How to Play and Win at Online Blackjack

Blackjack is a simple card game that has been around for hundreds of years, offering players the chance to face off against the dealer and potentially come out on top to win money. Luckily, you don't need to live near a land-based casino to enjoy this game as there are many hundreds of online casinos that host plenty of variants for you to explore.

But how do you actually play online Blackjack? And more importantly, how do you win? Whether you're just starting out and learning how to play, or you need a refresher of the rules, you're in the right place. Here you'll learn everything you need to know about how to play and how to win at online Blackjack.

Best Sites to Practice Online Blackjack

How to Play Online Blackjack

Blackjack is a very popular card game, arguably the most popular in the world, and one of the reasons for this is the game is very simple to learn. The basic aim of the game is to bet that you can beat the dealer with your card total versus theirs.

Each card is assigned a points value, with the cards 2 to 10 given their face value, face cards (ie. J, Q and K) given 10 points, and the A is valued at either 1 or 11. Both you and the dealer are dealt two cards (one of the dealer's may be face up) before you get to choose whether to Stand (stick with the cards you have) or Hit (request an additional card). The dealer then gets the same choice. Once finished, the cards are revealed and whoever has a points total closest to 21 without exceeding it is the winner. The best hand in the game, called a Blackjack, is when you hold an A and a 10 point value card, which beats any other 21.

This is a very simplistic view of the game, but it's a good description of the basic gameplay. There are other bets, different rules and several variants of the game that can change how you play, but not to a great extent. We'll cover those shortly.

First though, let's familiarise ourselves with the Blackjack table...

How to Play Online Blackjack

The Table

Whether you're playing RNG online Blackjack or live dealer Blackjack, the table tends to be the same, and bears a close resemblance to that featured at land-based casinos.

The table is usually a semicircle shape that's made up of a green (sometimes red, blue or black) felted play area surrounded by a wooden or cushioned frame. The flat side of the semicircle is for the dealer, while the curved side is for players.

The players' side features several betting positions or may only feature one depending on the version you're playing, with these often in the shape of a card.

One very familiar aspect of the online Blackjack table is the ribbon across the centre that highlights the Blackjack Pays 3 to 2 and Insurance Pays 2 to 1 rules.

You may also see other features at the table, such as set positions for the insurance and side bets, depending on the variant you're playing, which we'll look at next.

The Bets

Knowing what online Blackjack bets you can and can't make is a crucial part of learning to play, so let's take a look at the various bets you'll come across in the game…

  • Insurance: Before the usual bets take place, if the dealer holds an Ace card, you'll be given the option to buy insurance. This is down to the possibility that the dealer is holding a Blackjack. This gives you the chance to protect your bet with an extra payout.
  • Stand: This option is available when it's your turn to act and it's the one you should choose if you're happy with the cards you have and don't want to be dealt any more cards
  • Hit: When it's your turn, you can choose to Hit, which means you are dealt an additional card. You can do this as many times as you need to during your turn, as long as you don't go bust (exceed 21 points)
  • Double Down: This option is only available on your first two dealt cards, though in some variants you can also do this after a split. It basically involves doubling your bet in exchange for just one additional card. You might consider this if your first two dealt cards are a 3 and an 8, for example, in the hope that a 10 point card would come up to give you 21
  • Split: If your first two dealt cards are the same, you can choose to double your bet to split them, resulting in two separate hands. These are then played as normal.
  • Surrender: Only available in certain variants of the game, this option allows you to forfeit your hand if you think it's weak, at the cost of half your bet.
  • Perfect Pairs: This is an optional side bet where you're predicting that your dealt cards will be some sort of pair: a number/value match (eg. two 2s), colour match (eg. two red 2s) or a perfect match (eg. two red diamond 2s - remember multiple decks are used in Blackjack, so this is possible!).
  • 21 + 3: Another optional side bet, this one allows you to bet that your two dealt cards together with the dealer's face up card will make up a winning 3 card poker hand of Flush (all the same suit), Straight (three consecutive values), Three of a kind (three cards the same), Straight Flush (three suited consecutive cards) or Suited Trips (three suited cards the same).

Don't be intimidated by the various bets! Only Hit and Stand are really necessary to learn before you start playing. The rest will become apparent as you go along, but it's worth learning them too.

Blackjack Rules and Variants

There are a number of subtle differences in the online Blackjack rules that are followed from one top online casino to the next, as well as different variants of the game that you can expect to find online. Let's check out a few of the most common:

  • Push: This is a typical outcome rule that most games follow. If you and the dealer both have the same card value, it's called a Push and your bet stays in place, having been neither won nor lost.
  • Hit on Soft 17: Blackjack hands are classed as Soft or Hard depending on their value and whether or not an Ace is involved. A Soft hand includes an Ace and will not go bust if dealt another card (due to the fact that A is 1 or 11), whereas a Hard hand does not include an Ace. The Hit on Soft 17 rule means that the dealer must Hit with a Soft hand that totals 17, eg. A and 6. The alternative to this rule is that the dealer must stand on all 17s. Each variant displays its rule on the table.
  • Classic variant: The Classic Blackjack game uses 8 decks, the dealer must hit on 16 and soft 17, and there is no Surrender option. This is the most common online Blackjack game
  • European variant: This game only uses two decks, doubling down is only allowed on hands valued at 9, 10 or 11, you can only split on cards of the same value (eg. no splitting on J and Q), and you can only split once.
  • American/Atlantic City variant: Similar to the Classic variant, this game uses 8 decks, but you can split up to three times, doubling down after a split is allowed, there is the option to Surrender, the dealer must stand on all 17s, and they will peek at their face down card if the face up card is an Ace or a 10
  • Spanish 21 variant: This game uses 6 to 8 decks but all the 10 cards are removed, you can Double Down more than once and Surrender, your 21 always beats the dealer's 21, the dealer hits on soft 17, and the dealer peeks.

Don't be confused by the variants! Start with the Classic game so you can learn the basics, then you can explore other variations of the game as you see fit.

How to Win Blackjack

While it may at this point seem obvious that winning involves beating the dealer's card total with yours, it's not the only way to win. Let's take a look at the various ways you can win and what you get when you do:

  • Beat the dealer: The most obvious way of winning, your card total beats the dealer's (no Blackjack). This pays evens (1:1).
  • Blackjack: If you beat the dealer with an Ace and a 10 point card, called a Blackjack, you get a slightly better payout of 3:2.
  • Insurance: If the dealer's face up card is an Ace, and you decide to take the Insurance bet, if it turns out that the dealer is indeed holding Blackjack, you'll enjoy a payout of 2:1.
  • Perfect Pairs: Take this side bet and if your first two dealt cards are a value match you'll get 6:1, a colour match you'll get 12:1, and a perfect pair (ie. value and suit match) you'll get 25:1.
  • 21 + 3: This side bet pays out 5:1 for a Flush, 10:1 for a Straight, 30:1 for a Three of a kind, 40:1 for a Straight Flush, and 100:1 for Suited Trips.

How to Win Blackjack

Online Blackjack Strategies

Are there any ways to get an edge when playing online Blackjack? The answer to that depends on a variety of factors. A game like Roulette is purely based on luck, but Blackjack involves a certain element of skill, and focus on the mathematical side of the game can be your best ally in this respect. Here we'll briefly cover a few online Blackjack strategies for improving your chances of winning.

General Tips

Here are some basic tips when playing online Blackjack:

  • Hit on hard 11 or less
  • Hit on hard 12, unless dealer has 4 to 6, then Stand
  • Hit on hard 13 to 16, unless dealer has 2 to 6, then Stand
  • Hit on soft 17 or less
  • Stand on hard 17 or more
  • Stand on soft 18, unless dealer has 9, 10 or A
  • Stand on soft 19 or more

Choose the right game variant

The different game variants offer various ways to tweak the odds in your favour. For example, the European variant only uses 2 decks, so card counting and probabilities would be more effective here. Any rules that push the dealer closer to busting are the better options, such as the online Blackjack games that have the Hit on Soft 17 rule. The American variant is better for allowing more flexible splitting and doubling down, as well as offering the more attractive Surrender option. And in Spanish 21, your 21 will always beat the dealer's 21!

Card Counting: Yes or No?

Card counting is generally frowned upon at land-based casinos, but the mathematical basis is solid. It involves working out the possibility of the next card being high or low depending on the previous cards that have appeared.

This strategy works best on the European variant, which only uses 2 decks, but bear in mind that RNG based table game results are completely random, with previous cards having no bearing on the next.

What about Side Bets?

The side bets of Insurance, Perfect Pairs and 21 + 3 offer you additional chances to win and may seem really attractive. However, the reality is that since online Blackjack already has the most attractive house edge (less than 1%) of most online casino games (eg. slots, which can be 5% or more) from a player perspective, online casinos introduced these bets as a way to make more money. They're fun to try though!

Online Blackjack Strategies

Do You Want to Play Online Blackjack?

So, now that you've learned the basics, how about giving the game a go for yourself? Simply choose one of the carefully reviewed online casinos on our site, sign up and explore the game in demo mode first. Then you can make your first deposit and start playing for real online blackjack. How many times will you beat the dealer and grow your chip stack?

FAQ

How to win at blackjack?

You can win at blackjack by hitting a value of 21 with your cards after they are dealt to you. Each card has a number value, and if you hit 21 this is called blackjack and is a winning hand.

What is blackjack?

Blackjack is a game in which players take turns to beat the dealer. The aim of the game is to have cards dealt where you hit a card value of 21.

Blackjack, when to hit?   

You should hit in blackjack when you know that a 9 or 10 value card will not make you go bust. For example, you know that if you have a hand value of 8, that a 10 would take you up to 18 and not make you go bust. If you think this would let you beat the dealer without going bust, then you should hit.

How do you play blackjack?

To play blackjack, you receive two cards face up. You must add the value of these cards together to determine a number no larger than 21. The aim of the game is to hit 21 - and that's blackjack! If you go over 21 you will have gone bust, and lose.