How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is arguably the most famous and easy-to-understand casino card game, but there is a lot more to this live casino game than meets the eye. In this how to play blackjack guide, we'll cover everything both new and returning players need to know in order to get hitting or standing like pros.

Learn Blackjack - the goal of the game

It's important to note that blackjack games have two winning states: either getting a score of 21 or beating the dealer.

Both players and dealers collect cards as they play each hand, striving to land on or get as close to 21 points as possible, without going over that total number.

While the player has a choice in how they engage, the dealer must stick with a strict set of blackjack rules. All combined, this creates a system that fuses strategy and luck, as players try to land the famous and eponymous blackjack.

Example of a winning blackjack hand with a ace and a jack

Blackjack rules - the points of blackjack hands

Essentially, scoring in blackjack applies simple numerical values to all cards in the 2-10 range. This means a 3 is worth 3 points, an 8 is worth 8 points, and so on. The card suit does not affect card value. The face cards (the jack, queen, and king) are all worth ten points each.

The one exception is that the ace can be worth either 1 or 11 points. Whilst this might seem tricky, the blackjack rules governing its value are actually simple. An ace will always count as 11, unless the ace being 11 would put the player or dealer above 21 points, making them bust. In this instance, the ace will revert to being worth 1 point.

For example, imagine a player was dealt a 6 and an ace. In this case, the ace would act as 11, which would bring the player’s total score to 17. If the player chose to hit and was then dealt a 10, the sum of the card score would reach 27 if the ace held an 11 value. This would cause a bust, so the ace's value would instead be reduced to 1, making the player’s total score 17 again.

Don't worry if you're prone to making math errors either, online blackjack does all the scorekeeping automatically so you know all the blackjack hands totals when playing.

Standard Blackjack Bets

Bets in blackjack are separated into different categories including main bets and side bets. These are all on offer, providing the player hasn’t either won the hand already or gone bust for being over 21.

Bets in blackjack include the following options:


A hit simply describes the act of requesting another card. This is performed when the player feels that the odds of the next card bringing them closer to 21 are greater than the risk of busting or being beaten by the dealer. Hits add the corresponding card score to the players, after which the player may hit again if they choose. A hit that brings the player’s score over 21 will cause an instant bust.


A stand is when the player decides not to take any more cards. Players choose this option when they feel the risk of busting is greater than the odds of the next card bringing them closer to 21. After a stand, the next player or dealer will have their turn. A stand is also called a stay, a stick, a sit, or a stand pat.


Splitting is a move that can only be performed if the player is dealt two of the same value or face card, for example, two kings or two nines. When this happens, the player can choose to split the cards, giving them the ability to play two hands at once instead of one. Performing a blackjack split means the player's bet will be doubled. While this means that any losses will also be doubled, it still grants an opportunity to take advantage if it looks like the dealer's hand is weak.

Blackjack Side Bets

A side bet in blackjack is a way in which the player can place bets outside of the range of standard play. While not always available on all tables, these bets give the player more to think about and more opportunities to win.

Side bets can be more confusing than regular bets, so they’re often not recommended for novice players. Side bets are also not available in every casino or table, but they’re usually clearly labelled when available, and players can also ask the dealer to clarify whether the table includes them.

Popular side bets include:

21 + 3

The 21 + 3 bet borrows inspiration from the game of poker. 21 + 3 allows the player to win nice payouts, but the odds are much tougher than those of regular blackjack play.

This bet is wagered on before the cards are dealt, where the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s face up card are combined to achieve certain types of matches. 21 + 3 wins can be claimed if one of five different results land: a flush, a straight, three-of-a-kind, a straight flush, a suited three-of-a-kind.

Perfect Pairs

A perfect pair takes from the players' cards, where special combinations pay out similar to what is possible with the 21 + 3 bet. For perfect pairs, there are three different possibilities which include: a mixed pair, a coloured pair, a perfect pair.


The insurance bet is only possible when the dealer’s first card is an ace. If this occurs, the player can purchase insurance which will act as protection in case the dealer’s next card is a picture card or a ten, which would give the dealer blackjack. Paying for insurance will often cost half of the player’s bet, and will pay out 2:1 if the dealer does hit a blackjack. This bet is often recommended against as it's statistically not well regarded.


A surrender in blackjack is possible after the initial three cards have been dealt. The player making a blackjack surrender then forfeits only half of the bet, and their participation in the hand ends. Surrenders are often taken by players when they believe they can't beat the dealer. Odds calculation is the best way to decide if surrender is worth it, though many players operate by gut feel.

Double Down

The [double down side bet(/live-blackjack/guides/double-down can be performed after the player has received their first two cards. Taking this route will mean the player bet is doubled, after which they’re only able to receive one additional card. Once the player’s third card has been collected, the dealer plays out the rest of the game. Double presents players who feel they're in a strong position with a way to capitalise. In this way, it's kind of the opposite of the surrender side bet, as the roles of player and dealer are reversed.

Blackjack Guide - The Game Set-Up

Before jumping into making bets, it’s best to first understand all the different components of the game, the betting table, and the participants. Figure all these details out, and learning how to play blackjack online will become that much easier.

The Blackjack Table

The table in blackjack is where the players and the dealer are located, with the players on one side and the dealer on the other. This divide and location are held in both virtual and physical games.

When at a table, each player is usually given a rectangle in which their cards are to be placed. The number of these places can vary depending on how many people the table was designed for. Sometimes the table includes a small circle in which to place bets, other times it does not.

Side bets will often depend on what the player can see on the table. The most common is the insurance line, which is located between the player's cards and the dealer. If the table features additional side bets, they will usually be listed somewhere on the table close to the insurance line, or next to where the player places their cards. In the cases of side bets like the double down, you can also ask the dealer to clarify or check on the official rules which are usually located on the game page.

Also visible on the table will be the shoe and discarded cards pile. The shoe contains the new cards to be drawn, while the discarded card pile is where cards go after rounds are complete. Discarded cards and constantly fed back into the shoe in live blackjack, where they are consistently shuffled. This ensures randomness.

The Betting Chips

You can't learn how to play live blackjack without learning the basics of the bet. Fortunately, this system is also welcoming and easy to use. The payment system used in live casinos is the same as in physical casinos, in that they're both based around the betting chip.

Different tables are built to cater to players of different budgets. Some tables will be high stakes, which will have high minimum buy-ins, while others will be low stakes. By creating a spectrum of opportunities, the different tables mean that nobody has to miss out.

Live Dealer

The live dealer in a blackjack game plays by the same blackjack rules as the dealer in a physical casino game. It is the duty of this dealer to manage the cards, as well as respond to player queries.

The big difference between a live online dealer and a dealer in a fully in-person game is that a live dealer won’t manage physical chips. Since players of live online blackjack are putting down virtual chips, the dealer has no way to interact directly, so this act is performed by the game software. You could say the dealer pays the players by announcing the winners (if any).

How to Play Live Blackjack

With the blackjack rules and layout under your belt, you’re ready to check out the steps of a regular game. Before we get to the process of playing, we first need to reiterate some of the points touched on above.

Firstly, different studios will offer different types of blackjack and different sets of dealers. Some of these games can have odd or unusual rules, different forms of side bets, and so on.

What this means is that different tables can reflect very different feelings, some of which might be far more appealing to you than others. You can always take a look around the virtual lobbies before choosing a table. You can even join some rooms and watch a few rounds. This might also help to see some basic strategy in action and how an original bet can develop.

With all that in mind, let’s jump into how to play blackjack step by step.

Beginning of the Game

As the game of blackjack begins, the dealer announces a new round. With the players aware of the minimum bet, they can place their wagers using their chips. Wagers are placed for both the main game and the side bets at this point.

Once all active players have placed their chips in their chosen betting zones, the game moves to the next phase.

Cards are Dealt

With the bets established, the dealer then hands out the cards. Each player is given two face-up cards, and the dealer gives themself one face-up card and one face-down card. If the player is granted an ace and card valued at ten, they will automatically win the round with the blackjack number.

Hit / Stand / Split

Depending on how the player calculates their odds against the dealer's visible card, they then proceed to make their first decision. This can be either to hit if they want an additional card, stand if they're happy with their current position, or split if they have two of the same type of card. We recommend checking our dedicated guide about when to hit and stand in blackjack for more insights.

The Outcome Of The Dealers Hand

If the player stands, then the dealer will reveal their card, and continue to play by blackjack dealer rules until a conclusion is reached.

If the player hits, they will be given another card. They can then choose to stand, or hit again. This process can repeat until the player stands, or they bust. Once they stand, the dealer will reveal their other card and play by dealer rules until a conclusion is reached.

Good to Know Information

You now know the blackjack rules and how the game goes. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

Blackjack Dealer Rules

Unlike the player, the dealer doesn’t get to make their own decisions on how to play the game. Instead, they operate by a strict set of rules that is unchanging in every game of blackjack. These rules state that once both of the dealer’s cards are revealed, they must hit if they have 16 or fewer points. If the dealer has 17 or more points, they must stand. Always read the rules of your specific game before getting started. Some games might have variations.

Play the Dealer, not the Player

Even though you’ll often be playing blackjack surrounded by other users, these players are not your opponents. The dealer is. While it’s perfectly fine to watch the other players, you shouldn’t base your moves on theirs. Put your attention on the cards in front of you, not the players beside you.

Manage your Bankroll

Every good gambler knows the state of their bankroll and its limits. A lot of this depends on the type of player you are, from the conservative to the high-roller. Choose your table, measure your bets, and you'll be able to take your bankroll further than if you go in with a cavalier attitude.

Play Responsibly

Of course, gambling can be attractive, but it's also worth noting that it can be dangerous if you’re losing control. Avoid playing games when you're not in a great mental state, which includes when you're under the influence of alcohol. Remember that there are many resources available to help out players in need if you feel yourself struggling. Seeking assistance is a mark of strength.

If you'd like to read more about this popular game, we recommend checking out our blackjack history guide.


There are a lot of different parts to blackjack, but the complete package is one of simplicity and elegance. On the journey to 21, you’ll need to keep an eye on the score and the betting process. With the right combination of luck and wagers, it's easy to see why blackjack is a longtime casino favourite. Just be sure to remember that lady luck can be as generous or fickle in live blackjack.

Take Time to Think | | 18+

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