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How to Master Blackjack? A Beginner’s Guide

Round Head IconUpdated April 20, 2022 - CasinoBloke

Blackjack is a fun game to play, but trying to master blackjack is no easy feat. After all, it’s a skill-based casino game where the level of your skills can influence your performance. In your attempts to get as close to 21 as possible, there are certain moves that can help you beat the dealer. To make the right decisions and moves, it is of the utmost importance to learn and apply the proper blackjack strategy. Knowing how to master Blackjack 21 can take a lot of time, but we can kick-start your career with these simple tips.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to master blackjack.

1. Learn the Basics and Terminology

Before you can know how to master online live blackjack, you’ll need to start with the basic terms. Start with the card values you need to know to calculate the total of your hand.

  • The pip cards carry from 2 to 10 points
  • All face cards are worth 10 points
  • Aces are worth 1 or 11 points, depending on which value is most useful to the current hand
  • Depending on the game variant, from 1 to 8 card decks can be in play. Online Blackjack variants are mainly played with 6 or 8 decks. Keep in mind that the more the decks in play the lower the odds of winning.

After you place an Ante bet, you receive 2 cards. The dealer also gets 2 cards out of which one is dealt face up. A natural Blackjack is a hand consisting of an Ace and a 10-point card. If the player or the dealer has a natural 21, they win and the round is over. Otherwise, things get more interesting with more terminology to learn. With no natural Blackjack in view, the player is offered several options.

How to Master Blackjack 21? Know Your Moves

Next, you’ll need to know what you can do in the game and wheel. Here are all the basic moves in blackjack:

  • Hit: Ask for the next card.
  • Stand: Don’t take an extra card, but keep playing.
  • Double Down: Double your bet and receive an additional card that ends your turn automatically.
  • Split: Split cards of the same rank and separate them into two hands with all the options available.
  • Surrender: Give up half of your bet and quit the game.
  • Insurance: Ensure your bet with half of it when the dealer face-up is an Ace.

As for the dealer, they have to hit when having 16 or less. On 17 and more, the dealer has to stand.  This may vary depending on the blackjack rules of the table you’re playing at. However, “stand on soft 17” is the most common rule.

When the dealer exceeds 21, it is called a bust. The player loses the same way. When it comes to winning, if the player is dealt a natural Blackjack, they win automatically unless the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace. In this case, the dealer checks if their second card creates a natural 21. If both the dealer and the player have a natural 21, it is called a tie or push and the player gets their original stake back.

Other Blackjack terms you should learn include:

  • Soft and hard hands: hands with an Ace or no Aces respectively.
  • Hole card: The dealer’s face-down card.
  • Shoe: A device that holds card decks. Typically, a shoe is shuffled once 50% of all cards have been played through. This threshold varies, however, and is known as Deck Penetration. Tables with high deck penetration are favourable for advanced strategies such as card counting.

2. Explore Blackjack Variants and Study the Rules

Due to its popularity, the game of Blackjack has seen many variants that come with different features. Online blackjack games number in the hundreds, for instance.  Each variant has its own rules and a strategy you should use.

For instance, Blackjack Switch is played in two hands where you can exchange the top 2 cards between hands, but a natural 21 pays 1:1 instead of 3:2.

In Double Exposure Blackjack, the dealer’s first 2 cards are dealt face up and, again, you win even money on a natural Blackjack. Pontoon is played with a single deck and uses different terminology for the moves you can make.

Since each Blackjack variant has its own set of rules, you should get to know the one you choose to play. Pay attention to each and every detail as some games have certain rules that may seem more favourable to the player while at the same time include rules that lower the odds thus balancing the house edge. Knowing how to be a master blackjack includes knowing which rules favour your strategies.

Here’s a concrete tip for mastering blackjack. Before you sit at a table, always check out if the dealer stands or hits on a soft 17. If the latter applies, you should skip this table as this rule increases the house edge.


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3. Learn Basic Strategy

Once you have explored the Blackjack variant you want to play, make sure to learn the basic strategy for the same. In short, every game of blackjack has a concrete set of moves that are statistically the best in the given situation. This optimal blackjack strategy depends on the number of decks in the shoe, the table rules, and even if Surrender is available.

If you’re a beginner wondering how to master blackjack, learning basic blackjack strategy can seem daunting. However, remember that you can always use a chart as a reference point. Moreover, this strategy has some basic blackjack tips that you almost always stick to.

  • Stand on a soft 19 or higher
  • Stand on a soft 18 when the dealer is showing 7-10 or a face card and hitting when they show a 2-4
  • Hit on a soft 17 or less. With a soft hand of 13-18, double down when the dealer is showing a 5 or 6
  • Stand on a hard 17 or higher
  • Hit on a soft 12-16 when the dealer’s face-up card is 7 or higher and standing when the dealer has a 2-6
  • Double down on a hard 10 or 11 when the dealer’s face-up card is a 2-9
  • Hit on a hard 9 or lower
  • Never split 4s, 5s, 10s, and face cards
  • Always split 8s and Aces, if the rules allow it
  • split 2s, 3s, 6s, 7s or 9s when the dealer’s face-up card is a 4-6
  • Never take bet insurance

Here’s a sample blackjack chart for beginners. It does not include the intricacies of Surrender, Split, or Double. However, it’s more than enough to get you started on your path to mastering blackjack.

4. Pick The Right Table

In the pursuit to master the game of blackjack, nothing but the best will do. This starts with knowing the best move to make at a given time. However, it also includes picking the right tables. THis isn’t the first time we’re mentioning this, but it’s important to hammer the point home.

THe usual considerations of top online casino games apply. Look for the right betting limits, software providers, and so on. However, a newbie may not know which rules to look for in blackjack tables.

With that in mind, here is an overview of the top player-friendly rules in blackjack.

  • 3:2 Blackjack Payout. Unfortunately, 2:1 payouts are no longer really a thing. Conversely, avoid tables with 6:5 blackjack payouts like the plague.
  • Early Surrender. You definitely want a table that allows you to Surrender – and not all do. Moreover, Early Surrender is an even better option.
  • Fewer Decks. The fewer, the better. Of course, keep an eye on Deck Penetration as well.
  • Double Down Allowed After Split. What’s better than doubling your money? Quadrupling it, of course!
  • Resplit Aces. A rare rule these days, but it can be an incredibly powerful move to have 3 or more hands with aces.
  • Doubling on Three or More Cards. Again, not many casinos these days allow you to double while holding more than 2 cards. IF they do, however, the house edge is decreased by about 0.2%. Which is huge for a game like blackjack.

Play blackjack online for money at tables like the one we just described, and you’ll quickly see an improvement.

5. Other Tips to Master Blackjack

Whenever you play Blackjack, just like any other casino game, you should manage your bankroll. Only gamble the money you can afford to lose. Reduce the level of risk to a minimum by applying proper strategies and avoid playing an Insurance bet as it can be detrimental to your bankroll in the long run. Mastering blackjack is not always about winning hands – it’s often more about not losing your hard-earned cash.

Certain Blackjack variants also offer other side bets that can be very tempting due to the high prizes they can pay. While you can play side bets from time to time for added excitement, they come with a high house edge. Avoid playing them on a regular basis.

One of the most popular Blackjack techniques is card counting. Although it is not illegal, it is a skill casinos frown upon. When playing online, it is not the casino you should worry about. It is the fact that you cannot count cards at RNG-operated Blackjack tables. Tables hosted by real-life dealers have very low deck penetration, preventing you from counting cards properly. That’s why it is more important to stick to the proper strategy than to try to count cards when playing the game of Blackjack online. If you still want to learn how to count cards, read our article Best Blackjack Betting Strategy and Tips.

Best Online Casinos to Play Blackjack

Here’s a parting tip before we wrap up: practice makes perfect. Understand that you’ll probably be bad for a long time before you master blackjack. If you want to play online and dedicate time to mastering blackjack, though, you’ll need a good home to do so. You can find Casino Bloke’s created list of the best blackjack casinos here.

Moreover, we can immediately recommend the 888 Online Casino as one of the best sites to play blackjack online. It features a great selection of both live dealer and RNG-based blackjack you can play to your heart’s content.

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