Playing Online Blackjack – The Rules
Blackjack is an extremely popular casino card game. There is no shortage of game options at online casinos, with ample variations from a long list of the industry’s best providers. The game is easy to learn and play, and the odds of winning are much higher than most other casino games, which is of great benefit to its fans. These key factors may be the very reason it is so well received and widely played in Australian online and land-based casinos.
There are some parts of the gameplay that you will need to learn about in order to play at the optimum level, but these are all easy to understand and should not take you more than a few minutes to understand.
While Blackjack may come in various guises, the basic strategy and gameplay remains the same, and the rules are only modified slightly from option to option. If you learn the basics on this page, you will be able to adapt your gameplay to accommodate any variances easily, as you will have a good understanding on the basic premises that underpin Blackjack on a macro scale.
What is the goal of blackjack?
The goal of the game is to try and reach the coveted value of 21 with your unique two cards in hand and any other additional cards you may request from the dealer. Played between the dealer and the player, the party that gets a hand closest to 21 without going over (bust) wins.
To help you get to this value, each card has an assigned value:
- 2 to 10 each carry their face value
- The Ace is either a 1 or and 11
- Jack, Queen, and King are all valued at 10
There is a very specific order to the play which will be discussed in the section below.
What is the passage of play?
The passage of play is the process in which the game plays out on the table. In blackjack, like any other exciting casino game, there is a valid structure. The professional dealer will host the game in line with the standard passage of play every time. This means that once you know it, you will be able to play at any game table conveniently.
Some of the more important points to remember when it comes to the order of play are:
- Cards are dealt from the dealer’s left to right at the table.
- The unique 2-card hand is always dealt initially.
- The cards are always dealt face up for the players to see easily.
- The cards are always dealt one card at a time to each player from left to right and then finally to the dealer. This ensures fairness.
- The dealer’s cards will show one card up and one card down (hole card). The mystery of the hole card is where the house edge comes into play.
- Hands are played out one player at a time from the dealers left to right.
For more valuable in-depth information on how the game plays, be sure to read our dedicated DiceDealer How to Play Blackjack page.
What is the Ace play?
Unlike all other cards in the Blackjack deck, the Ace comes with the advantage and convenience of being versatile. It can be used conveniently as either as a value of 11 or as a value of 1.
Any hand that comes with an Ace is called a soft hand because you can choose either one of two hand values to suit your strategy best.
For instance, an Ace and an 8 could either equal 19 or 9, depending on your preference and what suits the gameplay best at the time.
Are table limits important?
It is important to realise that each blackjack table you take a seat at, whether it is a first-class virtual, Live, or land-based game, will have a table limit. This is a guide that will help you decide whether the game on offer meets your budget requirements or not.
The betting limit will be marked on the game table. If you are unsure, the dealer will be able to help you with this information.
Some tables are geared specifically to accommodate low-risk players by offering rounds for small wagers with a ceiling on the highest bet option. Others pander to the needs of high rollers and VIPs.
Number of card decks in the game
Be sure to identify how many decks of cards are used in the shoe at the Blackjack table you are playing at. This can influence your strategy, especially when it comes to side bets, or you have a penchant for card counting. Blackjack dealers can use anywhere between 1 and 8 card decks in a shoe.
What happens when the dealer stands?
It is important to find out what the table rules are when it comes to the dealer’s required ‘stand’ value. This can differ from table to table. The most popular options are:
- Dealer stands on soft 17: A soft hand is a hand with an ace in it. Because the Ace operates conveniently as a 1 or 11, the players/dealer may change the value to suit the rest of the hand on the table to play for an advantage. When a dealer is required to stand on a soft 17, the ace remains an 11. If dealt an Ace and a 6, for instance, the dealer won’t revert to a value of 7 but will retain the soft 17 and stand on that amount.
- Dealer can hit on soft 17: Here, the dealer can draw a card on a soft 17, which increases their chance of winning.
The most popular game option is the first one, as most dealers will have to stand on a soft 17.
What constitutes as a blackjack in the game?
This game is named after the most premium hand possible in the deck. A 2-card 21 with an Ace and a 10/royal card is considered a Blackjack hand.
In most casinos, this hand is an automatic win and will yield a generous payout of 3:2 in most cases. If you are very lucky, the table will pay a decent 2:1 on this hand.
Can I place side bets in blackjack?
While the odds are good of winning while playing Blackjack at optimum strategy, the highest your rewards will ever be for a Blackjack hand is 2:1. For greater rewards, you can opt to play side bets, which raise the stakes more for those who enjoy a little more risk in their gameplay as a source of excitement.
There are three extremely popular side bets available commonly in the industry, which include:
This is commonly found in most variants of Blackjack. If the dealer has an Ace up-card, they will ask the table, if they would like to place an insurance bet for security. Because the chances of landing a blackjack are increased with an Ace, you can opt to pay half of your current stake as insurance.
If the dealer lands a blackjack, you will lose on your main hand, but will receive a favourable payout of 2:1 on your insurance side bet, which will help soften the blow of the hand.
This interesting side-bet must be played before the cards are dealt. If you bet here, it means that you believe that you might receive a pair as your starting hand. If you are lucky enough to land a pair, the rewards are generous:
- Mixed Pair (two of the same value in different suit and colour) will pay nice 5:1
- Coloured Pair (two cards of the same value and the same colour) will pay favourable 12:1
- Perfect Pair (two cards of the same value, colour, and suit) will pay a whopping 25:1
The house edge increases when playing this type of side bet. It can reach as high as 11%, depending on the number of decks used in the shoe.
This potentially lucrative side bet must be played before the dealing is done. It involves the combinations made with your two cards and the dealers face-up card. It is a unique bet that mixes some poker in with blackjack. You will be paid based on the poker rank you can create between the three cards:
- Flush (suited cards) pays 5:1
- Straight (consecutive numbers) pays 10:1
- Three of a Kind (same card values) pays 30:1
- Straight Flush (consecutive card values all in the same suit) pays 40:1
- Suited Triple (three of the same card value, colour, and suit) pays a massive 100:1
The house edge on this type of play will vary based on the number of card decks used but will vary between 6.29% and 8.78%.
Can I split my hand?
If you receive two cards of equal rank (2x 10s or 2x 8s etc), you are allowed to conveniently split them into two separate hands. The dealer will then place an extra card on each hand, making each one a valid 2-card hand. You will then need to place a new bet on the extra hand equal to your previous bet.
This exciting play will give you the option of conveniently playing two hands at once, effectively giving you double the potential to win a round.
It is advisable that you learn some valuable strategy when it comes to splitting your hand, as certain opportunities will work more in your favour than others. For instance, pros will always tell you to split a pair of Aces or two 8s, but never to split on two 10s, 4s, or 5s.
How to Double Down and raise the stakes
The art of the double down is one of the best-known moves/bets in blackjack. It gives you the opportunity to increase your stake and win potential when you believe that you have a great hand. It plays out as follows:
Once you have assessed your 2-card hand, you can tell the dealer that you want to double down. Here, you will be required to double your previous wager and the dealer will give you one last card to help you on your way to a favourable result.
The double down could be a great strategy to increase your takings on a win, however it should be played at the right time. There is helpful strategy that you can learn to master the art of the double down.
Choosing when to double down should be based on the effective reading of yours and the dealer’s cards. Some basic strategy includes:
- You have a 9 and the dealer’s face up card is valued between 2 to 6 in value.
- You have a 10 or 11 and the dealer’s face up card is valued between 2 and 9.
- You have a soft 16, 17, or 18 and the dealer’s face card is valued between 2 and 6.
Visit our Blackjack Strategies page for a more in-depth guide on playing at the optimum level and increase your chances of winning at Aussie-friendly casinos.
Is card counting possible when playing live?
Card counting is an art that receives a mixed reaction in the gambling world. While the strategy can help you immensely as a gamer, it is often frowned upon by casinos, though it is not actually against the laws of the game.
While card counting is difficult at online casinos, it can be used effectively when playing Live Blackjack or when playing on an actual casino floor. While there is no way for the casino to see that you were counting at a Live Casino, land-based dealers may suspect something and step in and ask you to leave, courteously.
What is the etiquette when playing live blackjack?
When you are playing Blackjack at a top-rated Live online casino or at a land-based casino, there is a set of unwritten rules that need to be upheld when playing. These are described as ‘casino etiquette’. It simply provides you with the best way to interact with real people in the gambling environment to make sure that the entertainment remains enjoyable for all parties concerned.
- Respect the dealer: Always be friendly and courteous with the dealer.
- Know the betting limits on the table: Be sure to choose a game with table limits that suit your pocket before taking your seat at a Live Table.
- Understand the game: Be sure that you understand the passage of play and the rules of the game before playing at a Live Casino. Virtual Blackjack presents the perfect platform to learn the game before you start playing with real people. You can also watch Live Casino Blackjack on the internet to get a good idea of how the game pans out for real.
- Remain positive with the other players: Always be polite to other players at the table, so that everyone feels comfortable at the table. Congratulate them on their wins and compliment them on their hands.
- Play timeously: Be sure to play within the time limits set in the game and do not hold up the passage of play. Your confidence will play an important part here.
Live Casinos are professional establishments that will treat you well at every avenue. It is, therefore, only ethical that you bring your best behaviour to the party as well.
Top blackjack rules FAQs
Does a Blackjack beat 21?
Yes, Blackjack is the perfect hand in the game. While it is technically a value of 21, it holds a special position on the table and earns the best rewards.
Does a Blackjack automatically win at the table?
Yes, once a player lands a blackjack on the table, they automatically win the hand against the dealer, lest the dealer land the same. In this case, the game is a push/tie. The bet is returned to the player.
How many times do you bet in Blackjack?
Aside from side bets, a traditional hand of blackjack involves one bet before the hands are dealt. Further stakes can be raised if you are splitting or doubling down.
How many cards are used in a Blackjack shoe?
A deck of cards in Blackjack consists of 52 cards. Depending on the table, the dealer can use between 1 and 8 decks of cards in a single game.
Does it matter where you sit at a blackjack table?
Mathematically, the results and house edge should be unaltered, no matter where you sit at a table.