How to Play Blackjack

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Blackjack is among the oldest and most popular gambling games. You can find it in each serious online and classic casino. Unlike in other casino gambling games, in blackjack, the importance of chance on your success is greatly limited. Your decision directly affects the game.

If you are familiar with the rules of the game and know effective strategies, the advantage of the house is minimal. Then it depends primarily on your abilities and the right decisions whether you can raise the value of your stake. That's why Blackjack is a frequent choice for experienced gamblers who seek not just entertainment but also want to win.

Blackjack - The cornerstone of success in this card game is perfect knowledge of rules and strategies. So before you start playing at the online casino, study blackjack rules thoroughly and try out several blackjack games for free. Free blackjack games are offered by most online casinos.

How to play blackjack

At first glance, blackjack is a very simple game. The basic rules are simple. The goal of the game is to reach the sum of 21 in card values.

The value of cards ranked 2-9 is equal to their rank. Cards 10, J, Q, and K have a value of 10. An ace can count as 11 or 1, depending on the player's choice.

A situation when the player has been dealt an ace and a card with a value of 10 or more is called Natural. If you are interested, you can study the detailed rules.

Learn winning blackjack strategies - when to hit

There are many strategies to achieve success in blackjack. The most commonly used are the so-called Basic Strategy and Card Counting.

The Basic Strategy is based on the mathematical probability of winning in the given situation. In the Blackjack Basic Strategy table, find the box with coordinates describing your situation. The box contains how to proceed in order to maximize your chances of winning. Learn this table by heart in order to play blackjack in classic casinos or keep it open in another browser window when playing online blackjack.

Blackjack table when to hit and stand

  2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
8 H H H D D H H H H H
9 D D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D D D
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H/R H/R
17 S S S S S S S S S S
A,2 H H D D D H H H H H
A,3 H H D D D H H H H H
A,4 H H D D D H H H H H
A,5 H H D D D H H H H H
A,6 D D D D D H H H H H
A,7 S Ds Ds Ds Ds S S H H S
A,8 S S S S Ds S S S S S
2,2 H/P P P P P P H H H H
3,3 H/P H/P P P P P H/P H H H
4,4 H H H/P D/P D/P H H H H H
5,5 D D D D D D D D H H
6,6 P P P P P H/P H H H H
7,7 P P P P P P H/P H S/R H
8,8 P P P P P P P P P P
9,9 P P P P P S P P S S
10,10 S S S S S S S S S S


H Hit
S Stand
D Double, if possible. Otherwise hit
Ds Double, if possible. Otherwise stand
P Split
H/P If double after split, hit
D/P If double after split, double again
H/R Surrender, if possible. Otherwise, hit
S/R Surrender, if possible. Otherwise, stand

Optimal Strategy in Blackjack for Beginners

If you follow these simple guidelines, you can be sure that you play each game in the best possible manner and reduce the house edge to a minimum.

Hard hands

The following rules apply to hard hands:

  • 5 to 8 - always draw, whatever the dealer’s card.
  • 9 - if the dealer has 2 to 6, always double; if he has 7 or more just draw.
  • 10 - double against dealer’s 2 to 9.
  • 11 - double against dealer’s 2 to 10.
  • 12 to 16 - draw if the dealer has 7 to ace; stand otherwise.
  • 17 to 21 - always stand.

Soft hands

For soft hands, the following rules apply:

  • 12 to 15 - always draw.
  • 16 to 17 - double if the dealer has 2 to 6; draw otherwise.
  • 18 - double if the dealer has 2 to 6; stand if he has 7 or 8; draw if he has 9, 10 or ace.
  • 19 to 21 - always stand.


  • Always split aces and eights.
  • Never split 4, 5 or tens.
  • Split nines except for when the dealer has 7, ten or ace.
  • Split the twos, threes, sixes and sevens if the dealer has 2 to 6; if the dealer has 7 or above, only draw for sixes and sevens.

If you are interested to learn how to split in blackjack, read a special article in our blackjack guide.

Never do this!

  • Never take insurance unless you play with other people and you a ten card on the table.
  • Never surrender except when you have 15 against ten and 16 against 9, ten and ace.
  • Never be disrespectful to other players and dealers, they want to enjoy the game just like you. The dealer is not the one who influences the game - it is only your decision how many times you bet and on which table.
  • The dealer is your friend. If he doesn’t act that way, find another table.
  • Never raise bets when you’re losing. That’s a surefire way to bury yourself and your bankroll.

Keep in mind!

  • Remember that blackjack is a wonderful game and is even more fun if you play it well.
  • At all costs, try to remember all the basic rules for a successful game.
  • Remember, only you determine how long you will play.
  • If you’re winning, raise your bets.
  • Stop playing if you've already achieved your goals or the game is no longer fun.

These are the basic rules for a successful game. No can guarantee that you will always win, but if you follow the instructions above, you can be sure that you have done all you could to reduce the house edge!

Probability in Blackjack

In a standard situation in a game with eight decks, where the dealer stands on a soft 17, doubling the bets for any two cards is allowed. The player can split, resplit, and blackjack pays 3:2. The house edge is about 0.43%, which in practice means that for every $100 played, the player will lose about 43 cents in the long run.

Specific probabilities

Changes in rules can affect the house advantage. E.g. if the dealer has to draw on soft 17, the house edge jumps to 64%.

If the number of decks is reduced to six, the house edge is reduced to about 0.40%. If the player is allowed to surrender, the house edge is even lower - about 0.33%.

Table of chances

We recommend to players to get acquainted with the specific probabilities. Try to study the table below for a better understanding of the game.

The first table shows player's chance of bust if he decides to draw another card in addition to his starting two-card hand.

Hand value Bust %
21 100%
20 92%
19 85%
18 77%
17 69%
16 62%
15 58%
14 56%
13 39%
12 31%
11 and less 0%

The second table shows the likelihood of dealer's bust depending on the card he has. As you can see, the biggest chance of dealer's bust is when he holds a five.

Dealer's card Bust %
2 35.30%
3 37.56%
4 40.28%
5 42.89%
6 42.08%
7 25.99%
8 23.86%
9 23.34%
10 21.43%
J, Q, K 21.43%
A 11.65%

Studying these two simple tables will give you an initial closer look at the game. Note that the advantage of blackjack in a casino is that the dealer only plays after the player. This makes it easy for the player to bust without the dealer having to do anything at all.

Advanced Play - How to Use Surrender in Blackjack

The surrender option differs from the other options radically. For beginners, the "surrender" rule is not an option you can see very often. One of the reasons why is that most casinos don’t even offer the Blackjack variant with Surrender. If you want to apply this rule in a live game, you have to say it aloud. There is no gesture to invoke Surrender, you have to say "surrender" or "I surrender". In brick and mortar casinos, however, this version is virtually non-existent.

What surrender actually means:

  • Surrendering means discarding your cards at the cost of half the original bet.
  • It is only possible to surrender immediately after the cards have been dealt, before any action like to hit, split or double.
  • Cards are discarded only if the player has a chance of winning 25% or less.

Once the dealer understands that you want to surrender the game, he will remove your cards and wait for the next deal. You have to realize that even though Surrender in Blackjack is a good option that reduces house edge, it's not very friendly. When the dealer takes your cards, he also takes 50% of the original bet. This means that you can only get back half of what you have bet. However, it is better to look on the bright side and to realize that it is definitely better to get something back rather than nothing at all.

Variants of Blackjack Surrender

There are only two basic variants of this blackjack – so-called "early" and "late". The late version means in practice that the dealer checks both his cards to see whether he got a blackjack. If the dealer lets you surrender even before he can check his cards, it's a so-called "early" surrender.

The Surrender rule is a great option, but you must be clever about using it and know it well enough. Then you can use it to your advantage.

Strategies for Blackjack Surrender – a table

The following table shows the optimal strategy for BJ Surrender, which you will encounter most frequently in online casinos. As you can see from the table, it’s advisable to use his rule very rarely. Even so, the house edge will be reduced.

This is a variant with the following rules:

  • Six-deck game
  • Dealer stands on soft 17
  • Doubling after splitting allowed
  • Late Surrender
   Dealer's card
Your cards 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
5 H H H H H H H H H H
6 H H H H H H H H H H
7 H H H H H H H H H H
8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D H H
12 D D D D D D D D D H
13 H H S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H/R H
16 S S S S S H H H/R H/R H/R
17 S S S S S S S S S S
A,2 H H H D D H H H H H
A,3 H H H D D H H H H H
A,4 H H D D D H H H H H
A,5 H H D D D H H H H H
A,6 H D D D D H H H H H
A,7 S Ds Ds Ds Ds S S H H H
A,8 S S S S S S S S S S
A,9 S S S S S S S S S S
2,2 P P P P P P H H H H
3,3 P P P P P P H H H H
4,4 H H H P P H H H H H
5,5 D D D D D D D D H H
6,6 P P P P P H H H H H
7,7 P P P P P P H H H H
8,8 P P P P P P P P P P
9,9 P P P P P S P P S S
10,10 S S S S S S S S S S


H Hit
S Stand
D Double, if possible. Otherwise hit
Ds Double, if possible. Otherwise stand
P Split
H/R Surrender, if possible. Otherwise hit

Is it better to play blackjack at the online casino or classic casino?

Playing at the online casino has many benefits for you. First of all, you don’t have to travel. You can play from the comfort of your own home, anytime you want.

Compared to classic casinos, online casinos can offer you a much more varied range of games, including lesser known variants of blackjack. Most online casinos also allow you to try blackjack for free. If you decide to play for real money, you often get a generous bonus to your deposit or sometimes even completely free of charge.

The only advantage of classic casinos compared to blackjack online is the possibility to use the Card Counting method.

Why play blackjack online

  • Clear rules. The goal is to get a sum of 21
  • Possibility to try a free game
  • A one-on-one game against the casino
  • Bets of an arbitrary value and high-value prizes

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