How To Play Online Blackjack

Blackjack is a popular card game in which players attempt to reach 21 points or higher without going over. But that’s just skimming the surface – in this guide, we’ll teach you the basics of this casino classic.

Blackjack rules

Getting Started: The Basics of Online Blackjack

For centuries, blackjack has captivated gamers around the world. And thanks to the internet, you can now play this exciting card game from the comfort of your couch.

The mechanics of blackjack are simple. You can learn the basics in minutes, but by studying the game further, you can reduce the house’s edge significantly.

Below, we’ll teach you everything we know about this beautiful game. We will share our knowledge so that you can play with confidence at the top live casino sites.

What is the goal of the game?

The goal of Blackjack is simple: build a hand worth 21 points, or as close as possible, without going over. You win if your score is higher than the dealer’s (without exceeding 21).

Blackjack Terms

Before we jump into things like gameplay, let’s define some common blackjack terms first:

Term What It Means
πŸ‚‘ Ace A card worth 1 or 11 (whichever gives the player a better score.)
πŸ’° Bankroll Money set aside for gaming purposes.
♠️ Blackjack A table game where a player draws as close to 21 as possible (without busting).
🎈✨ Busting Drawing to any score over 21 (22 or higher). If you bust, you lose the hand.
✌️ Double Down x2 your wager on a blackjack hand (in exchange for only getting one more card).
πŸƒ Face Card Refers to Jacks, Queens, or Kings. Can also refer to Tens, as they have the same value as previously mentioned cards (10).
β›° Hard Hand Any hand without an Ace. Your hand lacks the flexibility of a soft hand (e.g., a soft 16 can be 6 or 16, while a hard 16 is 16.)
πŸ’₯ Hit Asking the dealer for another card (to increase your score).
🏠 House Edge The advantage a gaming site has over players. Assume the house edge is 2%. If you wager $1/hand over 100 rounds, the house will (on average) make a $2 profit over that span. However, due to short-term luck, you could turn a profit over the same period.
πŸ“ƒ Insurance A side bet that costs half your initial wager. If the dealer turns over a blackjack, it pays out your stake at 2/1.
πŸ‚‘ Soft Hand Any hand with an Ace. Aces are worth 1 or 11, giving any hand added flexibility.
πŸ‚Άβž—πŸ‚Ά Split The act of separating two cards of the same rank into two separate blackjack hands.
πŸͺ‘️ ⬆️ Stand Refusing additional cards. After this, the dealer will reveal their cards (and draw additional cards according to game rules).
🏳️ Surrender Giving up your hand before the dealer acts. In games that allow this, you will forfeit half your initial bet.

Card Values

Before sitting down at any online Blackjack table, you must understand the value of the cards dealt to you.

Here’s what they are worth:

Ace: 1 or 11 points (more on this below)
2-10: Face value (example: 6= 6 points)
Jack, Queen, and King: 10 points

Add these values together as you are dealt cards to get your score. Your opening hand can have a value between 4 and 21. If you have 21, that’s a Blackjack, which means you can’t lose – yay!

How Does a Blackjack Round Work?

It depends on whether you’re playing American or European Blackjack. While the rules in both games are similar, there are a few differences.

In the European game, the dealer gets only one face-up card. But in the American version, the dealer receives two cards – but one is hidden.

Meanwhile, you’ll have two cards of your own. Using your hand’s current value (and half the dealer’s hand), you can choose to hit (take another card) or stand (decline any more cards).

In certain situations, you can split your hand, double down, or even surrender… but we’ll discuss these options below.

Once you stand, the dealer will turn over their hole card (American Blackjack), or they’ll deal their second card (European Blackjack). After either of these actions, the dealer will hit/stand according to house rules.

Generally, the dealer will hit until they reach 17 or higher – after that, they’ll stand.

You win if your score exceeds the dealer’s (without exceeding 21)!

Gameplay During a Blackjack Hand

In Blackjack, you have several moves at your disposal. Below, we’ll talk about them in-depth:

Action What It Does
πŸ’₯ Hit Asks the dealer for another card. By doing this, you are trying to get as close to 21 as possible without exceeding it.
πŸͺ‘️ ⬆️ Stand Refuses additional cards. Once you feel you have a better hand than the dealer, do this.
✌️ Double Down Doubles your initial wager. In return, the game will require you to hit once and then stand. In American Blackjack, you can double down on any starting hand, but in European Blackjack, you can only double down on hands with values of 9, 10, or 11.
πŸ‚Άβž—πŸ‚Ά Split Breaks up pairs into two different hands. In American Blackjack, you can split any pair. But it gets crazier – you can also split your split hands. In total, you can do this three times per round. European blackjack is stricter on splits. In these games, you can only split hands with face cards of the same rank (TT, JJ, QQ, KK) - and you only get to do it once per round.
πŸ“ƒ Insurance If the dealer up card is an Ace, you can buy insurance. This side wager protects against a dealer blackjack, paying 2:1 if you are correct. But if you are wrong, you lose half your initial bet.
🏳️ Surrender Gives up your hand. In return, you only lose half your wager (rather than the whole bet at showdown).

Which Blackjack Game is Best?

In 2023, there are dozens of blackjack variants available. Some alternative games are more “out there” than others, but they all add a fresh, exciting angle to a classic table game.

Below, we’ll talk about the most common types of Blackjack available in Canadian online casinos.

European Blackjack

Blackjack feels like a classic American card game, but it is not. According to historians, Blackjack was likely born in France in the late 17th century – back then, it was known as Vingt et Un, or 21.

To this day, European Blackjack remains one of the most widely played variants. In this game, the dealer starts with only one card (face up) and must stand at 17 or higher. On the player side, you can split face cards and double down on starting hands worth 9 to 11.

American Blackjack

For the most part, American Blackjack obeys the same rules as its European cousin. However, there are a few key differences.

First, the dealer starts with two cards (one up card and one hidden hole card). Then, once all cards are dealt, the dealer will automatically check for Blackjack – if they have 21, the round ends immediately.

Second, unlike the European game, American Blackjack dealers must hit on soft 17s. But like in the European game, American dealers will still stand on hard 17s.

And third, players have more freedom in American Blackjack. They can split all pairs – and they can do it up to three times per round. Further, they can double down on ANY starting hand, regardless of value.

21 + 3 Blackjack

This popular variant combines the excitement of three-card poker with Blackjack. It runs like a standard game of American Blackjack – but there’s a 21+3 betting area on the side.

By placing a wager here, you’re betting that your hand + the dealer’s visible up card will make a 3-card flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, straight flush, or a suited three-of-a-kind. Exact odds vary, but payouts far exceed the standard 3:2 received for winning a Blackjack hand.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack

Like 21+3, Perfect Pairs Blackjack plays like a traditional blackjack game – except you can place a side bet on whether you’ll be dealt a pair.

You win if your first two cards are the same (but different suits and colours). Should they be the same colour (but of other suits), you win more. But if they are the same rank, colour, and suit, you could score a windfall!

It’s a Pit Classic For a Reason

Blackjack is a simple game to learn. Yet, it offers a perfect blend of luck and strategy. And with entertaining variants like 21+3 and Perfect Pairs, it continues to offer seasoned and new players reasons to keep coming back.

Are you looking for the best blackjack bonuses? Find out the best casinos in Canada to play the game.

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Head of Content

Internationally renowned author Henri Ojala has spent more than a decade mastering the ins and outs of the gambling industry, focusing on online poker, sports betting, and casino games. With over 10 years of experience in the gambling industry, he is a respected expert in various forms. Henri shares his extensive knowledge of strategies, odds, and risk management, earning him recognition as an authority in the online casino field.