Online Blackjack 101

Blackjack basics
Source: Pixabay

Sure, you’ve heard of Blackjack, just about everyone has. It’s a fast paced, action-packed card comparing game, featuring quick rounds and massive winning potential. However, just because it’s a fast game, it doesn’t mean it’s without deep layers of strategy. Blackjack is, in fact, one of the few casino games that can be played and won consistently, should the player understand the game and play well.

This is one of the reasons that it is so popular, and has endured since the very first casinos came into existence. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it is an easy game. At least, it isn’t easy if you want to do well. Jumping in, playing and having a good time is open to just about anyone who is capable of pronouncing the words “Hit,” and “Stand”. But, being good at 21 requires a bit more skill and understanding.

So before you dive into a game of online Blackjack, give this guide a quick read.

The Basics

The best thing about Blackjack is that it is easy to learn how to play. But it is harder to master.

A round starts with the player making their bet, after which the dealer is dealt 2 cards, 1 face up, and 1 face down. The player is also dealt 2 cards, both facing upwards. The player must then decide to “Hit”, which means they take another card, or “Stand”, which means they keep their hand as is based on the total value of their 2 cards. The J, Q and K all equal 10, cards 2-10 are worth their pip value, and the Ace is worth either 1 or 11.

Naturally, the aim of the game is to add the values of the 2 cards, and to get a total that is as near to 21 without exceeding the value 21. If the decision is made that the total under 21 is good enough, you can immediately call “Stand”, after which the dealer will turn over their downward facing card, and attempt to achieve a total closer to 21 than the player’s hand.

If the player decides that they would like a third card to add to their total, they can call “Hit.” If the total now exceeds 21, they are Bust, and lose the round.

In all cases, once the player has stuck with their cards, if the dealer goes Bust before beating the player total, the player wins.

The Magic Ace

One card to pay attention to in Blackjack is the Ace. This is because the Ace’s value differs depending on your hand. Initially the Ace will count as 11, but if a card is added to a total, and that total then exceeds 21, the Ace can then automatically count as a 1, in order to avoid the hand going Bust. This makes it a highly valuable card to draw, essentially allowing it to grant a second chance once a hand has failed. Use it wisely.

The perfect hand of 21
Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

Split

If a hand consists of a pair of cards that are the same, two 10s for example, they can be split into two separate hands that are played independently, and hence the player now has 2 chances of winning. If this is desired, the cards are separated, and another betting amount must be added to the hand. It is possible for one hand to go Bust, and the other to succeed.

Blackjack

If the player is dealt a face card, that’s to say a Jack, Queen or King, and an Ace, this is referred to as a Blackjack, since the total is exactly 21. Though, in the case of the dealer being dealt a Blackjack, it is always an instant loss for the player.

Deeper Strategy

A common misconception is that Blackjack is a game about getting a total as close to 21 as possible. Although this is the idea, on the surface, it isn’t necessarily the correct approach to the game. Keep in mind that the aim of the game is, in fact, to get a total closer to 21 than the dealer. If a player sticks on 15, and the dealer fails to beat that total, it is still a winning hand. This should always be remembered since sticking on a lower total may well be a better strategy than attempting to risk everything, and go Bust.

Note that the dealer has one card dealt face up. This is provided as a clue as to the hand the dealer will be dealt, and is an important step in becoming a far more successful player. Learning more about the statistical chances of hands being achieved, based on one exposed card, can make a Blackjack player a true master. There are plenty of strategy tables available online that tell you what to do in each hand scenario, and as the game has a finite number of cards and potential outcomes, these strategy charts can set you on winning path.