with a dash of luck. Calculating odds and using blackjack charts means you can work out the likelihood of certain things happening at the blackjack table, and increase your chances of getting a winning hand. However, the cards you start with and those that the dealer starts with do bring an element of luck. You can’t predict 100% what will be dealt next either – which is what makes things so exciting.
16 is often considered the worst hand total, as it’s not strong enough to stand on – but the likelihood of going bust is also high. Many experts will advise you to stand on a hard 16 (no aces), if the dealer’s upturned card is below six (not including aces). If the dealer is showing a high card, however, they often recommend going for the hit.
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