Blackjack - A Quick Guide for Beginners

By Ethan - March 05, 2022

Blackjack is a widely played casino card game popular in most parts of the world. It is sometimes called Pontoon (mainly in Britain) or twenty-one. Blackjack is popular both in gambling destinations like Las Vegas and at online casinos.

The origin of blackjack is controversial. However, it’s often thought that the game originated in Frances, where it was played in casinos in the early 1700s. There were barely any card games at the time.

The earliest card game that resembles today’s blackjack was called Vingt-De-Un, the French word for 21. Some sections believe that the blackjack game was invented by Ancient Romans, although there is no historical evidence to back that claim.

The first written evidence shows that the blackjack game was played with the baraja deck in Spain sometime in the early 17th century. The first record of the game being played in France can be seen in 1768, spreading to England around the 1770s. However, the first blackjack rules were published in English in Britain in the 1800s.

The game is alleged to have been brought to American colonies in the 1800s from France. The American rules for the Twenty-One game were first printed in 1825. It’s thought that 21 was renamed blackjack in America around 1899.

However, Nevada casinos were the first to popularize the name blackjack. These casinos offered players special side bets that involved an ace of spade or black jacks. Despite having a debatable origin, blackjack has continued to dominate the casino industry.

Blackjack is such a loved casino game because of many reasons …


Great odds – In technical terms, blackjack has a low house edge or advantage of 0.5%. The lower the number, the greater your chances of winning. That’s why players keep going to casinos to play blackjack.


Easy to play – Blackjack is an easy game to learn, master, and play. For that reason, it’s enjoyed by both professional and casual casino players.


Blackjack pays 3 to 1 –When you land the perfect 21, you win the round. It is that easy.


Quick gameplay – Blackjack gameplay is fast, allowing you to enjoy the game more. There will be many wins (and perhaps losses) if you play blackjack for an hour.


Social aspect – The game of blackjack typically involves 5 to 7 players at the table, all of who play against the dealer. Since they are not rivals, players can talk, mingle, laugh, and enjoy themselves. That makes it a social game.


It is played everywhere – Blackjack is famous all over the world. You will find blackjack tables at casinos in Europe, the US, Asia, and other parts of the world.


Interactive and affordable – With blackjack, you make a lot of decisions during the gameplay. Besides, the game is affordable, so you don’t need $1,000 to enjoy yourself and stand a chance to win big.

Playing the gameplay of blackjack is really easy if you follow these simple steps …

  • Know the objective of the game

    Your aim when playing blackjack is to get cards whose total face value is either 21 or as close to 21 as possible.

  • Learn the terminology

    Your aim when playing blackjack is to get cards whose total face value is either 21 or as close to 21 as possible.

    Stand – Say this when you don’t want any more cards from the dealer

    Push – This is when both the player’s and dealer’s hands have an equal value

    Split – You can do this when you have two cards of the same value. This action breaks your hand into two hands.

    Bust – This happens when the total face value of the cards in hand exceeds 21. If this happens to the dealer, everyone still playing at the blackjack table wins.

    Soft – This is hand made up of an ace. For instance, we say the dealer hits on soft 17 if they have an Ace and a 6.

  • Find a suitable table to play at

    Casinos usually have a whole floor of blackjack tables.

  • Be sure to check the minimum table bet

    This often ranges from $20 up to $10,000 at high-roller blackjack tables. The same is true at online casinos.

  • Start playing

    Note that the game uses between 1 and 8 decks, each containing standard 52 playing cards.

    The dealer begins the round by dealing 2 face-up cards to each player. The dealer will also receive two cards at the end — one facing down and the other facing up. The cards can be dealt in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. The best possible combination of your first two cards is an ace (A) and any card worth ten points (10, Q, J, or K).

Playing online blackjack is a fun and great way to test your ability to withstand pressure, nurture your strategic thinking, and pass time. However, you have to understand the basic rules of blackjack to make the most of your play. Without proper knowledge of blackjack rules, you can easily make lower percentage moves and end up losing a game that you could have won.

That being said, here are the most important blackjack rules you should be aware of:

Your main objective is to beat the dealer or score a 21

If your hand goes above 21, you will lose. It is called going bust.

If your hand and the dealer’s tie, your bet is returned. It is known as a push.

You must place your wager before the first cards are dealt out.

You will be dealt two initial face-up cards by the croupier. They are called hole cards.

The dealer receives one face-down card and another face-up card.

An ace can be worth one or 11 points, depending on which favors your hand

Ten cards include Kings, Queens, Jacks, and 10s. They are worth 10 points each.

Number cards (2 through 9) are worth their face value

You “Hit” if you want to receive an extra card

You “Stand” if you are satisfied with the cards in your current hand

You can double down your bet if you so wish

You can split a pair of identical cards to create two individual hands

The dealer must receive another card if they have lower than 17 points

The trick to winning blackjack is to use the basic strategy. It is a collection of basic moves that you must make for every possible blackjack situation. These strategies include:

  • Never make an insurance bet

    It is customary for most casinos to offer an insurance bet when the dealer shows an ace up-card. You should never take this insurance bet, even if you have received a decent hand, such as 20 or 19.

    The reason for this advice is simple: The insurance wager is a sucker bet in blackjack because it pays 2 to 1, which is much lower than the probability of the dealer getting a blackjack. Remember, the dealer required to stand on soft 17 still has a 17% chance of bursting with an ace up-card.

  • Always stand with pair of 9s against the dealer’s up-card of 7

    The basic strategy dictates that you split a pair of 9s against the dealer’s 9 or lower up-card. The tricky part is when the dealer has a seven-up card. In such a case, your best move is not to split the pair of 9s but to stand. You are more likely to win here.

    It is easy to see why this is a good move. There’s a higher chance that the dealer’s down card is worth a ten because ten-value cards (10, J, Q, and K) are 4 times as many as other cards in any deck of 52 playing cards. So, there is a good chance that the dealer’s hand is 17, and your pair of 9s is worth an 18, so it is best to stand.

  • Always double down on 10 against the dealer's 9 or less up-card

    If the dealer shows a 9 or less, you should always double down on 10. You will likely win with a two-card hand of 10 against the dealer’s up-card of 9 or less.

  • Always hit a hard 12 on the dealer’s 2 or 3

    If the dealer’s up-card is either a 2 or 3, and you have a two-card hand of hard 12, you should always hit. It might seem like you will burst, but hitting is the right move here.

    You will likely lose if the dealer shows a 2 or 3, no matter if you hit or stand. However, you have a slightly higher chance of winning when you hit rather than standing, which is why this is the best way to approach the tricky combination.

  • You should never split 10s or 5s

    A pair of fives creates a hand of hard 10. It is not wise to split the 5s and deal with two 5-value hands. Taking at least one more card puts you at a better chance of betting the dealer’s hand or forming a blackjack.

    The same goes for a pair of 10s. You already have a 20-value hand, which can only be beaten if the dealer lands a blackjack (21). Never split any pair of 5s or 10s, even if the dealer is showing a ten-value card or an ace.

  • You should always split a pair of As and 8s

    It doesn’t matter what the dealer’s up-card is, the correct play is to always split a pair of aces and 8s. Understandably, the majority of blackjack players will not split a pair of eights if the dealer is showing a 9 or higher up-card. But that is the wrong move for a blackjack hand with a pair of 8s or aces.

    Whether you are playing land-based or online blackjack, it is worth splitting when you have a pair of aces because you stand to win both hands. You are also likely to hit a blackjack on both hands after splitting.

  • If you have a hard 11 hand, always double down

    As a player, you will likely win more money when you double down on a hand with a hard 11, regardless of the value of the dealer’s up-card. There’s a single exception to this rule when you play a multi-deck game, and the dealer’s up-card is an Ace. If the blackjack game’s rules indicate that the dealer has to stand on soft 17, you will be slightly better off hitting rather than doubling down when the dealer is showing an ace.

  • You should always hit Soft 18 (A-7) when the dealer is showing an ace, 9, or 10

    Most people wrongly think that an 18-value hand is a sure thing. That’s why most players tend to stand on Ace-7 or soft 18, particularly if the dealer’s up-card is an Ace, 10, or 9. Check the strategy chart below for more basic moves:

    Unfortunately, you have a weaker hand if you hold ace-7 and the dealer shows an ace, 10, or 9. It doesn’t matter if you hit or stand – you’re still the underdog in the face-off. So it would be best if you always hit on soft 18 since drawing a low card like 2, 3, or an ace will get your hand to 18 or higher, slightly improving your chances of beating the dealer.

    On the other hand, if you draw a 10, J, Q, or K, you won’t hurt your soft-18 hand. Your best bet is always hitting soft 18 against the dealer’s strong up-cards like A’s, 10s, and 9s. You aim to get either a hard 17 through 21 or a soft 19 through 21.

    One exception to this rule when you are playing single-deck blackjack says that the dealer has to stand on soft 17. In this case, you are a little better off when you stand on soft 18 against the dealer’s ace up-card.

  • What to do when the dealer has to hit on Soft 17

    If the rules of the blackjack game you are playing indicate that the dealer must hit on Soft 17, you should always double down on Ace-7 (S18) on the dealer’s 2 up-card, Ace-8 (S19) on the dealer’s 6 up-card, and hard 11 if the dealer is showing an Ace.

    On the flip side, if you’re playing a blackjack game that rules the dealer must hit on hard 17, you should do the opposite. The surrender rule in some blackjack variants may change, too.

  • Always double down on Ace-2 through Ace-7 if the dealer is showing a 5 or 6

    The cardinal rule when the dealer’s up-card is a 5 or 6 is to double down a hand with an Ace, and the other is any card from 2 through 7. That means you should double down anything from soft 13 through soft 18 if the dealer holds a five or a six. It’s the best strategy.

    Note that this rule can apply to other hands on the fringe, depending on the number of decks in the shoe and the specific rules of the game. For instance, if you’re playing a blackjack game with a two-deck shoe and hard-17 rule, you should always double down Ace-3 (soft 14) against the dealer’s 4, 5, or 6.

  • Hard 15 and 16 surrender rules

    Hard 15 and hard 16 are some of the weakest hands in blackjack, particularly if the dealer’s up-card is strong, meaning they’re showing an Ace, 10, or a 9. Whether you hit or stand, you’re the underdog, so the best option is to surrender and cut your losses.

    Surrendering when you have a hard 15 or a hard 16 is a safer bet as it saves you money in the long term. More specifically, you should always surrender a hard 15 if the dealer is showing a 10. A hard 16 is even worse because you must also surrender on the dealer’s up-card of 9 and 10. You may also have to surrender other hands, depending on the rules of the game and the number of decks on the shoe.

  • Always double down on 8 when the dealer is showing a 5 or 6 in a single-deck game

    The basic strategy shows that you should never double down on a hand worth eight if you play a multi-deck game. The opposite is actually true if you are playing a single-deck variant. You should double down on an 8-value hand if the dealer’s up-card is either a 5 or a 6.

    This strategy applies if you have a pair of 4s, except in one instance. If the rules allow players to double down after splitting pairs, you should go ahead and split a pair of 4s against the dealer’s 5 or 6 up-card rather than doubling down.

  • Player's pair of 2s or 3s vs. Dealer's 2s or 3s

    The way to approach a pair of twos or threes when the dealer is showing a 2 or 3 will vary based on the rules of the game. If the game allows you to double down after splitting pairs, you should split a pair of 2s or 3s when the croupier has an up-card worth 2 or 3. You will be able to win more money by doubling down rather than hitting.

    On the other hand, if the game rules don’t allow doubling down after pair splitting, you should always hit with a pair of 2s or 3s against the dealer’s 2 or 3 up-card. If you are playing a single-deck blackjack game, you should always split a 2-pair versus dealer 3.


What is the rules of blackjack?

Blackjack rules dictate that each player competes against the dealer to achieve a hand total closest to 21 without going over. The game starts with two cards dealt to each player. An Ace with a 10 or face card is a \”Blackjack,\” the highest hand. Players can hit (take more cards) or stand (keep their hand) to beat the dealer’s hand while avoiding busting (exceeding 21).

Is blackjack to 20 or 21?

Blackjack aims for a hand total of 21, not 20. Players must draw cards to get as close to 21 as possible, without exceeding it, which is known as a ‘bust.’ A natural Blackjack is achieved with an Ace paired with a 10 or face card initially, rewarding a 3-2 payout.

Can Ace be 10 in blackjack?

In blackjack, an Ace can be valued at either 1 or 11, depending on which is more beneficial for the player’s hand. However, an Ace does not count as 10. A hand featuring an Ace counted as 11 is known as a \”soft\” hand, while an Ace counted as 1 is part of a \”hard\” hand.

What are the basics of blackjack?

The basics of blackjack involve aiming to get a hand total that is closer to 21 than the dealer’s without exceeding it. Each card carries its face value, with face cards worth 10 and an Ace valued at 1 or 11. If you surpass 21, you bust and lose the round.

Does 21 always win in blackjack?

A player’s hand worth 21 almost always wins in blackjack. Such a hand is called a blackjack and it is the best hand you can get. It always wins unless the dealer also has 21, in which case the game is a push. Your stake will be refunded.

How do you win at blackjack online?

There are numerous strategies you can use to win online blackjack …

  • Avoid splitting tens (10’s)
  • Double down on 11
  • Set a win-and-loss limit & watch your bankroll
  • Don’t be afraid to stand on either 13 or 12 (depending on the dealer upcard)
  • Avoid taking insurance
  • Take advantage of online casino bonuses. They will help you build your bankroll and boost your chances of winning at blackjack. The most common are welcome bonuses, which are usually large and apply to your first few deposits at the casino.
  • Play at a safe and reliable casino
  • Practice blackjack often. There are many free-play versions of blackjack you can use to hone your skills.
What are the best blackjack games?

Today, the following blackjack variants are some of the most popular casino games:

  • Atlantic City blackjack
  • Perfect Pairs
  • Super 21
  • European blackjack
  • Blackjack Switch
  • Single deck blackjack
  • Double Exposure Blackjack
  • Live blackjack
  • Pontoon
  • Multi-deck blackjack
Why is it called a blackjack?

Getting 21 is called a blackjack because it was initially a bonus or side bet that paid 10 to 1 for having a hand with a black jack (the jack of spades or the jack of clubs) and an ace of spades.

It wasn’t long before players condensed the name of the bonus to just blackjack.