Blackjack Rules 2020 – Learn The Online Card Game
Blackjack is one of the world’s best-known casino games and one of the oldest too. Blackjack, or Twenty One as it’s also called, dates all the way back to the 17th century yet it’s still incredibly popular both online and offline.
This is because the game is easy to get to grips with, offers thrilling gameplay, and can be played strategically. Essentially, Blackjack can be both lucrative and exciting, however, to play Blackjack profitably, you first need a firm understanding of the rules.
If you’ve never played blackjack before yet think it could be the online casino game for you, then you’ve come to the right place! On this page, we’ll be explaining the complete rules of online Blackjack, including:
- How a blackjack game is set up and how the table will appear
- Card values in blackjack
- Step by step instructions for playing Blackjack
- Blackjack payout values
- Specialized rules for different Blackjack variants
Blackjack: Game Overview and Getting Started
Blackjack is what is called a ‘banked’ game, which means you play against the dealer instead of against other players. Below you can find an overview of the game which outlines how the game starts and what you need to know before playing.
The Aim of Blackjack
The aim of the game in Blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible with your cards, without busting. Busting means to exceed 21, and if you go bust, you immediately lose your bet. You also need to get closer to 21 than the dealer has.
Card Values in Blackjack
As we’ve just mentioned, the aim of the game in blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible. You do this by collecting cards. Each card has a specific value:
- 2 to 10 – All cards are worth the number displayed, e.g. a 2 of clubs is worth 2 points.
- Jack, Queen, King – All face cards are worth 10 points each.
- Ace – In Blackjack, an ace can either be worth 1 or 11, at the decision of the player.
Blackjack Equipment and Table Set Up
Blackjack can be played with a standard deck of 52 cards (with the jokers removed), however, it is more commonly played with multiple decks of cards. In fact, the six-deck game of blackjack is the most popular, meaning there are 312 cards in circulation.
In the image above, we’ve highlighted where you may find key components of the Blackjack table in an online game:
- The betting limits of the game will always be clearly displayed, usually to the left of the dealer’s section.
- In the middle of the table, you can clearly see the payouts for the game. These can also be found by clicking the ‘Menu’ or ‘Info’ button, depending which online blackjack game your playing.
- In front of every seat at the blackjack table, there will be a rectangular space. Your cards will appear here.
- The dealer will also have a space for his own cards. In standard blackjack games, the dealer’s cards are dealt with the second card initially hidden from the player.
- This is the card shoe, and this is where cards are dealt from. Of course, in online games, dealing is done automatically yet as you can see, this is also where you can ask for another card.
Besides the highlighted components of the game, players will also be given options as to what actions they want to make, for example, the ‘stand’, ‘double’ and ‘split’ buttons you see in the screenshot above.
These may be found in different locations depending on what blackjack game you are playing, and by which software developer.
Blackjack Rules and Gameplay
Now you’ve got a great idea of how Blackjack looks, it’s time to start playing. Whilst some blackjack variants may offer side-bets (we’ll talk more about this later), for now, we’re focussing on the tradition, standard version of play.
Below you can find a step-by-step walkthrough of how the game will unfold and which blackjack rules will apply.
1. The Deal
Once all bets have been placed, the dealer will hand out one card to the player and another to himself. Then, he will deal another round of cards. This time, whilst the player will receive their second card face up, the dealer will leave his face down with its value hidden from the player.
When the game begins, you’re able to see both your cards straightaway. Whilst most of the time, after reviewing your cards, you will need to make an action, there is one exception.
A ‘natural’ is when you receive an Ace and a 10, and therefore your cards immediately add up to 21. In this instance, you automatically win, unless the dealer has the same score.
Should you win the hand with a ‘natural’, the dealer immediately pays you one and a half times the amount of the bet.
If the dealer has a ‘natural’, however, he will immediately collect your bet (and the bets of any other players, should you be playing a multi-player game). This means you lose your wager, but no additional amount is collected.
If both you and the dealer have naturals, the bet is regarded as a tie. You receive your bet back and a new round is dealt.
3. The Player’s Options
If you do not have an immediate blackjack (a ‘natural’), you must then make one of the following decisions. These decisions should be made on the probability of creating a blackjack with a further card.
- Stand – Standing means that you have decided to take no additional cards, and remain with the value of the first two cards you were dealt. In this case, the dealer then plays his hand.
- Hit – If you opt to ‘hit’, you are asking for another card. You can continue ‘hitting’ until you decide to stand, or until you go bust.
- Double Down – Doubling down means that you double your bet, take another card and then stand. You’ll receive no further cards after this point, and the dealer will then play his hand.
- Split – If you have received two cards of the same value, then you have the option of splitting them into two hands. In this case, you are essentially doubling your bet, as the bet for the second had is the same as the original bet. Once you’ve split, you can then play each hand as normal, choosing to stand or hit.
- Surrender – Most blackjack games allow a player to surrender if they think they are likely to lose the hand. This means that you take back half your bet and lose the other half, and give up your hand. This has to be the first action you make.
- Insurance: If the dealer’s face-up card is displaying an Ace, you may choose to place an insurance bet. This bet is usually half the value of your original bet. The bet wins should the dealer get a blackjack.
4. The Dealer’s Options
Once your hand has been played, the dealer then plays his hand. Below you can find the rules as to how the dealer must play.
- Automatic Win – The dealer will automatically win the hand if you go bust, or surrender.
- Closest to 21 – If the dealer has a total hand value, with his two cards, closer to 21 than you, he automatically wins.
- 16 or Less – If the dealer’s two cards add up to a total of 16 or less, he must opt to hit and receive more cards until his total is brought to 17 or more.
- 18 or More – If the dealer’s two cards add up to a total of 18 or more, he must opt to stand and receive no further cards.
- A Soft 17 – Any hand which includes an Ace which is valued at 11 is called a ‘soft hand’. If the dealer has a soft 17 (so an Ace and a six), he must hit until his total is brought to seventeen or more.
- A Hard 17 – If the dealer has a hard seventeen (a hand without an Ace), he must stand.
5. The Winner
At the end of the round, all cards are revealed. If you have managed to get closer to 21 than the dealer, you win the round. If the dealer is closer to 21 than you, you lose the round. If the dealer goes bust, all non-busted player hands are automatically winners.
Although the payouts in a Blackjack game can vary from game to game, there are a few standard payout values which are always observed:
- A Tie – If the player and the dealer have equal unbusted totals, then the game is considered a tie. In this case, the player’s bet is returned.
- The Player Wins (without a Blackjack) – If the player manages to finish the game closer to 21 than the dealer, they have won the game. This is paid out at 1:1 on the total bet wagered on that hand. So, for example, if you bet £10 to begin with, you’ll receive £20 in winnings.
- The Player Has a Blackjack – If the player has won the game with a blackjack, they are paid at 3:2. So, for example, if you bet £10 to begin with, you would receive a total of £25 (Your £10 stake back, plus £15 of winnings).
- The Insurance Bet – If the player has placed an Insurance bet, and the dealer has a blackjack, the player loses yet the Insurance bet is paid out at 2:1. So, for example, if you bet £10 to begin with and then a further £5 in the Insurance bet, you would receive a total of £15 (You’d lose your original £10, yet receive your Insurance bet back and £10 of winnings). This essentially means the game is tied, as you wouldn’t have lost any money.
Blackjack Variants and Side Bets
Many online blackjack games now offer side bets. These are bets that are made before the game begins, and that stand alone to the main gameplay.
This means that the game will still follow the blackjack rules stated above but you may have an additional option beforehand.
Below we have listed some of the most common blackjack side-bet varients and how each of the side-bets work.
- 21+3 – 21+3 is a very popular variant of blackjack. The 21+3 side bet is paid out dependent on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s upwards facing card. If the three cards form a flush, a straight of a three-of-a-kind, the player wins the side bet.
- Perfect Pairs – Another extremely popular blackjack variant, Perfect Pairs allows you to place a side-bet on the chances of your first two cards being of the same value, for example, a pair of sixes. In some games, the payout may be bigger if the cards are of the same suit too.
- Lucky Ladies – In a Lucky Ladies blackjack game, players are able to make a side-bet on the chances of them receiving a value of 20 in their cards. Whilst this always doesn’t have to be made up of Queens (two face cards will do), this is where the game gets its name from as the queens are considered to be the lucky ladies!