The basics of online Blackjack

Blackjack Rules: How To Play Blackjack

How To Play Blackjack: For Beginners

First of all, you and the rest of the players place a bet. After all bets are placed you will be dealt two cards, and so will the dealer. One of the dealer’s cards will be face-up, and the other face-down – the face-down one is known as the ‘hole card’.

Once players have been dealt their cards, the dealer plays according to the set Blackjack rules of that particular table. However the dealer takes their turn last, and as a player you have a few options on how you want to proceed.

  1. You can choose to ‘Stand’ – this means that you are happy with the cards you have and don’t need any more. If you have a ‘natural’ (Ace and a 10 card), the decision to stand is automatic.
  2. Alternatively if you want to get closer to 21, you can choose ‘Hit’ in order to get another card. You can do this as many times as you like, but if your card total goes over 21 (for example with a 6, 9 and Jack making 25), then you have ‘bust’ – the hand is over for you and you lose your bet.
  3. Another option is to double down. What you have to do if you select this option is double your original bet to receive only one more card, regardless of its value. The regulations for this option vary, so check up on this beforehand.
  4. You can choose to split if first two cards are of the same denomination (i.e. two Aces). In order to do so, you make a bet of equal value to the first bet you made on each card. The cards are separated, and dealer gives a second card on each. You then play the hands out one at a time until you stand or bust.

How To Play Blackjack And Win

You have to score a higher card total than the dealer but without going over total of 21 to win the game. If your card total exceeds 21, you bust and dealer wins irrespective of his card total.

The best of all Blackjack hands that you can be dealt is called a Blackjack, or a ‘natural’. This is made up of two cards that equal 21; an Ace (which can be 1 or 11) and a Ten (which can be 10, Jack, Queen, or King).

Knowing when to Hit and when to Stand is an essential part of learning how to play Blackjack. After you have read this online Blackjack guide, you can use some Blackjack basic strategy that will help you in this regard.

Stick with CasinoGuide, and you can learn to play Blackjack and win in no time at all!

Is It Easy To Learn How To Play Blackjack?

how to play blackjack online

A 'natural' Blackjack hand in Pontoon. In typical Blackjack, the first card dealt would be face-up.

When you are learning how to play Blackjack, UK online casinos do all they can to assist you. They may do this by providing a Blackjack strategy card that you can easily refer to in game, which helps you when you need to decide whether to hit or stand.

It is also easy to learn how to play Blackjack at home, by simply following the popular basic Blackjack strategy outlined in this Blackjack guide. Or if you prefer to learn by playing rather than reading, you can practise some free online Blackjack right here on CasinoGuide without risking a penny!

Blackjack Rules

Fundamental Blackjack rules are the same at every online casino, although most will have slightly personalised Blackjack card rules unique to their casino. Nevertheless, a basic idea of the game rules will help you play online Blackjack at one of the casinos listed above.

Although there are different variations amongst the casinos, the game is usually played with between 1-8 standard decks of cards. The cards are always worth the same amount amongst the variations:

  • 2-10: Face value
  • Picture cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks): 10
  • Aces: 1 or 11 (depending on the game circumstances.)

Common Online Blackjack Rules

These Blackjack rules apply in the majority of games, but bear in mind that rules vary depending on the casino and the particular table.

  • Dealer must continue to Hit until their card total is 17 or higher, at which point they must stand
  • You can double or split only on the first move
  • Three or more cards totalling 21 are not a Blackjack or a Natural
  • House wins even if both the dealer and the player bust.
  • Bets should return to the player if they have the same hand as the dealer (this is called a Push)
  • Normal winning payout is 1:1 and winning blackjack payout is 3:2.
  • If the dealer receives a 10, Jack, Queen, King, or Ace, he immediately checks his Hole card for a Blackjack. If it is a Blackjack, the house wins all the bet amounts.

Blackjack Rules: Moving On From The Basics

Everything we have explained so far will give you a grounding in the game and enable you to play Blackjack. It's your call: you can play now and pick the rest up as you go along as many players do, or read on to deepen your knowledge a little more first.

Blackjack Insurance

Offered only at certain online Blackjack tables, this allows you to cover the possibility of the dealer having Blackjack. If the dealer has an Ace, you can purchase insurance.

This means you bet that the dealer has a Blackjack and hence, you are safeguarding your bet to some degree. If the dealer has a Blackjack, you receive payouts at 2:1 through insurance, and if the dealer does not have a Blackjack, you lose your insurance money.

It is widely considered that Insurance offers a bad deal for the player in terms of odds and many seasoned players will never use the option even if it is presented to them.

Blackjack Split

blackjack split

This is an example of what happens when you split Aces 3 times - a very rare occurrence!

Splitting your cards can be a great move, or it can cost you a lot of money. Here are some points to remember if you are splitting your cards in online Blackjack:

  • You cannot play on two Aces after splitting them and receiving your second card on each.
  • Every split hand is the same as a new hand and you can double on a hand from a split and increase your bet accordingly.
  • You can double or split only on the first move of a hand formed by a split.

Blackjack Pointers

Take a moment to read through these brief pearls of wisdom before diving into the world of online Blackjack to give yourself the best chance of winning!

  • Learn the Basic Strategy - you can find out about the blackjack strategies here on Casino Familiarising yourself with these can make you or break you in terms of being able to win the game.
  • Practise for FREE - play Blackjack for fun before enjoying a game at a real money casino can lead you to gain the upper hand when playing the game if you’re an aspiring blackjack player.
  • Choose a good Blackjack casino – take your pick from any of the casinos above and you’ll be in safe hands. All are regulated and licensed by the Gambling Commission and offer highly generous bonuses to boot!
  • Pick the right variation - Before you start playing, double check that you know the specific rules for any of the individual games you try out.
  • Stick to your limits – decide how much you can afford to spend on playing online Blackjack and don’t surpass that amount.
  • Strategy isn’t everything - Although you’ll often make your decisions according to basic blackjack strategy, it’s ok to go against it occasionally if you feel the need to.

Online Blackjack Guide: Terminology

In order to be successful while learning how to play Blackjack online, you will need to be aware of what all the different words on the screen mean. Here is a very brief overview of the common Blackjack jargon you will find.

  • Hit: The word to say when you want to ask for another card
  • Stand: End your turn by keeping your current card total 
  • Double down: Double your original bet but receive only one more card
  • Split: Separate your dealt hand into two hands (can only be done with two cards of the same value) and double your bet so you have 1x the original bet on each hand
  • Push: When the dealer and player have the same value of hand - bets are returned to the player
  • Natural: Another word for the hand known as Blackjack; an Ace paired with a 10, Jack, Queen or King
  • Insurance: A side bet that the dealer has Blackjack. Some tables allow this when the dealer’s visible card is an Ace
  • Hard hand: A hand including an Ace valued as 1
  • Soft hand: A hand including an Ace valued as 11
  • Surrender: Retrieve half your bet by folding your hand (availability of this option varies)

Blackjack Variations

If you’re playing for the first time you might find yourself confused in regards to which of the many variations of Blackjack you should opt to play.

All of the different online Blackjack variations have slightly differing odds.  Most online casinos use games that have been developed by popular gaming software companies PlayTech, MicroGaming and NetEnt. Although most of the games you’ll find have the same basic rules, creative casino software developers have incorporated some more complex rules into some of their Blackjack variations.


This is a popular derivative of Blackjack that emerged in London, and its most notable difference is in the betting mechanics. Players cannot opt to stand on cards which add up to less than 14, however they can bet after buying or doubling down.

In addition to this, there’s also something called a ‘Five Card Trick’ in which a player who is dealt five cards while still retaining a total of less than 21 beats any of the dealer’s hands (except Blackjack).

If you choose to play this game you should note that the rules tend to vary according to which casino you opt to play at. The great thing about this true British game is that the payout is often much higher than in Blackjack, although the odds of beating the dealer are lower.

Overall, this is a fine choice for anyone who wants to play Blackjack online at a slightly faster pace - check out our dedicated Pontoon page to find some online casinos offering this popular Blackjack variation.

European Blackjack

This was primarily created to counteract players who’ve trained themselves in card counting. Throughout the game, the dealer is not allowed to look at his cards. Hence, this means that the dealer will not be able to check whether he’s reached 21 until all the fundamental decisions have been made.

There is no splitting of 4’s, 5’s or 10’s in European Blackjack. This is because casinos are fully knowledgeable of the fact that expert card counters usually attempt to split these types of pairs when the dealer is weak and will most probably go bust.

European Blackjack Rules Summary

In short, the following rule differences apply when playing European Blackjack:

  • 6 decks are to be used
  • The Dealer must stand on soft 17 (i.e. A-6), or any higher hand
  • Players can only double if they have a hard hand valued between 9-11
  • Players are allowed to double after splitting their hand
  • Player lose the total bet if dealer has Blackjack, even after doubling or splitting.

More Variations

Pontoon and European Blackjack are fairly well-known Blackjack variations - Pontoon particularly, is very popular in the UK. Here are some less common Blackjack variations from around the world...

Double Blackjack

Also generally known as Double Attack Blackjack and is in essence quite a new variant of the game which is found at both at land-based casinos as well as online. The rules of the game are based on the Spanish version of the 21 game. However, it incorporates some interesting twists such as side bets.

Double Exposure Blackjack

This variant of online Blackjack takes its name from the fact that the dealer’s cards are made visible to the player from the start of the hand. This creates an advantage as the player is able to see the hand he has to beat rather than guess.

Elimination Blackjack

Fairly popular at land-based casinos, in this version of Blackjack, players try to eliminate each other from the game rather than beat the dealer. Fundamentally, the aim of the game is to be the last person at the table.

Multi-Hand Blackjack

This version of Blackjack is available at online casinos all over the Internet. As implied by the name of the game, playing this variant will allow you to enjoy playing more than one hand at a time.

Spanish 21

The biggest difference in this Blackjack variation is that all of the 10, Jack, Queen and King cards are removed from the deck. Thus, with no cards which equate to 10 it becomes far more difficult for the player’s hand of cards to make up 21 and makes the game a lot more unpredictable.

Blackjack Switch

Blackjack Switch is quite a new variation of the much loved casino game. It was patented by Geoff Hal in 2009 and has since become a tremendously popular game which is found at many physical and online casinos.

One of the disadvantages this variant of blackjack has is that the house edge is considerably higher than its traditional form of blackjack. Although quite similar to the original version of Blackjack, it does incorporate a number of significant differences, most notably:

What makes Blackjack Switch so different?

You are able switch the second card dealt to each hand. This means that if you’re dealt a hand which contains a 10 and a 5, and another hand with a 7 and a 10, you are allowed to switch the second cards of each hand you’ve been dealt in order to create two new hands: 7,5 and 10,10.

The other main difference is if the dealer ends up with a score of 22, he will not bust. Instead, a dealer hand of 22 will result in a push against all player hands except for 21.

Blackjack Switch Rules

When you play Blackjack Switch online, all rules should be based on the traditional game of blackjack, with the following differences:

  • The number of decks used varies between 6-8
  • The dealer will have to Hit a soft 17
  • Players must make two bets of equal size
  • Cards are dealt face up. Hence, you’ll be able to see the cards dealt out to the other players.
  • If the player switches to a Blackjack, it will count as a standard 21
  • Players are allowed to double on any 2 cards, and double on a split
  • Players are allowed to re-split up to four hands

Blackjack Switch Strategy

One of the basic strategies which is often practiced by beginners is to swap cards in order to create a single strong hand. However this way you can end up with one which is a winning hand and one which is a losing hand. Therefore, this is not always the best approach.

For example, if you’re holding an Ace with a 10, King, Queen or Jack in one hand (making a ‘natural’ 21), plus a 6 with a 9 in the other hand, it might be better if you switch the first two cards of each hand. The scores of the two hands will then add up will be 16 and 20 respectively, which is stronger overall in comparison to your former hands.

Blackjack Switch vs Regular Blackjack

Blackjack switch differs to the regular version of the game primarily because the dealer must hit a soft 17 and also has already checked for a natural blackjack when the game continues. Hence, there aren’t as many occasions in which switching and doubling would work in favour of the player.

Furthermore, due to the fact that the dealer is unable to go bust on 22, there are also more mathematically appropriate times in which a player should Hit, even if it’s at the risk of going bust.

Blackjack Switch Casinos

There are many online casinos which offer this variation of the game, including those listed above. When playing Blackjack Switch, players are often offered side bets in which they are rewarded further for three or four of a kind hands, small pairs etc.

Enjoy A Game Of Blackjack Today!

Whether you're a total beginner or a pro, and whatever variations of Blackjack you want to try out, you can't go wrong playing Blackjack at one of our recommended online casinos.

If you want to do a little more research first, feel free to jump over to our in-depth Blackjack strategy guide for more tips on beating the banker and winning big money!