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Rules of Blackjack
How to play Blackjack in 5 easy steps:
Choosing an online blackjack game to get started with is a fairly simple task as there are hundreds of great blackjack games available from top Canadian online casinos. For our step by step example, we have chosen to go with a classic blackjack game from NetEnt.
The next step in the process is to decide how much you would like to start betting with. As you can see from the above image, there are a variety of chip sizes to choose from. If you are new to the game it may be best to start with the smallest chips size available. Most blackjack betting strategies also work in betting units, so it is a good idea to go with whatever the table minimum happens to be.
Once you’ve chosen your chip size, place a chip on the designated area for your bets. In this NetEnt blackjack game, a card icon appears above your bet area once you have placed your bet. You can see it in the above image and, once you click on the icon, the game will deal you your first hand of the game.
You can now begin the exciting process of playing blackjack which involves making a series of decisions based on your hand versus the dealer’s hand. You can see in the above image that your two card hand is always dealt face up, while the dealer’s hand is almost always one face up card and one face down card. You have to decide, based on your two card total and the value of the dealer’s face up card, what your next move should be. At the bottom of the screen are several options for doing just that. You can click on the + icon or ‘hit’, stand if you don’t want any more cards or double up if you feel your hand is good.
Whichever decision you happen to make based on your blackjack hand will take you to the next phase in the round as the dealer reveals his face down card. The dealer will also need to make some decisions based on his or her hand. In most blackjack games the dealer must hit on 16 and stand on 17. The above game result shows that both the player and dealer ended with the same hand value which means that you win an even money payout.
Let’s recap the betting options available to you in a basic round of blackjack:
- Hit: This means that you can request additional cards on a weak hand
- Stand: This means that you are happy with your hand and don’t request additional cards
- Split: On certain hands such as two aces or two 8’s you can split them into two separate hands, possibly doubling your chances of winning
- Double up: In most blackjack games you can double your bet on a good hand which means that you double your original bet amount and get an additional card from the dealer
Online Blackjack Strategies
Online blackjack strategies are very popular with blackjack players as many of them can help with deciding on a response based on the dealers up card. Blackjack strategies are also very useful for determining bet sizes. Visit our blackjack strategies page to see a full breakdown of all the most common betting strategies for blackjack. Here is a list of the most common advanced strategies we discuss:
- Paroli blackjack strategy
- Fibonacci blackjack strategy
- Counting Cards (Hi Low strategy)
Basic blackjack strategy
Basic Blackjack Strategy is so named as it is the most basic or essential strategy used in all blackjack games, regardless of the variation or format. Basic Blackjack Strategy follows a specific system of responses based on your two hand combination versus the dealers up card value. Since you will only ever see the dealer’s down card or hole card at the end of the round (in most online blackjack games), it helps to have a strategy when deciding your next move. The basis of the strategy has been determined over many years of virtually every possible card combination found in a game of blackjack. The following shows you how the basic system works:
- Dealer Shows: a 2/3 on their up card – Player: should stand on 13 or higher
- Dealer Shows: a 4/5/6 on their up card – Player: should stand on 12 or higher
- Dealer Shows: a 7 or higher – Player: should stand on 17 or higher
- Dealer Shows: a 10 or less on their up card – Player: should double down on an 11 total
- Dealer Shows: a 9 or less on their up card – Player: should double down on a total of 10
- Always Split: 8’s/Aces
One of the most known blackjack strategies, doubling down is simple to use. When you decide to double down, an extra bet equal to your original is added and you are dealt one more card. This strategy gives you the opportunity to double the amount of money on a strong starting hand. If the hand value of the first two cards is 11, then you must always choose to double down, as almost 1/3rd of the deck will push you to 21 and more than half the cards will give you 17, or higher. You would also want to double down on 10s and 9s in some situations.
Splitting is a worthy strategy when used in certain situations. If the first two cards dealt to you are the same, you can split them into two separate hands, especially in the case of Aces or 8s.When you split, you will have to add another bet to your original. The dealer will then give you two new cards, one to complete each hand. You should split in these two circumstances:
- If you are dealt 8s, you should split because 16 is a very weak hand to begin with and an 8 is good starting hand.
- Splitting aces is highly favorable to the player as it creates the opportunity for other positive hands.
Splitting is an extremely popular blackjack strategy among players in both online and traditional, land-based casinos.
Blackjack dealers offer surrendering as an option to players, but you should ignore it. This is mainly because when you decide to surrender, you do recover half of your original bet, but at the expense of the other half. At times, it may seem like a viable option to surrender, but when it comes to online gambling, you are better off standing in the long run.
If the dealer shows an ace, casinos provide insurance as an option to the player. While insurance policies will give you 3:2 odds on blackjacks (which sounds more tempting than it really is), you are likely to lose more money by playing insurance bets in the long run. Sure, there may be instances where counting cards will decrease the already low house edge by taking insurance, but since you cannot count the cards in an online game of blackjack, you should just avoid the insurance option.
Advanced Blackjack Strategies
Of all blackjack strategies, none is so misunderstood or maligned as card counting is. Some believe that card counting is a form of cheating, while others believe that you are required to memorize every card in the shoe (which can be 8 decks or more!).
Fortunately neither of these are true. Card counting is actually quite an easy blackjack betting system to adopt and there are various levels of card counting available, making it ideal for all levels of blackjack player. One of the easiest of all blackjack card counting strategies is the Hi-Lo strategy, where the player assigns a number to card values. In other words:
- Card values of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are assigned the number +1
- Card values of 10, king, queen, jack and ace are assigned the number -1
- Card values of 7, 8 and 9 are assigned the number 0
As a new deck is shuffled you can begin counting cards. You start at 0 and either go negative or positive depending on what card is played first. For instance, if the first card dealt is a Jack then your total count will be -1. If the next card is a 7 the count remains at -1 and f the third card is a 4 then your count is back to 0. By counting cards, you can track the ratio between low-value and high-value cards that remain in the deck. The higher the positive number you get the more likely that the next card will be a 10 or higher and you can adjust your betting accordingly. Although you can exactly guess what card would come next, it is a great benefit to know that the deck is full of high value cards. When the count is in your favour, you can place bigger bets to maximize your winnings.
However, while card counting can help you win big payouts as well as bring the risk of being banned from land-based casinos, it is important to note that this strategy cannot be used online. After all, in online casinos - cards are virtually shuffled between each hand, and therefore make card counting pointless.
Paroli blackjack strategy
The Paroli betting system is classified as a positive betting progression, meaning that you only increase your bets when you win, not when you lose. The Paroli system can be easily adopted to a number of games including blackjack and roulette. The Paroli betting system begins with a single unit bet. This is determined by you and a good place to start is with the table minimum. If you win your bet, increase the next bet by two and, if you win that bet, increase your bet to four. However, instead of doubling again for your next bet, go back to the single unit bet and start all over again. You will also revert to the single unit bet on any losing bet, and stay with it until you win a hand.
Fibonacci blackjack strategy
The Fibonacci betting system is based on the ancient mathematical sequence and is a popular betting system in both blackjack and in roulette. The sequence is very simple to understand and implement, making it an ideal betting system. The basic Fibonacci sequence looks like this:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 etc.
Used in blackjack betting, your bets would look something like this:
Bet 1: 1 unit - win
Bet 2: 1 unit - win
Bet 3: 2 units - win
Bet 4: 3 units - win
Bet 5: 5 units - win
Blackjack tournament strategy
Blackjack tournaments are enormously popular both in online casinos and land-based casinos. Canadians love online blackjack tournaments as they are exciting and can be worth quite a lot of money. Blackjack tournaments work a bit differently to regular blackjack games. You will be competing against the house but, perhaps more importantly, against other players as well. The idea is to win your table so that you can move on to the next table and so on, until there is just one table left. Blackjack tournament strategy involves combining a number of other strategies into one, including basic blackjack strategy and a solid card counting technique as well.
More on blackjack odds
Blackjack offers one of the lowest house advantages of any online casino game of around 0.28% on average. This makes blackjack one of the best casino table games to play for beginners and most blackjack games also offer a payout average of around 95% - 98%. In terms of odds, most blackjack games will payout at 3:1 for a blackjack, insurance pays out at 2:1 and even money (1:1) on most other wins.
Other Blackjack Strategies
Besides the aforementioned strategies, a number of other blackjack strategies are also out there, which offer varying results. These include:
Assume 10 in the Hole
In this scenario, you will always assume the card in the dealer’s hand is 10 and place your bets accordingly. For example, if the dealer shows a 9, and you have an 18, they would decide to hit, despite the fact that anything higher than a 3 would best you, the player, out. While assuming a 10 may align with basic strategy, making use of this strategy exclusively would result in you losing money in the long run.
Mimic the Dealer
According to this blackjack strategy, the player is supposed to gamble by the rules of the dealer, which means standing on 17s or higher and hitting with 16 or less. You neither split nor double. This strategy is not one of the most optimal ones, but it results in a house edge of 5.48%.
Bonus Tip – Bankroll Management
It is extremely important that players consider how much money they can lose and how long they are willing to play before deciding on the size of their bankroll as well as bets. When playing online, the results can swing quickly and that is exactly why you need to provide yourself a cushion with your bankroll, but remember to never make the mistake of going with more money than you can actually afford to lose.
Reasons to love online blackjack:
- Blackjack is easy to learn to play
- Blackjack offers the lowest house edge of all casino games
- You can play online blackjack at any time, there is always a table available
- You can use blackjack betting strategies to increase your advantage over the house
- You can play online blackjack with now money which is a great way to practice strategies
Some things you may not love:
- Online blackjack lacks the feel of live casino action unless you play Live Dealer
- Some players don’t trust random number generators