A Newcomer's Introduction to Blackjack

A Newcomer's Introduction to Blackjack

I'm not really a Blackjack player, but I don't know why. Years ago, I used to go to a local casino with friends. We'd sit at a table together and just laugh and have a great time in our quest for 21.

What I liked about it was that it didn't take a lot of money (at a low limit table, anyway) to sit there for hours and keep playing. While I never got rich playing, I never lost much either, and that was a win in my book.

My friends are now scattered all around the country so it may be that I just don't want to walk up to a table alone, but now i-casinos make it possible to play from anywhere with anyone.

If you've never played Blackjack before, playing online is an incredibly comfortable way to not only learn the basics of the game, but to get familiar with the betting procedure as well as when to split cards, double down, hit, or take insurance. It is an overall simplistic game in the premise of beating the dealer and ultimately getting a Blackjack without the dealer having on as well, but there are a lot of strategies involved, and practice can really help you hone your skills.

I would much rather know where the chips should be placed, if I can touch the cards or not, and when it's my turn to play, rather than to go in cold not knowing much of anything and having to learn in front of a bunch of other players who may not appreciate beginners. So, this information is for real Blackjack novices interested in learning a new game.

First of all, you'd be hard pressed to find any online casino that doesn't offer Blackjack. Except for Macau, it's one of the most popular games in casinos in addition to poker. It takes up the most floor space, and it provides one of the lowest house edges, making it a top bet for players of all experience levels.

Most casinos, whether land-based or virtual, will offer tables in a wide range of denominations, so a significant investment isn't necessary. Some sites will even offer practice play on its table games so you could even kick-start your new hobby without spending a dime.

Before you narrow down your choice of casinos, though, you may want to narrow down your preferences.

  • Is practice (or free) play a requirement for you?
  • Do you want to play against the computer or do you prefer a real person dealing out the cards?
  • Are bonuses an important factor in your selection?
  • What is your preferred method of financing your player account (i.e. credit card, Bitcoin, bank transfer, e-wallet, etc.)?

Additionally, when you do come up with some possibilities that work for you, your location is equally as important. Not all online casinos allow players in every country to register. Each has its allowances and restrictions. If you're a US player, you're going to have even more challenges than someone who lives in the United Kingdom or Australia.

Blackjack Online

To help you in your initial search for the ideal Blackjack table, here are a few casinos that may fit the bill. If you do have time to do your own research, don't feel you're limited to these sites as there are so many i-gaming providers out there and the list keeps growing.


US players - I include Bovada because it has dealt a billion rounds of Blackjack in its first five years online. Bovada used to be under the Bodog designation and is an almost identical match in look and substance but, whereas Bodog is Canadian based and does have players in other locations, Bovada is strictly for Americans.

Mr Green

UK and other several other locations - Mr Green does cater to a wide range of players from around the world but, as it's licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, it's an excellent choice for customers from England and Ireland. I chose Mr Green because it has a large number of Blackjack tables both in the regular table game area as well as in its live casino so you'd have a choice of formats.


for Asian players as well as customers from the UK and other designated countries - SBOBET is a good Blackjack choice as it also offers the table game against the computer as well as a basic Blackjack version with a live dealer. Additionally, includes Royal and Royal 5 Blackjack plus House and House 5 Box Blackjack in its central table area.


Canada's own - SportsInteraction is the one in-country, fully licensed sportsbook and casino in Canada that not only offers Blackjack live and through regular table gaming, but has some interesting varieties with Blackjack Multi-hand 5 Progressive, Blackjack Switch, and Surrender.


Australia - While the graphics may look a bit cartoonish and the site isn't the sleekest, most modern I've seen, there are 23 different Blackjack games offered. Pirate 21, Super Fun 21, Multi-hand Perfect Pairs Blackjack Gold, and Hi-Lo 13 European Blackjack Gold are just some of the more unique variations, but Classic Blackjack Gold and Vegas Strip Blackjack are some good ones to start with for beginners.

So you now have a few options to pursue, but you probably want to know exactly what to do once you do commit and find yourself at the table. Again, I'm not a regular Blackjack player, but I can provide you with the absolute basics as far as getting the ball rolling.

Keep in mind that wagering is going to be different in a live casino as it is online since the website tables provide clearly labeled buttons from which to select. In person, you're going to need hand gestures, so I'll include those as well.

A Few Terms You'll Need to Know

  • Hit = you want to take another card to better your hand
  • (in-person - use a few fingers to scratch the table or a hand gesture toward you, the player)

  • Stand = you decline any more cards; you take your hand with the current result
  • (in-person - hover your hand, palm side down, over the cards to indicate "no more")

  • Double Down = (if the combination of your cards is 9, 10, or 11) - you add a second bet equal to your original as you have a good chance to get a 20 or 21
  • (in-person - place a second bet next to the first one when it's your turn to play your hand; you then receive one card only)

  • Insurance = (usually available if the dealer has an Ace showing) - a side bet of half your original bet; instead of betting on your hand, it's a wager on the dealer's hand, and you'll win your insurance bet if the dealer has a Blackjack
  • (in-person - dealer will ask if anyone wants insurance, so you act accordingly)

  • Split Pairs = (not recommended for tens) - you divide your two identical cards into two different hands by adding a second bet equal to the first one; then play both hands independently
  • (in-person - when it's your turn to play, you divide your cards in two and add your second bet)

Before we get rolling, just one more thing. Your decision to hit, stand, split, and double down all depend on the dealer and other players as well.

It's a good idea to watch how many tens are coming out, so you have a good idea of what's left to be still revealed. If more of the smaller-value cards (lower pips) have been consistently dealt, there's a better chance that tens are left and will be popping up more and more.

So, although these are general guidelines on when to hit, be sure to read the table, and it's a good idea to access another kind of table first. This one is a table of hand guidelines put together by Edward Thorp who wrote the very famous "Beat the Dealer" book back in the 60s. Now we're here talking about beginning Blackjack, so I know you're not looking to study up, but the printed table he prepared provides for every player vs. dealer scenario, and you may find it helpful.

As a basic rule, though, if the dealer has a 7, 8, 9, 10, or Ace showing, players should hit until they at least have 17. If the dealer has a 4, 5, or 6, players can take a chance that the dealer will bust and can stop at 12 or higher. With a dealer hand of 2 or 3, players are usually advised to stay at 13 or greater.

Let's play... Step by Step...

  • On a basic Blackjack table, bets are placed first before the hands are dealt. There's a designated area for player bets indicated by a circle.
  • Card #1 - dealt face up to all players as well as the dealer.
  • Card #2 - dealt face up to all players, but face down for the dealer.
  • If the dealer receives a ten or an Ace face up, he or she will look at the hole card to see if it resulted in a 21. If so, the card is turned over, and the winning hand is revealed. Note: if an Ace is face up, the dealer will ask if anyone wants to take insurance before checking the hole card.
    If the dealer does have a Blackjack, the play is over for the hand:
  • All players without their own Blackjack immediately lose the round, and their bets are seized. Any player that does have 21, ties with the dealer and takes back their bet but doesn't get paid extra for their hand.
    If the dealer doesn't have a Blackjack, the play will continue:
  • Play starts with the player on the left (dealer facing left). Each player opts to either "hit" or "stand" (or split or double down). Hit is asking for another card and stand is staying with the cards they currently have. If they hit, they get another card and can also hit again until they're satisfied or bust. However, if they doubled down, they only get one card.
  • If a player busts, the bet is immediately surrendered regardless of the dealer outcome that comes at the end of the hand.
  • Once all bets are in place, the dealer turns over the hole card and will then either stand or hit. Dealers must play consistently, so they hit until they get 17 or higher. They don't take another card with a 17 although some casinos allow for dealer hits on soft 17 (Ace and a 6), and others mandate they stand.
  • Once the dealer stands, bets are settled up.
    Bet Settlement (for anyone still in the round at the time):
    A player's hand that beats the dealer's hand - player gets paid an amount equal to their bet. (i.e. bet ten to win ten)
    A player with a Blackjack and dealer also has one - result is a tie; the player then takes back his or her bet.
    A player with a Blackjack when the dealer does not have one - typically gets paid at 3:2 (so a 30 payout on a 20 wager).

So Much More than Basic Blackjack...

As I said, this is a very simple guide to just getting started with the game. The "Beat the Dealer" table of hands does help, but you may want to hop on a free play table and just get your feet wet and then, once you're comfortable, move on to real money play.

The preceding chain of events is also just for a standard Blackjack game. There are so many variations out there today, both in person and online that you'd have to read through every individual set of rules to understand the distinct differences.

Some of the other tables include:

  • Perfect Pairs
  • European Blackjack
  • Face Up
  • Blackjack Multi-hand
  • Pontoon
  • Blackjack Switch
  • Spanish Blackjack
  • Super Fun 21

Individual casinos may also offer their own personalized Blackjack versions, with tweaks on the ground rules, so striving for a 21 isn't so straightforward anymore.