In this guide you will learn the rules and how to play blackjack, the origins of Blackjack, where you can find the best free online blackjack tables and most importantly, how to have the most fun while playing!
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Blackjack is considered to be the most popular card game in the world. But why?
Well, for the dealer, it’s easy to keep track of things.
For the players, it’s an easy game to play, one that rewards your skill, and it is one of the few games that you can actually beat if you’re good at it. Use our free blackjack guide to do so and our free bonuses, which you can find here below!
You may think that blackjack has gone unchanged since its invention. False! There have been many changes to this game, big and small, during its long and fruitful history.
While we do not know exactly when blackjack was invented, most believe blackjack is a descendant of the French game Vingt et un.
In the eighteenth century, the rules for vingt-et-un were different compared to the game we know as blackjack today. French casinos invited players to reach a “natural” with cards that total 21; however, players only wagered after they received their first card. They could also double everyone’s bet after looking at their initial card. Moreover, if the dealer got a natural, dealers would pay players three times more than what they originally paid in. However, the hand-ranking system and the goal of trying to achieve 21 remained the same.
Meanwhile, their Italian neighbours were happily playing Seven and a half.
Seven and a half used only face cards, which counted as half a point. Cards 8 through 10 were valued at one point, and the king of diamonds was a wild card. The goal was to cop a hand worth 7.5 points. You lost if you went over this number. Many assume the term “busted” originates from here.
Vingt-et-un’s popularity spread throughout the world, albeit under different names. The English called it Van John, while their aussie friends named it pontoon.
Sometime in the 1800s, the game reached the new world, although blackjack lost its popularity on the long ocean voyage. In order to gain more players, the casinos twitched the rules and began paying a 10-to-1-bonus when a player’s initial two cards were either a jack of clubs or jack of spades, paired with an ace of spades. This is how the game first became more widely known as 21 Blackjack, then simply Blackjack.
Along with the legalisation of gambling in 1931, Blackjack made its way down to the gambling El Dorado, known as Las Vegas. Casino owners didn’t know much about the math behind blackjack, but they knew they were making heavenly amounts of real money with it. Way too much real money, actually, since gamblers acted before the dealer and they lost if their hand exceeded 21, many automatically lost, regardless of what the dealer subsequently did. Casino managers smartly realized this was too big an edge for them, so they implemented some player-favourable rules to keep people playing. These included the well-known payout ratio of 3-to-2 on a blackjack, and allowing players to double down and split pairs. The dealer, on the other hand, had no options, as mentioned before. These rule changes increased the popularity of blackjack, even though the math of the game remained a mystery, because many casino owners believed the game was simply too complicated to be mathematically analysed. Well, until 1956 that is, when smart entrepreneurs started making pretty much free money.
In the ’40s and ’50s, there were a few players that also started developing systems to beat blackjack. The most famous among them was Dr. Marcum, a nuclear physicist who quit his job to play full time, as he knew he could make lots of real money with his blackjack money making scheme. However, it was Dr. Edward O. Thorp, in 1962, who developed the first powerful winning card-counting system. Once it hit the New York Times list of best-selling books, Las Vegas casinos changed the rules in order to allow them to keep on winning. Players did not like that and refused to play anymore. The changes were reversed but counting cards will still get you banned by traditional casinos.
Now that you’re aware of the history of blackjack let us get straight to the main questions at hand: how do you play blackjack? No worries, our blackjack strategy guide will answer most, if not all your blackjack questions:
Before jumping into the deep end, check out blackjack strategy guide on how to get the most out of your online blackjack game. Throughout the following paragraphs you will get to understand the blackjack basic strategy as well as tips and tricks for playing blackjack. So, let us start the ball rolling:
Many people will tell you that the strategy used to win at blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible. This is partially misleading, whether intentional or not.
The Blackjack rules are much simpler; the actual strategy to win real money at blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand by either having a total that exceeds the dealer’s total or getting a 21 when the dealer does not.
In online blackjack, all cards equal their face value. Card suits are irrelevant at blackjack. In blackjack, face cards count as 10. Moreover, the ace can count as either 1 or 11. The total of any blackjack hand is the sum of the values in it. For example, a hand composed of 1-6-10 means you have 17. An ace will count as 11 unless doing so would make your hand total exceed 21, in which case it will get the value of 1.
When someone’s’ hand has more than a total of 21 while playing online blackjack, this is known as busting. If only the dealer passes 21, it can also be called a break. For example, if a player was dealt a 9-7, drew one more card which was a 6, the player busted, since 9+7+6 = 22.
A hard hand in online blackjack is any hand that either does not contain an ace, or has an ace that counts as 1. For example, 10-7 is a hard 17; 4-A-10-2 is a hard 17. All hands that include an ace that counts as 11 is known as a soft hand. Often when you are dealt a soft hand in blackjack and draw more cards your hand will convert to a hard hand. For example, if a player is dealt a 5+Ace which is a soft 16 and he draws another card. Suppose the drawn card was a 6. The player now has a hard 12. You can never bust with a soft hand, which makes using soft hands the ideal strategy. Knowing the difference between soft hands and hard hands is imperative, since the playing strategy often differs even if the total of the hand is the same. For example, a 10-6 (hard 16) should be played differently than an A-5 (soft 16).
Remember that many online casinos will offer a free demo mode so that you can practice before playing. We highly recommend playing a few free demo rounds, as they will help you get a feel for the game.
Blackjack games are generally played with a maximum of 7 players.
In most online blackjack casinos, real money is not used to directly make bets. Instead, you must use real money in order to buy casino chips or “checks.”
Chips are coded by colours that signify their value. Generally, a white chip usually equals 1 GBP, red is 5, green is 25, black is 100, purple is 500 and orange is 1000.
Every online blackjack table will specify the maximum and minimum bets. For instance, if a table has a minimum bet of 25GBP you are not allowed to bet 5GBP; your minimum bet must be 25 GBP. Be sure to check out the betting guidelines before playing!
Before the cards are dealt, all players must make a bet. Everybody, including the dealer, will receive two cards. One of the dealer’s cards (the dealer’s upcard) is always dealt face up so that players can see the value. The other dealer’s card, known as the dealer’s downcard or hole card, is face down. The two player cards can be dealt either face up or face down, depending on which online blackjack casino you are playing at.
Once you see your two cards and the value of one of the blackjack dealer’s two cards, you must choose what you want to do next.
Any of the following blackjack tips and rules apply from case to case.
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This means you ask the dealer to draw another card to your hand. Use this strategy if you need to get closer to 21!
One strategy you can use if you have two identical cards, for example a pair of 8s or 2 aces, is the one of splitting them. When you split, you must make another bet equal to your prior bet. When you pair split, you are playing each card as a separate hand and you can draw as many cards as you like to each hand, unless you have split aces; generally, you can only draw one additional card to each ace. Pair splitting is not a strategy we would recommend in most cases.
In this case, you are satisfied with your cards and want to keep them as is.
This playing option allows you to double your initial bet in return for receiving one draw card. Attention: you can receive ONLY one more! Generally, you can only double down after you draw your first two cards, but before drawing another card. Many online blackjack casinos will allow you to double down for less than your original wager.
Although rare, some online blackjack casinos will allow you to surrender if things get bad. It allows a player to forfeit the hand right away, losing half of their original bet. Generally players can surrender their initial two-card hand only after the dealer has checked and ascertained that he doesn’t have a blackjack (known as late surrender). Once you draw a card, the surrender option will not be possible anymore. Not exactly a free escape, but this strategy is worth considering if you decide to play conservatively.
The blackjack rules state that when the dealer’s upcard is an ace, the casino will ask you if you want to make an insurance wager, which is a side bet. An insurance bet means you are betting that the dealer’s next card will be a ten-value card. You can make an insurance bet less than or equal to half of the initial bet that you previously made. You will win your insurance bet if the dealer has a ten-value card coming up. A winning insurance bet pays off double, so if you’re feeling lucky, go for it!
The blackjack rules state that when the player has a blackjack hand and the dealer has an ace showing, you may be asked if you want “even money.” Even money means the dealer will automatically match you 1 to 1 before checking the house’s downcard for a potential blackjack. Taking even will get you the same result as placing an insurance bet - making real money.
Unlike you, the gambler, the dealer in blackjack has no playing options. A dealer must draw if their hand equals less than 17 and they must stand when the total is 17 to 21. Some online casinos state that the dealers must stand on soft 17 and in others they must hit. Dealers standing on soft 17s can benefit the player, so look for online casinos with this rule! Remember, your only objective in the game of blackjack is to beat the dealer!
The blackjack rules for winning or losing a hand are crystal clear. If your hand exceeds a total of 21, you will lose with no recourse. If your unbusted hand is worth more than the dealers’, you win and will receive a 1 to 1 payout. If you and the dealer have the same total, you have tied and will keep your bet. A player’s untied blackjack hand, which may also be referred to as “natural”, is paid 3 to 2.
Now that you’ve learned how to play, care to find out some interesting facts about how the game came to be so loved by players all around the world?
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