Beginner’s Guide to Blackjack - galabingo

Beginner’s Guide to Blackjack

Objective of the game

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. 

Bet Behind Blackjack - galabingo

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. 

Card Values

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. 

The Blackjack Table

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. 

How to Play Blackjack

Placing a bet in Blackjack

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. 

Card Distribution

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. 

Player Decisions

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.  

  • Stand - the player is happy with the hand they hold and do not want any more cards.
  • Hit - the player wants another card. They may hit several times before deciding to stand. 
  • Double down - to double the stake and take one more card. 
  • Surrender - to forfeit half of the stake and surrender your hand. This option isn’t offered in the blackjack rules at all casinos. 
  • Split - if the two first cards have the same value, the hand can be split. This means the bet must be doubled, and each of the cards will act as the first card in two separate hands. 

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.

Dealers Turn

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 total is 17 or higher, the dealer must stand
  • If the total is 16 or less, the dealer must hit
  • If the hand includes an ace and counting it as 11 would bring the total to 17 or more (without busting), the dealer must stand

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. 

Blackjack Side Bets

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:

  • 21+3 - if the player’s first two cards and the face-up card from the dealer form a flush, straight flush, three-of-a-kind, or straight.
  • Perfect Pairs - the first two cards dealt to the player form a pair. Different payouts apply to different types of pairs, i.e./ same suit and same colour, same suit, same colour, and mixed suits/colours.
  • Insurance - only available if the face-up card for the dealer’s hand is an ace. The insurance side bet pays out 2:1 if the dealer holds blackjack.

Blackjack Strategy

Importance of Following a Basic Strategy

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:

Hard Hands

A hard hand is one that doesn’t contain an ace. The blackjack basic strategy for a hard hand is as follows:

Hard Hands - galabingo

Soft Hands

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:

Soft Hands - galabingo

Splitting Pairs

There is also a blackjack basic strategy which applies to a hand with pairs:

Splitting Pairs - galabingo

Blackjack Tips for Beginners

Joining the Gala Bingo Community

Bankroll Management

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.

Join the Gala Bingo Community

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 and other casino table games 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!

What is the objective of Blackjack?

The objective of blackjack is to get closer to the score of 21 than the dealer, without going bust.

What is the value of each card in blackjack?

The value of each card in blackjack matches its face value. The royals (jack, queen and king) are worth 10 points, while the ace can be used as either a 1 or an 11. H3 Should I always try to get as close to 21 as possible in blackjack?

Should I always try to get as close as possible to 21 in blackjack?

The skill of playing blackjack is knowing when to keep going, and when to stand. Your goal is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without busting. The blackjack basic strategy can help guide you on when to stand, hit or play other options.

Can I count cards in online blackjack games?

Card counting isn’t illegal in online blackjack but it’s extremely difficult to do accurately. You’ll have more chance of success using blackjack basic strategy than trying to keep up with the cards that have been dealt. H3 What is the basic strategy for playing blackjack?

What is the basic strategy for playing blackjack?

Blackjack basic strategy is a blackjack betting guide that suggests what moves to make for every possible hand. You don’t have to follow it slavishly, but the suggested moves have the best probability of securing a win.

What is the house edge in blackjack?

The house edge in blackjack is typically around 2%, but this can be reduced to 0.5% by adopting the blackjack basic strategy.

What happens if both the dealer and the player have blackjack?

If both the dealer and the player both have blackjack, the hand is declared as a tie, and the player receives their chips back.

Can I play blackjack for free at Gala Bingo?

Yes! There are lots of demo blackjack games at Gala Bingo where you can play completely free of charge.