How To Win At Blackjack

  • Updated
  • By Catherine Stirland
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The game of blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games available at online bingo sites. The aim of blackjack is to achieve a card value as close as possible to 21 without going ‘bust’.

Most online games are all down to chance, but with blackjack, you can actually improve your chances of winning by playing to a certain strategy. By learning to make the correct choices during the game, you can reduce the house edge to as little as 1% or even less.

Blackjack combines this skill element with a large dose of luck to create an exciting game that is ideal for the casino gaming floor or for playing online at casino sites! Blackjack is sometimes called Twenty-One or Vingt-et-Un as the game is all about the number of 21. However, achieving this magic number is not strictly necessary, as you only need to beat the dealer to get paid.

The history of blackjack

Where it all began

The origins of Blackjack date back to over 300 years ago in France, where it went by the familiar name of Vingt-et-Un.

Initially, this game was based on the 21 premise and the special ‘blackjack’ hand was not a main feature. After arriving in America, the bonus feature of a special hand comprising a black Jack and an Ace was added to the game. This combination was known as a ‘blackjack’ and this attracted a new extra payout.

Blackjack we know today

Although initially a payout with odds of 10 to 1 was suggested for the special blackjack payout, this was soon changed to 3 to 2. Instead of the original Ace and black Jack combination, this new blackjack hand could be created with an Ace and any face card.

Blackjack soon became famous for its combination of skill and luck and it grew even more popular when players realised they could increase their winning chances by playing to a special strategy.

Playing blackjack

The cards

In a game of blackjack, players are dealt two cards to begin with and the dealer gets one card – all cards are placed on the layout face-up. All the cards in the game are valued at face value with the exception of face cards which are all valued at 10, and the Ace which is valued at 1 or 11.

The rules

The options for players in a game of blackjack are to take another card, stand, double your bet in exchange for one more card or split your hand to create two separate hands.

If you go over 21 while playing your hand, you lose your bet straight away. Other options include ‘surrender’, which means you surrender your hand and lose half your bet at the start of the game. This can be useful if you have a weak hand, such as 16.

How to win

After the game has played through and all players have made their decisions, if your hand has a higher total value than the dealer’s but is still under 21, you win even money on your bet.

However, if the dealer’s hand is valued higher than yours, you lose your bet. If both yours and the dealer’s hand have an equal value, you keep your bet. If you have a blackjack you win at adds of 3 to 2, unless the dealer also gets a blackjack, in which case it is a ‘push’.

Insurance

You can also have the option to take insurance once you have seen your first two cards. This means you place another bet worth half as much again as an insurance against the dealer getting a blackjack. This is often an option if the dealer shows an Ace. If the dealer goes on to draw blackjack, you receive 2 to 1 on your insurance bet and lose your original bet, which results in a ‘push’ overall – neither a loss nor a win.

Follow the guidance

The proper strategy guide can tell you exactly what decision to make in any circumstance, depending on what card the dealer has.

Strategy for blackjack

By following blackjack strategy, you can mathematically improve your chances of winning. The strategy guide takes into account the two cards that are dealt to you at the start of the game, along with the dealer’s card. The guide can tell you whether you should take another card, stand, split your hand or double down. The chart below shows what to do in each circumstance, depending on the dealer’s card. This chart assumes the dealer stands on soft 17 (17 with an Ace).

Variations of blackjack

Like with many other casino and bingo games, blackjack has a few variations to look out for. Different casinos and bingo sites might play with different house rules which can alter the way the game plays out. For example, most blackjack games require the dealer to stand on soft 17 (17 with an Ace), but some casinos require the dealer to take another card until they hit hard 17 (17 without an Ace).

Other rules variations can affect the number of decks used in the game, which can range from a single deck up to as many as 8 decks.

Splitting and doubling

You might also find different rules played around splitting and doubling. For example, some casinos do not allow you to double your hand after splitting, while others might only allow doubling on certain totals, such as 9, 10 and 11. Some casinos might only allow certain hands to be split, such as 8s and Aces. You might also meet casino rules that do not allow surrender.

Side bets

In addition to rules variations, you can also find optional side bets in blackjack. One popular side bet is ‘perfect pairs’, which lets players bet on hitting a pair with their first two cards. Other payouts can be available for receiving a pair of the same colour.

Poker hands

You can also find Blackjack games that pay extra payouts for hitting poker hands within the game, such as a ‘straight’ (a run of cards in numerical succession) or a ‘flush’ (cards of the same suit).  

Other Tips for Playing Blackjack

There are many other considerations when playing online blackjack that can improve your experience.

Keep track

The first is to always keep track of your bank roll. It is easy to keep on doubling and splitting without noticing that you are dipping into your bankroll all the time. It is a good idea to set a limit you are prepared to play with and stick with that.

Doubling and halving

Other ways to enhance your play include using strategies such as doubling or halving after a loss. Some players like to double their bet after a losing hand to try to win their losses back. However, this can be a dangerous path to take if you hit a losing streak. Other players like to halve their bet after a loss to limit their exposure.

One popular option is to keep bets small until you hit a win and then raise your bet. This means that after building up a few wins, you are mostly playing with the house’s money.

Play to strategy

Another tip when playing blackjack is to stick to the strategy chart. For example, surrendering your hand should be a rare occurrence and taking insurance is nearly always a bad idea.

It can be tempting to vary your choices during a game, but all good blackjack players know that playing to strategy will give you the best chance of winning in the long run.