Some people are just natural born card players – legendary poker player Stu Ungar was said to be able to master any card game just moments after sitting down at a table. However, for most people, we need to first understand the basics and then develop from there.
Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world and a favourite of online casino players. In order to get the most out of your gaming experience and have the best chance of being a winning player in the long term, it’s essential that you have a basic grasp of blackjack before you hit the table.
So read our beginner's guide to blackjack and take the first step towards your journey to becoming a blackjack expert.
Where and when was blackjack invented?
The game that gave birth to blackjack was 21, which was first mentioned in Miguel de Cervantes’ 1602 story, Rinconete y Cortadillo. In this two characters play a card game whose object is to reach 21. In their game the ace holds a value of either 1 or 11, like in blackjack. However, unlike blackjack, the deck of cards doesn’t include 8s or 9s.
After 21 came over to the USA, card houses gave their players incentives in order to play. One of these was giving players a 1000% (ten-to-one) payout if their hand included an ace of spades and a ‘black jack.’ This jack could be either a club or a spade and with this addition to 21, the game of blackjack was born.
What are the rules of blackjack?
Blackjack is a card game that is played against the dealer and involves two or more players, most often 2-7.
The goal of blackjack is simple: one or more card players compete against a dealer to reach a final score. You achieve a blackjack if you get to to 21 points with the first two cards dealt to you.
What do the cards mean in blackjack?
- 2-10 have their numerical value
- Jacks, Queens, and Kings all have a value of 10
- Aces are valued at 11, unless this would take you over a total score of 21. In this case the ace is valued at 1 and is called a ‘soft’ ace, as opposed to a ‘hard’ ace
How do you play blackjack?
- You sit in front of the dealer and place your bet
- Once all of the bets have been made the dealer will run their hand across the table from left to right, this confirms that no more bets can be placed
- You are dealt one card face up, with one dealt after the other and from the dealer’s left to their right
- The dealer then deals themselves a card, which is usually (but does not have to be) face down
- You are dealt another card face up
- The dealer deals themselves their second card face up
- If the dealer has either an ace face up, the players are given the chance to place an insurance bet. This is a side bet and pays at a rate of 2:1: if your original bet was £100 you can place an insurance bet of up to £50. The idea is that if the dealer hits blackjack you will win your insurance bet. If the dealer doesn’t hit blackjack, then you can win your original bet if your hand beats the dealer
- If the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack all insurance bets are lost and the players who hit blackjack are paid. The remaining players then have 5 options to act:
What are the options to act in blackjack?
If you’re happy with the total you have made form your two cards then you stick with them
If you are not happy with your total you can request further cards until you have reached a total you are happy with or go bust by exceeding 21
If you think you have a good hand you have the chance to place a second bet equal to the value of your first bet before receiving another card face up
If your two cards are of equal value you are able to place a bet of the same value as your first. Your cards are then split into two hands and you are dealt a further card. If you are again dealt a card of equal value you can split again. You are allowed a maximum of 4 splits in most casinos
You can surrender your hand and take back half of your bet.
What happens if the dealer doesn’t make 21?
If the dealer has not made 21 from their two cards they continue dealing themselves cards until they reach at least 17. If the dealer goes bust, then all players who have not gone bust win.
How much does blackjack pay out?
Blackjack has one of the best odds of winning of any online casino, with many casinos giving the house an edge of just 1%. The payout for blackjack is:
- 1:1 if you win a hand
- 3:2 if you have blackjack
- 2:1 if you have taken an insurance bet
Now you’ve got the basics of blackjack sorted you can sit down at a table with confidence and know what your chances of winning are. In order to have the best chance of beating the dealer when playing blackjack, it’s important to pick an online casino that has a good return to player (RTP) %.
Betfair has one of highest RTPs of any online casino and has a crisp gameplay that means you’ll have no problem knowing what your hand is. Head over to Betfair today and take the next step on your journey towards being a winning blackjack player.