Blackjack Step By Step – A Detailed Explanation Of All The Nuances

Blackjack has gained a tremendous following amongst players all over the world. The popularity does not come as a surprise owing to the unique gameplay that it offers. However, as you anticipate playing the game, you may wonder what it has to offer and what various concepts of the game mean. Specifically, terms such as hit, stand, double down, among others, keep some players confused.

To successfully play blackjack at reputable casino websites such as, you need to master the different terms involved. This detailed guide will take you through all the essential nuances that you need to know.

Let’s get started!

History of Blackjack


Before we can delve deeper into this exciting game, some background information on its history can help you best understand it. Blackjack is a game that has been around long before the advent of the Internet. Its history dates back to the 17th century when it is first mentioned under the name Twenty-One. History shows that the game originated from Spain and found its way to the United States and around the globe.

When the game made it to the United States, it found a ready market, and its adoption was phenomenal. Different gambling places in the country quickly listed the game, and players loved it. To motivate increased adoption, the venues brought about special bonuses for those who won. As a result, new Orleans is reputable as being the earliest State to legalize the game in 1820.

Books started writing about blackjack. It was only a matter of time before the game was immortalized as more people read about it and developed curiosity. Movies equally took over and would be made around those who had walked away with millions from gambling blackjack.

The advent of the Internet was phenomenal as far as the popularity of the blackjack was concerned. Players found it baffling that they no longer had to drive miles away to the land-based casino to enjoy their favorite card of games.

The fact that one can gamble this game from a mobile phone or laptop anywhere on the planet makes the whole process feel magical.

Enough with the history. Let’s now focus on other facets of the game.

Main Game Principle


If you master the main game principle, you are good to go. As much as there are different game variants, understanding the basics sets you on the path to success in any type that you choose.

The essence of playing blackjack is to beat the dealer. You do so by getting a sum of cards as close to 21 as possible, higher than the dealer. However, you are not supposed to go over 21.

If your sum is more than the dealer and does not get over 21, you get a play-off of 1:1 of your earlier stake. The play-off stands at 3:2 of the initial stake if your sum is blackjack. You lose when the dealer gets a higher sum or if your sum is more than 21. A draw happens, and nobody wins when the player’s and dealer’s sum is equal.

How Are the Blackjack Cards dealt?


How are cards dealt, you might have been wondering?

During the first round of dealing, the dealer gives each player one card facing up in a clockwise rotation direction and deals themselves with one card face up. Each player is dealt one card face up in the second round while the dealer takes one card face down.

Thus, by the end of the dealing process, all the individual players have two cards face up while the dealer has one card face up and the other face down.

You will come across other games that are played with just one deck. In such games, the players are dealt cards face down, and they can hold them. However, such games are rare. For example, most modern blackjack games have cards dealt face up, and one of the players can touch the cards.

The Value of Cards


To get the sum of your hand, you need to know the value of each card that you hold. After all, you will be summing it so that you can tell whether you are closest to 21 or, in worse case scenarios, have gone beyond the 21-mark.

Starting from cards 2 to 10, their values are equal to their numerical numbers. You need to start paying closer attention to other cards like Kings, Queens, or Jacks.

Please note that Jack, Queen, and King each have a value of 10. The Ace can have a value of 1 or 11. Most players love this card because it gives them flexibility as far as the card value is concerned. The Ace counts as 11 if it does not burst the dealer’s hand. The successive Aces count as 1.

Look at the following table to help you understand the whole concept of card values:

Card Card Value
King 10
Queen 10
Jack 10
Ace 1 or 11
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
7 7
8 8
9 9
10 10

The total number of cards in a blackjack deck is 52. Each game is played with eight decks. However, this is determined by the preference of the casino and the number of players on the table. The idea behind this approach is to save on time in terms of shuffling required.

Blackjack Payouts


When talking about blackjack payout, it is crucial to also factor in something known as house edge. Generally, house edge alludes to the advantage that the casino has over the player. Technically speaking, it is the percentage of all bets that the casino expects to win. The essence of having a house edge is to guarantee that the house will continue to make a profit in the long run, despite turbulent times.

For instance, if you have games that pay roughly 6:5, a house edge would be about 1.39%. This is a significant disadvantage to you as a player.

The standard blackjack payout is 3:2. As a rule thumb, you may find it beneficial to never play at a casino that offers a payout in the ratio of 6:5 or less than 3:2. That’s because of the whole idea of the house edge mentioned above.

Even as you follow this rule, please keep in mind that there are exceptions. For instance, a blackjack variant Spanish 21 does not pay 3:2 but has a reasonably low house edge (0.37%).

We recommended that you typically develop a preference for the 3:2 payout casinos. With this type of payout, you would receive 1.5 times your wager. Check below example calculation to understand:

Say you placed a bet worth $100 with a payout 3:2. The expected earnings from a win would be 3/2 of $100 = $150.

Imagine again that you were at a 6:5 payout casino with the same bet amount. The expected earnings, in this case, would be 6/5 of $100 = $120.

When hunting for competitive payouts, you will always want to go with 3:2. However, remember to also keep in mind other factors like whether you can double down. For instance, if the house rules restrict you to only doubling down on a hand total of 10 or 11, you could be looking at an increased house edge towards 2%.

The good thing about the entire payout decision is that you can never be caught off-guard by the gambling platform. Reputable casinos such as Red Dog typically indicate the payout accorded.

What Is Hitting/Standing


A hit and a stand are two important opposing concepts that have an overall influence over your game’s direction. Whatever would happen if you choose to hit differs from what would take place when you go with the stand option.

When you hit, you ask the dealer to give you an extra card. You may indicate this decision in a land-based casino by tapping on the table or verbally confirming your decision. In an online casino, there will be a hit button that you press accordingly.

To stand means you take a look at your total and decide to end the game.
Deciding whether to stand or hit is vital and largely depends on the kind of blackjack hand the dealer has.

One of the scenarios that most players usually dread is when the dealer gets an Ace at the start of the game. In such a scenario, your goal would be to strike at least a sum of 17 since the dealer has the highest chance of getting a Jack, King, or Queen.

You should hit when you have a hand of 10 or 12-16, and the dealer holds a 10-value card. Having an Ace increases your chances of registering 21 with a hit.

If the dealer’s card value runs from seven to nine, you may consider this as one of your best playing times because your chances of winning increase. In this scenario, they have a low possibility of making a blackjack. However, do not forget that they still can make a better hand of 17. Should you hit or stand in this case? Well, you can hit if you hold nine or less or 12-16. Decide to stand if you have a sum of 17 or more.

If the dealer’s card values are four, five, or six, the player must exercise caution that they will not burst. Typically, you may find it a good idea to hit if your total is eight or less. On the other hand, stand if you have a twelve or higher.
For a dealer who has a three, make a point of hitting on an eight or below and twelve. Stand if you have thirteen or above.

Blackjack Doubling Down


Some players may look at their cards, feel confident about it, and choose to double down. Whoever takes that action means that they have doubled their bet amount. When you do so, you must also draw an additional card.

The opportunity to double down per gaming session presents itself only at one time – the point at which you are dealt the two cards.

Do not ever rush with the decision to double down. As a general guiding principle, you can double down if you have a hand value equivalent to 10 or 11. That’s because such a hand gives you a 30.7% chance of getting a 10-value card which would significantly strengthen your hand.

Other cases where you may find it convenient to double down include:

When you have a hard nine while the dealer has a face-up card of two-six (inclusive). Confused by what a hard nine is? This refers to two cards that sum up to nine but do not include an Ace. It could be various options like 4&5, 3&6, or 2&7.

You can also double down when you have a hard 10 or 11 with the dealer’s face-down card having a lower value. Here, you would look at any of the following options that may be in your favor in case the dealer has a lower hand:

  • 5&6
  • 5&5
  • 4&7
  • 3&8
  • 3&7
  • 2&9
  • 2&8
  • 4&6

Always carefully understand your present case before you may go with the double-down decision. After taking one more card, the player must stand.

Blackjack Splitting


You get the option to split when the initial two cards that you are dealt have the same value.

Splitting your cards does as the name sounds. That is, you get to separate them into two hands and receive an additional card for each hand.

Only proceed with splitting if you are ready to meet the following betting requirement. When splitting, you will have to place an extra bet that matches the initial bet you had placed at the start of the game.

Some factors can help you decide when to split and when it is not a good idea.

It is a good idea to split when you receive a pair of Aces. Refusing to split the Aces means one will get the value of 11 and the other 1. In that case, you can only strike a 21 when you get a nine as your next card. At the same time, if you draw a 10-value card like King, Jack, or Queen, both Aces will count as one, reducing your value to 12.

You can also split when you strike eights. Having two eights is generally a poor hand whether you choose to split or not. However, you have the worst gaming chances available when you continue to play with the pair of eights. That’s because drawing any card past five results in a burst. Thus, splitting helps make you more competitive.

Never split when you have fives, fours, and tens. These cards often place you in a good gaming position, and splitting them makes things worse. Would you want to do that?

Blackjack Insurance


We have seen that when the dealer has an Ace as their up card, they have the best chance of getting a blackjack hand. You can get insurance against this by placing a side bet. That is where the whole concept of blackjack insurance comes into play.

The game’s rules do not allow you to place a side bet greater than your main bet. Therefore, the payout offered stands in the ratio of 2/1.

The motivation behind blackjack insurance is the possibility of breaking even in case the dealer strikes a blackjack, even if you lose your main bet. You can only choose the insurance option before the dealer looks at their hidden card (called the hole card).

As much as you are presented with the insurance option, it does not mean you should rush to embrace it. However, some tell-tale signs can help inform your decision. For instance, consider insurance if the dealer’s face-up card is an ace. This is because a dealer who has an ace has a higher chance of getting a 10-value card.

Remember that you will only win your insurance if the dealer has a 10-value hole card. That can be quite a tricky call. In any case, the only reason why people insure is that they are anticipating a ten. Only gut players are known to make these kinds of decisions. These are the kinds of players who may have recently had good gaming sessions and do not care much about the math.

Do not go with the insurance option when you play a one-deck game and are the sole player against the dealer. Additionally, you have not been dealt any 10-value card.

From a general perspective, some of the players who choose to insure normally do so because they have a stronger hand of 20. Sometimes, as you would soon learn, that is never the case unless you registered an A/9. Failure to meet this requirement, your reasoning is fundamentally flawed because it assumes that the dealer has a 10-value card face down. Such assumptions may not always be true.

Blackjack Surrender


Things do not always work out the way we expected. When playing blackjack with the surrender option, you have a chance to call it quits on your hand before drawing the next cards.

As you surrender, you must be ready to pay the price. In this case, you would give up half your original bet and only get half of it.
When playing in a land-based casino, you can signal your decision to surrender by swiping a finger behind the bet. When playing at an online casino, you can surrender by hitting the relevant button. This is likely the approach that most players may take as the popularity of online blackjack games takes shape.

It does not take a rocket scientist to know when to surrender in a blackjack game. All you have to do is consider the basic rules of 21, and you will determine your next actions. For example, knowing when to hit, stand, or split can inform your decision on surrendering.

You have two important surrender options to keep in mind:

  • Early surrender – Players will preferably choose this option. In this case, you get to pay half of your earlier bet to the dealer and keep the remaining amount. Reducing early surrender significantly cuts down on the house advantage by 0.62%.
  • Late surrender – You can surrender at the late stages of the game, meaning that the dealer has already turned their cards. You will only keep half your bet amount in late surrender if the dealer does not register a blackjack hand.

To win a blackjack surrender game, you have to determine the most befitting time to surrender. Unfortunately, new players may not make an obvious call in this regard.

Generally, only surrender when you can tell that the odds are against you. But, then, it happens under any of the situations shown here:

  1. Your hand is a 16, while the dealer’s cards are nine, ten, or Ace
  2. Your hand is 15, and the dealer’s card is ten

The ability to surrender in an online blackjack game is one that most players will appreciate. That’s because sometimes odds often appear not to favor you. In that case, why continue playing and lose everything when you can get back half your bet through early surrender?

Wrap Up

To conclude, we have covered in greater length all the key details that you need to know about blackjack. As seen, this is a fairly old game and one that has undergone tremendous changes over the years. Its history in the United

States dates back to the 17th century, having originated from Spain. While playing, you need to know when to stand or hit. That single decision influences the overall direction of the game. Other options such as splitting, doubling down, and surrender are key to enhancing your overall gaming experience. So get started today with one of the most competitive, rewarding, and fun blackjack games.