Blackjack 101 – Basic Rules on How to Play Blackjack

If you want to learn how to play blackjack, you’ve come to the right place. This is a classic casino card game with dozens of variations.

The basics are easy to learn, but the game is tricky to master. Luckily you can depend on us to show you the ropes and point you to reputable online casino operators. We’ll go over the rules of blackjack variants and talk about different side bets.

How to Play Blackjack Online

If you know how to play blackjack at a casino, then you’ll know how the online version works. Virtual tables have their minimum and maximum bet ranges, and blackjack payout will vary based on the version of the game.

You don’t have to spend any money to learn how to play blackjack online. Casino sites allow you to practice in demo mode as much as you like. Therefore, you can play for free and hone your skills until you are comfortable enough to gamble with real money.

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Understanding the Basic Blackjack Rules

In the US, blackjack is available in almost all brick-and-mortar and online casinos, offering providers like NetEnt. According to the rules of blackjack, the goal is to get a hand score (combined value of the cards you hold) that is as close to 21 as possible without going over it.

Each card from 2 to 10 has a value equal to its number. Jack, Queen, and King all have a value of 10, while aces can be counted as either 1 or 11.

You are competing against the dealer, so whoever has a better score wins. Going over 21 is a “bust” or an automatic loss, while hitting exactly 21 is an automatic win.

Step 1: Joining a Blackjack Table

Online casinos host multiple variations of the game, each with slightly different blackjack rules and betting limits. They are either in the “Table Games,” “Live Dealer,” or a category called “Blackjack Games.”

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Pick the one you like, click on the chips to place a bet, and then press deal to start the round. At the start, you’ll get two cards face up, while the dealer gets one card face up and the other one face down.

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Step 2: Buying Chips and Placing Bets

If you know how to play blackjack in a casino, then you know that you can buy chips from the dealer. However, when you have an online casino account, you need to use the Cashier option to add funds for gambling. It’s also possible to use a casino bonus to get additional funds that can be used for playing blackjack.

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You don’t buy chips when playing online. The chips in your user interface only represent a fixed amount you wish to wager per hand. The bet size must be within the game’s minimum and maximum range (e.g., Min: $1 – Max: $5,000)

Step 3: Playing the Hand

Once you press the “Deal” button, you’ll be dealt 2 cards (face up), and a small number next to the cards will show the value of your hand. The dealer gets 1 face-up card and the other one face-down.

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The following options then become available to the player:

  • Hit – Get an additional card. The option is available as long as you are eligible to get cards. Going bust will automatically end the turn
  • Stand – If you don’t want any more cards, you need to click on “Stand” to finish your turn
  • Double – You double your bet size, get another card, and your turn immediately ends. In basic blackjack rules, you can only double on hard 9,10, and 11
  • Split – If you were dealt 2 same number cards, the split button turns them into two hands that compete separately
  • Surrender – Use this if you don’t like the starting hand to back out and receive half of your bet back

Step 4: Dealer Reveals Their Cards

When the player finishes their turn, the dealer begins his turn and reveals their face-down card. If the dealer’s hand score is 16 or lower, they must hit. If it’s 17 or above, they must stand or finish their turn. Some blackjack casino rules require dealers to hit on soft 17.

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Soft 17 – When a dealer has an ace in his hand that counts as 1 rather than 11, and his total hand score is 17, it counts as soft 17.

Step 5: Determining the Winner

If your hand score is higher than the dealer’s, you win. Otherwise, you lose, and the chips/money you wagered goes to the casino. Winning hands pay 1/1 – you receive the exact amount you wagered, and the original bet amount is credited back to your budget/account.

The payout is higher if your winning hand consists of an Ace and a card with a value of 10 (King, Queen, Jack, and 10). That’s called “Blackjack,” and it can pay 2/1, 3/2, or 5/3, depending on the game variant you picked.

Any hand that is a “Bust” is resolved before the dealer takes his turn, and it’s an automatic loss. If you and the dealer have an equal hand score, then you tie, and you get your original bet back. In some variant rules of blackjack, the tie is resolved differently.

More on Blackjack Betting Rules and Payouts

Players have optional actions that can ramp up their winnings, turn the bad situation around, or salvage a portion of their bet.

  • Double – If the value of your starting hand is 9,10, or 11, it’s possible to double your initial bet. If you do this, you must get an additional card and stand afterward, provided you don’t go bust.
  • Split – If your starting hand contains two cards with the same number, you have an option to split. This means you get two hands that compete in the round and take separate turns. Doing so requires you to double the original you had on that hand.
  • Insurance – An option is only available if the dealer’s face-up card is 11 (Ace). This is the only side bet in basic blackjack rules, and it pays 2/1 if the dealer gets a natural blackjack at the start of his turn. The maximum insurance bet is equal to half of your original bet in the round.
  • Surrender – You can surrender at the start of your turn instead of taking any other action. Doing so will refund half of your bet.

Once you get the hang of the simple blackjack rules, feel free to check out the 21+3 game version that includes a side bet. You decide whether to place this bet before the cards are dealt. To win your first 2 cards and the dealer’s face-up card must make one of the following combinations:

  • Flush – 3 cards are of the same suit (Pays 5/1)
  • Straight – 3 cards of consecutive numeric value, like 7,8,9 (Pays 10/1)
  • 3 of a Kind – 3 cards of the same numeric value, like 7,7,7 (Pays 30/1)
  • Straight Flush – 3 same-suit cards with a consecutive numeric value (Pays 40/1)
  • Suited Tripple – 3 same-suit cards with the same value (Pays 100/1)

How to Place Blackjack Bets Online

When you start playing, the game will prompt you to place your bet. It will highlight the circle on the virtual table, and whenever you click or tap on the chip buttons, you will add/increase the bet amount.

Typically, your budget and table betting limits are shown in the lower-left corner of the screen, while chips (fixed bet values) are on the right. So, whenever you click on a chip to place a bet, the same amount displayed on the chip is automatically debited from your budget.

It’s possible to adjust your bet size in increments equal to the virtual table minimum. So, if the blackjack betting rules say the minimum is $1, the minimum chip value will be the same. Also, whenever the round is finished, the game will give you the option to use the same bet size in the following round.

You need to place a regular bet to unlock the side bet options (only in 21+3). When a side bet becomes available, the box/circle above your regular bet area will start to blink. Click on the chips once again, and press deal if you are ready.

Bets aren’t final until you click the “Deal” button. What’s more, you can play multiple hands and allocate a different number of chips for each one. In most online blackjack games, you can play up to 3 hands at once.

Online Blackjack Table Limits

It’s always wiser to choose a low-limit table if you don’t know how to play Blackjack yet. Usually, low-stakes games will have a minimum bet between $0.50 and $1, but it’s possible to find versions that go as low as $0.10. Maximum bets can go up to $5,000 or $10,000 in lower and regular stakes games.

In live dealer blackjack games, the maximum bets can be between $2,500 and $10,000; however, the minimum bet is usually $10 or higher.

It’s possible to find high-stakes or VIP blackjack tables even in online casinos. The minimum bet in these games is $100, while the maximum bet range is $50,000 to $100,000 or even higher.

Pros and Cons – Online Blackjack vs Live Blackjack

Although simple Blackjack rules in online and live casinos are identical, the gameplay experience is not. Playing online definitely has its perks, but you are missing out on some of the game’s charms.

Pros

  • No wait time and easy access
  • Perfect for bankroll management
  • You can play alone or with other players
  • Gamble with bonus money or play for free

Cons

  • Without social interaction, the game feels less authentic
  • Potential software bugs can ruin a winning round
  • The card-counting strategy is less viable if you play online

More Guides on How to Play Blackjack at a Casino Online

Now that you know how to play Blackjack, here are a few tips for finding the right operator:

Different Types of Blackjack Games Online

The game has dozens of variations, luckily, blackjack betting rules are almost identical in each one. We’ll go over some of the popular variants and explain what makes them unique.

American Blackjack

In American Blackjack, the shoe will have between 6 and 8 decks. Players are allowed to double on any hand regardless of its value, even after splitting. Split is allowed up to 3 times. Late surrender is also possible if the dealer’s face-up card is worth 10 or 11, but only after he checks for blackjack.

European Blackjack

This version uses between 2 and 8 decks. Split is allowed only once per round, and doubling is only possible if the hand score is 9, 10 or 11. In European blackjack betting rules doubling on a split hand isn’t allowed.  Also, you cannot Surrender if the dealer’s card is Ace.

Blackjack Switch

Here, you play 2 hands with identical bet sizes and are allowed to switch the second card between the 2 hands. However, the dealer doesn’t bust if his hand is 22. When this happens, it’s considered a draw unless the player has blackjack that didn’t result from a switch or split.

Double Exposure Blackjack

In Double Exposure blackjack rules, the dealer plays with both of his cards revealed. To compensate for this disadvantage, the blackjack pays 1/1, and there are no insurance and surrender options. More importantly, if you tie, the dealer wins.

Blackjack Perfect Pairs

A variation where players can place a side bet on their hand. The cards you are dealt must make 1 of 3 possible pairs – Mixed pair (pays 5/1), Color pair (pays 10/1) Perfect pair (pays 30/1). The side bet is resolved at the start of the player’s turn.

Spanish 21

There are a few deviations from standard blackjack casino rules. The 10-number cards are removed, and there are a few payout rules for when you hit 21. Surrender after double down is also available.

Pontoon

It’s almost identical to classic Blackjack, but the 10 cards are removed. In Pontoon getting an ace and a face card pays 2/1. A side bet option is also available where you win if the 2 initial cards are a pair. You can split multiple times unless you have a pair of aces, then, you can split only once.

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FAQs

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Responsible Gambling

Gambling isn’t a source of revenue, and it won’t help with financial stability. Play only to have fun, and so long as you have fun.

Staying in control of your bankroll and limiting your play time is crucial for responsible gambling. If you feel that gambling is having a negative impact on your life, you can reach out to one of the following help groups:

You can also call 1-800-GAMBLER to get immediate support.

Resources

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Daniel Smyth
iGaming Expert

Daniel Smyth is a gambling industry veteran who has covered poker, casino gaming, and sports betting for over a decade. Daniel first anted up at a poker table while studying for a degree in English. He parlayed those early lessons into a job with WPT Poker Magazine. Working alongside some gambling greats, Daniel soon became adept at creating captivating copy and folding pocket jacks to a 3-bet. He subsequently spread his gambling wings and now produces content for some of the industry’s biggest players, including ReadWrite.

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