Blackjack is quite an easy game, that is, when speaking about its fundamental rules. Learning the rules of how to play blackjack online is even an easier task as any casino will have an easy to follow rules posted right by the table. In this article we will try and help you understand not only how to play online blackjack in the technical 'follow the rules' manner, but also understand the finer points of the game. Lessons you will be able to take with you to the blackjack tables in the land based casinos with the same effectiveness. Any article that will try to tell you that the only thing you need to know about how to play blackjack online is the rules of the game is a resource not worth your time.
As said the blackjacks rules and structure are quite easy to follow. The goal in blackjack is to reach a hand value that is as close to 21, as it was also once called in the history of blackjack. If your hand will go over 21 you will be 'busted' and lose. Blackjack is always played against the house and not other players. Hence you only play against the dealer's hand. Unlike craps, roulette or other of our featured online casino games you can actually turn the house edge to your advantage relatively easy. In blackjack the suits of the cards make no difference. Each number card is valued to its nominated number. The ace can worth either one or eleven whatever serves the player best. For instance, a hand with a 9 and an ace is worth twenty and is referred to as a soft-ace. A hand that has a 5, a 7 and an ace is worth thirteen, because otherwise the hand would be busted. Each blackjack table, whether online blackjack or otherwise, has betting limits that are posted on the table. The limits usually specify a minimal bet and maximal bet.
Both online blackjack and regular casinos have two forms of dealing cards. One system is known as the London Deal and the other Nevada Deal. Although the names imply otherwise, there is no regional connection to this dealing. In fact you are very likely to see a London Deal blackjack table in Vegas as a Nevada Deal in Monte Carlo or one of the British casinos. London deal means that the players receive both cards facing up and the dealer receives only one card facing up. The Nevada Deal gives the player two cards facing down and the player one card facing up and one card facing down. Either way, you will see one of the dealer's cards.
After the cards been dealt, the real game begins. This is the part where knowing the blackjack rules becomes important. Now it is up to the players to determine whether their hand is strong enough to beat the dealer's hand, based on the one card that they can see. If he thinks his hand is good enough as it is he can 'stand' and wait for the dealer's or other players turn. If he thinks his hand can need some further improvement he can ask for another card, a 'hit'. If the additional card had not busted his hand he can decide whether or not he is satisfied or he can ask for an additional card. The moment a player busted out or decided to stand the turn moves to the other players and then the dealer.
When it is the dealer's turn to act he has to follow very specific rules. First he either reveals his second card or deals himself a new card (depending on the type of the 'deal'). When the dealer reveals his cards he has two options. If he has 17 or higher he has to stand. If he has 16 or lower he has to hit. The dealer has no choice over his actions and he always has to follow this rules. If the dealer's hand gets busted everybody on the table that has not been busted yet, wins. If the dealer has not busted then his hand is compared to each of the other hands at the table. Each hand that is higher then the dealer's wins. The payout to the player in case he wins is 1:1 meaning, his original bet doubled. If the dealer and the player have the same value of cards the hand is a tie and the player receives his bet back. If your first two cards are blackjack, an ace and a ten valued card, is an immediate win. The payout for a 'natural' blackjack is one and a half times his bet, 1.5:1.
Now that you know how to play blackjack at its simplest level, let's look at some of the more 'advanced' blackjack rules you have during the game:
Splitting - If your first two cards are a pair (in this case each two cards that worth 10 is also a 'pair', i.e. a Jack and a King is a pair) you can split these cards into two separate hands. This of course means that the player must place the same bet he placed on the original hand on the second hand as well. This results in you playing two hands simultaneously against the dealer. If by chance one of the new hands is a pair as well, the player can split as well. Some online casinos have a certain limit to the amount of hands you can split. Remember that if a hand turns into a blackjack after the split, it is still considered to be only 21 and not a 'natural' blackjack (it pays the usual odds and not the 1.5:1). Some online casinos allow players to double down after splitting the hands, although this is not that common.
Doubling Down - After receiving his cards a player can double his original bet. The trick is that after doubling you can hit once and only once. If after doubling down you win, the payout will be 2:1 (on the doubled bet).
Surrender - After the player stands and the dealer checks his second card and finds out he does not have a blackjack, the player gets the chance to surrender. Surrendering before the dealer begins to hit will get the player half of his bet back. The option to surrender is usually offered in European-based online casinos. Some online casinos even offer you the opportunity to surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack. This option is usually called Early Surrender.
Insurance - This option is agreed by most blackjack experts to be a bad bet and highly damaging on the long-run. Insurance is offered to players when the dealer has an Ace showing as his faced up card. Insurance is just like betting that the dealer will have a blackjack. The insurance bet is usually half the size of the original bet. If the dealer will really have a blackjack the player is paid 2:1 on his insurance bet (meaning he will cover his original bet).
These are generally all the blackjack rules you need to know about how to play blackjack. Of course there are much more things to know about blackjack such as card counting, recommended strategies and table and casino etiquette. We recommend all players from all ranks to keep reading our online blackjack and other casino related articles.
Thomas Franklin, Editorial Staff