How to play blackjack for beginners

David Banks
Authored by David Banks
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2024 - 12:16

Blackjack is one of the most popular table card games in casinos all over the world, rivaled only by poker.

This is why all reputable gaming establishments include several variations of blackjack in their catalogs, including live sessions and additional perks like CasinoStars no deposit bonus offers and other attractive incentives for players. The main features of playing blackjack are its very simple rules, speed of the game, and a fairly simple card counting strategy compared to other popular card games, which attracts the attention of players.

Basic rules for beginners

To understand how to play blackjack, especially for beginners, it is worth starting with learning the basic blackjack rules and game terminology. A gaming session begins with all participants placing their bets after determining their size. After that, the dealer deals two cards to each player while taking one open card and one closed card for themselves. After receiving the cards, players decide their further strategy and make decisions about what to do next.

According to blackjack rules, further options may be as follows:

  • If the sum of points is close to 21, do not take more cards;
  • Ask for one card, losing the initial bet;
  • Double the existing bet and take a card from the deck;
  • Split two identical cards;
  • Refuse to continue, surrendering the cards and losing half the bet.

Before the deal begins, the dealer thoroughly shuffles and cuts the deck. Then they lay out two open (face up) cards for each participant, including themselves. However, one of the dealer’s cards is face up, and the other is face down. This way the player can assess the dealer's chances of winning. After the initial cards are dealt, the player acts first, making decisions for each move. Then the dealer acts, drawing more cards if the point total is less than 17. If the player or dealer immediately gets blackjack (an ace + a card worth 10 points), then the player wins. If both the player and the dealer get a blackjack, it is a draw.

Key game terms and card counting

In blackjack, cards from two to ten are valued according to their face value, meaning they give points in accordance with the indicated number. Jack, queen, and king are worth ten points each, while an ace is worth eleven points. If the hand value exceeds 21, the ace counts as one point. It is worth noting that card suits in blackjack are not taken into account at all.

Below are the main game terms that will help you learn blackjack basics and understand more advanced game strategies:

  • Hit (take more) – the player wants to take an additional card from the dealer, which can be done without limit until the total exceeds 21.
  • Stand (enough) – the player chooses to keep the current hand.
  • Split (divide) – this can be asked only if the player receives a pair of cards of the same value. However, after this, the player must double the initial bet. Please note that you don’t have to request a split if you wish.
  • Double down (multiply) – the player doubles their initial bet and receives one additional card from the dealer.

In addition to the above actions, some blackjack variations include an extra action called surrender. If the player chooses to surrender (refuse to play, give up), in this case, they stop playing and lose only half of their initial bet.

Variations of blackjack

Today, there are many variants and subtypes of blackjack, but the most well-known types are the following:

  • Classic: with one open dealer card and one hidden card;
  • European: the dealer takes the second card after all players finish their turns. If the dealer has a blackjack, then all additional bets (except for insurance) are returned to the players;
  • Additional versions: created based on classic blackjack, with unique names such as Double Exposure, 3 Card Blackjack, Blackjack Switch, Spanish 21, Caribbean 21, Super Fun 21, Pontoon, and others.

In most variations of blackjack, the card values do not differ, so players can use the standard point value table in the game.

How to play blackjack?

To win this game, you must have the highest point total among all players, but this number must not exceed 21. If you go over this limit, you leave the game (lose).

The rules of blackjack allow players to:

  • split two identical cards;
  • stop at any time once you have enough points;
  • take an additional card, but you will lose your bet if you go over;
  • take an additional card from the deck without losing your initial bet, but you will need to double the existing bet;
  • surrender if you feel luck is not on your side, losing half your bet.

A blackjack gaming session proceeds as follows:

  1. Join the table. Once all participants are ready, each player is dealt two face-up cards. The dealer also receives two cards: one face up and one face down.
  2. Make a choice. Take an additional card or stay with your current hand. Evaluate the total of your cards and the dealer's card to reach 21 without busting. Ask the dealer for an additional card if you are confident the next card will not result in a bust, or if you're willing to risk it, hoping the dealer's hand is weaker. Otherwise, ask the dealer to move to the next player and not give you more cards. This decision will be reasonable if your card total is already quite high (for example, more than 17) and you are not sure if the dealer's hand will beat yours.
  3. Adjust your hand. After your turn, your card total likely changes. You stay in the game if your card total is 21 or less.
  4. Reveal the dealer’s cards. After all players have made a decision, the dealer reveals their hidden card.
  5. Determine the winner. If your total is closer to 21 than the dealer's, you win. If the dealer has 21 or is closer to 21 than other players, they win. The dealer pays your winnings if luck is on your side.