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A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Blackjack

The Background Blackjack is one of the  most popular casino card games in the world. It evolved from a game known as Twenty-One, whose history can be traced back as far as the sixteenth century. The modern game emerged in the United States and over the last roughly seventy years it has risen to prominence around the world. 

These days you will find a number of Blackjack variants to enjoy at casinos, both online and land-based. These games all have subtle differences and suit different kinds of strategies. However, the basic idea behind all of them is very simple, and it is thanks to this simplicity that Blackjack has become so popular.The basic idea of the game is to build a hand as close in value to 21 as possible, but without exceeding 21, which is known as going bust.

You play against the dealer and as long as at the end of a round your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s is then you have won.In the game the number cards (2 to 10) are worth their face value. The face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are all worth 10, and Aces are worth 11 or 1. This means that the best hand is a ten-card and an Ace as this will equal 21 in the fewest amount of cards possible, this hand is known as Blackjack and it beats all other hands.

The Basics of Playing a RoundThese days most games of Blackjack are played with six decks of cards shuffled together. However, you will find versions that use just one deck, and a variety of other numbers. This is important to check as it makes a difference to the game’s statistics, and which cards are likely to appear.Many games will allow you to play more than one hand simultaneously. When you open the Blackjack games you will see a number of hand positions each with their own betting area.

The first thing you need to do is place your chips in the areas belonging to the hands that you wish to play.When you are happy with your bets, you need to click on ‘Deal’ to receive your first two cards to each active hand. The cards are dealt face-up so you, and the other players and dealer, can see them. At the same time, the dealer will receive one face-up card and one facedown.For each of the hand positions that you have chosen to play you are given a number of options. The most basic of these are ‘Hit’ and ‘Stand’. If you choose ‘Hit’ then you will receive another card to that hand, and as long as the card doesn’t cause you to go bust, you will be given the same options again. If you choose ‘Stand’ then play moves on to your next active hand or to the dealer.

Another option commonly offered by games is ‘Double’. You should use this if you are confident that you have a promising hand and that you need just one more card to defeat the dealer. It will double your bet, you will receive one more card to that hand, and then play moves on to the next hand/dealer.When it is the dealer’s turn to play there are a couple of rules that the vast majority of Blackjack games follow. The dealer will always draw more cards until his hand is worth at least 16 and will stand as soon as it is worth 17 or more.After the dealer has finished playing his hand, if you have defeated the dealer then most games pay out at 1:1 unless you are holding Blackjack (and Ace and a ten-card), in which case you will be paid at 3:2. If your hand is worth the same as the dealer’s then you will receive your bet back as a push.Theoretically, it is possible for you to draw 10 cards and not go bust. This is known as a 10-Card Charlie and it will always win, unless the dealer has Blackjack.

Additional Standard Betting Options When you are playing a round there are situations where you may be offered more options. These will vary slightly from game to game, but many of them are very common and will be available in the vast majority of games.If the first two cards that you receive to a hand have the same value then you may be offered to ‘Split’ them into two separate hands. This will require placing an additional bet equal to the first, but it of course gives you double the chances to win. You will then play them as completely individual hands. In some games, in the case of ten value cards, you will only be allowed to split if the cards have the same rank (for instance two tens, rather than a ten and a Jack). Furthermore, some games will allow you to split an already split hand while others won’t. Very often, you will find that if you split a pair of Aces then you will only be allowed to receive one extra card to each hand.If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace then many games will give you the option to take out ‘Insurance’ against the dealer having Blackjack. Insurance costs half of your original bet and if the dealer does have Blackjack then you are paid at 2:1. This means that you do not lose your original bet, as you will receive the value of your original bet plus the insurance amount back.

Common Blackjack Variants When you look at the Blackjack games at Casino Las Vegas you will see that there are numerous variants on offer. Some of the variants give you the chance to win more through special side bets (there is more about these below), while other variants off slight variations in the rules.Blackjack Surrender is a very common variant. It simply gives you the option to ‘Surrender’ your hand after the first two cards are dealt.

If you choose the ‘Surrender’ option it means that you are abandoning your hand, but in exchange, you will receive half of your original bet back.Another popular Blackjack variant is Pontoon. It has a number of small differences from the regular game. There are two hands that will beat a regular 21, Pontoon (an ace and a ten card) and a Five Card Trick (when you build a hand of five cards without going bust). Furthermore, in Pontoon both of the dealer’s cards remain facedown until you have finished playing your hand.

Blackjack Switch is also a highly popular variant. In Blackjack Switch you will always be playing two hands at the same time. The main difference in this game is that after the cards are dealt, you have the option to exchange the top cards of each hand. This gives you a bit more flexibility when trying to form the best possible hands.You will find many more Blackjack variants to enjoy at Casino Las Vegas, such as 21 Duel Blackjack, Blackjack Peek, Perfect Blackjack, Blackjack UK and more.

All of these games work on the same principles as those described above, and a quick look in the game rules will show you exactly where they differ. Each game offers its own unique advantage so be sure to explore them all to find your favourites.

Popular Blackjack Side BetsWhen you play Blackjack you will notice that many games give you the chance to place side bets and win additional payouts. These side bets vary from game to game, and some of the more unusual Blackjack variants offer side bets unique to them. However, there are some common side bets that you will come across in a number of games.If a game offers the Top 3 side bet, it is on your first two cards together with the dealer’s face-up card forming a Suited Three of a Kind, a Straight Flush or a Three of a Kind combination. The payouts may vary slightly, but usually a Suited Three of a Kind pays 500:1, a Straight Flush pays 180:1 and Three of a Kind pays 90:1.Another very common side bet is the Perfect Pair side bet. This is on your first two cards forming a Perfect Pair, a Coloured Pair or a Red/Black Pair. A Perfect Pair is two cards of the same suit and value and it usually pays out at 25:1.

A Coloured Pair is two cards of the same value and colour, but from different suits and it usually pays out at 12:1. A Red/Black Pair is two cards of the same value but different suits and colours and it usually pays out at 6:1.You will see that some versions of Blackjack are linked to progressive jackpots and to play for the jackpot you will need to place a side bet. Normally the jackpot is then won if you are dealt four consecutive suited Aces.

Very often, these games will also reward you with fixed payouts if you just miss the jackpot. For example, you may win 5,000x for three suited Aces, 2,500x for four unsuited Aces, 250x for three unsuited Aces, 100x for two suited Aces, 50x for two unsuited Aces and 5x for an Ace.

A popular Blackjack variant used to be Lucky Lucky Blackjack, but now you often find the Lucky Lucky side bet offered in many other games. It is a bet on your first two cards and the dealer’s first card forming a Suited 777, a Suited 678, an Unsuited 777, an Unsuited 678, a Suited 21, an Unsuited 21, an Any 20 or an Any 19. At Casino Las Vegas the Suited 777 pays 200:1, the Suited 678 pays 100:1, an Unsuited 777 pays 50:1, an Unsuited 678 pays 25:1, a Suited 21 pays 15:1, an Unsuited 21 pays 3:1, an Any 20 pays 2:1 and Any 19 pays 2:1.It is also common to be offered the 21+3 side bet. This is on your first two cards, together with the dealer’s first card, forming a Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Straight Flush, or a Suited Three of a Kind. At Casino Las Vegas a Suited Three of a Kind pays 100:1, a Straight Flush pays 40:1, a Three of a Kind pays 30:1, a Straight pays 10:1 and a Flush pays 5:1.Finally, the Buster Blackjack bet is also very popular. This is a bet on the dealer going bust.

The more cards that the dealer is holding when they go bust the more you will win. If the dealer busts with 3 or 4 cards it pays 2:1, with 5 cards it pays 4:1, with 6 cards it pays 18:1, with 7 cards it pays 50:1, and with 8 or more cards it pays at 250:1. If you are holding Blackjack when the dealer busts then you can win even more, if the dealer busts with 7 cards and you have Blackjack it pays at 800:1 and if the dealer busts with 8 or more cards and you have Blackjack then it pays 2000:1.If you like the sound of these side bets, then take a look at the All Bets Blackjack game at Casino Las Vegas as it offers them all and even more!

A Beginner’s Blackjack Strategy As Blackjack is a game of statistical probability, it is possible to put together a basic strategy to help improve your chances of winning.

The basic strategy will tell you what to do in every circumstance, including whether to use the Double option or Surrender your hand.This strategy is designed for online play only; this means that it does not consider what has happened in previous hands, or any other players’ cards. This is because in online blackjack the deck is shuffled between every hand.The strategy is best explained using a table that shows you what to do based upon the cards you are holding and the cards in the dealer’s hand. At first, this may look a bit confusing, but you will soon realise that it is very straightforward and easy to follow.

To help you memorise the table there are some basic rules to learn. Always hit when your hand is below 11 (as you cannot go bust), and always stand on 17 and above. Always split Aces as 11 is a good starting point for any hand and you should also split 8s.It has to be stressed that the strategy is not without risk, it is impossible to guarantee that you will always win, but by following it closely you should improve your returns in the long term.

Basic Blackjack Strategy Chart

Dealer's card2345678910A
Player hand
Soft totals
Dealer's Hand2345678910A
Dealer's Hand2345678910A
Key:S = StandH = HitDh = Double (if not allowed, then hit)Ds = Double (if not allowed, then stand)SP= SplitSU = Surrender (if not allowed, then hit)Soft Totals = A hand is called soft if it does not containan Ace. 

The above table is not as daunting as it first looks. Simply look up your hand on the left and then the dealer’s face-up card from the top line and follow the instruction contained in the grid.

As Blackjack is not a timed game you will have plenty of time to refer to the table, and before you know it you will find that you instinctively no how to respond to each situation. You can even print out this table and keep it besides you as you play so that you can quickly reference it.As stated, this will not guarantee that you will always win, but it is an excellent starting point for new Blackjack players. Now all you need to do is head over to Casino Las Vegas, choose your Blackjack game, and you can start playing straightaway.