Beginners Guide To Blackjack

Even if you’re a longtime casino game fan, there might be one or two things that have evaded you. Sometimes it just feels like it’s gone on for too long for you to really feel comfortable asking the straightforward questions.  And that’s why we decided to put together this beginners guide to blackjack.

At we want you to get all the knowledge you need so that you can have as much fun as possible during your next casino game session. Whatever the question, big or small, we always try to answer it for you in a straightforward way. So this article is designed to do just that when it comes to blackjack!

What is blackjack?

With this beginner’s guide to blackjack, of course, we’re going to start at the very start and explain what blackjack is. You might already be aware (but if not, no judgment) that blackjack is a card game. During this card game, you go head-to-head with the dealer. Put simply, that means the aim of the game is beating the dealer.

In order to win the game, you have to reach a total score of 21 or at the very least get as close to 21 as you can without going over it. If you get closer than the dealer, you win the game. If you go over 21, you go bust and lose.

Reach blackjack in just two cards? Good job. If that happens, you get a 3-2 payoff. However, if the dealer also hits the target 21 in two cards then the game is a draw and you simply get back your original bet.

How does blackjack start?

Blackjack starts with the dealer shuffling portions of the packs of cards. Then one of the players cuts the pack. This means the last 60-75 cards won’t be in play. This makes counting difficult, thus making it a more exciting and overall more fair game.

Then all players will place their bets. At this point, the dealer gives each player one face-up card and also deals a face-up card to themselves. Then everyone gets a second card, but this time it’s face down. After that, you have to decide on your actions. This all depends on the points your hand is worth and what the other players have. More on that later in the article…

How do the cards score in blackjack?

In order to figure out how many points your hand scores, you have to know how many points each card is worth. For blackjack, the suits don’t matter for your total score. The only thing that counts is the rank. Here’s how points are awarded:

  • Number cards are worth their face value, so that means a 10 of hearts is worth 10 points
  • Face cards (kings, queens, jacks) are each worth 10 points
  • Aces can be worth either 1 point or 11 points

Beginners guide to blackjack terms

Like most casino games, blackjack has certain terms that are frequently used. But if no one tells you what they mean, they can get confusing fast. So let’s break it down for you…

  • Hard hand: hand without an ace
  • Soft hand: hand with an ace
  • Hit: you want another card
  • Stand: keep your hand as it is
  • Double down: you double your bet, you get one more card and then you stand
  • Split: get two cards of the same value, which you then use to create two new hands. You double your bet and play both hands
  • Insurance: you get the chance to take out insurance if the dealer has a face-up ace. This equates to half your original bet. It means you don’t lose any money if the dealer wins the hand. This is also known as surrendering or late surrender
  • Anchorman: The last player to act before the dealer is called
  • Burn card: The card the dealer places face down at the start of the game. This card is out of play
  • Cold deck: When the cards getting dished out don’t bring a whole lot of luck to the players
  • Flat betting: Betting the same amount all the time
  • Pit: It’s another name for where you play blackjack in a casino

Beginners guide to blackjack strategy FAQs

What do you do when you get dealt certain hands? Luckily in blackjack, there’s a pretty clear set of rules of thumb to follow. These are essentials to know, especially when you’re just starting out.

What should you do when the dealer has a 10 in blackjack?

Hit until you have 17 or above.

Should you split 10s or 5s in blackjack?

No, you should never split 10s or 5s.

What should you do when you get dealt aces in blackjack?

Split them, unless the dealer has one too.

What happens when you get 11 in blackjack?

Double down, unless the dealer has an Ace.

I’ve got a 12 and the dealer has 4-6. What should I do?


When should you stand with a hard 13-16 in blackjack?

When the dealer has 6 or lower.

What do you do with a hard 17 or higher?


Should you stand with an A8 or A9 in blackjack?


Is it possible to count cards at blackjack?

The short answer to this question is yes. However, it is very very difficult to do without an external device. And the use of such devices is illegal. As well as that, some casinos will kick you out if they suspect you’re doing it.

Why is it so hard? It’s because they have so many decks of cards (frequently up to eight), that it’s next to impossible to keep track.

The house edge in blackjack is generally between 0.5% and 1% if you use even basic strategy. Then if you count cards, that can typically make the house edge to be -2%.

Is it worth counting cards in blackjack? In our opinion, no. We like to adhere to basic strategy, but we’re not in the market for being kicked out of our friendly card room establishments.

Where can I play blackjack?

Blackjack is wildly popular is available in card rooms and casinos all over the world, including Las Vegas. But of course, you can play it pretty much anywhere. In fact, if you’re hosting your very own DIY casino party, we consider it to be one of the top home casino games. After all, you just need a few decks of cards and some chips and you’re good to go.

But an even more convenient option is finding a great site to play on your laptop or phone. One of our favorite places to play blackjack online, whether you’re looking for a beginner’s game or something more advanced, is bet365.

It’s got a whole lot of action on to boil at any time of the day or night. Plus you can opt for Live Casino options to recreate the feeling of being at a bricks-and-mortar casino.

Here are some of the blackjack games you can find there:

  • Exclusive All Bets Blackjack (Live)
  • Premium Blackjack
  • Vegas Blackjack
  • Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven Blackjack
  • Free Chip Blackjack
  • Unlimited Blackjack (Live)
  • Cashback Blackjack

Plus, if you’re a poker fan you can find plenty of casino games within the poker software, including blackjack. Take a look at some of the other options you can try…

Click here to try bet365 Games’ big selection of blackjack games!

The history of blackjack

Blackjack has a long and storied history. Its roots stretch back even further than roulette and much further than Texas hold’em. Blackjack is a direct descendant of a game called Twenty-One or Vingt-Un. In the first years of the 1600s, a Spanish author talked about this game and its rules were pretty similar to modern blackjack.

This implies the game was played even before that in the 1500s! In France, people reportedly started playing this proto-type Blackjack game in the 1760s, while in Britain and the United States, they caught on a little later in the early 1800s.

It’s said that these games started to be called blackjack thanks to card rooms in the US that gave you a cool 10:1 payout if you got dealt an ace of spades and any blackjack.

Even after the name was withdrawn, the name stuck.

However, other experts say that their name is linked to gold rush prospectors. Blackjack is also the name given to the mineral zinc blende, that’s associated with gold and silver mining.

A mathematical paper called the Optimum Strategy in Blackjack published in 1956, followed by Ed Thorp’s Beat The Dealer, aimed to give people the knowledge to do play blackjack perfectly.

Blackjack in popular culture

Not only is blackjack a seriously great game, but it’s also proven to be an inspiration to many. Almost every movie about casinos features blackjack in some way, but 21 is a standout as blackjack is firmly front and center with a starring role.

There is also a shed load of songs that feature blackjack, including most famously Motorhead’s Ace of Spades and the Elvis Presley classic Viva Las Vegas.