Updated 17th September 2020
How to Play Blackjack Guide
At Bet UK we endeavour to branch out from our spectacular online betting markets to offer all of our players informative guides when it comes to casino games. This one is all about Blackjack, and provides you with an overview of how the game works, some examples of the many variants that we host in our online casino collection, as well as tips and strategies that you may wish to experiment with and bring to the table next time you play Blackjack. If you don’t understand a word or phrase being used, fear not, as we even have a glossary of Blackjack terms at the foot of this guide.
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack is one of the best live casino card games available, with a rich history that stretches back as far as the 1600s. The modern structure may have a couple of cosmetic changes, but the rules and objectives for winning at Blackjack are largely the same, as players are placed in direct competition against the dealer, rather than one another. Online Blackjack caters for players that are looking to replicate a land-based environment through live casino with real dealers, as well as those that prefer private surroundings with automated gaming options that use random number generators. However, you can also play Blackjack in a localised setting, so long as you have a pack of playing cards.
How to Play Blackjack Online
So now it comes to how to actually play Blackjack. While some may be aware of the fundamental aspects of this game, it’s best to cover the basic rules for beginners, which can act as a refresher if it’s been a while since you last played. Firstly, given that playing card values can alter between different casino games, it’s worth establishing that in Blackjack, the numbers 2-10 retain their face value, while royal cards of Jacks, Queens, and Kings also have a value of 10. Aces can act as 1 or 11, depending on how they’re most beneficial in regards to your hand.
Each hand is made up of two cards initially, which are distributed by the dealer. The objective is to get a combined hand value that is closer to the total of 21 than the dealer’s hand, and the skill element comes from deciding whether to take an additional card (hit), or remain with what you have (stand). It’s imperative that you don’t go over the total of 21, as doing so is known as “going bust” and will void your hand and, more importantly, your wager. While you can place additional wagers before each round, you’re mainly betting on your hand to win. We’ll talk more about Blackjack side bets in a moment, but first we’ll take a look at when to hit and when to stand.
When Should I Hit and Stand in Blackjack Online?
Knowing when it’s best to hit and when to stand is the essential tenet for determining whether you win a hand of Blackjack or not. Obviously there is an element of luck that comes from the order of the randomly shuffled deck, but having an understanding of probability in Blackjack allows you to make an informed decision about whether to remain with what you have or take another card. As a quick side note, 17 is one of the most important hand values in most Blackjack games, for the simple reason that if the dealer has a hand value of 17 or above, they are usually required to stand. This seemingly small detail can actually have a massive impact, both in how you then play your hand, and in increasing your chances of winning.
While you’re entirely free to play your hand however you wish, there are some general rules of thumb to consider. Firstly, if you have a total hand value of 10 or lower that doesn’t include an Ace, it’s advisable to take another card, as the chances of drawing a high value card are good. The same applies to a hand with a value of 11, as the worst outcome is that you draw an Ace, and your hand is now worth 12. If your hand total is 17 or higher, the recommended strategy would be to stand, even if the dealer’s ‘up card’ is high.
The strategies for other hand values are dependent upon the dealer’s first card. If it’s a 7 or higher, and your hand value is between 12 and 16, you may want to weigh up the benefits and drawbacks of taking another card. There’s no guarantee that the dealer’s next card will also be high, but if it is then you’re in a bad position. If the dealer is showing a low card, with a value at least 10 below yours (for example, you have 15, and the dealer’s up card is a 4) then it’s probably best to stand, and force the dealer into playing catch-up. For other eventualities, it can be difficult to make a decision, such as 14 v 6, at which point you are unfortunately at the mercy of Lady Luck.
Blackjack Side Bets
In addition to bets on your hand to beat the dealer’s, there are some additional side bets that can often be placed at the beginning of each round of Blackjack online. While there is a greater chance of them losing, there are also bigger odds attached, which can produce more significant wins than the standard game of Blackjack generally does. The three main Blackjack side bets are Perfect Pairs, 21+3, and Insurance - the latter of which is the only one that is made after the initial cards have been dealt.
To find out more about the different types of Blackjack side bets that are on offer, you can take a look at our useful guide below.
We’ve covered the basics of when to hit and stand, but further aspects of Blackjack strategy such as the likes of doubling down and splitting are some of the most difficult areas to get right. Many professional players have a rule of thumb that they will use in various situations, in order to maximise their potential winnings, while minimising their possible losses. As ever, it comes down to a degree of luck, but having the right strategic approach when playing Blackjack online can be effective.
To find out more about the different Blackjack strategies that you can employ, or for some tips and mathematical principles to help you to create your own, read our handy guide below.
What Blackjack Games Can I Play at Bet UK?
Here at Bet UK we have a wide variety of Blackjack games for you to try your hand at, whether you are more interested in classic live casino offerings, automated alternatives, or even dynamic versions that offer unique gameplay variations. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most popular:
Our Live Blackjack lobby is second to none, and offers standard tables, VIP environments, private surroundings, and games that are played at a quicker pace. Our friendly, knowledgeable, and welcoming dealers are on hand to guide you through each round of gameplay in a professional manner. What’s more, you can access these sleek and sophisticated live table games via desktop and mobile devices, so whatever type of Live Blackjack experience you’re looking for, you’ll be catered for right here at Bet UK.
Microgaming’s European Blackjack follows the standard rules of the game, but the main draw is that it is fully automated using a random number generator. Rounds commence when you’re ready for them to, and there’s no pressure when it comes to placing your bets, as you can do so in your own time. This affords you the opportunity to test out any Blackjack strategies you may have been working on, or simply to learn more about how the game works before trying your hand at one of the live tables.
Despite being a classic casino game with a rich heritage, sometimes Blackjack needs to be given a bit of a reshuffle. That’s where variants such as Power Blackjack come into play, as there are some innovative elements that provide a fresh round of gameplay. Most notably, the 9s and 10s have been removed from the eight decks that are used, which requires a rethink of established strategies. Furthermore, you can attempt to maximise returns by not only doubling down, but also tripling and quadrupling.
Free Online Blackjack Practice
While we can only offer probabilities and advice with different circumstances and strategies, you can combine this guide with the free-to-play versions of some of our online Blackjack games in order to better understand the risk vs reward of certain situations, and to find a plan of action that suits your playing style and budget. These free demos can also help you to get some first hand experience of playing the game if you’re new to it, so are in a sense an example of free Blackjack training. While the old adage, “practice makes perfect”, is true in many scenarios, when it comes to live casino games you always have to factor in that even the experts can lose a hand if luck isn’t on their side.
Key Blackjack Terms: A-Z
As some final helpful information, we’ve put together a handy reference guide for some of the most common terms you will come across as you play a session of Blackjack:
The term “Blackjack” refers to both the table game, and to having a hand with a value of 21 made up of an Ace and a card worth 10. This is also sometimes called a natural.
If you choose to hit and your hand value then exceeds 21, you will have ‘gone bust’, which means your bet loses.
You can double your initial wager and receive just one more card if you believe your initial hand is strong. If this comes off then you’ll receive a larger payout than you would have if you’d played the hand as normal.
If you have a Blackjack and the dealer’s up card is an Ace, they will usually offer you even money. This is a side bet that will give you a 1/1 payout in the event that the dealer also has Blackjack.
If your hand doesn’t contain an Ace, it can only have one value, and is therefore referred to as a hard hand.
Requesting another card for your hand is known as hitting.
The dealer’s card that you can’t see is known as the hole card.
If the dealer’s up card is an Ace, you will be offered this side bet to try and protect yourself against them having a Blackjack.
Two matching cards in your hand (for example, two 4s) is a pair. You can have ‘mixed’ and ‘coloured’ pairs, as well as perfect pairs, which can be important in an optional side bet of the same name.
If the round ends in a tie, i.e. you and the dealer have the same hand value, it is known as a push. Your wager will be returned in full, meaning you neither win or lose your bet.
The device that holds the cards, and from which they are dealt.
Aside from your main wager on your hand to win, side bets are optional wagers that will award a payout if your hand meets certain criteria.
If your hand contains an Ace, it is a soft hand, as it can have more than one value.
If you have a pair, you can split them into two hands, and play them separately. You will have to wager the same amount as your initial bet.
If you don’t wish to request another card, it’s known as standing.
If you’re not happy with your hand, you can forfeit half of your bet to end the round prematurely. Some Blackjack games do not allow you to surrender.
The dealer’s card that you can see is known as the up card, and is crucial to take into account when playing your hand.
How to Play Blackjack Online at Bet UK
Hopefully you’ve found all of the answers to any questions you had about how to play Blackjack online, as well as gaining a better understanding of the broader aspects of the game. Perhaps you’d never considered any of the various Blackjack side bets, or maybe you were a little perplexed by some of the terms being used. In either case, this guide can be referred back to at any time. If you’d like to expand your knowledge of other table games such Baccarat and Roulette, you might be interested in our wider guide to live casino.