Blackjack – The Basics

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Blackjack – The Basics

Although it hasn’t always been that way, Blackjack is nowadays the number one card game in casinos all over the world, with some arguing that it’s actually the most popular casino game right now.

Regardless of whether that’s true or not, it’d be fair to say that you’re pretty much guaranteed to encounter Blackjack wherever you go in the world of casinos. This article should give you a brief overview of what the game is all about, so do read on if you want to learn the basics of Blackjack.


Strangely enough, nobody really knows where Blackjack came from. That said, most seem to agree that we can trace its roots back to the 17th century France, even though some also speculate that the first forms of the game saw the light of the day in ancient Rome.

In any case, the French originally called the game Vingt-et-Un, which means “21”. That’s how the game was also called in North America when French colonists brought it to the continent. The term “Blackjack” became associated with the game in the 20th century, when certain Nevada casinos started to offer extra payouts for hands featuring the Jack of Spades or the Jack of Clubs.

It’s also worth noting that the rules of Blackjack have changed considerably over the centuries. For example, there were originally additional betting rounds and only the dealer was allowed to double.

Blackjack Rules

Although the rules of Blackjack haven’t always been clear-cut, there’s a certain golden standard that virtually all the casinos are following nowadays, so that’s what we’re going to stick to in this article. And, before we proceed any further, let’s examine the values of the individual cards – the cards with numeric values count for those values, face cards (jacks, queens and kings) count for 10 points and aces can count for 1 or 11 points.

The objective of Blackjack is to beat the dealer by either getting a blackjack (21 points) with your first two cards (in that case, you’ll be usually paid out at 3:2 odds – unless the dealer also has a blackjack combination, that is, as that would void all bets), reaching a final score that’s higher than the dealer’s without going over 21, or allowing the dealer to draw additional cards until his or her hand goes over 21.

At the start of each hand, you’ll be asked to place your bet. Then, both you and the dealer will be dealt two cards, with the dealer receiving the second one face down. Next, the dealer will check whether he or she has a blackjack combination. If yes, the hand will be immediately resolved in the dealer’s favor (unless you also have a blackjack combination, which will void all bets). If no, the hand will continue.

After this first stage is over, you’ll be asked to play out your hand by choosing to hit, double down, split, or stand. Hitting means that you want to take an additional card – and you can repeat this as many times as you want. By doubling down, you’ll double your original bet and decide to take one additional card before standing. Splitting can only be done if your cards have the same value – your original hand will be split into two, you’ll have to place an additional bet of the same value as the original one, and an additional card will be added to both hands. You’ll then have to play those hands out separately (some casinos do not allow doubling down and further splitting when it comes to split hands, however, which means that you’ll only be able to hit or stand when playing them out). Finally, standing means that you don’t want to take any additional cards and that you want to pass the action to the dealer. Please note that the entire hand will be over if you bust by going over 21 at any point – the dealer will reveal his or her face down card and you will forfeit your bet.

Once you stand, the dealer will reveal the face down card before standing or drawing additional cards, according to the rules governing his or her play. Typically, the dealer has to take additional cards until his or her combination totals 17 or more. If he or she doesn’t bust by going over 21, the totals will be compared with each other, with the higher total winning the hand and the bet (winning bets are paid at 1:1 odds). If the totals are the same, called a ‘tie‘, all bets will be void.

This may all sound slightly complicated, but we assure you that the appearance is indeed very deceiving and that you’ll feel right at home after just a couple of hands. In fact, once you make an account at an online casino, you’ll usually get a chance to play Blackjack for play money, so that’s an option worth checking out if you’re still a bit confused. Alternatively, some casinos, like BetVictor, which uses the NetEnt blackjack game, allow you to play their games for free and without the need of having to make any accounts – just visit the websites and go from there.

Side Betting

Nearly all Blackjack games that are being offered at both offline and online casinos include a number of side bets that players can place. The most popular of them is the so-called “insurance” side bet, an option that becomes available whenever the dealer’s upcard turns out to be an ace. This bet, which is as big as half of your original wager, is independent of the original bet and it typically pays 2:1 in case the dealer does indeed have a blackjack, which means that you won’t lose any money on that particular hand. If the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, the insurance bet is lost and the hand continues as normal.

The interesting thing here is that you can place an insurance bet even if you already know that you’ve got your own blackjack – in that case, the dealer will simply pay you the amount of your original bet without even checking his or her own hand. This option is known as “taking even money”, since it guarantees a small profit without the action going forward.

Apart from the insurance side bet, you can sometimes also bet on various other outcomes. For example, there’s the “perfect pairs” side bet that allows you to bet on your initial hand being a pair and the “21+3” side bet that allows you to bet on your initial hand and the dealer’s hand creating a flush, straight, or three-of-a-kind poker hand.


As nearly every single card game, Blackjack comes in many different flavors, each of which has its own rules. One of the simplest variations is the so-called Double Exposure Blackjack that allows the players to see both of the dealer’s cards. That advantage is balanced out by blackjacks paying only at even money and by the players losing on all tied hands.

Meanwhile, the so-called Blackjack Switch makes the original rule-set more interesting by giving the player another hand to play with. Additionally, the player can swap the second cards of the hands, which gives him or her plenty of additional options. On the other hand, blackjacks only pay even money and all dealer’s 22s void all bets, which makes winning considerably more difficult.

To round things off, we’ll also mention the somewhat infamous Spanish 21 variation, which introduces plenty of additional rules and makes the game incredibly more complex. For example, there tend to be payout bonuses for 21s that are made up of five or more cards.

Perfect Strategy

Playing Online

Now that you know the Blackjack basics, it’s time to hit the tables and see how great the game really is! Getting to a brick-and-mortar casino might be a bit of a hassle though, right? Well, in that case, you should certainly give online Blackjack a go – not only is it incredibly easy to get into, but it will always stay at your fingertips!

Virtually all the online casinos out there offer deposit bonuses deposit bonuses, which means that you’ll be getting even more bang for your buck if you decide to enjoy their services – and don’t get us started on all the loyalty rewards and comp points, as we’d have to sit here for long hours trying to explain all the benefits. The bottom line is that you’re going to love every single minute of the online Blackjack experience!

Bear in mind that not all deposit bonuses will allow you to complete the rollover requirements by playing blackjack, and those that do will only count it as a percentage of the wagering requirements. It is important to check the terms and conditions to make sure that this game is allowed and at what percentage contribution, before you actually start to play.

If you are comfortable with what you have read so far, check out part 2, the advanced blackjack guide.

What’s more, if you’d like to get a bit closer to the action without having to leave the comfort of your home, you can always check out the live casino blackjack game that many online casinos are offering. With it, you’ll be able to enjoy all the excitement that comes with playing with real dealers and real cards, as the action will come to you directly in the form of an HD-quality video stream. As far as we are concerned, things can’t get much better than that!