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How to Play Blackjack

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How to Play Blackjack

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If you enjoy straightforward rules, high stakes, and just a little bit of math, blackjack is for you. Small bets in blackjack can often lead to large payouts, making blackjack tables (and online blackjack) one of the most popular casino games around. Learning how to play blackjack only takes a few minutes, but learning how to win is a different skill altogether—that’s where the fun begins.

How Blackjack Works

Blackjack, also called “21,” works like most other casino card games: players try to beat the house. In blackjack, they use two cards to score more points than the dealer—without going over 21.

But what does “hit” mean? What exactly is a blackjack? And when should you double your bet? To learn how to play blackjack, you need to know about betting, dealing, blackjack rules, and—most importantly—how to win.

How to bet in blackjack

The first step in blackjack is the players’ bet. Each player decides how much they will bet on the game by placing a chip (or chips) in the designated area before they receive their cards.

How to deal blackjack

Next, the dealer deals the cards, starting with the player to their left and continuing counter-clockwise around the table.

  1. After shuffling, the dealer passes one face-up card to each player, starting on their left.
  2. The dealer places one face-down card in front of them (called the upcard).
  3. Next, the dealer deals another face-up card to each player in the same pattern.
  4. The dealer places one face-up card on top of their first face-down card (known as the hole card).

Card values

Each card has a different value, and adding them together results in the score for your hand.

  • Number cards hold the value on their card. A 2 is worth two points, a 9 is worth nine points, and so on.
  • Face cards (king, queen, jack) are worth 10 points.
  • Aces are worth 1 or 11 points, player’s choice.

Blackjack rules

Now that the cards are on the table, it’s time to play blackjack. Each player is in their own game with the dealer, not with each other, so they only have to beat the house. In online blackjack, there’s only one player against the dealer.

  1. Add your cards together. For example, if you have a king and a 3, you have 13 points. If you have a 6 and an ace, you have 7 or 17 points.
  2. Check out your opponent’s hand (the dealer). You can learn a lot with the one card they’re showing. A higher card indicates that they may have a high total, while lower cards hint at the opposite.
  3. Hit if your hand’s total is low and you want the dealer to give you another card. You bust (lose) if your total goes over 21.
  4. Stand if you’re happy with your total and you don’t want another card.
  5. A Blackjack is a hand with an ace and a face card or a 10. This hand is an automatic winner—unless the dealer also has a blackjack.
  6. The dealer takes their turn and either hits or stands.

You win if your total is higher than the dealer’s without busting. You lose if you bust or if the dealer has a higher total than you do.

What is a hard or soft hand?

Hands that include an ace are known as a soft hand since they’re more flexible in their total. For example, a “soft 17” may be an ace and a 6, or an ace, a 10, and a 5. Hard hands indicate that the player does not have an ace. A “hard 17” would be a 10 or face card and a 7.

What is a push in blackjack?

A push means that no one wins; it occurs when the dealer and the winner have the same total. The player gets their bet back or can keep it on the table for the next game.

What is the payout in blackjack?

Winning hands receive a 1:1 payout, meaning that for every dollar you bet, you get another one back. Blackjacks (or “naturals”) receive a 3:2 payout, so you receive three dollars for every two dollars bet.

How To Win in Blackjack

Unlike many other casino games, blackjack doesn’t entirely rely on luck. Even the worst hand can become a winner if you know how to play your cards—namely, if you know when to hit, when to split, when to stand, and when to double down.

When to hit

Dealer’s rules state that they must hit when their cards total 16 or below. But players have many more options, and knowing when to hit can be a winning strategy. Generally speaking, you should hit when:

  • Your cards total 11 or lower (it’s impossible to bust).
  • The dealer shows a 7 or higher (they could have a face-down 10 or ace).

When to stand

If you’ve got a hand that may bust, you’ll want to stand. Dealers stand at 17 or higher, which is a good rule of thumb for players as well. However, you’ll also want to stand when:

  • The dealer shows a face card, 10, or ace (they’re likely to win or bust).
  • Your hand totals 12 to 16 and the dealer shows a number card between 2 and 6 (they’re likely to bust).

When to split

You can split in blackjack when you receive a pair of the same card—two 8s, for example, or two 3s. You place another bet and play each card as a new hand. Consider splitting:

  • Aces and 8s (always recommended)
  • 2s if the dealer shows 3-7
  • 3s if the dealer shows 4-7
  • 6s if the dealer shows 6 or below
  • 7s if the dealer shows 7 or below
  • 9s if the dealer shows 8 or below

Don’t split 4s or 5s—your chances of winning either hand are low. Splitting 10s is also risky, since you already have 20 and a good chance of winning your hand.

For even better odds, you can split a second time if the dealer gives you yet another pair, though some casinos only allow you to split a maximum of three times (four hands total).

When to double down

Players double down by doubling their bet after the first two cards are dealt. They receive one more card and cannot hit afterward.

Doubling down can double your winnings—or double your losses. It’s a good idea when:

  • Your hand adds up to 9, 10, or 11 (without an ace)
  • Your hand adds up to 16, 17, or 18 (with an ace)
  • The dealer shows a 3, 4, 5, or 6

Never double down if the dealer shows a 10 or ace, since the odds of them having another high card face-down are higher than your chances of pulling a winning card.

What Is Insurance in Blackjack?

An insurance bet in blackjack is a side bet offered to players when the dealer shows a 10, face card, or ace, suggesting that they may hold a blackjack. Insurance costs up to half of a player’s initial bet and pays out 2:1, so players break even if the dealer has a blackjack. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, the player loses the insurance bet.

Most seasoned blackjack players advise against making insurance bets, except when the dealer shows an ace and your hand totals 15 or higher. The odds are against you otherwise.

How to Play Blackjack at Golden Nugget Online Casino

With engaging graphics and convenient browser gameplay, online blackjack at Golden Nugget Online Casino is even better than in-person blackjack. Plus, you can play for free to decide if you’re ready to play for real money—or to try a new version of blackjack online.

Classic Blackjack

Standard casino rules apply in classic online blackjack. The table consists of an automated dealer (or for live games, a live online dealer) and the player, with options to hit, stand, double down, split, and make insurance bets.

Multihand Blackjack

In Multihand Blackjack, players are dealt multiple hands, each with their own bids. They can hit, stand, or double down on each hand, multiplying their chances of winning. Multihand Blackjack games range from two hands to seven hands.

Blackjack xchange

Combine poker and blackjack into one thrilling game in this blackjack variation, which allows players to trade cards in their hands. Just one quick switch could be the difference between a blackjack and a bust.

Zappit Blackjack

Sometimes all you need is another chance. In Zappit Blackjack, players can redraw hands that total 15, 16, 17, or 18—all hands that may not beat a higher hand on the dealer’s side of the table.

Play Blackjack at Golden Nugget Online Casino Today

There’s always a seat at the table when you play blackjack at Golden Nugget Online Casino. Now that you know the rules of blackjack and its winning strategies, nothing’s stopping you from saying “Hit me” to the dealer at your next game.

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