Blackjack is a very popular table game that’s widely cherished by millions of gamblers at both online and land-based casino across the world. Unlike other games of pure chance such as slots, blackjack is a game of skill that requires the use of the right strategies to reduce the house edge to your favor. While learning and memorizing the rules of most games is often a daunting task, it’s absolutely not the case with blackjack.

To make things a lot easier for you, we’ve prepared a comprehensive blackjack guide covering the rules, history, strategies, blackjack variations, best blackjack games to play, and where to play blackjack. That’s not even all, there’s more!

Brief history of blackjack

Although there’s no sufficient evidence pointing to the origin of blackjack, historians believed that this table game originated from France in the 17th century, where it was basically called Vingt-et-un.

Derived from the well-known French games chemin de fer and French ferme, Vingt-et-un literally means ’Twenty One’’, and that’s basically the main goal of the modern blackjack game — which is to get a total of 21 points, or close to 21 as possible without going over. The Vingt-et-un game rules, however, were to some extent different from the modern blackjack. For instance, the dealer was the only one allowed to double. Also, players had to place bets after each round.

There’s also a claim that blackjack was developed from Veintiuna, a Spanish game which also means twenty-one.

The first ever recorded incidence to back up the claim of Veintiuna game can be traced to Novelas Ejemplares book, which was written by Miguel de Cervantes in the early 17th century. Just like with the Vingt-et-un game, the main objective of Veintiuna was to try and reach 21 points without busting.

In the early 18th century, the Vingt-et-un version became very popular in French casinos. And when the French revolution came to an end in around 1789, many people fled the country to other safer parts of the world, leading to the gradual spread of the game particularly in North America. Since there were no gambling laws already established in the USA during the early 18th century, the game continued to grow in popularity and was later named “Blackjack’’ by gamblers.

The US government, however, prohibited the play of blackjack in the early 19th century after many people started to move to North America in order to play this game. But that didn’t stop professional players as they continued to play the game, though, underground.

Blackjack was surprisingly getting more reach despite being deemed illegal, so this attracted legalization of the game. And in 1931, blackjack gambling was legalized in the state of Nevada. Thereafter, Las Vegaswas established and it became the most popular place for playing blackjack. The game was increasingly becoming a favorite for many gamblers, so other states as well as countries around the world, finally legalized it.

To attract more players, some casinos then introduced a special bonus bet with which a player whose hand featured one of the blackjacks and the aces of spades won at 10 to 1 odds. After several years, however, this payout was discontinued but the name blackjack still remained to date.

How to play blackjack

The first step of getting started with blackjack is, of course, to understand the card values and learn the blackjack rules. The main objective of the game is to draw a hand value of 21 or close as possible to 21 but higher than the dealer, or let the dealer’s hand value exceed 21. Anyone that goes over a total of 21 points automatically loses the bet (busts).

So are the values for each card?

  • Face cards J, Q, K equal 10 points.
  • All the cards 2-10 have a face value
  • The Ace can count as a 1 or 11
  • A queen and 5 counts 15
  • An Ace and 5 counts either 6 or 16
  • A hand with only one value ( lacks an Ace) is a Hard Hand

Playing blackjack game

Before you can start playing the blackjack game, you’ll need to buy chips. And once you have the chips, check the maximum and minimum bet allowed per hand at the table and then place a wager. The dealer will distribute 2 cards to you, as well as to himself/herself. One of the dealer’s cards is usually displayed face down, and the other one face up to give you a clue how strong the dealer’s hand is.

To play your hand, you’ll need to determine your score by adding the value of cards. If your first two cards comprise of an Ace and a ten-value card, then congratulations as you got a blackjack.

Blackjack bets

Once you have determined the score by adding the first 2 cards, you’ll have the following betting options:

Hit

To Hit simply means drawing another card from the dealer when your time to play comes. There’s no limitation on how many cards you can draw, however, be sure not to exceed 21.

Tip on when to hit — Hit if the total score is 2 to 10. You can also hit when you have a “Stiff’’ hand (12-16) if the dealer’s hand is showing a card between 7 and 10.

Stand

If you choose to stand, it means you’re happy with your hand so there’s no need to take any more cards.

Tips on when to Stand — you can decide to stand if you have:

  • A hard total of 17+
  • A soft total of 17 and dealer’s hand is showing an 8 or more
  • A soft total of 18 and dealer’s hand is showing a 9 or more
  • A total score 0f 19+

Split

This betting option is applicable only when you receive 2 cards that have the same value. You’ll need to split the cards and add another bet to your second hand.

Tips on when to Split — split your cards if you have a pair of Aces or 8s. Also, you can split a pair of 6s or 7s if the dealer’s hand is showing 6 or less. You should, however, avoid splitting a pair of 5s and 10s.

Double down

Doubling down in blackjack means you will place one more bet on top of your initial bet on the table.

Tips on when to double down — double down if the score of the first 2 cards you’re dealt with is 11, or when you have a total of 10 points and the dealer’s hand is showing 2-8. You can double down if the dealer’s hand is showing 3, 4, 5, or 6 and your hand has 9.

Insurance bet

This is a type of blackjack side bet, which is often available to players when a dealer’s face up card is an Ace. With insurance bets, you must place a bet that’s equal to half your original wager.

Tips on when to take an insurance bet — you should avoid insurance bets unless when the dealer has an Ace.

Surrender Bet

If you’re not happy with your hand, you can decide to surrender your bet and in return get half your bet, instead of losing it all to the dealer.

Best blackjack strategies

The basic strategies can simply be summarized to as knowing when to hit, stand, split, double down, surrender, and take insurance. If you’ve memorized the strategies, then you’re ready to take advantage of the following advanced blackjack strategies that can make it easier to maximize your potential winnings.

Positive-progression strategy

With positive-progression, you need to increase your stake following a win. You’ll only return to the original wager after you lose a hand. If you’re lucky to run a winning streak, then this betting strategy can work out wonders for you as long as you understand when to walk away from the table. The trick is to weigh carefully on how much you should increase your wager.

Negative progression strategy

If you love wagering big, then the negative progression may be ideal for you to recover your money and win big. All you need to do is to increase your wager after you lose a bet. It’s up to you to decide how much to increase your bet with. If you win, you’ll return to the original wager and all the money used to place your bets will be recovered back. For a winning streak, you’ll be required to bet the same amount until when you lose.

Flat-betting strategy

Here, you just bet with the same amount whether you record a win or loss. Put simply, it helps control your bankroll and reduces the risks of steep losses.

Martingale system

It’s a negative progression betting strategy, which means to double up your wager whenever you lose but keep your wagers same every time you win. Experts recommend starting with small wagers and adjust appropriately because if you run a losing streak, this strategy has the power to drain your bankroll really fast.

Oscar’s Blackjack Betting Strategy

The Oscar’s Grind betting strategy is quite simple; you stick to flat-betting every time you lose and double your bet after you register a win. To make profits using this strategy, you’ll need to carefully track your win and losses in your head to know how much to wager after you win.

Blackjack variations

Fortunately, blackjack offers a long and great list of variants to keep you entertained for endless hours. Well, here are some of the most popular blackjack variations you’ll want to check out:

  • Blackjack switch
  • Vegas Strip
  • Bonus Blackjack
  • Double blackjack
  • Double exposure
    blackjack
  • European blackjack
  • Multi-hand blackjack
  • Spanish 21
  • Match play 21
  • Face up 21
  • Super 21
  • Perfect pair blackjack
  • Super Fun 21
  • Double Attack
  • Pontoon

Card counting

Card counting is not actually illegal but, for fair gambling, most land-based casinos will kick out players that employ card counting in their casino. In the eyes of casinos, card counting is enough of an infraction because it greatly decreases the house edge from about 8% to 0.28. With online blackjack, the computer regulated machines make it difficult to count cards. So, the best way to go about beating the casino’s edge is to learn the game rules and take advantage of the tactical moves of knowing when to hit, stand, double down, and split.

How to practice blackjack

To practice blackjack effectively, it’s important that you get a blackjack strategy chart as it will help you master the proper play rules for each possible hand and dealer up card.

Once you have the black strategy chart, it’s time hone your skills by playing real blackjack. But because you’re just getting to know the game, we wouldn’t recommend practicing at offline blackjack due to the distractions and social embarrassment veterans often put beginners through. So it’s best that you create an online account, where you can enjoy practicing the game without anyone disturbing you. The good news with online blackjack is that you can wager with as little as few cents per hand. And better yet, the pace of acting on your hand is entirely up to you.

Be sure to keep practicing as much as you can while reviewing the rules and basic blackjack strategy. However, keep in mind not to overdo things! Start with short practice sessions and adjust along the way.

Best online blackjack games

Trying out the various variants of blackjack to find a great one can be time-consuming. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you and we’re presenting you with the following 4 best online blackjack games. They are great for any gambler, whether you’re a veteran or just starting out.

  1. European Blackjack Gold

Boasting a unique modifiable Expert mode, this blackjack game offers an easy gameplay and sleek graphics to keep you glued to it. The game is played with 2 standard 52-card decks, and the cards are reshuffled once each hand has been played. The game rules are simple, and perhaps that’s why it’s one of the most popular blackjacks variant among players worldwide. You can hit, stand, double down, split, as well as take insurance.

You win if you’re able to achieve a hand of 21 points, which contains an Ace. The payout is 3; 2. And if you and the dealer get blackjack (21) at the same time, you’ll have to “Push” and this can result in a win or a stalemate for both of you.

  1. Classic Blackjack

Classic Blackjack is a popular and highly entertaining game powered by Microgaming. You’ll certainly fall in love with its crisp graphics and fascinating sound effects.

Since Classic blackjack is a single-hand card game, it is played with just one standard deck and the main goal is to try and beat the dealer by achieving 21 points as with other blackjack variants. Shuffling of the deck card is done at the end of each hand. The only difference you should note is that, the Classic Blackjack allows players to double down on 9, 10, 0r 11 but doesn’t allow for re-splits. Also, the dealer is supposed to hit 16 and stand on 17s.

  1. Vegas Strip Blackjack

This is also another great blackjack variant, well designed to give you lots of fun. In terms of gameplay, you’ve got nothing to be worried about even if you’re a beginner as the objective and strategies are simply similar to the standard blackjack. Nevertheless, though, there’s a slight difference which is — the game is played with only 4 decks of cards.

  1. Double Exposure Blackjack

With Double Exposure Blackjack variant, the dealer receives 2 face-up cards and this will provide you with the necessary information on which strategy to use. If you receive a natural black, the payout is decreased to even money from 3: 2. And any draw result (your hand ties with the dealer’s hand) means you lose your bet.

There’s no hole card since both cards of the dealer are exposed, and therefore you’re not allowed to surrender or take insurance. And if the dealer has 13-16, you can split two 10-value cards. Also, you must hit a hard hand of 19 if the dealer’s hand is showing a 20.

Online vs. offline blackjack

Millions of gamblers used to playing offline blackjack at brick and mortar casinos since the 17th century, but the numbers reduced drastically when the internet came. Why? Well, the internet has made it easier for gamblers to play casino games using mobile devices while seated at their homes, offices, or when traveling. Although there are benefits of playing offline blackjack, these benefits can’t match that of playing online blackjack.

Let’s find out why you too should play online blackjack.

  • You get to enjoy plenty of blackjack variants
  • Online blackjack is available 24/7 ( online casinos never sleep)
  • Saves you the traveling costs
  • Play from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection
  • Get bonuses and rewards for just playing the games
  • Less distraction
  • Friendly if you’re starting out with blackjack

Where to play online blackjack

You have a plethora of online casinos to choose from, but if you want to play online blackjack at secure and safe casinos, then you can never go wrong with Casino Rewards member casinos. For example, casinos such as Zodiac Casino, Grand Mondial Casino, Villento Casino, Captain Cooks Casino, Luxury Casino, Casino Action, Golden Tiger Casino, and UK Casino Club offer an enormous range of blackjack variants to suit your taste and bankroll. Better yet, they offer lucrative signup bonuses and a great loyalty program that comes with amazing benefits and unique prizes.

Blackjack glossary

  • Bust: When a player or dealer goes over 21.
  • Bust Card: A card which takes
    the dealer’s hand or player’s hand over 21.
  • Upcard: A face-up card displayed by the dealer.
  • Even money: It’s a form of insurance for a player with a blackjack against the dealer with an ace.
  • Hard hand: Any hand without an Ace counted as 11.
  • Flat bet: Placing the same bet amount in a row.
  • Hole card: One of the dealer’s cards, which is dealt face down. The one a player can’t see.
  • Hit: To draw another card from the dealer.
  • Natural: When a player is dealt 2 cards that equal 21
  • Push: When both the dealer and player have blackjack hands that tie
  • Soft: A hand that has an Ace with 11
  • Split: When a dealer issues a player with two cards with the same value, and a player chooses to play each of them as separate hands and then places 2 similar bets.
  • Stand: To ask for no more cards from the dealer.
  • Stiff hand: Drawing one more card could easily bring about a bust.
  • Surrender: When you have a worse hand and you opt to give up on your hand in order to recover half of your
    bet.
  • 10-value card: Any card that counts 10.