First of a five part feature, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about how to play blackjack. Whether you’re a beginner with limited experience, or a pro that needs a quick strategy recap, our guides will ensure you hit the tables primed and ready to go.
Introducing Blackjack: the most popular table game on the web
Blackjack is by far the most popular online table game with millions of players hitting the tables across the world, online and in-house.
While some have experienced the ups and downs of this whirlwind card game, not all of you will have dared to approach the table game that is renowned as the best in terms of house edge.
House edge, of course, is the percentage of all stakes the house will retain as the game is played over a long period of time; it’s also a key indicator of how profitable a game can be.
In blackjack, the house edge of a regular game of blackjack (four decks, shuffled, dealer stands on 17) is around 0.6%. This means for every £10 staked, the house can expect to retain 6p. When compared to other casino games this is remarkably small.
Hence, this is the reason why blackjack has become the casino’s number one game; more and more people head online, or to Vegas, with a disorganised strategy and attempt to take down the casino.
Of course, some are successful, but more often than not their strategy will lead to them walking away empty handed. This is why when playing blackjack any strategy used must be sound, solid and ultimately fool-proof.
Before we go anywhere though, you’ll need to know how to play. Fortunately, learning the rules of blackjack isn’t too taxing.
How to play online and in-house blackjack
Blackjack is a card game that is played between two groups, the dealer and the players. It is the players aim to beat the dealer by holding a higher valued hand once the distribution of cards is completed.
Hands are valued from 1 to 21, with the aim to get as close to 21 as possible. Cards are valued 1 to 11, with cards worth what they show (an eight, of course, is worth 8) and face cards worth 10. Aces are worth one or 11.
Whoever has the highest hand wins, with the player doubling their initial bet, or their bet recouped by the dealer if the player loses. If the two have drawn level a ‘push’ is declared and the player’s stake is returned.
Before cards are dealt players must make their bets, which is done by placing chips down on the table. Bets depend on minimum and maximum table allowances, with the minimum generally being £1. Maximum limits can vary, from £100 to £10k.
Once all bets have been placed the dealer will distribute cards. If a player has not placed a bet, they will not receive cards. Each player is dealt two cards face up, while the dealer places two cards in-front of them, one face-up and one face down. As soon as this has occurred the game begins.
Stick, or hit?
Once you have your initial cards you need to decide whether to hit or stick. If, for example, you were dealt a 9 and a king, you would have 19. This is a good hand and is worth sticking. The risk of busting, (going over 21 and resulting in an instant loss) is too risky.
Every player gets the opportunity to stick or hit as many times as they’d like. The dealer will ask one person at a time, moving on when the player has hit as many times as required. Again, if they go over 21 they lose and the dealer moves on to the next person.
Once the dealer has worked their way through every player they will flip over their covered card and reveal their hand. They will then deal in the same way they dealt to everyone else, although generally they must stop when they hit 17.
Winners and losers
After this, the dealer will compare their hand to the players and anyone with a higher value hand will beat the dealer and have their stake doubled. If anyone holds a lower-value hand they will lose their stake. If anybody has drawn with the dealer they will have their stake returned.
Special hands in blackjack
The only special hand you have to worry about in blackjack is ‘blackjack’, which occurs when you’re dealt a 10 and an ace at the same time after the initial deal. If you do land this, you’ll get winnings at 3/2, as opposed to 1/1.
And that’s pretty much everything you need to know to get your feet off the ground. Tune in next time when we’ll go through the good and bad hands in blackjack.