Last updated March 10th, 2016
Learning how to play online blackjack is not the difficult bit. Playing it well takes a bit of time. Here we outline all you need to get started enjoying online blackjack at USA online casinos.
Rules of blackjack: You can see what an online blackjack table looks like in the screenshot a couple of paragraphs below. Quite simply you need to get as close to 21 with your cards as possible. Then you have to hope you get closer to 21 than the dealer does. But you must not go over 21 or you lose. Hopefully the dealer might either get cards that total less than yours or will go over 21 and go bust instead.
Getting started: To get started online you first choose the size of your bet stake for your hand or round. Then once that option has been decided you click the ‘deal’ button. At this point you will be dealt two cards that are visible. The dealer is dealt two cards as well. One is visible to everyone and the other is face down.
A blackjack: The best scenario is that your two cards are a blackjack. That is a card of value 10 (any face card or ten) and an ace. A ten and an ace makes 21 and together they are called a blackjack, which is a hand that can not be beaten. An ace counts as eleven or one. While a blackjack can not be beaten it can be matched by the house, in which case it is a ‘push’ and you neither lose nor win. If the house fails to match your blackjack then you win at odds of 3/2 or 1.5 / 1. This means if you staked $10 you will receive $15 winnings, so you get $25 dollars returned to you including your stake.
Normal play: So what happens if you don’t get a blackjack? Well you can see your two cards and choose to ‘stand’ or to ‘hit’. If you stand then you do not take another card. You might stand with a strong hand like a ten and a nine. 19 is obviously not a hand you want to try to improve. If you took another card and it was over two you would bust and automatically lose. Our advice would be to stand on 17 or above. If you have less than a total of seventeen with your two cards then you may choose to hit to improve your hand. By hitting (clicking the ‘hit’ button in online blackjack) you are dealt a third card. You must hope it gets the total near to 21 without going over. When you want to ‘stand’ you simply click the ‘stand’ button. You have already learnt how to play online blackjack. But read on, it is worth knowing a bit more before you choose your casino and give it a go.
Double your bet: Other options when you have been dealt your first two cards are maybe to ‘double down’. This would be where you double your bet. Say you have bet $10 and you are dealt a 5 and a 6 (totalling 11) you may wish to double your bet. If you do this you only get one card and then you must stand. The reason you might choose to double down is if your first two cards totalled 10 or 11. You know a 10 would turn your hand into a powerful 20 or 21 hand. If the dealer’s visible card was poor you might want to double in this situation. It runs the risk that the card you get is just a small one, say a 3, and then your final hand may only be 13 or 14 and you have to stand. In that case you just hope when the dealer deals his owns cards he busts over 21.
The dealer’s cards: When the blackjack dealer is dealt his own cards he has to hit until he reaches 17. Then he has to stick. Those are the rules of the house. The dealer can not think. He must just follow those rules. So when his cards total 16 or less he has to hit. Obviously if he was on 16 and hit and got any card over 5 he would bust and you would win your hand. If he got exactly a 5 he would have 21. That would not be so good for your prospects.
Splitting: Another choice you can make in online blackjack is if you get two of the same card. Say two aces or two 8s with your first two cards. You may choose to split them and then play them as separate hands. So you get two 8s and then you split them and play two hands, each starting with one of the eight cards. Two 8s together totals 16 so this would be a good pair to split. You get away from a nasty 16 hand that could bust if you hit it and get beaten if you stick. Also when an 8 card is combined with a smaller card like 3 (to make 11), it could become a nice hand. When you split your cards you need to put an extra stake in for the extra hand that you have created. So if you originally staked $10 then you need to contribute another $10 for the second hand you get by splitting your cards.
Insurance: If the dealer’s visible card is an ace then you do have the option of taking insurance against him having a blackjack. Your bet on the insurance can not be for more than half the stake of your original bet and the insurance pays odds of 2/1. You might do this if you already have a blackjack. It ensures you get paid at evens for your blackjack whatever the outcome of his hand. If his hand is a blackjack you would win nothing. With insurance you would have won the amount of your stake in winnings ie: won an evens bet. The merits of insurance are dubious, though the bigger and more important the stake is to you then maybe the better you make this form of hedge bet.
If you are still a little confused then we advise you re-read this page. It will become clearer after a second read through. There is nothing like playing blackjack at an online casino to get to grips with the practicalities. It is an easy and fun game where the house edge is tiny and the player has a real chance of making some money with patient play. Now you have learned how to play online blackjack, choose a casino from the list on the right as they are all excellent USA online casinos.