You may have heard that blackjack (also called twenty-one, by the way) is one of those card games that experts claim you can beat – with enough skill and practice. While that’s not the only reason to learn how to play blackjack, it’s definitely an enticing prospect. But before you set your sights on any of that, you should equip yourself with the basics of the game. Luckily, you’re in the right place. So, read on to discover the know-how to bring out the winner in you!
At an initial glance, blackjack may come across as a simple casino game. For instance, there are far fewer fiddly pieces than there is in roulette. Sit in on a couple of rounds though and you’ll notice that there’s more to the game than you thought. For example, what do the different sections on the table mean? And, what values do the cards have? If it’s answers to these questions that you seek, settle in and find out about the basics of blackjack.
This is the area where bets are placed. An online blackjack table typically seats up to seven players, so you’ll need to pick your place before you’re able to put down any chips. The table itself is covered in coloured felt with a few of the main rules of the game (explained further down) displayed across it.
Each of the seven betting areas are divided into four parts: the main betting area where chips are placed initially, two side bets areas for Perfect Pairs and 21+3 and the Bet Behind area. Don’t worry, these side bets are described later on.
This is the person who leads the game by dealing the deck at the table. Sitting opposite the players, they deal the cards from the dealing shoe (where the decks are stored) on their left and then places them in the discard rack (the pile of used cards) on the right once the round concludes. Casino providers refer to them as game presenters and that isn’t an overstatement as each individual undergoes intensive training for several weeks before they are camera-ready.
Blackjack is played with one or more decks of 52-French cards. In each deck, there are 16 face cards – Jacks, Queens and Kings – that are worth 10 points, 4 Aces that are either valued at 1 or 11 (whichever denomination is more favourable to the hand) and 32 cards that are worth their respective numerical value, that is, from 2 to 10. Different variations can be found online, some with four or even eight decks. The number of decks used affects the variance of the game, so be sure to check this out in the information section of the interface.
Blackjack online is often streamed from a live casino studio. The structure and set-up of the surroundings are at the complete discretion of each casino game provider. Some choose to adopt green screen technology while others, like Lucky Streak Live, utilise TV-show-like sets to create their gaming environments. Evolution Gaming takes things a step further with themed promotions tables and bespoke tables such as the ones found at Genting Casino. With so much choice, you’re sure to find a felt that tickles your fancy.
The gaming screen comprises of all the features and functionalities necessary to play a game of live blackjack. Your chip selection, adjustable video and sound settings, a live view of how other players are betting as well as a view of your own betting history can all be found here.
You can place your bets using the digital chips displayed at the base of the gaming interface. Each one is assigned a colour based on its value. All you need to do is ensure that your preferred value is selected and click the betting area to place your chips.
Constant improvements to technology mean that live blackjack keeps getting better and better. Most providers are able to deliver twenty-one in HD, with the option to adjust the quality according to your internet connection. There’s only one-camera angle here – a head-on view of the table and dealer – which is more than enough to keep up with the game.
These include all the tacit rules of twenty-one tables. Every player is expected to follow them, or risk being removed from the game. The main unwritten rule is that you be polite to both the dealer and those at the table to keep things running smoothly. But if you do prefer a bit of banter, then the relaxed atmosphere of Blackjack Party might suit you better. Lastly, remember that the seats are limited, so don’t take a seat unless you’re ready to bet.
Now that you know what to expect when you join a twenty-one table, you’re ready to become acquainted with the rules of blackjack. The basic ones appear across the felt while other rules require more explanation and depend on the variant of the game you’re playing. Once you’re comfortable with these principles, you’ll need to become familiar with the diverse types of bets available. Let’s take things step by step, starting with some basic live blackjack rules:
Before you move on, you should also familiarise yourself with the basic actions you can perform after placing a bet. Be sure to perform one of these actions in time as a lack of response will be assumed to be a stand.
Aside from the universal rules mentioned above, there are optional blackjack rules that are applied at the game provider’s discretion. These include:
An awareness of the different moves available to you as you play is only the beginning. Countless hours of man and computer-power has gone into developing basic blackjack strategy on when best to perform these actions. Skip ahead if you’re ready to get into more detail on this.
Are you comfortable with the principles of the game mentioned above? If so, you’re ready to move on to developing an understanding of how basic blackjack betting works. The main wager of the game is simple: place your chips in the centre of the betting area either getting your hand to 21, or closer to 21 than the dealer. It’s the side bets, which can be placed alongside your main bet that are slightly more complex. Each blackjack side bet will be explained below.
This side bet gives you the opportunity to win if the initial two cards that are dealt to you are a pair. There are three types of pairs:
The 21+3 side bet results in a win if your first two cards and the dealer’s upcard consists of any of the combinations listed here. These are similar to those found in poker, and while their payouts are significantly higher (more to come on this), it’s recommended to play them once you’ve sharpened your skills a tad bit more.
The action of the Bet Behind feature is indicative in the name. Basically, this is where you bet on a hand dealt to another player and share the outcome of that player’s hand. This option will be available to you whether you’re seated at the table or not but note that you cannot bet behind on your own wager. This feature is a great advantage over land-based casinos as you can practice by betting behind skilled players. Some providers even indicate when others at the table are on a winning streak. This type of bet is especially convenient when the table’s full but you’re eager to play.
You’re getting closer to reaching beginner blackjack status! The icing on your new-found slice of knowledge is an understanding of blackjack odds and their payouts. Getting to know them is essential to making wise decisions based on the hand you’ve been dealt. You can choose to use this table as a reference point while you play or pin the provider’s payout table to the gaming interface. No matter what you choose, a good blackjack player is a well-informed one, so take a look at what blackjack bets pay and their probabilities* before you try the tables for yourself. Good luck!
|Bet||Odds||Payout (rule-dependent)||House Edge (rule-dependent)|
|Insurance (when the dealer has a blackjack)||4.76%||2:1||0.576%|
|Three of a Kind||0.54%||30:1||0.576%|
*Note that the house edge listed above is based on an 8-deck game of blackjack where the following rules apply:
The number of decks used as well as blackjack variants and rules will affect the payouts and house edge significantly. Read the fine print before you play!
Well done! You’re now fully versed in the basics of what blackjack is all about. The best thing to do now is learn a bit more about the different variants of the game – that’s right, there are several different types of blackjack that you can play online. Each of these comes with it’s own fun little perks that add to the gaming experience. So, find out more about the blackjack variants now!