A card game with historical roots in France and Spain, blackjack was being played as early as the 16th century. Today, blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world. In fact, with the exception of poker, blackjack is the most popular gambling card game.

Although the rules for blackjack are simple, this doesn’t mean that there is no strategy involved. While the majority of people have played the game, few understand the in-depth tactics that can be employed during play. There are several strategies that can be used in blackjack, and whether you’re a seasoned player or totally new to the game, they’re worth knowing. We’ll get into all of that and more in our full online blackjack review.

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How to Play Blackjack

The simplicity of Blackjack makes it an easy and accessible game. Played against a dealer, the number of players can number one to three. The game can be played using between one and eight card decks that are shuffled together. The object of the game is to beat the dealer by having a hand with a value as close to 21 as possible without going over.

At the beginning of each round, up to three players place their bets. After placing their bets, the dealer moves clockwise and gives the players a card face up. The dealer then takes one card face up for himself. Another round of face-up cards then follows, but the dealer takes his own second card face down.

The player to the left is first to decide whether to ask for another card (hit) or not (stand). The dealer then moves onto the next player until all are served cards. After the dealer has dealt cards to every player, his own face-down card is revealed, and if it has a value of 16 or less, he has to take another card. If the total is 17 or more, he must stand.

The Rules of Blackjack

The rules of Blackjack seem simple, and they are. Face cards (jacks, queens and kings) are all worth ten, while aces can be worth one or eleven. All numbered cards are worth face value.

The combination of an ace with a card other than a ten-card is called a soft hand, and the player can count the ace as either a 1 or 11 and choose whether to continue drawing cards. If a player’s first two cards are an ace and a card worth ten, giving him a count of 21 in two cards, this is a natural or blackjack. If a player has a natural and the dealer doesn’t, the dealer will then immediately pay that player 1.5 times the amount of his bet. If the dealer gets a natural, he or she can right away collect the bets of all players who don’t have naturals and return the bets of any players who do.

Once all the players have completed their hands, the dealer then reveals the hidden card and must continue taking cards until his hand totals 17 or more points.

Purpose of a Blackjack Game

The purpose of playing blackjack is to beat the dealer and get a card count as close to 21 as possible without going over. Winning blackjack can be achieved by playing each hand optimally and always taking into account what the dealer’s up card is. Players bet their desired amount and choose whether or not to continue drawing cards until either they or the dealer loses.

Getting a natural (or blackjack) pays 3 to 2, so if you bet £100, you would be paid £150 by the house.

Blackjack Probabilities

There are many variations of blackjack. Some favour the players and some favour the house. It’s your job to determine whether the odds are favourable, so make sure you understand the rules of the particular table you are playing at.
Get your thinking cap on and brush up on your math skills, as the probabilities of blackjack are more complicated than other games. However, if players take the time to understand the rules of the game, the value of the cards and how to statistically work out which cards will be dealt, the chances of mastering the game of blackjack will be very high. The cards that were played and discarded during the game will also affect it.
For example, in 6 decks, there are 24 aces, 96 ten-value cards, and 312 total cards. Probability states that you’ll get blackjack once out of every 21 hands. Obviously, these values change depending on how many decks are being used at your particular table.
Most casinos expect the hold for each blackjack table to be approximately 20%, meaning that they make a profit on about 20% of wagers. Thus, the average player can expect to lose about 20% of his stake over the course of every session.

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Top Blackjack Strategies

Though it may seem relatively simple, there are several blackjack strategies that can increase your chances of winning.
The most important thing is to always take into account the dealer’s up card—when the dealer’s up card is a 7, 8, 9, 10-card or ace, you should keep hitting until you reach a total of 17 or more.
When the dealer’s up card is a lesser card like 4, 5, or 6, stop drawing as soon as you get a total of 12 or higher. If there’s a possibility of overshooting 21 (going bust), you should avoid taking a card. This will allow the dealer to hit and hopefully go over 21.
Understanding the probabilities associated with particular cards is very important, and there are extensive studies and research that can be found online that outline which move to make depending on the card you and the dealer have. There are also several strategies listed below that increase your chances of winning.
However, it’s important to note that these strategies do not guarantee a win. In fact, there is no proven strategy that can ensure a win 100% of the time. After all, this is a game of chance as well as strategy. That’s what makes it so exciting.
Blackjack strategy charts are an excellent resource that can tell you the moves you should be making depending on the value of your cards and the dealer’s up card. They can be downloaded from the internet and are recommended for new players.

Splitting Pairs

If a player first gets two cards that are of the same value, for example, two queens or two eights, he can choose to play them as two separate hands. You must then bet the amount of your original bet on both hands. The hand to the left is played first, either by standing or hitting one or more times. The player can then stand or hit on the right hand. The only exception is a pair of aces. You can split, but only one card is given per ace. Should a ten be dealt with one of these aces, the payoff is equal to the bet.

Of course, just because you can split doesn’t mean you should. A pair of 5s is an excellent example of a hand that should not be split. If you keep your 5s together, you have a hand of 10—one of the strongest hands in blackjack.

Doubling Down

If a player chooses to double down, he doubles his initial bet after seeing his cards. But there’s one condition: he can only receive one more card. This can be done when the total value of the original two cards dealt to you is 9, 10 or 11. The player bets an amount equal to the original bet, and the dealer gives him just one card, which is placed face down and is not turned up until all other bets are settled at the end of the hand. With two fives, the player may split a pair, double down or just play the hand normally. Note the dealer doesn’t have the option to split or double down.

There are three situations when it’s a good idea to double down:
1. Hard 9 against the dealer’s low cards

When you are dealt a total of 9, double down when the dealer shows a card between 2 and 6. This must be a hard 9, meaning you don’t have an ace.

2. Soft 16 – 18 against the dealer’s low cards

If you have an ace and either a 5, 6 or 7 (giving you a soft total of 16 – 18) and the dealer shows a card from 2 to 6, this is an excellent opportunity to double your bet. Having an ace and a lower card means you are less likely to end up with a high hand, so hitting again is a good move.

3. Hard 10 Or 11 against any lower dealer card

A hard 10 or 11 is an excellent hand. If the dealer has a lower total, double down.

Insurance

When the dealer’s up card is an ace, you can make a side bet of up to half your original bet that the dealer will have blackjack. Once all side bets are placed, the dealer looks at his card. If it is indeed Blackjack, it is turned up, and those players who have made the insurance bet win and are paid double their half-bet. This is a 2 to 1 payoff, meaning they receive two dollars for every dollar bet.

The hand is over when the dealer gets blackjack, and main bets are collected from the players. If a player also has blackjack, this is a called a stand-off and neither the player nor the dealer wins. Insurance is usually not a good risk to take as a player unless you can be quite sure there is a high number of ten-cards still remaining in the deck.

Blackjack Charts

These charts were developed using a computer simulation in order to give players a better understanding of basic probabilities. These charts describe your every move during the game. The standard blackjack chart has two columns—a vertical one that shows the cards you have as a player and a horizontal one that shows the open card of a dealer. Depending on the value of the cards, the place where these two lines meet will show you what your next move should be. One of the advantages of playing online is that you can reference these charts during your game rather than having to commit them to memory.

Raise the Stakes with High-Limit Blackjack

The excitement of high-stakes Blackjack can’t be matched. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular table games both in online and brick-and-mortar casinos. In high-limit games, the excitement is multiplied. Find high-limit blackjack at the online casinos we review and enjoy maximum bets of up to tens of thousands of pounds. These amounts could be even higher during special events and tournaments.

The extensive odds at blackjack tables mean that there are excellent options when it comes to betting as well as affordable buy-ins. Even if you’re playing it safe, you can still win big at high-stakes VIP tables.

Enjoy Live Blackjack Wherever You are!

If blackjack is your game, but you don’t always have time to make it to the casino, then playing online is the next best thing. Playing on the go or at home is an extremely convenient and fun way to enjoy blackjack whenever you want. You can play on your desktop or smartphone!

It’s also an excellent game for those who don’t have much time to play—it’s a short game, so a player can join a table, play a few hands and then leave. You can literally play anytime, anyplace!

With so many options in online casinos, we’ve rounded up some of the best choices so you can focus on the game. Be a part of the thrill of the game with sophisticated software platforms that offer the best in online gaming.

Most top casinos offer a live casino experience that allows you to play with real dealers and interact with other players in real time, giving you the full casino experience. This all takes place in beautiful HD-quality video. This means that you won’t ever have to put your results in the hands of a computerised random number generator again—live blackjack is the real deal!

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An Ancient Game in a Modern World

Blackjack’s exact birthplace is unclear, giving it an air of mystery. Its origins are debated to this day, but most historians agree it probably originated in French casinos around 1700 where it was called Vingt-et-Un (twenty-one). This game most likely developed from other French card games like Chemin de Fer and French Ferme, which were popular at the time.

Spain also lays claim to be the birthplace of blackjack, with a game called ‘One and Thirty’ being prevalent in Spain as far back as the 1400s. The objective of this game was to reach 31 with a minimum of three cards. A priest referenced the game in a 1440 text, and the famed author Miguel de Cervantes, writer of Don Quixote, mentioned Trente-un in a 1570 text.

French colonists brought Vingt-et-Un to North America where the game gained popularity, and before long, it was being played throughout the continent. Owing to various gambling bans in France, its popularity only grew more and more. Of course, the rules of blackjack back then were different from those of modern-day blackjack.

When Nevada became the first state to legalize gambling in 1931, the game was still called 21. In an effort to draw more people to the game, some casinos began offering a special bet that paid out 10 to 1 if a hand had both a black jack (club or spade) and the ace of spades. Although this payout was later discontinued, the name blackjack stuck.

A notable character in the history of blackjack is Eleanor Dumont, who immigrated to America and was a skilled card dealer. She opened a gambling parlour in Nevada City, California and named it Vingt-et-un, after the French name of the game. Only rich and prosperous men were allowed to enter and play, and her parlour became very popular. Female dealers like Eleanor were a rarity at the time and men came from all across the country to play against her.

The game continues to evolve and grow today, and there are many variations that can be played. Players can even participate in blackjack tournaments in which case players start with an equal number of chips and try to finish with the biggest stack. Tournaments can be played over several rounds, depending on the number of players.

Playing the Classics

Blackjack has captured the hearts of players everywhere with its relatively simple rules and its long list of possibilities. This game of chance and skill gives players a feeling of comradery with others at the table—all of whom are united against the house. While advanced players will have spent many hours studying odds and probabilities, newcomers can also enjoy this classic table game with minimal preparation and studying.

With a colourful history that dates back over 300 years, blackjack has evolved from its European origins into a card game that even those unfamiliar with gambling will recognize. The game also made its way into popular culture and captured the creative imagination of writers and moviemakers, as several books and movies have been made about it.

Thanks to the Internet and the online casino industry, blackjack has developed into one of the most popular online table games. It’s easy to see why—the rules are easy to understand, the play is fast and the excitement is real. The house edge is one of the smallest of any game, and players have a better chance of winning by playing smart. There are very few games that come close to the thrill and excitement of online blackjack. Playing and winning only takes a few minutes, so what are you waiting for?