How to Play Blackjack

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Blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games in both online and traditional land-based casinos. The aim of Blackjack is to beat the dealer – players at the table aren’t playing against each other. The main number in Blackjack is 21 and the goal is to hit it or get as close as possible without going over.

Both player and dealer receive two cards – players cards are visible to all participants, but only one of the dealer’s cards are facing up. The player goes first – the player decides whether to hit and add another card to his own combination. After the player has come to his final hand, dealer reveals the other card and builds his combination.

Blackjack is played with standard 52-card deck, where the aces are counted as 1 or 11, face cards (jacks, queens and kings) as 10, but numbered cards as their value.

The best hand is “Blackjack” or the two-card 21, consisting of any 10-value card and an Ace. “Blackjack” outranks all other 21-point combinations.

Note that each online casino Blackjack variant comes with its own set of rules, therefore it is important to go through the rules, in order to be fully aware of your possibilities in the game. This includes such questions – if you have the surrender option? Is it possible to place side bets?

Learn more about online casino Blackjack in our guide – check the complete Blackjack terms glossary, explore the basic Blackjack strategy and learn how to play!

Blackjack is popular due it’s simplicity. If you are interested in playing Blackjack, but feel a bit confused about the terms used in the casino table game, take a look at the glossary of terms related to Blackjack.


Ace: the value of an Ace card in Blackjack is 1 or 11.

Action: the total amount of placed bets in Blackjack over a certain period of time

Anchor: an anchor refers to a certain seat at the table, it is placed to the right from the dealer. Usually in Blackjack this is the last seat to receive the cards.


Back-Counting: back-counting also known as “wonging” is an action in which player is not playing but standing behind the table to count cards until deciding to sit down and place a bet.

Bankroll: the total amount of betting money that a player has decided to wager in a Blackjack casino game.

Burn Card: The first card of a new deck, usually this is placed in the discard tray. The term “burn cards” (plural) is used to describe all cards that are being removed from the deck.

Bust: a bust or a break means when the player hits over 21. This means the player loses the bet.


Cut Card: a plastic cut card or cards are used to split up the deck. When the dealer reaches the cut card, the deck needs to be shuffeled.


Deck Penetration: a term used in Blackjack to refer to the percentage of cards that has been dealt before a reshuffle.

Double Down: in Blackjack double down means placing a bet on top of the first bet by doubling it. In other words, player places up to 100% of initial bet. After placing a double down player will receive only one card and it will define the final hand.


Even Money: an even money means a wagering proposition with even odds. Even money guarantees 1:1 payout.


First Base: first base refers to a certain seat at the table, it is placed to the left from the dealer. Usually in Blackjack this is the last first to receive the cards.

First-basing: refers to a situation where player can spot the dealer’s hole card from the first base.

Flat Bet: keeping the same amount of bet all the way through a session of Blackjack.


Hard Hand: hard hand in Blackjack refers to a hand without any Aces, or a hand with Aces that is counted as 1, while in a soft hand Ace is counted as 11.

Hit: an action in the game to require another card to add to the player’s Blackjack hand.

Hit 17: a rule in Blackjack for the dealers – a dealer must always hit when they have a soft hand with the value of 17. The opposite is the Stand 17 rule.

Hole card: the second card of the dealer that faces down.


Insurance: insurance is a wager proposition usually with a 2:1 payout. It’s offered only when the dealer turns over an Ace, and it’s treated separately from the initial bet. Basically, players are betting for the dealer to have a natural hand (blackjack) which is Ace and a ten.


Natural: also known as the blackjack hand. This is the best possible card combination a player or a dealer can get in Blackjack. Normally this hand pays out 3:2. A natural outranks all other 21-point combinations.


Push: the push in blackjack refers to an equal value of both hands – the player and the dealer. This means there is no winner in the game and the player receives back the initial bet. An exception to push is when both (dealer and player) have blackjack or natural hand, in this case the dealer is automatically the winner.


Shuffle Up: dealer mixes or shuffles cards to prevent players from counting cards.

Shoe: in Blackjack the term “shoe” refers to a device in which a deck of cards is held. Commonly gamblers use the term to describe a round of Blackjack game, which means all hands dealt between shuffles.

Soft 17: a soft 17 refers to a situation in Blackjack game, where the dealer gets a combination of Ace and a six. Because of Ace, which means either 1 or 11, the hand is “soft”. Majority of casinos complies a rule to dealers, which requires a hit every time the dealer gets a soft 17.

Soft Hand: a hand in Blackjack with an Ace in the combination. Because the Ace is either 1 or 11, there is no chance of getting a bust if the player hits.

Soft Total: a hand total with an Ace and any other card number, where Ace is counted as 11, and without getting a bust.

Split and splitting: an opportunity to split a hand into two distinct hands and place a second bet. Split is only available if the first two cards of the initial hand is the same value, for example, 9 and 9.

Stiff Hand: in Blackjack stiff hand means a combination of cards that does not rank so well. For example, the total score of the hand is too low, but if the player decides to hit, there is a big chance he/she will bust.


Unit: the minimum wager that a player decides to bet in a Blackjack game.

Up card: the up card is the dealers first card, which is turned up to let players see what card does the dealer has. This helps players to decide, whether they want to hit, imagining the possible outcomes of the dealer’s hand.

Video by Claremonts Casino
Video by Blackjack Apprenticeship

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