Master the Rules & Odds of Blackjack
In blackjack, it’s you against the dealer. You’re always playing against the dealer and not against others at the table.
Each card is worth its face value, except the Ace, which can count either as ‘1’ or ‘11’, depending on your discretion. Face cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) are all worth ‘10’.
The goal is to get a card value that is higher than the dealer’s value but without going over 21.
The card values in blackjack are pretty simple: All non-face cards (2-10) are worth the value of the card; face cards are worth 10; Aces are worth either 10 or 1.
|Ace||10 or 1|
The odds in Blackjack
One of the biggest factors in your chances of winning at blackjack online is the number of decks used.
This is because you have more of a chance to get 21 on your hand if fewer decks are used.
Why? Because with more decks, more blackjack hands should be dealt, which in theory should give you a better chance of landing the higher payout of drawing a blackjack.
As a general rule, the best blackjack online games use eight decks. However, this is not a hard rule: Some games may use fewer decks. There are even some games that use a single deck, which is shuffled after every hand.
Check out this table below to see how the number of decks affects the house edge (the advantage a casino has) in online blackjack. Of note: The lower the house advantage, the better position you’ll be in to win money.
|Number of decks||House advantage|
Keep in mind: Blackjack has the best odds out of other online casino games. The house edge can fall somewhere between .05% and 1% in a game with a single deck of cards.
Blackjack House Edge
The percentage by which a casino is guaranteed to win on average over the course of several consecutive rounds of play is known as the house edge. In blackjack, the house edge over a novice player is roughly 2%. A definition, please. To put it another way, if you wager $100 in blackjack, you stand to lose $2.
Apply the following best blackjack strategies if you want to increase your chances of winning. Check out our blackjack strategy page to learn all the ins and outs of the game.
Blackjack Payout rules
On average, a blackjack will pay out 3:2. Do not play blackjack with a payout of 6:5 or less than 3:2. Some blackjack variants may be playable while providing a smaller payout for blackjack, but you’ll have to look at those games individually to find out. Blackjack variants like Spanish 21 have a low house edge despite not paying 3 to 2.
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Understand all Side bets
Players can place side bets at the beginning of each round. These side bets are in addition to the bets you’ve already placed.
Generally speaking, side bets in blackjack have a lower Return To Player (RTP) than main bets, meaning it’s harder to make money off them.
The best thing about side bets is they provide added excitement to the game and carry the potential of a big return if they hit, so many players are tempted to place them during their time at the table.
Here is a list of side bets in online blackjack:
1. Blackjack Insurance
Blackjack Insurance is commonly offered for online blackjack games. If you put Blackjack Insurance on a hand, it pays you back in the case the dealer totals 21 on their first two cards. Keep in mind, you’ll still lose the hand, but the payout from the Blackjack Insurance will soften the blow.
2. Perfect Pairs
The Perfect Pairs side bet uses a player’s two cards and only a player’s two cards. A winning hand is paid out when a player is dealt two of a kind. Here are the types of Perfect Pairs:
- Mixed pair (two of the same value but different suit and color) generally pays around 5-to-1
- Colored pair (two of the same value and the same color) generally pays around 12-to-1
- Perfect pair (two of the same card) generally pays around 25-to-1
Keep in mind that for Perfect Pairs, the winning returns will likely vary from casino to casino. This is the same for the house edge, which factors in the number of decks used.
The 21+3 side bet uses a player’s two cards and the dealer’s face-up card. A winning hand is paid out for multiple different combinations. Here are the types of 21+3 hands:
- Flush – (all cards are suited) generally pays around 5-to-1</H4>
- Straight – (all cards consecutive) generally pays around 10-to-1</H4>
- Three of a kind – generally pays around 30-to-1</H4>
- Straight flush – (consecutive cards in same suit) generally pays around 40-to-1 </H4>
- Suited triple – (three of the same card) generally pays around 100-to-1 </H4>
Similar to Perfect Pairs, the house edge will vary depending on the numbers of decks used:
- The house edge for four decks is 8.78%
- The house edge for five decks is 7.81%
- The house edge for six decks is 7.14%
- The house edge for seven decks is 6.29%
4. Bet Behind
In this type of bet, you will wager on another player’s hand instead of your own. When you Bet Behind, you have no control over that player’s decisions on the hand.
5. Royal Match
A Royal Match is won when a player receives suited face cards. Generally, it pays out 5-to-2. But players can win even more for a suited King-Queen combination, which pays out 25-to-1.
6. Over/Under 13
For Over/Under 13, this side bet comes down to players correctly predicting the sum of the player’s dealt cards, either greater or less than 13. This side bet pays out even money. Keep in mind that the rules for Over/Under 13 can vary by casino: Generally speaking, landing exactly 13 will not count for a win, though there are some casinos that allow it.
7. Super Sevens
The Super Sevens side bet is exactly how it sounds: You win if you receive one of more 7 cards in your hand. This bet has some significant winning potential: While landing one 7 pays out 3-to-1, landing two 7’s pays out 50-to-1. And the payouts keep going up from there: If you land two 7’s of the same suit, it’s 100-to-1; if the third card dealt is also a 7, it’s 500-to-1 if that 7 is unsuited, and a whopping 5,000-to-1 if it’s suited.
Of note: Some casinos will not deal a third card if the dealer has a blackjack, which would eliminate the possibility of hitting more than two 7’s.
8. Lucky Ladies
The Lucky Ladies side bet is a winner if the player’s cards add up to 20. There are variations of wins for this side bet: An unsuited 20 pays 4-to-1, a suited 20 pays 10-to-1, a matched 20 with the same rank and suit pays 25-to-1, two queens of hearts pays 200-to-1 and two queens of hearts when the dealer has hit a blackjack pays out 1,000-to-1.
9. Honey Bonus
The Honey Bonus side bet is similar to 21+3. It was created by BetConstruct and is available at live blackjack tables they host. Players win this side bet through the two cards dealt and the dealer’s face-up card.
Players can win for Three Of A Kind, which pays 20-to1; Straight, which pays 10-to-1; Flush, which pays 5-to-1, or a suited blackjack in a player’s deal, which pays 3-to-1.
Keep in mind that while the first three wins include the dealer’s face-up card, to win the Suited Blackjack hand, it must come in the player’s first two cards.
10. Lucky Lucky
Lucky Lucky is a side bet that takes into account the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s face-up cards. Basically, it rewards players for hitting a blackjack or close to it on the first three cards. Hands of 19, 20, or 21 are winners, and bonuses are awarded for suited hands or 6-7-8 and three 7’s. All other hands are losers.
Lucky Lucky may be hard to find online: It is only licensed through Aces Up Gaming, so check to see if your online casino’s blackjack platform is supported.
11. Top 3
The Top 3 side bet is based on a three-card poker hand. It uses the player’s two cards dealt and the dealer’s face-up card. The winning hands include Three of A Kind, Three Of A Kind suited and Straight Flush.
This bet is in addition to the 21+3 bet and carries much larger payouts: Three Of A Kind pays out 90-to-1, Straight Flush pays out 180-to-1 and Three Of A Kind suited pays out 270-to-1.
It’s hard to bank on winning this side bet because it includes two additional bets.
12. Hot 3
Hot 3 is a side bet available in the popular Infinity Blackjack game, which Evolution Gaming develops. It mirrors the Lucky Lucky side bet, where players can win for hands of 19, 20 and 21.
The payouts for Hot 3 side bet are as follows: 1-to-1 for 19 points, 2-to-1 for 20 points, 4-to-1 for 21 points, 20-to-1 for a suited 21, and 100-to-1 for three 7’s.
Buster is an exciting side bet because players are betting on the dealer busting. The more cards in the dealer’s hand when they bust, the higher the payout for this side bet. Also, players can win two ways: For getting a blackjack and for their Buster bet against the dealer. You can also win the Buster side bet without getting a blackjack. But if the dealer doesn’t bust, your Buster bet is lost.
14. Bust it
This side bet is relatively new but incredibly simple: If the dealer busts on three cards, you win. If they don’t, you lose. Keep in mind that the dealer must bust on their third card.
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How to play blackjack – Breakdown of a round
Playing blackjack is easy. Each player places their bet, the cards are dealt, one card is dealt face up to each player and one to the dealer. Then another card is dealt face up to each player and another card face down to the dealer. If your two cards equal 21, most of the time, you’re a winner. But if the dealer totals 21, as well, then it’s a tie and the player takes back the amount they wagered on a hand.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of a round of blackjack:
1. Fund your Balance
Put funds in your account at the online casino of your choice. Generally speaking, most online casinos have multiple payment methods, so choose your preferred payment method to get ready for the kind of money you’d like to play with.
2. Place your wager
Before each hand, place your wager. Online blackjack tables will have minimum and maximum bets. These vary according to different online casinos and tables. For example, some high roller tables will have much higher minimum bets than others.
Keep in mind: The most important thing about playing blackjack online is planning and gambling responsibly. You must be prepared to win or lose. A good practice is to plan your budget ahead so you know when to quit, and also to give yourself enough time to get the hang of things.
3. The Dealer will now deal the cards
Once all bets are in, the Dealer will start dealing the cards. Each player receives two cards and the Dealer receives one. This is considered the start of the blackjack round.
The dealer gave me a Blackjack!
Well, aren’t you lucky? This is the best hand in blackjack. Do nothing until the dealer draws his final card. The vast majority of the time, you are a winner. However, if the dealer also gets a blackjack, then the round is considered a tie: You won’t win additional winnings but you will receive the money you wagered back.
The dealer gave me cards that triggered my side bet(s)!
This is a good sign. While winning a side bet doesn’t mean you won the blackjack round, it does mean that you will make some of your money back and in many cases, exceed the amount you would have won if you didn’t place a side bet. Your game isn’t over, though: In many ways, it’s just beginning because the decisions will become tougher.
4. Time to make a decision!
After reading our team of experts’ guide to playing blackjack, knowing the values of each card and the winning odds, now is the time to decide if you’d like to stay, hit, double down or split your cards.
Staying passes on receiving another card; hitting receives another card; double down calls for another bet to receive another card and splitting your cards gives you two chances to beat the dealer.
Each choice has a different outcome. Depending on that, the round could continue or end there.
Damn, I busted!
If you picked “hit” and the total value of your cards exceeded 21, you’re out. It doesn’t matter if the Dealer busts, as well, if you go over 21, you’ll have to wait until the next round.
Still in the race
If you received another card and your value continues to creep closer to 21, you’re still in the game. Now you’ll have to decide whether or not you want to push your luck with another card, which can get you even closer to 21, or stay and bet that the dealer receives a card that will put him over 21, giving you the win.
As you know, blackjack is a game of both luck and skill. And while you can’t do much about the luck aspect, you can do something about the skill: The first thing to know about blackjack strategy is knowing when to Stay (or play with the existing hand you’re dealt) and when to Hit (or ask the dealer for another card).
The decision to Stay or Hit depends on both the cards you’ve been dealt and the first card the dealer has been dealt, which is face-up.
For serious players, blackjack strategy tables can help. Blackjack tables show all the different possible hand combinations you might see in a game.
About blackjack strategy tables: No matter what cards you’re dealt, your best statistical move (to Stand or Hit) will be there. By familiarizing yourself with blackjack strategy, which our team of experts has detailed for you here, players can improve their chances of winning.
5. Dealer plays hand
After you–and the players around the table–have made their decisions, the dealer will draw their last card. At this point, there are four possible outcomes:
- Everyone wins: The dealer busts his hand
- You win: The value of your cards is higher than the dealer’s
- You draw: The value of your cards is equal to the dealers
- You lose: The value of your cards is lower than the dealer’s
6. Collect your winnings
Our favorite part of the round is getting paid out for a winning hand. Obviously, if you lose the round, you won’t get any money. But when you win, there are different possible payouts.
- If you won with a Blackjack served in first two cards you win 1.5x of your wager
- If you won with a normal hand, you win 1x of your wager
- If you won after doubling your bet, you win 2x your wager
- If you won after splitting, you win 1x for each hand. Also, if you doubled down on a hand after a split and win that hand, you get 2x your wager.
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If you play your cards right, blackjack has the lowest house edge of any casino game. But if you rely on your gut and make rash decisions, you’ll wind yourself frustrated and out of pocket.