Blackjack is sometimes known as 21, and this alternative name gives a hint about the objective of the game.
The basic aim is simple: try to get closer to 21 than the dealer without busting (going over 21).
You may have heard that the objective is to get as close to 21 as possible, but that's not strictly accurate. You'll only win if you manage to beat the dealer. If the dealer busts, you can win even with a low hand!
Both the player and the dealer will receive two cards initially and will take it in turn to play their hand, with the player always going first. The player is free to make whatever decisions they want about their hand, which could mean sticking with the cards they have or taking more from the deck.
In contrast, the dealer must abide by the blackjack rules for the dealer. These specify when the dealer can take another card and when they must stand (stick with the cards they have).
This blackjack betting guide will help you to figure out the very best blackjack strategy, which will give you the best chance of beating the dealer.
Every card in blackjack has a numerical value. This value is the number that’s used to calculate your score.
For cards numbered 2-10 the numerical value is the same as their face value. For example, a five of clubs will be worth five points.
The face cards (jack, queen, or king) are all worth 10 points. The ace can be worth either 1 or 11 points, depending on the value of the rest of your hand.
Unlike some other table games, the blackjack table is a semi-circle shape with the players seated around the curved side.
The dealer stands on the flat side facing the players; this allows them to control the gameplay and deal the cards while remaining visible to all.
The number of players at each blackjack table varies depending on the casino, but typically there are 5-7 seats. On the table in front of each seat is either a circular or rectangular space; this is where each player places their bet.
Cash isn't used to place bets in blackjack; instead, players will use a variety of chips. These come in different denominations, so you can select the bet level you're comfortable with.
Common chip denominations include £1, £5, £10, £25, £100, and £500. Each denomination will be a different colour, so it's easy to identify how much you're betting at a glance.
Although you can choose how much to bet on each hand, you’ll have to stay within the table limits. Each blackjack table will have a minimum and maximum level for all bets.
The dealer will deal to each player starting at the left-hand-side and finishing with their own hand. Every player in the game, including the dealer, starts by initially receiving two cards.
All of the players' cards are dealt face-up; there's no secrecy required in blackjack, as you're not competing against other players.
The dealer’s first card will be dealt face-down; this is known as the hole card. The second card is dealt face-up. This provides players with a hint of the dealer’s potential hand.
Once the hands have been dealt, it’s time for each of the players to play their hand, starting from left to right. Every player will have five potential decisions: stand, hit, double down, surrender, and split.
The player uses their knowledge of blackjack strategy to decide how to play each hand. Unlike the dealer, there are no blackjack rules that determine what moves the player must make.
Being dealt a 10 or a face card plus an ace in the first two cards is blackjack and gives the player an automatic win, unless the dealer’s first two cards are also a blackjack.
The dealer has the same goal as the player; to be the closest to 21 without busting.
However, the dealer must follow specific blackjack rules and can’t use their own instincts to decide whether to hit or stand. The dealer’s actions are based on the value of the cards:
If the dealer hits, the same rules will apply to their next move.
Once the dealer has finished their turn, the hands will be assessed to see who got closest to 21 without busting. Any hand that busts will automatically lose.
Whether you’re playing live blackjack or regular online blackjack, the main bet is always based on beating the dealer to a score of 21.
However, if you place a main bet, you also have the option of a side bet. There are lots of different side bets available at Gala Bingo that depend on the type of blackjack you're playing. If you want to know what's included, just check the "how to play blackjack" rules for the specific game.
Some common side bets include:
Although players are free to choose whatever move they want, there is a blackjack basic strategy that can be learnt. This is based on statistical probability and suggests the best moves to make in every scenario.
By following the basic strategy it’s possible to reduce the house edge to just 0.5%, one of the lowest found in any casino game.
There are different approaches in basic strategy for hard and soft hands:
A hard hand is one that doesn’t contain an ace. The blackjack basic strategy for a hard hand is as follows:
A soft hand is one that contains an ace; these hands typically contain the most mistakes. The blackjack basic strategy for a soft hand is as follows:
There is also a blackjack basic strategy which applies to a hand with pairs:
When learning how to play blackjack, bankroll management is one of the most important skills. This means understanding how to set a budget and sticking to betting limits.
Playing a good blackjack game means balancing risk and reward, and never exceeding your predetermined limits. Decide before you start playing how much you want to bet and never go over this amount - regardless of how enticing the table might look.
Taking Advantage of Promotions and Bonuses
Playing blackjack is a lot of fun, but let’s be honest - you’re hoping to win cash prizes, right? Looking out for the promotions and bonuses available at Gala Bingo can help your money to stretch that little bit further, giving you more chances to win, for less.
When you join Gala BIngo for the first time you'll be offered a welcome bonus as our thank you for signing up. But that's not all. Gala Bingo also provides a wide variety of promos, deals and special offers to every player on an ongoing basis.
By taking advantage of the latest promotions and bonus codes, you’ll have the chance to play more but pay less!
Practising for Free
Some casino games are just about good luck, which means that practising won't make any difference to your chances of winning.
That’s not the case with blackjack.
Your blackjack strategy is very significant, and if you play your cards right you could even reduce the house edge.
Card counting isn't illegal, but it's virtually impossible to do when playing live blackjack online. A far better approach is to study our blackjack strategy guide and to practise as many times as you can before you play for real.
You can do this using the demo blackjack games available here at Gala Bingo. They feature all the same blackjack rules - the only difference is that you're not playing for cash. Demo games can just be played for fun, but they're also an excellent way of honing your skills or trying out different blackjack strategy moves.
Knowing When to Quit
Mastering the psychology of blackjack is the cornerstone of success, and this includes never chasing your losses. If you haven't won for a while, it can be tempting to keep on playing past your limits to try and grab that elusive win.
However, this can result in betting more than you can afford.
Before you start playing you should always set firm limits, and when you reach these, accept that it's time to quit for the day.
Here at Gala Bingo we have a huge community of players who love blackjack. And that means there are lots of opportunities to chat with more experienced players and learn from their knowledge.
Join our community, and you'll find lots of like-minded players who you can connect with at any time of the day or night.
The blackjack rules are simple, which makes it a great game for beginners and experienced players alike. You don't need to beat other players; your goal is simply to get closer to 21 than the dealer.
The blackjack basic strategy is an excellent approach as it removes any indecision from the gameplay and provides the best statistical chance of a win. No one is ever guaranteed to win every hand, but this blackjack strategy can improve the probability of beating the dealer.
Don’t forget to practise before you get started so you’re as familiar as possible with the blackjack rules. Our demo games of online blackjack here at Gala Bingo give you all the features of a real game, minus the cash payouts. This makes them perfect for trying out new moves or just sharpening your skills without spending a single penny!
Most importantly of all, don't forget that playing blackjack should always be fun. Set limits before you start to play, and never go over your budget chasing losses. There's always another day to try if things don't work out as planned!