How to play Casino Blackjack


IMAGES of James Bond instantly spring to mind when you think about playing cards at the casino.

But you don’t have to be wearing a tuxedo and sipping a Martini to enjoy the thrill of waging on the turn of a card.

Indeed you can be sitting in your vest and boxers at home, with far more people now sampling online gaming instead of walking through the doors of a casino.

It’s important you pick a reputable site such as those featured at to play cards online as you need to be sure you will actually be able to collect your winnings.

And in this guide I’m going to run you through Blackjack, one of the most popular and simple casino card games.

Blackjack is my game of choice because it’s not purely down to chance and there’s some skill involved. It’s often assumed that the aim of Blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible but that’s not the way I view the game. It’s all about beating the dealer and you can win with a low hand if the dealer busts.

Minimum stakes

When picking which Blackgame to play on a site, it’s important to look at what the minimum stake is. This is the amount of money you will have to pay to take part in each hand. The amount can range from stakes as small as £1 to far higher sums, so only pick a minimum stake that you can afford. Like the Cheltenham Festival and a big night of European football, you can end up in trouble if you start chasing losses.

Basic gameplay

To play you will have to wage at least the minimum stake, although you can bet more on each hand if you want. You will take your place at a virtual table that usually has between two and seven players. Once all the stakes are placed, the dealer will dish out two cards to each player and also the first card of his own hand.

Face cards (Jack, Queen or King) count as 10 in Blackjack while an ace can either count as one or 11. If it counts as one then the hand is classed as “soft” while if it counts as 11 the hand is classed as “hard”.

If you receive a face card and an ace, this is known as Blackjack and it can’t be beaten. The dealer can only tie with you if they also have Blackjack. If that happens, you will receive your stake back.

Once you have your two cards you will have the option to either stand (take no more cards) or hit (receive another card). You want your hand to be as close to 21 as possible so most people generally stand if their hand totals 16 or over and hit for anything lower. But remember to look at the dealer’s card as that could also influence if you stand or hit.

In most versions of Blackjack, the dealer has to hit if his hand is under 16 and stand at 17 and over. So let’s say you have a hand of 15 and the dealer’s first card is a five. Most people would be tempted to hit on 15 but I wouldn’t in this case because if the dealer’s second card has a value of 10 (which is statistically most likely), he will have to hit on 15 and will probably bust.

The dealer will only show his second card once every player at the table has either decided to stand or busted. He will then hit or stand until his own total reaches over 17. If the dealer busts then every player still in the game will double their stake. If his final total is 18 then every player with a total of 19 and over will double their stake and those with a total of 17 and under will lose their stake. If there is a tie your stake will be returned.

Tread carefully, we don't all have the benefit of x-ray vision like Robert Wagner in Austin Powers when he hit on 17.

In-play options

There are some twists to Blackjack’s gameplay that can help you beat the dealer. These options can only be used by the player.

Doubling down: This is usually offered if your initial two cards total either nine, 10 or 11. You can double your stake but will only be allowed to receive one more card. If this card is a high number then you are likely to beat the dealer but if you land a low card then you will probably lose your increased stake.

Splitting: If you receive two cards of the same value then you can split them into separate hands, although you will have to double your stake to do this. I’d advise splitting on cards over seven.

Insurance: If the dealer has an ace as his first card, some Blackjack games will offer insurance bets. This allows you to place a separate bet on the dealer receiving a face as his second card. If this does happen then your own hand will lose but at least you will have the consolation of winning the insurance bet.

Surrender: Some Blackjack games will offer you the chance to get half of your stake back if you are not happy with the cards you have received and want to give up instead of standing. This could be a wise move if the dealer has an ace or a face as his first card.

Top tips

Shop around for sign-up offers and free bets before deciding on which site you want to use. Also try to find a game that uses a low number of decks. Like poker, you can boost your chances by calculating the likelihood of cards being dealt.

If you are playing in a game with four decks of cards there will be 16 aces and 48 face cards. So this will give you a better understanding of the likelihood of the dealer having a face or ace as his second card

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