How to Play Blackjack – The Ultimate Guide

Blackjack is a casino classic that many people are familiar with. It’s been featured in many movies and TV shows, so the general parameters are acquainted. In general, players understand the card values and that you want to get to a score of 21. However, many just play casually without really fully understanding the game or mastering the strategy.

If you’re looking to improve your game, we’ve got you covered. We’ll walk you through from top to bottom and hopefully, by the end of it, improve your chances of winning every hand you play.

Mastering the Basics of Blackjack

The basic rules of Blackjack are simple: you’re dealt cards that have a certain value, and you want to combine for a score as close to 21 as possible without going over. To understand what your score is, you’ll have to know the card values.

Card Values & Basics


The most rudimentary element of the game that you need to understand is the card values. An Ace can be worth one or 11 (whatever is better for you in your hand), cards two-through-10 are worth exactly what their number suggests, and royalty (Jacks, Queens, Kings) are worth 10.

To start the game, you’re dealt two cards and the dealer is dealt two cards. Yours are hidden, but the dealer has one card that’s facing up. From there, you evaluate your hand and decide: hit, stand, double down or split.C

Hit is simply asking for another card. For example, if you have a seven and a four, you would hit because another card can’t hurt you (because you won’t go over 21) and it will only improve your score. However, let’s say you have an Ace and a 10, then you already have 21, so there’s no reason to hit. In that case, you would stand, which means you’re finished making moves with your hand.

a Soft Hand


An ace can be counted as either 1 or 11. A soft total is when an ace is among the first two cards dealt.
This hand gives a player the flexibility of playing without the fear of busting.

Blackjack soft hand

a Hard Total


This is a hand with no ace or an ace that is counted as 1. Hard totals are often easier to play because the only decision one has to make is whether or not to hit or stand.

hard hand



Surrendering is an option for the player that allows them to give up half of their bet in exchange for not having to finish the hand. This often proves beneficial if the dealer has a strong hand, such as 20 or 21.

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Advanced Betting Options


You can also split cards to play two hands if you’re dealt two of the same cards. For example, if you received a pair of eights, you can split them and bet on each hand. The dealer will add one card to each hand, and you play it out.

You can also double down, which is where you double your bet, but you only receive one more card. After that card comes – whether good or bad – you can’t make any more moves.

Variations of The Game


Keep in mind that what we’ve described so far is the foundation of basic blackjack. There are many variations to the game that add different complexities. For example, there might be some version that have a Joker in the deck. There are some styles, like Jacks or Better, which assign different values to certain things. When you get into those varieties, make sure you learn the nuances. The general idea of the game will be the same, but the small differences will change how you’ll want to execute your strategy.

How to Play Blackjack Like a Champ for Beginners


  • Step 1: Open an account at an online casino
  • Step 2: Deposit funds
  • Step 3: Choose a version of blackjack
  • Step 4: Note the cards you and the dealer have been dealt
  • Step 5: Make the based on the cards shown as per the blackjack table

Improve Your Odds and Win Big at Blackjack

Mastering blackjack is no small feat, but it can be accomplished with the right amount of discipline and clear guidance. Here are a few things to consider once you plan on dominating the table:

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1. Note All the Cards

Many players just evaluate their hand and while that’s important, the face-up card the dealer is showing has to impact your decisions. Note all the cards that are open to you and then make your decision.

Card games

2. Use the Blackjack Chart

It might seem boring, but the best way to play is laid out right in front of you. If you stick with it, you’ll improve your chances of winning.

blackjack cards

3. Card Counting

Card counting can help you get an edge. If you can track which cards have been played, you can get a better sense of the probabilities of other cards to come.

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4. Play One Deck Blackjack

Following up on card counting, it’s much easier with one-deck blackjack. When you’re playing that version – versus a game that uses three or four decks – then it’s easier to note what’s been played. For example, if you see an Ace in a hand, you know there are only three others left. However, this game is much harder to find these days for that very reason.

Blackjack Cheat Sheet: Level Up Your Game

One of the best reasons to play blackjack online is nobody will look at you funny if you have the help of a cheat sheet. While the cheat sheet can sometimes make the game a bit boring, it does present you with the optimal strategy. You no longer have to wonder, as the cheat sheet will tell you exactly what to do in every situation.


Cheat sheet legend


Blackjack Cheat sheet

Doubling Down in Blackjack 101

Doubling down just sounds exciting, doesn’t it? In Layman’s terms, it means putting more on the line. It’s about the same in blackjack. If you’re not yet familiar with this strategy, let’s run you through it.


What is a Double Down in Blackjack?


A double down in blackjack allows you to double your bet and accept one more card. This can only be done as your first move after you’re dealt your two cards. Once you double down, you double your bet, get one more card and that’s the end of your turn – regardless of your score.


Understand When to Double Down


There are a few simple situations that you can remember for doubling down and when to avoid it. Stick to these scenarios to improve your odds:

When to Double Down

  • When Your Total Is Equal To 11: This is a good place to do this because if you only get on more card, you’re still in pretty good shoes. You are doubling your bet and hoping to get something worth 10. If not, you can still get several other cards to give you a good score.
  • On A Soft 16, 17 or 18: In this case, you’re again trying to improve your score with just one more card and have no risk of busting. A soft 16, 17 or 18 means that you have an Ace and a 5, 6 or 7.
  • On A Hard 9 or 10: In this case, you have the opportunity to get one more card, double your bet and put yourself in a good position.

When Not to Double Down

  • When the Dealer Has An Ace: This is one of the strongest cards a dealer can show. You’ll always want to avoid a double down if that’s their face-up card.
  • On A Score Above 11: The math here is very straightforward: if you double down on a score of 12 or more, you can bust. You never want to have that risk.

Pros and Cons of Doubling Down


You would rather not be doubling down regularly, as the math is not in your favour. When you have specific cards (that we’ve outlined in the previous section), doubling down can be a calculated risk that’s worth taking. Generally speaking, though, you want to avoid it more than use it if you want to play a winning strategy.


Blackjack Double Down Visual Chart 


Take a look at the appended chart to understand when it’s best to double down in the game of blackjack.


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doubling down chart

Blackjack Doubling Down vs. Splitting Up


Sometimes players confuse doubling down and splitting up, but the two strategies are quite different.

Doubling down is when you double your bet and get one more card added to your initial two. Subsequently, it’s the end of your turn. You check what you have, see what the dealer has, and tally it up.

Splitting is an opportunity that bettors have when they receive two of the same card. For example, a pair of Kings. From there, you can split them up into two hands. You have to place a second bet on the second hand, but now you have two hands going against the dealer instead of one.

How to Signal Double Down In Blackjack


At a land-based casino, you have to signal to the dealer that you want to double down. You typically do this by moving a bet into the double down circle. However, in the online game, it’s much easier. All you do is click a button to double down, and it’s usually labelled as such.

Put your Blackjack Skills to the Test

This guide is designed to give you the best approach to playing and countering your opponents and the pesky dealer. However, the only way to flourish is by constantly playing, where a host of free or real money games can help you get comfortable. If you’re looking for a casino that can provide you with spicy blackjack variants and awesome payouts, Maple Casino has got you covered.

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