Guide to Playing Real Money Blackjack Games

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games out there. It has a long and varied history, with many variants now available to play. The American version of a banking game called Twenty One, Blackjack took the world by storm many years ago and continues to dominate the gambling industry. It is a comparing card game involving several players and a dealer, where each player takes turns playing against the dealer. This game of probability has spawned many strategies over time, with players insistent they can beat the dealer. Here’s an overview of what you’ll be learning about blackjack:

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  • History of blackjack
  • How to play traditional blackjack
  • How to play the blackjack variants
  • Blackjack side bets
  • Progressive jackpots in blackjack
  • Mobile blackjack
  • Live blackjack
  • Blackjack strategies
  • Online blackjack vs offline blackjack and
  • Blackjack FAQ

History of Blackjack

Many believe that blackjack emerged from the game Vingt et un, a French game which means twenty one. It was popular during the 18th century, and was a regular feature while King Louis XV was reigning, in his Royal Court. Many can draw comparisons with this French game, but other games that blackjack may have been influenced by include the Spanish game Trent un, the Italian game Sette e Mezzo, and the French game Quinze.

In the 18th century, Vingt et un was transported to America, where it was renamed as 21. In 1931, the game was legalised, and some casinos would offer a payout of 10:1 for those who accumulated 21 points with the ace of spades and a black jack such as jack of spades or clubs. Although this special payout, designed to attract more players, was removed before too long, the term ‘Blackjack’ stuck, and was used to describe the game. When gambling was legalised, the need for clear and universal game rules became apparent, and it’s these rules which are used today, as made legal by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Blackjack progressed to become one of the most popular games played in Las Vegas casinos, and also globally. When the internet era dawned, this led to an explosion in a new style of gaming – online blackjack. The first online casinos were quick to introduce a classic version of this game to their library, but thanks to developing technology and a limitless amount of space, an influx of game variants were spawned, featuring different rules and many new features.

How To Play Traditional Blackjack

A game of basic blackjack has a fairly straightforward process. Players start out by making bets, and then the dealer will deal out two cards to the players, including two for himself. Of the dealer’s pair, 1 card will be face up and the other will be face down. All of the cards are their face value, and picture cards count as ten points. The ace is special because it can count as either one or eleven points – whichever is best for your play. The suits have no meaning in blackjack, so can be discarded. At this point, players can either stand, hit, surrender, double down or split. The dealer is the last to act, and if they have 16 or less, they have to hit. If they get a number between 17 and 21, they have to stand. If a player has a hand that is higher than that of the dealer, or they have a card total of 21 or less when the dealer goes bust, they win. Essentially, the objective is to beat the dealer by either having a total greater than theirs or not going over 21 when the dealer does. When a player or dealer’s hand is more than 21, this is called going bust – and sometimes the term ‘break’ is applied if the dealer’s hand exceeds this number.

There is a difference between hands known as a soft hand or a hard hand. If a hand doesn’t contain an ace, or the ace is counted as one in value, this is a hard hand. A soft hand is one where the ace counts as eleven. It’s recommended that, when you receive your first two cards, if one of them is an ace, you count this as an eleven. This is because often, when you have a soft hand, then get dealt more cards, your hand easily converts to a hard hand. It’s also worth knowing the table setup in blackjack. It is semicircular in shape and covered with a felt cloth. On average, up to seven players can be seated around it. The betting spot is a circle or square box, and this is a space in front of each player where the wager is placed, using chips. The dealer is trained by the casino and must adhere to strict rules, whereby they will collect player bets which have lost, pay off winning bets, and keep the game moving at a decent pace.

It’s important to understand the various betting rules, so here’s a rundown of the key jargon. With hitting rules, this means a player requests that a dealer adds an additional card to their hand. For standing, this means you’re content with your hand total and want to keep the cards as they currently are. With pair splitting, this is instigated by having two similar cards, such as a pair of 5s. You thus have the option of splitting them, but you have to make another bet which is the equivalent of your initial one. By pair splitting, you are essentially playing each card as a separate hand. You can draw as many cards as you want for each hand, with the exception of split aces. If you double down, you can double your initial bet and receive one draw card in exchange. Most casinos will only let you double down at the point where you’ve been given your first two cards and are ready to draw another. Sometimes you’re also allowed to surrender, whereby you can immediately give up your hand. If you take this option, you will lose half of your original bet.

How To Play The Blackjack Variants

How to play Multi Hand Blackjack & European Blackjack

Multi-Hand Blackjack

This variant of blackjack allows a player to play up to five hands at once. It’s ideally played in an online casino, as you will have time to play each hand with thought and no feelings of being rushed. There are several ways to play multi hand blackjack, such as multi hand European blackjack, multi hand Atlantic City blackjack, multi hand Double Exposure blackjack and multi hand Pontoon blackjack. To get started, a player needs to decide how many hands they are going to play, with the choice being between one and five. This action is completed by placing between one and five bets in the betting circles on the virtual blackjack table. It’s optional whether you make all of the multi hand blackjack bets the same, as you could also make each bet a different size in each betting circle.

Once the bets have been made, the dealer deals two cards to each hand the player has bet on. It’s then time for the player to play each hand separately, with the goal of beating the dealer on each hand by getting closer to 21 than them, but not going over this figure. There are several options with each separate hand, such as standing, hitting, doubling down, splitting or surrendering. As multiple hands are involved, a player may experience wins on some hands and losses on others. It’s advised for many online blackjack players playing multi hand blackjack to make use of a strategy table, as this is especially useful with more than one hand in order to exercise the best strategy possible. Many people enjoy multi hand blackjack as more thinking is required in order to manage more than one hand and attempt to maintain multiple wins against the dealer.

European Blackjack

This version of blackjack is widely seen as the most popular. Six decks are used, and each one has 52 playing cards. Before each hand is dealt, the decks get shuffled, and dealers have to hit on a soft 17. If the player lands a blackjack, the payout is 3:2, and if they lose to blackjack, they forfeit their starting bet and any others that haven’t bust get pushed and returned. The minimum bet is 1 euro, but as the hands progress, more betting options are unlocked. Players have the option of doubling down on any two card hand, which means that initial bets can be doubled if it’s agreeable to stand after being dealt one additional card. If two cards are equal in value, they can be split, so two hands can be created for a bonus wager of an identical amount. In European blackjack, players can also surrender, giving up their two cards and subsequently getting half of their original wager back. This doesn’t apply, though, if the dealer is showing an ace.

Although six decks are used in most games, there have been variants of European blackjack with between two and eight decks. There are several rules to be aware of in this edition of the game. For example, it’s not permitted to split a 4, 5 or 10 value card, a player can double after a split, insurance bets can be taken out by the player and only one more card can be received on each hand if an ace is split. When playing online European blackjack, there are different game speeds available to suit your style.


How To Play Spanish 21 & Crazy Blackjack

Spanish 21

This table game was introduced to land based casinos in the 1990s. It’s heavily based on the classic game of blackjack, although it offers several rules and twists that make it different. The game involves between six and eight decks, but all of the suited 10 cards are not included. Options for the player in Spanish 21 are pretty similar, as one can hit, stand, split or double. There are several rules to be aware of; for example, a player’s 21 will always beat out a dealer’s 21, redoubling is allowed up to three times with some casinos, a double is allowed after a split, several cards may be drawn after splitting an ace and there are bonus payouts for hands such as 6-7-8, 5-card 21s (called Perfect Charlie) and busted Perfect Charlies. There is also a late surrender, whereby you can give up your hand at any time in exchange for losing half of your wager. This is an advantageous rule for players as they can calculate the odds of beating the dealer, then reduce the amount they’re set to lose by surrendering and still getting 50% of their bet back.

There are numerous other unique rules that make Spanish 21 fun to play. The re-splitting rule allows players to double or re-double after splitting any pair. In this instance, the late surrender rule would still apply, too. Bonus games and side bets are available in this blackjack variant, such as the Match the Dealer side bet. The player will win this bet if both of the first cards dealt match the dealer’s face up card. There is also a Super Bonus, and although the chance of actually hitting this is around one in 668, 382 in a six deck game, it adds an exciting thrill to gameplay. Overall, blackjack players consider the Spanish 21 variant to be the most profitable.


How To Play Deal Or No Deal Blackjack & Blackjack Switch

Deal Or No Deal Blackjack

  • Deal or no deal blackjack brings a twist to the classic game by adding elements from the TV show. As ever, the aim of the game is to beat the dealer by getting a higher score without going over the value of 21. There are five decks, with the cards shuffled before each game. Each deck is a standard one, containing 52 cards and no jokers. The payout is 3:2, which is essentially 1.5x the original bet plus the stake returned. The insurance pays 2:1, and the dealer must stand on 17. To get started, select a chip for betting, then choose between one and three hands to play. When playing online deal or no deal blackjack, click each of the three betting circles on the table to place your bet.
  • You can usually press a clear button to remove all of the chips from the table. When you’re satisfied with your bets, you can then progress to receive your cards.Two cards are dealt to each hand you play, face up, and two are dealt to the dealer. The first of the dealer’s cards is called the hole card, and is placed face down. The up-card is the face up card, and this is the dealer’s card, which reveals the value. Each hand is then played individually, from the right hand side. Once each hand has two face up cards, the banker can make an offer, offering a cash amount for each hand. You have two choices at this point. You can either accept the offer, which will give you the displayed value and fold the hand, or you can decline it, and the game will continue.
  • If you have a hand which comprises a value of 21 from two cards, there are no more cards dealt to that hand, with gameplay continuing with the other hands only. The dealer will only show his hand after the others have been played, and if they do have blackjack, a push takes place. This is where the original stake is returned to the player, and the game is over. However, if you don’t have 21, there are two choices – a hit or a stand. A hit will mean you take one more card, and a stand indicates you will remain at your current total value. If the dealer has less than 17 after turning over their hole card, they have to draw another. If it’s over 17, they can’t draw any more cards. This also applies if the dealer has an ace and a six, which is a soft 17. There are also special plays available for the player. The insurance is a side bet of half what the original stake was, and the payout is 2:1. This means that if the dealer has a natural 21 or blackjack, even though you will lose your initial bet, you’ll win back the insurance – half of its value. The split allows the player to create two hands from two cards of identical value. Any pair can be split up to three times, with the exception of aces.

Blackjack Switch

  • Blackjack switch is a game variant which allows a player to carry out a classic cheating move, which is trading cards between two hands. Two bets of an equal size are made, and at this point, the second card dealt to each hand can be switched. Either six or eight decks are typically used, and cards are dealt face up. If the dealer has a blackjack, all player hands lose immediately. As well as being able to switch the second card dealt to each hand, the player can double on any two cards, double after a split and re split up to four hands. If Russian rules are applied, early surrender is allowed, the dealer stands on soft 17 and does not take a hole card. There are switching strategies available to make this method easy for newbies, or veterans who want to practice an established move. For example, the Cindy Liu Simple Switching Strategy involves balancing hands against a dealer’s 7 or 8 by making the weaker hand as high as possible. By following this method, there is an error roughly once every 18 hands.
  • The advanced switching strategy requires a player to add up the points for each hand for both ways to play them. They should play the hand with the greatest number of points. If there is a tie, they should use the simple strategy, as outlined above. There is also a switching strategy in The Big Book of Blackjack by Arnold Synder. The house edge in this version of blackjack is 0.58% if an optimised strategy is followed. According to Russian rules, the house edge is 0.20% if surrender against an ace is permitted. Side bets allowed in this game include the Super Match bet, which are based on the player’s first four cards.

How To Play Vegas Strip Blackjack & Pontoon Blackjack

Vegas Strip Blackjack

This version of blackjack has its roots in Las Vegas, and it’s the most common version of blackjack found in casinos on the strip. However, it’s also possible to play this variant online. The game is played with four standard decks, and the objective, as with other variations, is to beat the dealer with a hand worth more than theirs, but not exceeding the value of 21. There are several rules specific to this game to follow. The dealer will stand on soft 17; the dealer can peek for blackjack; players can double down on any of their first hands or after splitting. Four hands can be split in total, but aces can only be split once. A 21 on split aces doesn’t count as blackjack, and players can split 10-value cards which look different. Within this variation is another version called Vegas Downtown Blackjack, which is only different in that the game has two decks for play and the dealer must hit upon receiving a soft 17.

If a player exercises the optimal Vegas Strip blackjack strategy, the house edge is 0.36%. There are some words of advice out there for players. For example, it’s advised to find a strategy chart in order to make the best move based on your card value and the dealer’s hand. Insurance can be bought against a dealer’s potential blackjack, but many recommend not taking this option, as the house edge can increase to as much as 7 per cent as a result. Additionally, while it can be tempting for a player to split a pair of 10s, this isn’t advised, as doing so will increase the house edge, too.

Pontoon Blackjack

Pontoon is the British version of blackjack, and it can be played with any number of players upwards of two. An optimal number is between 5 and 8 players, using a standard pack of 52 cards. The ace is worth 1 or 11, kings, queens, jacks and tens are worth ten, and the remaining cards are worth their printed value. One player is assigned the role of banker, and this role has an advantage, so the first banker is chosen at random. Usually, this is decided by whoever cuts the highest card. For each hand, the other players will bet on having a better hand than the banker. The best hand is a Pontoon, which comprises 21 points in two cards. The only way this can be achieved is through an ace plus either a picture card or a ten. The next best option is the Five Card Trick, which is five cards equalling 21 or less. If a player has a hand consisting of three or four cards worth 21 points, this will beat all combinations except the five card trick or pontoon.

When it comes to gameplay, the banker deals one card face down to each player, starting on the dealer’s left and going round the table before ending with the dealer. All of the players except the banker are able to look at their card. Minimums and maximums for the first bets must be agreed before the game begins, and the player is able to bet any amount within these limits. At this point, the players place their bets in front of them, excepting the banker. The dealer then deals a face down card to every player, upon which point the players examine both of their cards. If the banker has a Pontoon, this is immediately made clear, and they will receive double the amount staked from every player. If there isn’t a pontoon from the banker, then the players can each attempt to improve their hand by taking on extra cards.

How To Play Double Exposure Blackjack & Multiple Action Blackjack

Double Exposure Blackjack

  • This blackjack variant involves the opportunity for the player to see both of the dealer’s cards. This adds to the excitement of the game, as there is more of an opportunity to win. The objective is to score 21 points, or as close as possible, in order to beat the dealer. It’s possible to have a double in double exposure blackjack, and this is allowed when a player’s first cards have a hard value between 9 and 11. The double down bet is the same as the first bet, and after the double down, the player gets an extra card. At this point, they will automatically stay. Players are also allowed to double down after a split. A split enables one hand to become two. Multiple cards can be drawn on both hands, except for those which contain an ace. In this instance, only one card can be drawn.
  • Various coin values can be chosen from in double exposure blackjack. Chips on offer are either 1, 5 or 10 euros, which can be bet more than once and combined. The minimum bet is 1 euro, and the maximum is 40 euros. Every win, including blackjack, has a payout of 1:1. For those playing online double exposure blackjack, it’s usually possible to view the pay table with the game.

Multiple Action Blackjack

  • Multiple action blackjack is a thrilling take on the classic blackjack game. It allows players to play one hand up to three times in succession. As with the classic game, cards are dealt and the player has the same choices as in any blackjack edition. Then, either the first round is won, whereby the player is paid even money, or it’s lost, whereby a third of the initial total bet is taken. When the second hand starts, the player keeps the same cards, but the dealer can only keep the face up card. The rest have to be drawn from the deck.
  • After the three rounds are complete, the player has the option to start again. Players are entitled to the option of doubling down on one, two or all of the bets. They can also split if they are dealt identical cards, but in the case of multiple action blackjack, this would require the player to double all three of the first bets. If the dealer’s up card is an ace, a player can make an insurance bet on one, some or all of their initial bets.
  • This edition of blackjack is beneficial for both a casino operator and a player. For the operator, this variant allows more hands to be played per hour, as hands are only dealt once per two or three rounds. This means that the casino will generate a higher profit as a result. It’s also enjoyable for players, because if a good streak of winning hands comes their way, they can typically win more playing multiple action blackjack than they would playing classic blackjack. The risk is slightly higher, as three bets are made on one hand, which means that the bankroll should be a little higher playing than it would be for the traditional game.

How To Play High Stakes Blackjack & Common Draw Blackjack

High Stakes Blackjack

The clue is in the name with this variant of blackjack. As with the classic game, hands are dealt out to the players involved in the round, but in this instance, the table stakes are higher. Players are competing against the dealer, who is a representative of the house or casino operator. It’s not possible for a player’s card total to affect the outcome of another player’s hand, as all action taken is directly against the dealer. As the stakes are higher, there is more excitement to be had as there is literally more at stake with each round. There are variants within this branch of blackjack; for example one online game on offer is high limit multi hand blackjack, where as many as five hands can be played at once with high limits. Both casual players and high rollers can enjoy high stakes blackjack, as anyone can make the most of a suspense-filled game and learn to use certain strategies as a part of their gameplay. There is much more to be won if the right calls are made, and many people will rely much more heavily on strategy tables or guides.

For a game of high stakes blackjack, everyone is initially dealt two cards, with the player receiving both of them face up. The dealer has two cards too, but one is face up and the other is face down. Players have to compare the strength of the dealer’s hand as well as their own before making a decision. The dealer has to draw on totals up to 16 and stand on all 17 values. The insurance pays 2:1, which is typical of all standard blackjack variants. In order to win, a player’s cards have to reach a total as close to 21 as possible without going over this value. They can draw cards into their hand until they either stay, by which they won’t take any more, or bust, where they exceed the upper limit of 21. When this happens, the player’s hand is immediately over and their wager is lost.

Common Draw Blackjack

This option is ideal for players who are waiting for a seat at another live dealer blackjack game, or for those who want to play low limit blackjack. The bets start at 1 and go up to 200, making it flexible for all types of bankroll. The player receives two cards at the outset, which are both dealt face up. Meanwhile, the dealer has two for himself, which only features one card left face up. The options available, depending on the player’s cards and the dealer’s face up cards, are to hit, stand, split, double, surrender or take insurance. Six cards are typically used for this game, and all players have the same set of cards. This speeds up gameplay, as no separate hands are involved. The basic rules include the fact that splitting is allowed for any two cards of the same value, with the player permitted to hit as many times as desired after doing this. A player may also double down on a soft hand if the total value is between 9 and 11. Doubling down after a split is allowed, except in the case of split aces. This game has a payout of 3:2 and the dealer has to stand with a hand of soft 17.

If the dealer’s face up card is an ace, the player has the option of buying insurance, which is half of their original bet. The insurance has a payout of 2:1 as long as the dealer’s face-down card scores 10, which would result in the dealer landing a natural blackjack. A variation of insurance is even money, which is offered to the player who has a natural blackjack as long as the dealer’s face up card is an ace. If this choice is agreed upon, the player takes even money at a payout of 1:1 and the round is ended, regardless of whether the dealer has a blackjack.

How To Play Progressive Blackjack & Double Attack Blackjack

Progressive Blackjack

  • Progressive blackjack is a game variant which allows a player to enjoy a main game while being in with a chance of winning a huge cash prize. With the advent of online gambling technology, blackjack games, among others, have increasingly been offered to players alongside massive progressive jackpots, which will steadily increase over time, making the experience incredibly exciting. Overall, the rules and objective of progressive blackjack are the same as classic blackjack. However, for those who want to enhance the general payout of 3:2, progressive blackjack allows them to place a side bet on top of their main bet. They can then potentially win a larger amount of money, or if they are particularly lucky, walk away with a jackpot prize. After a player has won the jackpot, it will start increasing in value again. In most progressive jackpots, a fraction of a player’s side bet will go towards the pot, and the rest will go towards the pot’s seed. The seed ensures that when a jackpot is won, the new one isn’t starting from nothing.
  • In most games of progressive blackjack, six decks of cards are used. The player and the dealer are dealt two cards each, but one of the dealer’s cards is exposed. The second card is face down, and typically referred to as the hole card. The dealer must stand on soft 17, and in most progressive blackjack games, the player doesn’t have the option to surrender. A fair amount of progressive jackpot games can be played in multi hand mode, whereby players have the option of placing up to five bets and operating with this number of separate hands. This increases your chances of winning one of the jackpots, although some variants don’t allow for side bets when entering multi hand mode. 

Double Attack Blackjack

  • This game is a variation on Spanish 21, and pays even money upon a blackjack result. Players also have the opportunity to double their starting wager after viewing the dealer’s upcard. There is a bonus side bet available, called Bust it/Bust out or Buster, whereby a bet is made on whether the dealer will bust on the third card. It’s imperative that this side bet is made before the dealer is dealt the up card, and the payout is based on the rank of the card that is subsequently dealt. If the third card is a ten, the payout is 3:1; if it’s a nine, the payout is 6:1; if it’s an eight, the payout is 8:1; if it’s a seven, the payout is 10:1, and if it’s a six, the payout is 15:1. If the dealer has an eight, then gets another eight of the same colour or suit, resulting in a bust, an additional payout is available to the player. If the eight is the same colour, the payout is 50:1, and if it’s the same suit, the payout is 200:1.
  • There are some rules that should be followed in this blackjack variant. Eight Spanish 48-card decks are used, and the dealer will stand upon landing a soft 17. The dealer is allowed to peek for a blackjack if the player takes insurance, and the payout for insurance is 5:2. The player can double down after splitting, and every card except an ace can be re-split up to four times. The aces can be split once, with one more card being received, and no re-doubling is allowed. Finally, the player is able to surrender or double at any point during the game.

How To Play Zappit Blackjack & Ante Up 21 Blackjack

Play Zappit Blackjack

This innovative blackjack variant allows players to ‘zap’ cards from their hand, replacing them with two random cards to try their luck again. It was invented by Geoff Hall, who also invented blackjack switch, and this game can be played for real money. To get started, a player plays a single hand against the dealer. Stakes vary between $1 and $500. When playing online, tap the chip icon, then the bet circle to place it, then the deal button. The player and dealer are each dealt two cards, with the dealer being given one hidden card, while all others are face up. For the most part, the game goes on like any classic blackjack game. The player is able to hit, double, stand, split or surrender. However, if the player has a total of between 15 and 17, they can hit the zap button and discard the current 2 cards, dealing two more instead. However, if you do this and get a 21 made up of two cards, this is just a plain hand, not counting as a blackjack with the 3:2 payout. Players are able to double down on any total in the game, whereby an extra bet of the same value is played, with the receipt of one card taking place in return. The splitting rules involve up to three being allowed, with only one card given to split aces. In this variant, aces cannot be resplit.

If the dealer gets over 22, he will bust, resulting in an automatic win for the player. If he receives 22, the dealer can push. A value above the player’s hand results in a house win, and vice versa. The dealer hits on a soft 17, and insurance is an option if the dealer shows an ace. The bet has a large house edge of over 12%, so it’s generally advised to avoid this option. When it comes to zapping, no cards can be zapped if they have been exchanged already. A 21 after zapping a hand, as mentioned, isn’t blackjack, and the payout for this result is 1:1.

Ante Up 21 Blackjack

This is a blackjack variation combined with the game of poker. While combining casino games can be tricky, many agree that this particular combination is successful. There are three betting squares at an ante up 21 table. One is designated for the standard blackjack hand, one is for the poker game, and the final one is for the poker bonus side bet. You only have to play the blackjack bet; the poker and bonus side bets are optional for those who want to add a twist or some complexity to their game. Only the first two cards a player is dealt count as a part of the poker game, and these are compared to the best 2 cards the dealer has when it comes to showdown stage. There is only one decision a player has to make in the game, which is whether to play the hand or not. If you don’t want to play the hand, the ante is forfeited and you then move on to the blackjack section. But if you do want to keep playing with the poker hand you have, you will have to place a bet of equal value to the ante.

Afterwards, the dealer takes the two cards which provide them with the best poker hand from all the cards. However, there is a qualifier requirement; if the dealer doesn’t have at least a Queen value in total in her card, she won’t qualify, and all players who have live poker hands receive a payout of 1:1 on the ante, with the raise bet getting returned. On the other hand, if the dealer does qualify, hands get compared, and the best two card hand is announced as the winner. The blackjack game is a standard US setup, and the poker bonus side bet is a simple game with the opportunity to land big payouts. The basic premise depends on whether a player is dealt a pair in their first two cards, and if they are, whether the third card will match it.

How To Play California Blackjack & Chinese Blackjack

California Blackjack

  • This is a unique variant of blackjack, because the players are the ones who bank the game, not the house. The reason behind this is the fact that laws in the state ban casinos from banking their own games. That being said, you’re not forced to be the banker, as this role moves around the table every two hands, with everyone being given an equal opportunity to have a turn. This role comes with some factors to consider, such as the requirement to pay the players, plus pay a flat $3 fee. The banker can also only win as much as they have to bank with, and if they can’t cover the difference in the event of the players losing more, there is a player contracted by the casino to cover it. In other words, the more money you have, the more you can win. There is also an option for players to partner with other players in the banker role, which is known as ‘kum-kum’. The second player can be a second bank, where his role is to cover any bets the primary banker can’t cover.
  • Despite these differences, the objective of California blackjack is identical to that seen in the classic version of the game. Six decks are used, and jokers are included on each one. The jokers are essentially wild cards, and can be used with any combination to form 21 points. It’s not permitted for dealers to peek at their hole cards, and players can surrender with any two cards. The exception to this rule is if the dealer has a joker card showing. Additional bets, such as splits and double downs, are considered pushes, and if both player and dealer bust, the player wins back their starting bet if it was lower than the dealer’s. Finally, the dealer will hit upon landing a soft 17. 

Chinese Blackjack

  • This variant is popular in south east Asia during the Chinese New Year, and is also known as 21-point, Ban-Nag or Ban-Luk. The basic rules of the game are incredibly similar to the classic version. All players will play against the dealer, and the average number of players at a table is around five or six, although there is no limit to the players allowed. Two decks of 52 cards are used, and there won’t be six or eight deck games available to play. The value of an ace will change based on the number of cards held by a player. So if they have two cards, an ace can be valued as either 10 or 11.
  • But if they have three cards, it can be either 1 or 10. If the player has four or more cards, the ace can only be valued at one. To start a round in Chinese blackjack, the dealer will shuffle the card and allow one player to cut the deck by taking a chunk of cards from the top. This chunk is then set aside, with the dealer providing each player with two cards, which are placed face down. Then the chunk of cards are joined with the remaining cards after dealing, before being set aside to let the round begin.
  • Certain hands in Chinese blackjack are considered to be a winning hand. The Ban-Ban is when a player lands two aces, and this means their hand is a winner, permitting them a payout of 3:1. However, if the dealer also has a Ban-Ban, or an escape hand, this results in a tie, so the player cannot collect the payout. A Ban-Nag is the same as a regular blackjack, as it comprises an ace and a ten. This has a payout of 2:1, except for when the dealer also has a Ban-Nag or a Ban-Ban. An Escape Hand is a starter hand with a total value of 15. If a player has this hand, they can continue to play, or give up the hand to reclaim his starting bet. The Escape Hand is also applicable for the dealer, with the same rules, except for the fact that if he gives up the hand, it’s over, and the cards get reshuffled for another round. Finally, the 5-dragon refers to a player’s hand which has five cards totalling a value of 21 or under. Less than 21 is a winner, with a payout of 2:1, and an exact 21 is also a winner, receiving a payout of 3:1. 

How To Play Free Bet Blackjack & High Streak Blackjack

 Free Bet Blackjack

The basic premise behind this variant of blackjack is that players can make double-downs and split pair wagers for free after placing their starting wager. It’s played with a standard English deck of cards, with no jokers or wildcards involved. The usual blackjack rules apply, as do table minimums and maximums. The payout is 3:2 if the game is a six-deck shoe, but single deck editions have been known to offer a payout of 6:5. The rules to consider are the fact that players can double down at any time on a hard 9, 10 or 11; there are free splits on all pairs except for 4s and 10s; up to four re-splits can be used for free, which includes aces; there is a free double down on offer after the free split, and players can use a normal double on any two cards, including after a free split.

Within the context of this game, free refers to when you reach a hard total of 9, 10 or 11, and being able to double down on the houses’ money. First, make an ordinary wager, get dealt a hand, and then this is matched by the house whenever you reach this total and double down. It’s matched with a special button, and if you have a winning hand, it’s paid the same amount as the initial wager, without the player risking any further money. Doubling down on other hands with your own money is also an option, which includes after a split. As in blackjack switch, all dealer hands with a total of 22 will become a push, not a player win.

High Streak Blackjack

This blackjack variant uses two regular decks of cards, and is only playable in single hand mode. The bets vary in size, with the minimum being $/€1 and the maximum being $/€200, offering a great deal of flexibility for players of different bankrolls. There are five streak levels, which come into play depending on the number of hands you win in a row. As you keep winning hands, you progress along the system. The awards grow with your winning streak, as the second streak win lands a 1:1 bonus payout, while the fifth lands a 10:1 payout. The game follows standard European game rules, such as the dealer standing on 17 and not being permitted to peek. It’s only possible to split two cards with an identical value once during each game. However, if you have an ace and a 10 card after splitting aces, this is considered a 21, which is beaten by a blackjack. In order to double down, players will need a hard 9, 10 or 11, and there is only one more card allowed to be dealt after this. Following that, an automatic stand takes place.

Although high streak blackjack has a high RTP, it’s important for players to look into strategy for playing to enhance their odds. Other advice for players is to experience the free demo first, which will help you gain an understanding of the fundamentals of the game, and practice making strategically correct decisions. This game, overall, provides a unique thrill in that the payouts will increase with each consecutive win, making the incentive to practise good strategy during gameplay very strong.

How To Play Vegas Downtown Blackjack & Blackjack Side Bets

Vegas Downtown Blackjack

  • This blackjack variant has one of the lowest house edges out there, paired with very relaxed rules. That being said, there are still plenty of them, so here’s a rundown. Two decks of cards are used in this game, and the dealer stands on hard 17 and over, but hits on soft 17. Players can double down after their first two card hand, and they can also double down after splitting. Another option for players is re-splitting until they have a total of three hands, plus playing one bet position. The dealer can peek at his face down card when his face up card is an ace. There are some key differences between Vegas Downtown blackjack and Vegas Strip blackjack. For example, Vegas Strip is played with four decks, and the dealer has to stand on only soft 17. However, the doubling down, re-splitting and peeking rules are the same.
  • Due to the fact that Vegas Downtown only uses two decks, it’s a variant of choice for card counters as it is simple to play. It will be opted for over Vegas Strip, as this game has twice the number of decks. It’s generally seen as the easier version to play, and for many, it is a safe bet for new card counters to practise this strategy. Blackjack hands have payouts of 3:2 in this game and if an insurance bet wins, the payout is 2:1. The house edge is a tiny 0.39%, meaning that it’s ideal for players who don’t want to play a high risk game.

Blackjack Side Bets

  • Over/Under 13 – If the player can accurately bet the sum of their first two cards will be over or under thirteen, this pair of side bets will pay even money. Some casinos also allow a bet on exactly 13, and this has a payout of 10:1.
  • Pair ‘Em Up – This side bet pays based on the player’s first two cards. The win depends on the rank of the cards, and whether they are suited. An unsuited pair will land the same amount as the number of points on each card, with the exception of aces paying 20. If a suited pair is the result, the wins are doubled.
  • 21 + 3 – There are several versions of this side bet. One version involves the side bet being paid based on the player’s initial two cards and the face up card from the dealer’s hand. If the three cards total a flush, straight, straight flush or three of a kind, the side bet has a payout of 9:1.
  • Bet the Bust – This side bet will win if the blackjack dealer busts. The player can take this decision after the dealer has exposed his up card. The greater the odds are of busting, the lower the bet payout is. It’s based on ordinary blackjack rules.
  • Blackjack Match – Players who make this side bet will win if either the player or dealer have a blackjack. If the blackjacks are suited and match, the value of the win is maximised. This is based on the original Caribbean Stud side bet, and unlike other progressive side bets, it costs $5 instead of $1.
  • Blazing 7s – This side bet will pay depending on the number of sevens present in the player’s first three cards. The pays begin with one seven in the first two cards, but they can go up to a progressive jackpot for three suited sevens or three sevens in diamonds, according to the version being adhered to.
  • Bonus Jackpot – This side bet can be added to any game which makes use of three decks. Wins are based on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card. If suited three of a kind, straight flush, unsited three of a kind, straight or flush are the result, then payouts vary, but can be incredibly lucrative.
  • Copy Cat – This bets that the wins of the player will match the dealer’s up card with at least one of his first two cards. If this is the case, the player is paid. If both cards match the dealer’s up card, the hole is also considered, and if this also matches in rank, the player is paid for three matches. 
  • Bonus Blackjack – This is a pair of side bets stating that the player or dealer will get a blackjack. The winning payout is 15:1. The player can bet on a player getting blackjack, the dealer getting blackjack, or both. If the player bets at least $1 on both and the player gets a blackjack made up of a jack of spades and an ace, the prize is a progressive bonus.
  • Super 4 – A progressive blackjack side bet, this option is based on the first four cards – those of the player and those of the dealer. The player will win a payout upon a dealer landing a blackjack, and the amount will vary according to the poker value of all four cards combined.
  • Perfect 11’s – This predicts that the player will get 11 points in his initial cards, including a blackjack. It’s used in games which make use of six decks and there are four progressive jackpots in the game where this side bet is seen the most.
  • Lucky Ladies – This is an incredibly popular side bet. The premise is that any player’s 20 point hand will receive a prize. If you have a particular twenty, such as two queens, you will receive more. In this context, a matched pair refers to receiving the same card in both rank and suit.
  • Block Pro Blackjack – The player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card are the basis for this side bet. Triple Aces are when the cards are suited aces. Triple Royal is where the cards are the same face card and suited, the triple is where the cards are the same rank between 2 and 10 and suited, a suited pair is when the player’s cards are a suited pair and the dealer’s card is the same suit, and a flush is when the cards are suited.
  • Hot 3 – This is similar to the Lucky Lucky side bet in that they are both based on the first two cards received by the player, plus the dealer’s up card. They will payout if the total points value is between 19 and 21.
  • Dead Man’s Hand – Those playing this side bet can add it to any conventional blackjack game. It will provide a payout if at least one of the player’s initial cards are either an ace or an eight, paying more if both of them are. An even bigger amount is paid out if splitting the eights and aces results in at least one ace-eight hand in the first two hands following this technique.
  • Raise The Roof – This side bet will win if the dealer busts, and particularly examines what the dealer’s bust card was. Depending on how low this card was, the payout will increase in value. The side bet can also be increased after a player has seen the dealer’s face up card.

Mobile Blackjack

There are two main options available for mobile players when it comes to blackjack gaming on the go – downloading an app or loading a casino site through a mobile browser. There are plenty of blackjack apps available for download, but these will largely be games which are playable with play money, so no real cash winnings can be obtained. Casino apps, however, can provide players with the opportunity to deposit and withdraw cash, enjoying a more authentic gambling experience. Your choices are a little more limited with mobile apps and sites, but as blackjack was one of the first games to become available in land based casinos, the game’s popularity cannot be denied, and operators strive to improve their mobile offering all the time. That being said, if you want to primarily play blackjack on a mobile device, it’s worth doing some research to find the best casino app or mobile optimised website, which offers a good range of blackjack variants in the highest quality possible, before signing up with a specific operator. There is also the option to play live dealer blackjack on the go, although it is recommended to ensure you have a stable internet connection to make such gameplay feasible. Bear in mind that a WiFi connection is the best choice, as if you don’t have unlimited data available via 3G or 4G, extensive data charges may apply due to the length and quality of live streaming required. For those who aren’t quite ready to play real money but want to get involved with a real casino on the go, there is also the opportunity to play mobile blackjack in demo mode, although if you land a win, you will not be able to receive any real money.

Fortunately, there is not much new information you need to know when switching from desktop blackjack to mobile blackjack. There are no fresh rules to learn, and the screen layout remains much the same, although it is smaller. Of course, you will need to touch the screen instead of scrolling or using a mouse, but for those who are used to scrolling through apps, texting or browsing sites on mobile, this shouldn’t be too difficult a transition. The graphics may be slightly less high quality, and if this is a problem for players, they should probably switch to playing desktop blackjack as much as possible. You can still use a strategy table on mobile blackjack, but it’s much easier to do this if you’re playing in a mobile browser as opposed to a casino app. This is because you can have a separate browser tab open where the strategy table is, and switch between the two tabs in order to implement a strategy during gameplay. If you are certain that playing using an app is the best option for you, and you also want to use a strategy table, make sure you can minimise the app and access the table without the game being disrupted before investing in real money, to avoid any problems during gameplay. Fortunately, most modern phones will meet the requirements for casino apps, and if any software updates are needed for your device, these can be downloaded fairly quickly.

Live Blackjack

When the first online casinos arrived, this meant that players could get involved in a game of blackjack at any time of the day or night. There were also many different ways to play, which upped the intrigue level for many people. But despite these exciting new features, virtual gameplay was lacking in combination with the atmosphere enjoyed in land based casinos. It was convenient for people to play blackjack from home, but they missed the social atmosphere and buzz of a brick and mortar casino. This led to a restlessness among players, and due to the results of games being determined by a random number generator, people began to be suspicious that it wasn’t fair. So there was a demand for real games which still offered the convenience virtual gaming had brought with it. This resulted in live dealer games being developed.

The first live games were streamed from land based casinos, and cameras were mounted on the ceiling. They were often available on televisions, with players needing to call in to make a bet. Alternatively, they were on computers, but with either format, the graphics were poor quality and interaction with the dealer wasn’t possible during gameplay. Due to the fact that they were being streamed in land casinos, sometimes the picture would be obscured by other players, leading to frustration from those playing remotely. However, in 2006, dedicated studios began to emerge, which were built just for live games, and several advantages came from this measure. The quality of video streaming was much improved, and multiple cameras allowed for several angles to be streamed during a round. It was also possible for players to interact with the dealer, making gameplay much more authentic. Players could see the dealer shuffling cards, which got rid of any suspicions that the results weren’t fair. Nowadays, there are a range of blackjack games available in the live dealer section of most reputable casino sites, with many camera angles, high definition graphics, chat functions and additional information in-game to enhance player experience.

Blackjack Strategies

Blackjack hit and stand strategy

The most common decisions to make at a blackjack table are hitting or standing. So if a player learns the most mathematically viable decision for each scenario seen in a game, this can be very profitable. It is advised that you ask whether to hit or stand after considering surrendering, splitting or doubling down. If you haven’t used the surrender or double down option, and you have a value of 21 or under in your card, it’s always an option to hit. There is a strategy table available which advises of whether to hit or stand depending on your hand and the dealer’s card.

Blackjack pair splitting strategy

Originally, casinos introduced the option to split a pair in an effort to lower the house edge, but players often go for this without putting any thought behind it. The first question a player should ask is whether they should surrender or not. If the answer is no, and you have a pair in your hand, it’s time to consider if a split would be beneficial to your gameplay. This should always be done before hitting or doubling down. There are strategy tables available online for you to perfect your technique.

Blackjack Doubling Down Strategy

If doubling down is carried out in the most optimised way possible, the house edge can be reduced by almost 1.5%. Players will usually only focus on doubling down their best starter hands, but you can also double down in ways that take advantage of the dealer’s weak hands further down the line.

4-deck to 8-deck blackjack strategy 

There are several rules involved in this strategy. A player should always hit with a hard 11 or less, stand upon receiving a hard 12 if a dealer has four or six, but hit otherwise, stand on hard 17 or above, and hit if they have a soft 17 or less. They should always stand on soft 18, but hit against a dealer’s 9, 10 or ace in this instance, and always stand upon landing a soft 19 or above.

Blackjack Surrender Strategy 

There are two kinds of surrender – late surrender and early surrender. Late surrender involves the player giving up his hand and losing half his bet after the dealer lands a blackjack. Early surrender isn’t a rule often found, but the player surrenders his hand and half of his bet before the dealer lands a blackjack.

Blackjack insurance strategy

 A player can place insurance whenever the dealer shows an ace. This insures your hand in case the dealer has been dealt a blackjack, and saves you money as a result. You can place another bet, which adds up to half the value of your initial bet, which is wagered on whether the dealer has blackjack. It has a payout of 2:1, or three times your stake. So if the dealer has a card value of 10, which does result in blackjack, then you’ll break even on the hand and not lose any money.

Blackjack even money strategy

Even money becomes an option for a player when they have been dealt a 21 and the dealer’s first card is an ace. Choosing this strategy enables the hand to end, and a payout of double your stake to be awarded. This ensures that you don’t take the risk of the dealer also having 21, which would result in a push and you getting your stake returned.

Online Blackjack vs Offline Blackjack

Large choice of variants

Due to the lack of restrictions on space, online casinos can offer hundreds of blackjack games in one place, and contact various software providers in order to give players many different variants on the classic game. Furthermore, not only is there virtual blackjack available to play in many forms, live dealer blackjack is one of the most common table games to play online, meaning that you’ll be spoiled for choice wherever you go to play. Land casinos, on the other hand, will have fewer tables on offer, and there may be a wait to be seated at a table. 

Social atmosphere

Although live dealer blackjack offers a more authentic and social experience than you would get playing virtual blackjack on your desktop or mobile device, nothing can beat meeting new people in person in a brick and mortar casino, as well as enjoying options such as having drinks, extended discussions with dealers and the other sights available when attending in person.

More information at your disposal 

Playing blackjack online enables a player to have the entire internet at their disposal during gameplay, which means they won’t risk looking silly if they don’t understand the rules of the game. Instead of being pressured to make quick decisions as other people watch, and potentially making mistakes which could result in you losing your bankroll quickly, having access to the internet means you can research information before making an informed decision, or view the pay tables and game rules within the game itself whenever you need to.

Card counting available

Card counting isn’t possible in an online casino, as the computer will shuffle the cards after every deck. If you want to use this strategy, it’s best to go to a land based casino, where this strategy is often allowed. However, it’s best to double check before carrying out such a strategy. This is because if card counting were available in an unlimited fashion across the board, casinos would run the risk of losing a large portion of their profits.

Choice of wagering options

Another perk of digital gaming is the fact that you have increased flexibility when it comes to choosing how much or how little you want to wager. You can easily choose a blackjack table which suits your bankroll, and toggle chip values of varying sizes. Although land based casinos will also offer varying tables, there is less risk involved when using an online casino, so players can avoid feeling they have to spend more than they can afford due to a lack of options.

Ease of lodging a complaint or receiving help

While online casinos will offer players a live chat service that often offers an instant response to queries, and VIP members will typically have their own personal account manager on hand to satisfy any queries, there can sometimes be delays in receiving responses online or from a distance. On the other hand, with a physical casino, if you suspect something isn’t right with your game of blackjack, casino staff are on hand immediately to assist you. 

Frequently asked questions

This depends on the kind of person you are, what you are in the mood for and what your bankroll will allow. For example, if you like to play traditional table games, then the classic version of blackjack is for you. If you enjoy side bets, try a version where plenty are on offer. Progressive jackpots are available alongside certain variants for those who enjoy a particular thrill added to gameplay. The choice is yours.

This depends on your location. For example, in America, many dealers will depend on receiving tips as a needed boost to their wages. Players are under no obligation to tip, but may like to if the dealer has been friendly and helpful during their game. In other locations, it is banned to tip the dealer, so make sure you read up on what’s permitted before doing so.

  • Wait until the current hand has finished before placing chips on the table
  • When stacking chips inside your betting circle, do so neatly, with the highest value at the bottom
  • Do not click on your chips once the dealer has dealt out the cards
  • Don’t spend too long making a decision, to avoid frustrating other players
  • Don’t tell other players what to do, or give advice if it hasn’t been asked for
  • Don’t be disrespectful to the dealers, or hurl abuse at them if you haven’t been doing well in a game
  • Ask permission before playing behind another player
  • Thank the player if you win money as a result of betting behind them


During a game of live roulette, sometimes the dealer can make an honest mistake while dealing. If this happens, it’s not for them to correct their mistake. Instead, they need to notify the supervisor, and they will then correct the mistake to the satisfaction of all players involved.

This depends on the stage of the game you are at. If you disconnect before placing a bet, you will essentially not be in the round, and need to rejoin when your internet returns. Fortunately, this means no impact has been made on your bankroll while you were offline. If you disconnected after making a bet, it’s likely that the game will continue while you aren’t online. When you return, you’ll find out how the game played out while you were gone, and any winnings will be credited to your account.

This is commonly believed to be true, although it depends on the game and how skilled the player is. For example, if a single deck game of Las Vegas Strip blackjack is played, and the player doubles after splitting, the player has a 0.1% advantage in their favour, providing they use a good basic strategy that is generally seen as ‘correct’.

Historically, this term was used to compare blackjack games and differentiate between multiple variants. Las Vegas rules would link to games that were typically played in downtown Las Vegas. The rules in these games included resplits and insurance being allowed, double down permitted on any two beginning cards, the dealer hitting on a soft 17 hand and the implication that re-splitting aces and doubling after splitting wasn’t allowed.

There is no clear answer to this question. A multi-deck game will have around a 0.5% disadvantage over a single deck game which follows the same rules. However, shoe games more frequently offer decent rules and conditions. Although single and double deck games are better than shoe games, it’s easier for a casino to manipulate them in their favour.

It’s recommended that basic strategy players should play at a full table of players, because there will be fewer hands dealt per hour, which reduces the extent your bankroll is exposed to the house edge.

The answer to this question will vary depending on who you ask. There is a decent chance of losing money by card counting. A lot is dependent on how skilled you are with this strategy, the level of risk you’re up for implementing and your bankroll. It can be high volatility, and so isn’t for the faint hearted or inexperienced players.

It isn’t technically illegal to count cards in a game of blackjack, but that doesn’t mean casinos will actively endorse the method. They can ban you from their tables if they suspect you are counting cards, but you won’t be arrested. This is because, although the method will result in the casino losing profits in the long run, it isn’t a criminal offence; rather, it is a mathematical strategy.

There is no secret to winning blackjack, as if there was, the game probably wouldn’t exist as it would be so easily beaten. However, there are several strategy books out there that players can use for reading up on gameplay methods that could enhance their chances of winning. These include volumes by Edward Thorp, Peter Griffin, Ian Anderson, Arnold Snyder and Bill Zender.

This depends on the situation. Sometimes it can be the right decision, but if you do this often, then you will give up half your stake repeatedly, and this is far from beneficial in the long run. To find out if you should surrender, consult a basic strategy guide.

As every player is playing directly against the dealer, it isn’t technically possible for another player’s actions during a game to affect your own outcomes. The only way a player’s actions could affect your chances of winning are if they distract you in some way, reducing your focus and ability to play to your best standard.

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