Get up to 20

exclusive bonuses

What's so special about

our bonus reviews?

  • only recommended casinos
  • full wagering requirements
  • terms & conditions analysis
  • bonus value calculation
We respect your privacy and won't share your email address.
[X] Close this form and return to site

Blackjack Review

Screen shots of the games


Blackjack or 21, is the most popular table game in the world and offered in almost every gaming venue, both on and offline.

Generally played with between one and eight decks (although some online casinos use more), the object of Blackjack is to get a total closer to 21 than the dealer without going over. The values of the cards are as follows: 2-10 count as face value, Jack, Queen, King count as 10 and an Ace counts as either 1 or 11, whichever helps your hand more.

A round starts with each of the players placing a bet on one of the betting spots; some casinos will allow you to play more than one hand others won’t. Once all bets have been placed the dealer will deal 2 cards to each player and one card face up and another face down for themselves (some casinos don’t deal the face down card at the start, instead waiting for all the players to complete their hands.

If you are dealt an Ace and any ten value card (10, Jack, Queen or King) your hand is called a Blackjack and is an automatic winner paying 3:2 (one and a half times your bet, so if you bet $50 you’ll win $75 and be paid a total of $125). The only exception to this is if the dealer also has a Blackjack, in which case your bet is returned to you.

Some casinos have started shorting the odds (reducing the payouts) for a Blackjack, offering for example 6:5 rather than 3:2. These casinos should be avoided at all costs. This short payout dramatically increases the disadvantage you are playing with.

If the dealer has an Ace face up most casinos will offer the players Insurance. The Insurance bet is placed if you think that the dealer will have a 10 card to go with their Ace making Blackjack and beating every hand on the table. To take the Insurance bet you place half of your original bet on the Insurance line. If the dealer does have a Blackjack you lose your hand, but you get paid twice your bet (2:1) on the Insurance bet. If the dealer does not have a Blackjack, you lose your Insurance bet and the hand is resolved normally.

Other than Blackjack where no further action is required, every hand has one of five possible options;

  • Hit – when you hit, you take another card. Remember that the object is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over. If you go over 21, you have bust the hand and lost your bet.
  • Stand – when you stand, you are saying that you are finished and happy with your total.
  • Split – if you have two cards of the same value you have the option to spilt them into two separate hands. To do this you have to place a second wager equal to the first, then the dealer will deal a second card on to each of the two original cards. You then play each hand separately.
  • Double – when you double (you would normally do this with a strong hand like a 10 or 11) you place a second wager equal to your first out and tell the dealer you wish to double. The dealer will then give you one more card and that’s the end of play for that hand.
  • Surrender – Not all casinos offer this option, but it’s a very desirable rule if they do. If you feel that you have a bad hand and a casino has this rule you can surrender your hand, giving up half of you bet and ending the hand. Very good if you’ve got a 16 and the dealer has a 10 or Ace face up!

Whereas the player can decide what they want to do, the dealer always has to play in exactly the same way. They will keep hitting until they have a total of 17 or higher. There is only one small exception to this rule when the dealer has an Ace and a 6 (or an Ace and any cards that add to 6). This hand is called soft 17 as the Ace is counted as 11 (any hand where an Ace is counted as 11 rather than 1 is called a ‘Soft’ hand). Some casinos will hit this hand, others will stand on it. The rule should be clearly specified on the table and it is better for the player if the casino stand on all 17s (circled in red on the image to the right).

Now if you’re serious about playing the best Blackjack that you can, you need to learn what’s known as Basic Strategy. Guessing what the dealer has face down and what the next card might be can be great fun and sometimes you’ll get lucky, but there is a correct way to play every hand against every dealer up card so as to minimise the chances of you losing (or at least minimise the amount you’ll lose in the long run). Different rules (i.e. Surrender/no Surrender, Double after splits allowed/Doubling after splits not allowed) change the Basic Strategy required for each game and to cover the correct Basic Strategy for every rule set is beyond the scope of this site. However, if you would like to learn more about the correct way to play Blackjack we would encourage you to visit