How to Play Blackjack Online

Written by: Joe Falchetti , Expert in Online Casinos, Sports Betting, and Poker

Blackjack is often touted as one of the casino games with the smallest house edge—if played correctly.

While it’s true that this game is more strategic and complex than slots, it shouldn’t discourage you from learning how to play Blackjack online and mastering its fundamentals.

Not only will you be rewarded with better average returns, but you’ll also find a reliable source of entertainment beyond purely luck-based games.

This guide will help you understand the basic rules and leading strategies and find where to practice online.

So, come on! Scroll down and get started on your Blackjack journey.

Blackjack in a Nutshell

In Blackjack, you aim to achieve a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer without exceeding 21.

The game begins with each participant receiving two cards. As a player, you can “hit” to receive additional cards or “stand” to keep your current total. The dealer follows an established set of rules, typically hitting until reaching at least 17.

Meanwhile, the game’s basic mechanics are centered around understanding card values and making strategic decisions based on the dealer’s visible card and those in your hand.

Probability and disciplined decision-making are the two core concepts for success. In this guide, you’ll find strategy charts, which dictate the optimal move for every possible hand combination against the dealer’s upcard.

How to Play | Step by Step Guide

This step-by-step guide teaches you how to play Blackjack like a pro. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience it before or just need a quick refresher, here’s a description of how a hand goes.

  1. Place The Initial Bet

    Each player places a bet on the table before the cards are dealt.

    This wager goes in a small circle in front of the chip stack called the betting area. Each table has a minimum and maximum bet size.
  2. The Dealer Deals The Cards

    After all the bets are on the table, the dealers give each player two cards and deal two cards to themself.

    Player cards are both dealt face up while the dealer cards are dealt one face up and one face down. The face-down card is called the hole card.
  3. Players Make Their Decisions

    At this point, each player decides what they want to do with their hand. This step is where you choose to stand, hit, split, double, surrender, or take insurance.
  4. The Dealer Plays Out Their Hand

    Once all players are done making decisions, the dealer plays their hand. They have no options and must follow the table rules. If their hand is less than 17, they must hit.

    Some casinos have different dealer rules for soft vs. hard 17.
  5. Winners & Losers Are Decided

    If the player beats the dealer, they get a 1 to 1 payout. If you win with a natural 21, the payout is 3 to 2. When a player busts, they lose. When a person doesn’t beat the dealer, they lose.

    If you and dealer have the same total, the hand is called a push or a tie. In the case of a push, no money is won or lost.

Blackjack Rules

Below, you can find a detailed description of the rules of Blackjack. This step-by-step guide covers the goal of the game, the card values, and what choices you must make during a hand.

The objective is to beat the dealer’s hand by scoring 21 or as close to 21 as possible without going over. When any hand goes over 21, that is called a bust.

The goal is to beat the dealer and not bust. You can do this in two ways:

  • Have a higher hand than the dealer.
  • Don’t go over 21 when the dealer does.

Blackjack Card Values

All of the face cards and 10s get a value of 10. Aces can be 1 or 11, depending on the situation.

Every other card is worth its face value. If you have a seven and a six, you have a total of 13. A Blackjack occurs when you have an Ace and any 10 valued card.

This combo is also known as a natural 21.

blackjack rules chart - card values
blackjack rules chart - card values

Common Blackjack Hands Explained

As you know, an ace can be either a 1 or 11. That one card defines the first type of hand in Blackjack, hard or soft.

Hard Hands

Blackjack Soft Hand

Most Blackjack hands are hard hands. If you don’t hold an ace, then it’s a hard hand.

If you’ve received a third card and the value is 12 or more, then the hand is hard. These hands have no room for error because they can bust on the next card. 

Soft Hands

Blackjack Soft Hand

A soft hand is one where the ace is worth one. For example, when you have an ace and a six, you have a “soft 17.”

The value of the soft hand is that it can’t bust.

If you receive a card that would make the hand worth more than 21, you can choose to make the ace worth 1 instead of 11. 

Notable Hands to Look Out For

Best Hand in Blackjack

Blackjack Best Hand Icon

The best Blackjack hand is a two-card 21, meaning an ace and a card with the value of 10. That means King, Queen, Jack, or Ten.

When you receive a two-card 21, it’s called a Blackjack or a “natural Blackjack.” This hand beats every other hand in the game. 

Worst Hand in Blackjack

Blackjack Worst Hand icon

The worst Blackjack hand is 16. If you stand, you face high odds that the dealer will have a stronger hand. If you hit, you face high odds that you’ll bust.

This is why you should always split 8s – not because of the strength of a hand worth 8, but because you avoid the worst hand.

Best Hands to Split

Always split aces and 8s in Blackjack. Roughly one-third of all cards in a deck have a value of 10. If you split aces, this means you have two excellent chances at a 21.

Also, since 16 is a lousy hand, you split the 8s to give yourself two opportunities to improve on 16. 18s aren’t perfect, but they win more hands than 16s will. 

Finally, while splitting other numbers depends on the dealer’s up-card, you should never split tens, fours, or fives.

Two tens are a good hand, two fives equal ten, and two fours equal eight, so these have better chances of winning than most other hands.

Best Hands to Split in Blackjack

Parts of The Blackjack Table

Blackjack table layouts are similar at every casino, but it is essential to know where things go.

The upper area is where the dealer’s cards go, and the areas below are for each player’s cards and bets. Take a look at the following Blackjack table chart to understand the layout for this type of game entirely:

Blackjack Table Layout (OUSC infographic)

Decisions You Must Make During a Hand

During the game, you have to make decisions about their hands before the dealer progresses. Usually, you’ll look at all your options in order. First, determine if you want to surrender.

Then, check for an opportunity to split or double down. Finally, take extra cards by hitting before eventually deciding to stand.



When a player believes they have little chance of winning, they can choose to surrender their cards.

You will lose half of the initial bet.



You can split if you receive two cards of the same rank. This divides the two cards into separate hands.

To split, you must provide an additional bet.


Double Down

Your next choice may be to double down, which means you double your bet after the initial deal if you think you can win with the next card.



When the player is satisfied with their cards and decides to pass on making other decisions.

In this case, you don’t take any more cards.



When you take another card from the shoe/deck to add to your hand.

You can hit multiple times before deciding to stand.



You can take insurance when the dealer has an Ace as their up card.

You can place a bet and up your wager if the dealer has a Blackjack.

Playing Options in Order

There is a general suggestion around the order you choose to make decisions. Look at your hand and assess whether to surrender, split, double, hit, or stand in that order.

blackjack rules chart - player options
blackjack rules chart - player options

Blackjack Hand Signals Guide for Playing in Person

When playing in person, players use hand signals to tell the dealer which move they wish to make. In a noisy casino, these help communication and cut down on mistakes, making them mandatory in most establishments.

Below are the Blackjack hand signals you should learn, along with their meaning. If you forget these signals, ask the dealer for a reminder. It’s in their best interest that they understand your gestures. 

  • Hit

    Gently tap the table in front of you. It indicates you want another card.
  • Stand

    Wave your hand over your cards. It means you don’t want another card.
  • Double Down

    Pick up the correct amount of chips (the same as your bet) and place them on the table next to your original wager.

    These should be outside the betting box but next to it. Players double-down on their bet when their cards are good, and the dealer’s face-card looks weak.
  • Split

    If you receive a matching pair of cards, you have the option to split. It creates two hands, each with the same-sized bet matching the original wager.

    The dealer distributes a card apiece to each of the new hands.

    To indicate you want to split the pair, point with your fingers in a V sign to show you want to divide your hand instead of doubling down.
Blackjack Hand Signals Infographic

Blackjack Rule Variations to Lookout For

Blackjack has many rule variations depending on the casino or the table you choose.

Each one either helps you or the house in one way or another. Here’s an explanation of the most common variations you should look for and which are best for the player.

how to win at blackjack icon

3:2 vs. 6:5 Blackjack Payouts

The amount the casino pays you when you get a natural blackjack ultimately affects the house edge. You want to play at tables with 3:2 payouts. Many casinos have moved to less player-favorable 6:5 payouts to gain an extra 1.5% advantage.

blackjack rules - hit or stand icon

Does The Dealer Hit or Stand on Soft 17?

The dealer must hit or stand when they have a 17 with an Ace counting as 11. 

This rule frequently changes from table to table. You may even find both options at a single online casino.

blackjack rules - surrender icon

Is Surrendering an Option?

This Blackjack rule is a variation because not all games offer surrender, but it’s advantageous when you can.

If you have a losing hand, you can recoup some of your bet with a timely forfeit.

blackjack rules - double down icon

When Can You Double Down?

The option to double down is available at almost every Blackjack table, but some places restrict it.

Common restrictions include only doubling on your first two cards or doubling only on 9, 10, and 11. 

blackjack rules - split icon

Can You Always Split a Pair of Cards?

Most games let you split any pair on your first two cards.

Some allow re-splitting of pairs created from a previous split, while others restrict the re-splitting of Aces. 

blackjack rules - push 22 icon

Push on 22

You may see the term “push on 22.” When the dealer busts with a 22 and the player scores 21 or less, the outcome is considered a push.

This only applies to some Blackjack variants.

blackjack rules - side bets icon

Betting Limits

There are different types of betting limits, depending on the variations and table rules.

You can find Blackjack tables with max bets of $1,000 a hand, but limits in most casinos range from $1 to $500.

How to Bet

Blackjack betting systems help make the most of your bankroll. With any system, you should consider how much money you bring to the table.

Try one of the following betting options and stick to it during a session, and you’ll eventually find a favorite. 

blackjack betting system banner - flat betting method

Flat-Betting System

This is the most straightforward system because you bet the same amount on every hand.

You don’t have to be too attentive to betting limits and bankroll. Plus, it limits losses.

blackjack betting system banner - positive progression wagering

Positive-Progression Wagering

This takes advantage of winning streaks. Every time you win a hand, you increase the size of your bet.

Then when you lose, return to the original bet amount. Stick to that until you win again.

blackjack betting system banner - negative progression wagering

Negative-Progression Wagering

With this option, you have to increase the size of your bet after you have lost the previous hand.

When you win, return to the bet amount you started with and bet that until you lose. I recommend this system for bigger bankrolls or smaller bets.

blackjack betting systems banner - oscar's system

Oscar’s Blackjack Betting Method

The main idea is to be ahead after a series of bets. Start by betting one unit; if you win, continue betting one unit.

If you lose, keep betting one unit until you win, then bet two units and increase the bet each time you win until you make a profit.

Blackjack Side Bets

blackjack side bets icon

A Blackjack side bet is an additional wager that is available in some variations of the game. They vary based on your title of choice and are smart when the odds are in your favor.

They enhance stakes and help cover for bad cards, and they can pay huge bonuses, as much as 5000:1.

They are usually optional and have limits. Below, I’ve listed the best side bets that players can use to their advantage.

Best Side Bets

  • Insurance – This option covers you against Blackjack when the dealer has an upturned ace, but is generally considered a sucker bet that you should not take.
    If you do take insurance, you put up half your original stake and get paid 2:1 if the dealer has 21.
  • Perfect Pairs – If your first two cards are of the same rank, you are paid up to 25:1. 
  • Royal Match – This pays when your two cards are of the same suit, more for a suited king and queen.
  • Over/under 13 – If you predict whether your cards add up to above or below 13, you are paid even money.
  • 21+3 – This involves the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s upturned card. You are paid for suited cards, consecutive cards, three of a kind, consecutive suited cards, and the highest payout for three of the same rank and suit.
  • Super Sevens – When you get a 7, you win, more for two 7s, and more for two suited 7s. If the third card also comes up 7, that pays 1000:1, and if they are all suited, it’s 5000:1.
  • Lucky Ladies – House pays 4:1 if your cards add up to 20, 10:1 if they are suited, and 25:1 if they are the same rank and suit. Two queens of hearts pay 200:1, and two queens of hearts plus a dealer Blackjack pay 1000:1.

Tips to Better Understand Blackjack Rules

Now you know how to play the game in its most basic form. What’s next? How do you improve at Blackjack, beat the casino, and win money? Aside from managing your bankroll, gamblers hone their skills in three main ways. Check out the following pages:

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Strategies & Charts

Take your gameplay to the next level with some basic strategies. has an easy-to-use Blackjack chart that helps you make the right decisions every time.

blackjack for free banner

Play For Free

Want to play a few hands before you decide to wager real money?

Online casinos make it easy to practice Blackjack for free.
Get everything here.

blackjack counting cards banner

Counting Cards

Counting cards is considered an advanced strategy, but it isn’t tricky to learn.

Learn about the tactic so strong that casinos watch closely for players using it.

Test Your New Skills Playing for Free

Visiting a casino floor or betting your own money can be an intimidating prospect. Luckily, most online casino offer free versions of their real money games.

Play this free demo to hone your skills and get more familiar with online Blackjack gameplay.

Can You Hit, Stand, Double, and Split Your Way to Victory?

In this comprehensive guide, I’ve provided a thorough understanding of the game’s main mechanics, key strategies, and core concepts, which you need to know to play it effectively.

Of course, the remaining key component is practice. You need to play a lot of hands to truly internalize the game’s flow and visualize your strategic decisions’ impact on the outcomes.

Fortunately, online gaming allows you to play for free or real money anywhere. So, take advantage of technology and become a Blackjack expert!

Recommended Casino for Online Blackjack

BetUS Casino Logo

Now that you know better how to play Blackjack, you can head to one of my favorite legitimate online casinos and take advantage of the low house edge associated with the game.

BetUS offers a premium online gaming experience, a solid reputation, and a diverse Blackjack game catalog with reliable payouts.

New players get a 150% up to $5000 welcome bonus that primarily applies to slots and specialty games, but you can leverage any extra winnings toward playing Blackjack.

Key Features

  • 22 Different Blackjack games
  • Live Dealer Blackjack
  • Variety of Side Bets
  • Diverse Betting Ranges
Joe Falchetti

Joe Falchetti Expert in Online Casinos, Sports Betting, and Poker

Joe Falchetti, aka Smokey Joe, is a former professional poker player who has been a part of the online gambling and sports betting world for almost two decades. He's a full-time sports bettor and specialized writer featured in CBS Sports and and linked to by the New York Times.

Learn More About Joe