Blackjack

Blackjack is a hugely entertaining and popular gambling game that has many different variations. The objective for the player however, remains the same: Beat the dealer, but don’t bust the house!

How to play

  • Start off by placing your bet.
  • Players are each dealt two cards, both facing up.
  • Each card has a value:
    • Cards 2 to 10 equal their value in points.
    • Jack, Queen and King cards equal 10 points each.
    • The Ace card is worth either 1 or 11 points, depending on which outcome benefits the player more.
  • The dealer also gets dealt 2 cards, one facing down and the other facing up.
  • The value of your hand is equal to the sum of the two cards you were dealt. Based on the sum of your cards, you then have to decide whether to:
    • Hit. Choosing to hit means you draw another card from the top of the deck and adding it to your total. You can continue to hit until you stand or bust.
    • Stand. You call stand once you have reached a total you are ready to stop at.
    • Split. If the first two cards you are dealt are equal in value, you have to option to split your cards into two separate decks and continue playing two hands against the dealer. At this point, you will usually also be required to place a wager on the second hand that is equal to your original wager.
    • Double down. This happens when you agree to take only one hit before standing. To put a double down into effect, you need to double your original wager. Then, depending on your three card total, your winnings can significantly increase.

Blackjack glossary

  • Anchorman: The very last person to play before the dealer.
  • Burn Card: The first card placed faced down after the dealer has re-shuffled.
  • Bust: When your cards collective total more than 21.
  • Controlling Player: First player to act, closest to the dealer’s left.
  • Hard / Soft Hands: In Blackjack, the Ace card can count either as eleven or one. When the value is changed, for example an ace and a nine, the total is known as a “soft twenty”.
  • Hole card: The card the dealer plays face down that is only revealed after all players have taken action.
  • Push: When both the dealer and player have the same card total, they both get their bets back.
  • Stiff Card: A low value card that forces the dealer to hit.
  • Stiff Hand: A stiff hand will comprise of a stiff card and have a value between 12 and 16, meaning the dealer has to hit, but will likely bust.
  • Surrender: When the dealer’s hand is just too good, surrendering means forfeiting half the wagered bet and not playing any further.

Blackjack variations

As already mentioned, there are many variations of Blackjack. Some games can be played with more than one deck, and in others the dealers can follow different rules. Payouts between the variations also vary. Some of these variations include:

The most significant differences in the European version of Blackjack are that the game is played with 2 decks, and if the dealer reaches a Blackjack it beats any other 21 value hand at the table. Blackjack payout is 3:2
Often referred to as the early version of Blackjack, Pontoon pays 2:1 on any 5-card hand or a pontoon (same things as Blackjack), even after splitting. There is no dealer upward facing card, and the dealer wins on ties.
In this version players are permitted to play two hands simultaneously against the dealer.
6 to 8 Spanish decks (same as the regular 52 card deck, minus the four tens) are used in Spanish 21. This shifts the odds greatly in the dealer’s favour, but the game is counter-balanced with rules and bonuses to benefit the player.
As the name implies, the dealer plays his cards face-up, so that the players always know what he has. The twist is that the dealer always wins on ties.

Blackjack playing tips


  • On a card total of 3 – 11, hit.
  • On a card total of 12 – 16, choose to hit if the dealer total is more than 6, otherwise stand.
  • On a card total of 17 – 20, stand.
  • If one card is an Ace and the other a 7, choose to hit if the dealer total is more than 8, otherwise stand.

See beginner with an additional split on a pair.

  • Split on all pairs except 4s, 5s and 10s.
  • On a pair of 4s, hit.
  • On a pair of 5s, hit if the dealer has either a 10 or an Ace, otherwise Double Down.
  • If one card is an Ace and the other a 7, choose to hit if the dealer total is more than 8, otherwise stand.
  • On a pair of 10s, stand.

See intermediate with Double Down on 9, 10 and 11.

  • On a card total of 9, Double Down if the dealer total is less than 7.
  • On a card total of 10, Double Down if the dealer total is less than 10.
  • On a card total of 11, Double Down.

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Conventional wisdom amongst novice Blackjack players is that the objective of the game is to get a total as close to 21 as possible. But as you can see from the guidelines above, this is not the case. The player simply has to beat the dealer, and can achieve it with a total of 19, 15, or 12.

Before committing to real money games, we suggest you first practice your new-found Blackjack strategy skills in free play mode.