Blackjack Frequently Asked Questions
Blackjack is one of the most popular gambling card games in the world. Sometimes also called 21, the rules are easy to learn, and when played correctly, it has one of the lowest house edges in the casino. This blackjack FAQ page gives detailed answers to common questions about the game.
If you’re new to the game, we suggest you start with our blackjack guide to learn the rules and how to play.
Ten Common Blackjack FAQs
Answers to the Internet’s Most Common Blackjack Questions
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack is a gambling card game played on felted tables in casinos worldwide. It is a hand-value comparison game that uses one or several standard 52-card decks.
The players don’t compete against each other but instead try to beat the house. The objective is simple. To win, the player must beat the dealer by getting closer to 21 without going over.
Blackjack vs. 21
Blackjack is sometimes also called 21 or “twenty-one.” There are so many variations of the base game that it makes sense to think they could have different rules, but in this case, the names are used interchangeably.
What Is The House Edge in Blackjack?
Make the right decisions at a table with favorable rules, and the house edge for blackjack can be as low as 0.5%. However, for casual players that make decisions without a basic strategy, that number can shoot up to around 8%.
Pro Tip – Finding the Tables With the Lowest House Edge
Not all tables and variants have the same rules. For the lowest house edge, look for single-deck games that pay 3:2 for blackjack, where the dealer has to stand on soft 17.
The more options you have, the better. Try to find tables where you can surrender, resplit pairs created from splits, or double down on any number of cards. Finding a game with all these may be tough, but find as many as possible to increase your odds.
Can You Make Money Playing Online Blackjack?
Yes, just like any land-based casino table, you can win money playing blackjack online. Just remember that you’ll still have losing streaks. While you can, in theory, gain an edge of around 1-2% over the house with perfect gameplay and advanced strategies, the math only works out over hundreds of hands.
Pro Tip – How to Beat the House
You can do a few things to beat the house and make money at the blackjack table.
- Play with a strategy chart, so you always make the correct statistical play.
- Play live dealer blackjack. You get more information from the table and other players.
- Play at the table with the most favorable rules.
- Use proper bankroll management techniques.
- Use blackjack bonuses to grow your bankroll.
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What Is a “Natural” in Blackjack?
A “natural” is any two-card hand comprised of an ace and any 10-valued card. It is also called a “blackjack,” but despite the name, it does not require a black card or a jack.
Natural Blackjack Hands Get Better Payouts
Naturals are important in blackjack because they pay out more than a standard win. Instead of getting 1:1 for beating the dealer with a non-21 two-card hand (or even a 21-valued hand consisting of three or more cards), natural blackjack pays 3:2 or 6:5, depending on the table’s rules.
What Is a 3:2 vs. 6:5 Blackjack Game?
Sometimes also written as 3 to 2 and 6 to 5, these numbers refer to how much money you win for a natural blackjack. One pays $6 for every $5 you wager, and the other pays $3 for every $2 you wager.
The standard was always 3:2, but casinos started moving to a 6:5 format because it’s more favorable for the house. A 6:5 blackjack payout increases the house edge by nearly 1.5%, which starts to add up fast.
Example of 3:2 vs. 6:5 Payouts
The 3:2 payout structure is more favorable to players because it pays you more for the same results.
- On a 3:2 table, a $10 bet will earn a $15 return on a natural blackjack.
- On a 6:5 table, a $10 bet will earn a $12 return on a natural blackjack.
That extra $3 you get on a 3:2 table doesn’t seem like a lot at first, but when you’re playing 50+ hands an hour, it really starts to stack up.
Is Counting Cards in Blackjack Illegal?
While counting cards is frowned upon by casino operators, it is not actually illegal. If they notice that you’re making suspicious wagers, they may back you off of a table or ask you to leave, but they cannot have you arrested or refuse to pay your winnings.
Pro Tip – Counting Cards Online
Online casinos have single-player digital tables that reshuffle the cards in the shoe after every hand. That means you can’t see other hands or formulate a running count.
Live dealer blackjack is the only way you can count cards online. These tables stream seven hands in real-time with actual cards and let you see when the house shuffles the shoe.
What Is Insurance in Blackjack?
You’ll get offered insurance when the dealer has an ace face up to protect your wager in case they have a blackjack. Placing the side bet will get you paid 2 to 1 if the dealer’s facedown card is a ten.
Pro Tip – Don’t Take the Insurance Bet
You should never take insurance in blackjack. It is what insiders refer to as a sucker bet. You win when the dealer’s face-down card is a ten-valued card and lose when it isn’t.
Four cards of each suit are worth 10, and the other nine are not. That means the odds are 9 to 4 that you will lose the bet. With a payout of 2 to 1 (or 8 to 4), you will lose more over time and should not take insurance.
What is Shuffle Tracking in Blackjack?
Shuffle tracking is the idea that you can get an advantage over the house by paying close attention to discarded cards and how the dealer shuffles. The concept is that you know where a section of high-valued cards is in the next shoe and can raise your bets accordingly.
Pro Tip – Don’t Waste Your Time Shuffle Tracking
Software-based games and automatic shuffling machines take away the human aspect of this tactic and make shuffle tracking a near-impossible feat.
What is Hole Carding?
Hole carding is when you somehow get the opportunity to glance at the dealer’s facedown card. This tactic would let you know their hand’s value before you make decisions about your hand and give you an edge.
Pro Tip – Hole Carding is Unlikely to Happen
While getting a peak at the house’s hole card would give you an obvious advantage, it is a pretty rare occurrence. Professional dealers in land-based casinos slide cards flat out of the shoe (and sometimes onto a camera), and digital online tables keep everything hidden in the software.
How Much Does a Blackjack Dealer Make?
According to Zip Recruiter’s casino employee salary data, a blackjack dealer makes anywhere from $32,000 to $52,000 in the United States.
How to Deal Blackjack
Planning on throwing a blackjack party? Follow this step-by-step guide, and you’ll deal the cards like a pro.
- Shuffle and cut the cards.
- Ask each player to place their bets. (The max at a table with a single deck of cards is usually seven players.)
- Starting with the player on your left and moving clockwise, deal one face-up card to each player.
- Deal one face-down card in front of yourself.
- Going in the same order as before, deal one more face-up card to each player and to yourself.
- Now the first player will make decisions, and you’ll need to deal their cards:
- If the player hits, you give them one face-up card.
- If the player’s hand goes over 21, you take their bet and cards.
- If the player wants to double down, they must double their wager first. Then you give them one face-up card, and that ends their hand.
- If the player wants to split a pair, they must double their wager first. Then you separate their first two cards and deal one card face-up to each. The player should now have two 2-card hands. Treat each of them as you would any other player’s hand.
- Progress through each player’s decisions in clockwise order.
- After all player decisions are complete, flip the dealer’s face-down card over, revealing it to the players.
- Finish the dealer’s hand according to the house rules.
- Compare the players’ hands to the dealer’s cards to determine the winners and losers.
Have More Blackjack Questions?
We answered ten of the most common questions about blackjack above. If you want to learn more about the game or the advanced techniques that pros use, visit some of our other pages by clicking on the links below.