There are many versions of Blackjack available online, but it makes sense to learn how to play the classic first. With a solid foundation in this, you can move on and explore the other games.
You’ll find different rules and different formats of the classic game, and their odds tend to vary quite a lot. To get the best from your online game time, of course, it helps to have a clear understanding of these. As you play and experience more your own insights will grow, but the guidelines below is a good place to start off.
Classic Blackjack Basics
The goal in this game is to get a hand total as close to 21 as possible, without exceeding this amount. A standard Poker deck is used, and anywhere from 1 to 8 sets of cards may be in play.
When you’re playing offline the game has 1 to 7 players, while online you can choose to participate in a multi-player game or to sit at your own private table. The game starts with all players making bets on their hands winning, and then being dealt 2 face-up cards. The dealer is also dealt 2 cards, with only 1 facing up.
Now you need to decide whether to Hit and ask for more cards, or Stand and end your turn. This is the most basic strategy point in classic Blackjack and all other variations of the game, and you need to consider your cards, the cards of the dealer and other players, how many decks are being used and all other house rules when you’re making your move.
A very common rule is for the dealer to have to Hit on a Soft 16 and Stand on a Soft 17. A Soft hand contains an Ace card, while a Hard hand does not. Since the Ace can be 11 or 1, a Soft 17 can never go bust. That means that if the dealer is allowed to Hit on a Soft 17, the House Edge will be 0.22% higher.
You win your bet if your total is higher than the dealer’s and both are under 21, or if your hand is still under 21 and the dealer goes bust. If you get Blackjack, especially with your first 2 cards, you’ve got the best hand in the game. Try to choose games that pay out 3:2 for Blackjack wins, since lower payouts can significantly boost the house edge. Although the house edge grows as more decks are used, single-deck games often offer lesser payouts. Weigh up each situation carefully.
Other Classic Blackjack Moves
You might also choose to surrender, split your pairs or double your bets as you’re playing. Surrendering allows you to bow out of an unfavorable hand, and forfeit only half your bet. When you receive a pair of the same cards, you can split these into 2 hands and make an equal-sized bet on the second hand. Different casinos have different rules regarding split pairs, so make sure you check these carefully.
This is also true when you’re doubling your bets, which you might want to do if you get an especially favorable hand. The rules shift the odds in your or the casino’s favour, so you need to be very clear on what they are when you’re deciding what to do.
Keep practicing your Blackjack game; especially in the free play mode that most online casinos allow, to develop your insights and skills. As you grow you’ll be able to implement the different story advice you find as well.