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Blackjack Overview


Blackjack, also known as Twenty One or Pontoon, is certainly one of the most sought after card games in any type of casino. Over the years, many variations of blackjack have been created, although most of them follow the same format – that of playing against the dealer, with the intention of getting as close to 21 as possible.

Blackjack is the type of game that combines perfectly the elements of skill, luck and entertainment to bring players one of the simplest and most exciting games ever invented. Learning to play blackjack is alot of fun.


Although there is no true documentation that pinpoints the exact origin of blackjack, it can safely be said that the game was inspired by a number of popular card games from the Middle Ages onwards, including Quinze, Seven and a Half and One and Thirty. However, the closest contender to the game that we know as blackjack today, is undoubtedly the French Vingt-Un (Twenty One).

Vingt Un reached the shores of the United States in the 1800s and made an appearance in the country’s gambling halls in 1910. The name ‘blackjack’ stuck after a 10:1 bonus incentive was offered if a player’s hand consisted of a black jack at a casino in its early years. After gambling was legalized in Nevada in the years following the Depression, it became one of the most popular games on the casino floor. Scientists and mathematicians sought ways to ‘crack the code’ of blackjack and card counting was soon invented. This strategy was soon removed from casino in the 1990’s, however.

Today, blackjack ranks along with poker as the most popular online card game in the industry. The internet has led to a wide number of variations being created, although the majority of online blackjack games still stick to the traditional format.


The objective of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible without exceeding this number, as well as to beat the dealer’s hand after the bets have been placed.


Basic Strategy: A method that can be memorized to allow players to play the bet possible hand, based on mathematical calculations.
Blackjack: The ultimate hand in the game whereby the first two cards dealt total 21.
Bust: To have cards totaling over 21.
Double Down: The option to double the original bet
Draw: To ask for another card to add to one’s hand.
Hard Hand: A blackjack hand with no ace, or an ace that is counted as one.
Hit: To request another card from the dealer.
Insurance: A side bet in blackjack
Pat: A hand that totals between 17 and 21.
Push: When the dealer and the player have the same total.
Soft Hand: A blackjack hand that has an ace which can be counted as a one or 11.
Split: The option to divide the same valued cards into two separate hands.
Stand: Not to draw any more cards.
Surrender: Forfeiting a blackjack hand and losing half one’s bet.

How to Play/Game Rules

Blackjack Basics
The game of blackjack is played around a custom table with one to eight decks of cards. A typical blackjack table seats up to six people, although the game is played out between the player and the dealer only. The dealer plays according to strict house rules.

Card Values

The suits of the cards in blackjack are of no importance to the game. Cards from two through to ten have their face value. Face cards (royals) – ie. Kings, Queens and Jacks - have a value of 10. An ace is counted as 1 or 11.

Game Format

 Players find a suitable blackjack table, taking into account important decisions such as minimum and maximum wagering requirements.
 Bets are placed in a specially designated spot on the blackjack table.
 Two cards are dealt to each player – usually face up, depending on the variation being played.
 The dealer deals one card face up and one card face down to himself.
 At this point in the game, players can make an insurance bet, meaning they are wagering that the dealer has 21.
 Players now need to decide how they will proceed in the game, based on the two cards they were dealt.

Decisions in Blackjack

Players need to decide whether they want to:

Hit – To request another card to add to the two initial ones. This is usually done when the player feels he can risk adding another to get nearer to 21.


Stand – Players indicate that they are not interested in being dealt another card and wish to stick to the ones that they have.


Split Pairs – A pair dealt as the two initial cards can be split into two new hands as long as another, equal bet is placed on the second hand. Depending on the variation of the game being played, pairs can usually only be split once.


Double Down – Players have the option of doubling their original bet and receive only one more card in exchange.


Surrender – Players throw in their first two cards and surrender half their original bet. This option is not always available.

Winning at Blackjack

 Players dealt natural blackjack with initial two cards = automatic win.
 Dealer also has blackjack = a push
 Players with a higher card count than the dealer’s = equal bet win.
 Players with a lower card count than the dealer’s = lose their bet.
 Dealer busts = player wins his bet.


Tips and Strategies

 Learn the Basic Strategy: One of the best ways to bring down the house odds in blackjack is to learn the basic strategy of the game. This is a system that guides the player to play the best way in every possible situation, based on mathematical calculations. While some experienced players have the strategy – in table form – memorized, it is enough to know how to refer to the tables in the first stages of your blackjack career. In a very basic nutshell, the strategy advises you to take a hit on any hand lower than 17 if the dealer has an ace, king, queen, jack, ten, nine or eight. Also, you are advised to stand on any hand above 11 if the dealer shows a 4, 5 or six.
 Avoid Insurance: Most blackjack professionals agree that players shouldn’t take the ‘sucker’s bet’ – insurance. This side bet may have worked when card counting was still a viable system, but is will only make you lose in the long run for certainty.
 Manage your Bankroll Well: Make yourself some rules, such as how much money you can afford to play with and how long you intend spending at the casino, and stick to them! Don’t play over your bankroll, don’t ask for credit, and obviously never spend money that you can’t afford to lose.
 Splitting Rules: In general, players are advised to never split face cards, 10’s or 5’s, and to always split 8’s or 7’s if the dealer’s card is of equal or lower value. Aces should never be split.
 Practice Online: Because blackjack is a game of skill, the more players practice their basic strategy, the better they will do in the long run. To avoid ‘practicing’ with your hard earned cash, practice online for free and get that basic strategy down pat before going on to real money play.

We recommended using as many blackjack tips as possible in order to keep the house edge to a minimum and increasing your chances of winning.


It comes as no surprise that the online casino world has facilitated the creation of a wide number of variants of blackjack. Some of the more common ones include:

 Atlantic City Blackjack at Cryptologic Casinos – Played with 8 decks of cards, the dealer in this game stands on a soft 17 and may double on any first two cards. The player may double after splitting but may only split once. This variant has no surrender option.
 General Atlantic City Blackjack – Similar to above, except a resplit to three hands is allowed and late surrender is allowed.
 Multi-Hand Blackjack – Played with five decks of cards, this game has the dealer stand on a soft 17. Players can double on 9 to 11 only and are not allowed to double after splitting. There is no surrender option and insurance is not resolved until the end of the hand.
 Blackjack Switch – An exciting variant where the dealer hits a soft 17. The player needs to make two bets of equal size and may switch the second card dealt to each hand. A split may be done once, and blackjacks pay even money because of the advantage that the switching feature provides.


Players can enjoy superbly low house edges if they master the basic strategy in blackjack and play correctly. This game is considered a class in itself and it is no wonder that it one of the first choices of millions of players around the world. Blackjack odds are good for fairly good for the player who uses good strategy compared to other games you find n the casino.

More reading

Blackjack rules is a useful resource for outlining the rules for the many different variations of blackjack games.

Free blackjack 247 is a site that offers many variations of free no download flash black games. Have fun.

See our Blackjack Resources page for further links to useful Blackjack sites and pages.





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