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Online Blackjack Guide


Blackjack or Twenty-One (21) is played with 1-6 decks of conventional playing cards. Blackjack is one of the most famous casino games in the world. No matter if you are playing at online or at real-bricks casino, this card game for sure is available there.


While it is unclear exactly when blackjack originated, the first historical reference to the game was posted in a novel Rinconete y Cortadillo written by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes – who was a gambler himself – which tells us that this game was already known in 17th century in Spain. The game was originally called "Twenty-One" in reference to the game's objective; Get as close to 21 in card count without going over the total and subsequently beating the dealer's hand. After years, Blackjack came to United States where it gained a huge popularity - and so it is until today.


Blackjack is wildly popular in both land-based and online casinos. In some online casinos, blackjack also goes by the names Pontoon. Essentially, the rules are the same no matter where the game is being played. One of the great aspects about online blackjack is the availability of as many as +10 different variations of the game in any given online casino.

These include "Double Exposure Blackjack," Spanish Blackjack," "Live Dealer Blackjack" and "Switch Blackjack" as well as few other variations. Each one follows a basic set of rules with a specific twist added for excitement. In land-based casinos, there are usually only one or two variations to choose from, because of limited table space. On the Internet, space is unlimited and so are the number of blackjack games a casino can offer. Popular variations, aside from standard blackjack, include (but not limited to):

Spanish Blackjack (spanish 21): Standard blackjack rules except players can surrender 16s and 17s after drawing cards. The game also offers a variety of extra bonuses for five-card 21s, six-card 21s and special combinations of cards, including 777.

Switch Blackjack: In this game, the player is required to play two hands with separate bets for each. After the first two cards are dealt for each hand with one dealer card showing, the player is allowed to switch the hole cards between his two hands.

Blackjack Hi-Lo: This game permits a side bet on whether the first two cards will be hi (14-20) or lo (2-12). The odds pay 1-1 with all other hands (13, 21) treated as losing bets.

Multi-Hand Blackjack: As the name implies, the player is permitted to play more than one hand at a time. There is no advantage, just a chance to win/loss money faster.

Double Exposure Blackjack: In this game, both of the dealer's card are dealt face up. The advantage for the player is the ability to keep hitting until they beat the dealer's hand, choose to stand or bust. The one concession the player has to give up is that natural blackjacks only pay 1-1 instead of the standard 1.5-1.

Live Dealer Blackjack: - For those who enjoy the live casino experience, software developers have innovated "live dealer" games, including blackjack. This game follows standard rules, but the hands are dealt via a video stream, which usually features a beautiful female dealer and the ability to chat with other players who are sitting at the same table.


In the beginning, before receiving cards from a dealer, player have to place a bet. After this, the person face up two cards from a standard 52-card decks. Meanwhile, the dealer (player’s opponent) have one card face up and one face down. What’s important, at this game every card is worth a specific number of points, and the main role of the player is trying to get closer to 21 without busting.

In each turn player is allowed to take 1 or more cards. It’s possible that gambler will start the game with the cards that are worth 21 points – it’s a blackjack and then he or she is a winner. But remember – the dealer can also have a blackjack, and in that moment all of the players at the table immediately lose.

The Bet: The player places their bet in the spot located in front of their position at the table. The betting amount is determined by site established table limits.

The Deal: Initially, two cards are dealt to both the player and the dealer. The player's cards are both face up while the dealer has one card face up and the other face down. Cards are counted based on face value where 10-K count as 10s and Aces count as one or eleven at the player's desecration. For the dealer, Aces always count as one until the dealer's cards total 18 or higher.

Player Decisions: Keeping in mind that the goal for the player is to get as close to 21 as possible with going over (busting), the player is first to act after the initial deal. They must decide on one of four actions:

  • Hit - Take another card
  • Stand - Satisfied with their hand
  • Double-Down - This is a special wagering opportunity where the players is given the chance to double up their bet, receiving one hit in return.
  • Split - If the player receives two cards of the same denomination, they can split the cards and create two separate hands with two separate bets.

The player continues making decisions until they bust or choose to stand.

Dealer Decisions: - The dealer is forced to abide by a very specific set of rules. They must take a hit until they reach 17 or more, then they stand. In some variations, the dealer must also take a hit on a "soft" 17 (any combination of cards that equal six plus an Ace).

The Outcome: Each deal continues until either the player or dealer busts or until they both stand. The one closest to 21 without going over wins. Winning players are paid 1-1 odds unless they hit a blackjack (any two-card 21), which usually pays 1.5-1 odds.

BASIC guidelines to follow

In order to keep that advantage from increasing, the player needs to play a near perfect game of blackjack.

  1. Read the rules - Each online casino offers as many as 10 variations of blackjack. Common variations include "Surrender Blackjack," Spanish Blackjack," "Double Exposure Blackjack," "Bonus Blackjack" and standard "Blackjack. In each case, the rules are going to vary, which alters the house's advantage one way or the other. You need to understand which set of rules you are playing under, in order to make the proper decisions. Every game includes a box with rules and explaining. Do not play hurriedly; read those rules before to start.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the basic blackjack strategy chart - This particular chart offers advice on how to play every hand based on the cards dealt. It has been prepared by experts who understand the mathematical probabilities of each situation. Therefore, each suggestion should be considered the "correct" way to play the hand.
  3. Practice - Quite a few sites offer free play options for blackjack. You should take advantage of these opportunities in order to get a feel for how each casino's rules impact the game. This is especially important when playing unique variations. For example, Double Exposure Blackjack is played with both of the dealer's cards face-up. The obvious advantage for the player, is the option to keep hitting in hopes of catching the right card while the dealer sits with a solid 17-20. The big disadvantage is that blackjack only pays 1-1 instead of 1.5-1. When you factor in these two rule changes, the houses advantage actually increases ever so slightly.
  4. Situational rules of thumb - The following rules are designed as a quick guide for situations that are typically misplayed based on mathematical probabilities. No online blackjack tips guide should be considered complete without providing this information.
    ► Always hit a soft 17 (A-6). Regardless of what the dealer has, there are 16 cards that make the hand better and 16 cards that do no damage. It's worth the risk.
    ► Always hit a hard 12 if the dealer shows 2 or 3. The reality is there are only 16 cards that cause a bust. That means you have a 70% chance of landing a better hand by hitting.
    ► Always split 8s. With two 8s, you have a losing hand more than 66% of the time. By splitting them, you stand a better chance of drawing a good hand and saving your money by winning one of two hands.

    ► Never take insurance when the dealer shows an Ace. Over the long haul, it increases the house's advantage by 13%.
    ► Never split 10s (10-K) or 5s. By splitting 10s, you are throwing away a likely winning hand without the possibility of improving your position. By splitting 5s, you are effectively creating two weak hands from one strong hand.
  5. Surrender all 16s except two 8s - By surrendering a hand that losses 66% of the time, you are saving 50% of your money. Over the long haul, that's good math for the player.
  6. Money management - Never wager more than 5% of your bankroll on a single hand. By following this rule, you can keep yourself in action longer, increasing your chances of encountering a winning streak.
  7. Playing systems - No matter what you read, systems don't make you a winner. Counting cards online is not applicable and most money management systems (i.e. the Martingale system) have a caveat or two that offsets any potential advantage.

Rules and Strategies

Depending on the number of decks being used, the house's advantage ranges from 0.17% (one deck) to 0.65% (six decks). There are a variety of playing and betting strategies that can be used to try to circumvent the house's advantage, but in reality, there is no viable way for a player to get the advantage without cheating (i.e. card counting).

A full Blackjack guide by Barney Vinson