Global Poker's Guide To
Blackjack
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The Global Poker Guide to Blackjack Online

This guide is an overview of the general game of Blackjack. For Global Poker’s Blackjack Rules, head over to our Global Poker Blackjack Rules page.

Blackjack is a fast-paced card game that can be played by one or more players. A game of both chance and skill, Blackjack is played around the world both online and in traditional physical venues.

For many, the appeal of Blackjack is its simplicity. It’s not difficult to understand and get started. You’re playing against the dealer, which can feel a lot less intimidating than playing other card games, like Texas Hold’em, for example. Although we’ve said it’s simple,that doesn’t mean that it’s easy, or that there isn’t a strategy to it. It isn’t a roulette wheel, which is almost completely chance, but it also isn’t chess, which is at the other end of the strategy spectrum.

At Global Poker we want to help players get the most out of our games! In this guide, we’ll look at the general rules of Blackjack, the way to play, how you win, how you lose, and some of the variations to the standard game.

About Blackjack

During a standard round, each player receives two cards and takes a turn to compete against the dealer. The sole objective is to beat the dealer's hand without your total score going over 21.

Card Values

The card values correspond to their listed numerical value for 2 to 10. All face cards, Jack, Queen, King, count as 10. Depending on the situation, an Ace can be used as either a 1 or 11. Suits don't matter. A hand with one card valued at 10 and an Ace is called a Blackjack, and is the best hand in the game. It's unbeatable, unless the dealer also has one. The odds of being dealt a Blackjack are 4.8%.

Player Options

In a game involving multiple players, the round begins with the person to the left of the dealer as the first to act, then play goes clockwise around the table. The dealer goes last. At this stage, there are several choices for players.

Hit

Receive another card from the dealer. Some variations cap the total number of cards at five. If at any time during play your card total exceeds 21, you bust and lose the round.

Stand

Stay with the current score total and don’t receive any more cards.

Double Down

An option to double the play – You can double down after you receive your two initial cards and you will then receive only one more card. You may like to consider doubling down when you find yourself in one of the following situations.

  1. When your cards total 11.

    When your two initial cards total 11, you have a better chance of hitting 21. In the event you don’t, at least you’ll get a number closer to 21.
  2. When you have a soft 16, 17 or 18.

    This means your two initial cards total 16, 17 or 18 and one of the cards is an ace. Here you may like to consider doubling down only if the dealer is showing a lower card. You might be tempted to stick, particularly with a soft 18, however there’s a chance of improving your hand with a single card.
  3. When you have a hard 9 or 10

    “Hard” means your hand totals 9 or 10, and neither of your two initial cards is an ace. Again, it may be better to double down only when the dealer is showing a low card. Provided you get a reasonably high card, you could be in very good shape against the dealer.

Remember you won’t always find things going your way when you double down. If you’ve seen Swingers, you’ll know there are some risks with doubling down. In the movie Trent says: “Double down, baby. You gotta double down on an eleven.” Trent is dealt a ‘7’ for a total of 18, only to lose to the dealer’s non-natural 21. Ouch.

In the Global Poker version of Blackjack, the ways you can double down are a bit different, so make sure you check out our Global Poker Blackjack Rules page.

Split

If the first two cards dealt are a pair (e.g. two Queens), you may be able to split and create two separate hands, depending on the house rules. You are then required to play an additional amount equal to the first and both hands are treated independently. If two Aces are split, most house rules will only allow one more card to be dealt to each.

Push

Essentially a draw. When a player and the dealer end up with the same hand value, the amount played is returned to the player. Nothing is lost, but nothing is gained.

How You Win
  • Finish the round with a higher total card value than the dealer without going over 21.
  • If the sum value of your cards is less than 21, and the dealer’s exceeds 21.
  • By being dealt two cards that equal 21 at the start of the round — Blackjack (provided the dealer does not also have a Blackjack!).
How You Lose
  • If the sum of your cards’ value is greater than 21.
  • If the value of the dealer's cards is higher than yours and doesn't exceed 21 at the end of the round.
  • If the dealer has a Blackjack and you don’t.

House Rules

Most games of Blackjack will follow the same ruleset, but some providers will implement their own variation on the traditional rules, which is why it's essential always to check the rules before playing.

Stand or Hit on 17

Generally, dealers are required to hit until they reach at least 17, then stand, but this can vary depending on the provider.

Hit on a Soft 17

A soft 17 is any hand where an Ace is counted as an 11 and the hand total is 17. Some house rules require dealers to hit on a soft 17. In most cases:

  • A two card 21, or “natural” will beat a multiple-card 21.
  • There is a double down option offered on split hands.
  • You can only split one hand per round.
  • A split hand that receives an Ace and 10 doesn't count as Blackjack.

Blackjack Odds

The dealer has a slight statistical advantage in Blackjack called “the house edge.” This is because players go before the dealer, so there is a chance to bust out before the dealer has to play their hand.

Hand ValueOdds of Busting
21100%
2092%
1985%
1877%
1769%
1662%
1558%
1456%
1339%
1231%
11 and below0%
Sale For a win

Pays 1:1. For a stake of GC 15, a win would pay GC 30.

Insurance

At the start of play, the dealer receives two cards, however, one must be face up. If this face up card is an Ace, anyone can play an additional amount as an ‘insurance’ (which is usually set at half the amount initially played) in case the other card has a value of ten. When the players finish their hands the dealer’s second card is shown. If the dealer’s other card has a value of ten, the ‘insurance’ is successful and players who placed an ‘insurance’ will win double their ‘insurance’ amount (otherwise they lose their ‘insurance’ amount).

Blackjack

Depending on the game provider, players who are dealt a Blackjack at the start of the round may win a bonus on their initial amount played at a rate of 3:2, meaning the amount on a win is 1.5 times the initial amount played.

Three Easy Blackjack Strategies

Aim High

This strategy involves focusing solely on beating the dealer's hand, rather than trying to make 21. Aim for a total of between 17 to 20 and stand. This puts pressure on the dealer and still leaves you with a respectable score.

Keep it Simple

Avoid insurance and other unnecessary plays. Splitting, doubling down and insurance might increase the amount you can win, but it also increases potential losses. Try a few rounds and focus on the game rather than getting caught up in trying to play all the extras.

Stick to One Value

Plan out your bankroll in advance and work out a limit of how much you can afford to play each hand. Once you’ve reached that limit, quit. While this won’t directly increase your chances of winning, it will provide peace of mind and allow you to focus on the game and enjoy playing it.

Blackjack Variations

Blackjack has spawned many variations since it was first created. Many follow the same basic ruleset but have a twist that makes the new game unique from the original. With the rise of online social gaming, there are also many free to play versions that allow risk-free gaming.

Common Blackjack Variants

Pontoon

Similar to Spanish 21, the deck has no tens and players have the option to surrender. Any score under 15 isn’t counted.

Progressive Blackjack

One of the more popular variants due to the massive extra prizes that can be won. There is an option to play an additional amount and go in the draw to win a jackpot. A small amount from every play fuels the jackpot prize, and the total can reach significant amounts by the time it is won.

Blackjack Surrender

Has most of the same rules as the standard Blackjack game, with two key differences: the option to surrender and receive half the initial amount played back, and the 7 Card Charlie Rule. If someone has 7 cards that are equal or under 21, it beats everything except a two-card Blackjack.

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