With its fast-paced action and emphasis on player skill, Blackjack is by far the most popular casino-banked game in the world. While countless variations of the game have been created throughout the years, most are based on the same set of easy-to-learn rules we explain below. Once you’re familiar with the fundamentals of the game, you can take that knowledge to any NJ online casino and have a blast as you play with confidence!
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Online Blackjack Basics
The objective in Blackjack is simple: beat the dealer’s hand without exceeding 21 points. At the start of the game, players are dealt two cards faceup, while the dealer receives one faceup card and another facedown. Players must then use the incomplete information of the dealer’s hand to decide the best course of action to take with their own.
Cards 2 to 9 keep their face value, while 10s, jacks, queens and kings count as 10 points each. Aces are more flexible, and can serve as either a 1 or 11, whichever serves the player’s best interest.
Being dealt an ace + any 10-value card for your first two cards gives you 21 and an automatic win, known as “Blackjack.” If the dealer does not receive a Blackjack of his own, the player is usually paid 3:2 on his bet. If a player wins a hand without a Blackjack, he is paid even money on his wager.
After placing your bet, the first round of cards are dealt. Players are then given the five following options:
- Stand: stand pat without taking any additional cards.
- Hit: draw another card from the deck. (Players can continue drawing cards until their hand value exceeds the 21-point maximum, referred to as “busting.”)
- Double Down: doubling your bet and receiving only one additional card.
- Split: separating a pair into two hands and doubling the bet. (Once separated, the dealer will create two hands with the original pair of cards and deal an additional card to each. At that point, players can stand, hit, double down, and re-split as they would normally. When aces are split, however, players usually only receive one additional card on each ace.)
- Surrender: giving up half of your bet and withdrawing from the current hand.
If a player busts after hitting, the house automatically wins the hand; the player’s wager will be collected by the dealer and the game will end. If the player stands pat, the dealer will reveal his hole card and act according to a strict set of rules which are laid out in advance. That usually means taking cards until receiving a hard 17 and above. If at any point the dealer surpasses 21, any players left in the hand will be paid even money on their bet. If the dealer and player finish the hand with the same point value, the player’s bet is refunded and the hand is considered a “push.”
For example: You are dealt A-6, giving your hand a value of either 7 or 17, and the dealer shows a jack as his faceup card. In this situation, your ace is considered “soft” because it can be used either as a low card or high card. With no risk of busting you hit attempting to improve your hand and are dealt a king. The addition of the king now forces your ace to count as 1, being that using it as an 11 would bust your holding (11+6+10=27). The hand is now considered a “hard” 18 (1+6+10=17), due to the fact that the ace is locked in with a value of 1. You decide to stay on 17 and watch as the dealer deals himself an 8, giving him a total of 17, on which he must stand pat. Since both of your hands are of equal value, you push with the dealer and are refunded your bet.
Simple Tips for Winning Blackjack
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding on how to proceed with your blackjack hand:
- When deciding on your next move, always assume that the dealer’s facedown card is a 10.
- Stand pat on a hard 17 or higher.
- When facing a 10, it’s best to hit when holding a 16 point hand.
- 4s, 5s, and 6s are very bad cards for the dealer, as they give him a better probability of busting his hand. When facing one of these cards, it’s usually best to stand pat if there is any risk of you busting your hand by taking another card.
- Always hit on a soft 17. You’re in no danger of busting and there’s a good chance your hand could improve.
- Always double down on 11.
- Never stand on 12 through 16 if the dealer is showing a seven or higher.
- Never take insurance.