Top Blackjack Strategy | How to Play & Tips to Win

Blackjack has come a long way from its origins of being known as vingt-et-un. In today's engaging American iGaming industry, fans of 21 have so many blackjack variations at their fingertips.

Whether your cup of tea is a single-deck game or multi-table options, the best odds go beyond basic strategy.

If you're serious about not going bust beyond your initial bet, read our expert blackjack tips. We discuss the importance of incorporating a basic strategy chart with the basic rules to get to 21 beyond the initial cards dealt. Even if this isn't your first rodeo, incorporating strategy charts is essential for making blackjack regardless of the casino's house edge.

HOW DO BLACKJACK STRATEGIES WORK?

online blackjack table where the dealer has a 9 and the player has an 8 or 7. the player has the options to double down, stand, or hit.

As you learn how to play blackjack, you'll realize that it isn't a complicated game—you have to get as close to 21 as you can without going over. And your goal is to beat the dealer.

While the game is simple, you can incorporate strategies to neutralize the casino's advantage and improve your chances of winning. Here's a look at how to take fate into your own hands rather than relying on luck alone.

BASIC STRATEGY CHART FOR NEW PLAYERS

While there isn't a perfect blackjack strategy, newcomers should use a basic blackjack strategy chart to help their odds. Playing enough hands while using a chart can allow you to win at least even money. Using a strategy chart with a basic strategy based on the dealer's hand can significantly help new players slow down any house advantage.

Basic strategy charts help players identify the next card to look for depending on what the dealer shows, including the dealer's upcard or cards of the same value. Most importantly, a strategy card informs players about when to hit or stand or when they should risk playing with one more card.

THE ART OF PLAYING WITH A SINGLE DECK

Going with single-deck blackjack is the most straightforward way to play. The dealer uses 52 cards at a single table (no jokers). You begin playing with two cards dealt by the dealer. The dealer has the hole card face up for all the players to see, and one card dealt face down.

The first rule is that players, beginning with the one at the left of the dealer at the table, play first, while the dealer goes last. But if the dealer and all players have soft hands after the first hand, they can make more money bets or a second bet to continue toward 21 or as close as possible.

Usually, there aren't additional rules besides the soft 17 rule for the dealer. The dealer must stand with soft totals of seventeen or more, except if the dealer hits a natural blackjack, which automatically ends the game.

TO DOUBLE DOWN OR NOT?

Regardless of your blackjack strategy or whether you play with more decks, you can only double down after your first two cards. Doubling down means asking the dealer to deal you an additional card.

Of course, doubling down is an inherently risky strategy because the next card, which involves an additional bet, can mean going bust. A bust loses everything, including the original bet. If the dealer has a soft 17, they must stand down. Otherwise, they are obligated to double down.

USE CARD COUNTING AT YOUR OWN RISK

An automatic basic strategy of playing blackjack involves understanding the cards the dealer has already dealt or guessing which ones haven't. Real money casinos consider this technique card counting and don't favor it. If you've played in person, you might have noticed security watching players like hawks and, in some cases, removing the players from the table or permanently from the casino. The reason is that successfully counting cards takes away the house edge.

While top-notch professionals constantly perfect this blackjack basic strategy, if they are too successful, sometimes unpleasant physical altercations and criminal charges from the casino follow. You know, the kind you find in movies like 1995's Casino, which features a brutal beat-down scene. We're not kidding. That's why we instead strongly recommend mastering blackjack charts and a basic strategy like hi or low with one deck blackjack.

ONLINE BLACKJACK RULES AND TIPS

Online blackjack has the same rules as the card game does in person. Aim to get exactly 21 or as close to it as possible to beat the dealer.

The numbered cards carry their value on the card, while royalty cards, Kings, Queens, and Jacks count as tens. Aces are wildcards because they count for either a point or eleven, so you must learn how to play with them in mind. In a soft hand, Aces count as eleven points. However, if you double down, the aces can count as ones to help prevent busting.

Finding the right betting strategy revolves around where the dealer stands when to double down or stand based on the dealer's upcard, and considering if the dealer hits because they don't have a soft 17. Whenever the dealer stands and happens to have the same value as you, the game is a tie and results in you recovering your original bet.

If your initial two cards are the same (such as a pair of sevens), a basic strategy with these soft totals is to split the hand into two individual hands depending on what the dealer has. In this case, you would have to continue to hit to get to two higher-value cards to form a winning hand.

GOING WITH MULTI-HAND OR X-CHANGE

With blackjack Xchange, the basic strategy evolves past what the dealer shows because you can buy or sell low-value cards to minimize losses or gain an advantage if you can't split aces. Multi-hand versions have you applying a strategy for multiple table hands simultaneously.

GOING WITH 6:5 BLACKJACK

For the most consistent results, we recommend sticking with 3:2 blackjack options because they are easier to master with the right strategy and have more favorable odds. However, for those who are okay with riskier payouts, 6:5 blackjack options are available. Note that the rules might be slightly different.

SPLITTING ACES AND EIGHTS

Eights and aces are favorable because they offer the best odds for splitting and not going bust. Regardless of what the dealer shows, this strategy requires players to split aces and eights to have two potential winning hands.

BLACKJACK WITH SURRENDER

Exclusive for online play, blackjack with surrender is a new-age strategy of surrendering a low-value hand so you don't lose the whole initial bet. The strategy is to surrender hard hands up to 15 and 16 because the odds of going bust with one more card are great. Also, if the dealer shows a nine, a ten, or an ace with the upcard, the strategy calls for surrendering.

BLACKJACK WITH INSURANCE BETS

For those who don't have deep pockets, making an insurance bet only sometimes results in even money. The problem is that insurance bets are side bets that are conditional if the dealer's upcard is an ace. Therefore, players can lose more bets if the dealer doesn't get to 21 in the long run.

10 BLACKJACK TERMS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Getting into the premier online 21 action is easier than you think. Mastery of basic terms, including how the dealer moves, is the bedrock of successful play and winning.

  1. The Bust: Any set of cards over 21 automatically ends your game.
  2. The Hit: After the dealer has dealt the initial two cards, players can draw another one.
  3. The Stand: Most blackjack variants require the dealer to stand at 17, including a soft 17. Players can choose to stand with their initial two cards.
  4. Splitting: A unique maneuver where players can split cards with the same value into two hands.
  5. The Push: It results in a tie when the dealer and the player have the same hand value.
  6. Upcard: This card is the one that the dealer leaves face up.
  7. The Hole Card: The one card the dealer leaves face down.
  8. Camouflage: To disguise or not to be so obvious with the main blackjack strategy. Experienced players might switch things up, like making different bets and not staying at one table for too long.
  9. A Soft Hand: This is not to be confused with the soft 17 for a dealer; a soft hand is when a player's cards are worth eleven or below.
  10. The Hard Hand: When a hand doesn't have an ace or has an ace that counts as one

USING A BLACKJACK STRATEGY CHART

Are you ready to get into the thick of things and call 21? Before you dive in, consider these next pivotal steps in applying charts to win with 21.

HOW TO READ A BLACKJACK CHART

blackjack strategy chart from technopedia
This blackjack strategy chart from Technopedia helps players determine how to play their hands. If your first two cards add up to 14 and the dealer is showing a 7, you would hit according to this chart.

The first thing you'll notice on the chart is the rows and columns. Rows represent the player's total, while the columns pertain to the dealer's different upcards. Find your current hand value on the chart and where it crosses with the dealer's to know if you should hit or stand.

SINGLE DECK BLACKJACK CHARTS

Although most casinos have software that can easily accommodate multi-deck variants, including tournaments, single-deck blackjack makes sense for beginners to play first. For the most part, the dealer stands at a soft 17. If you're gaming with a live dealer, pay attention to how often the dealer shuffles so you can plan your strategy. As always, play responsibly, understand the rules (especially if you can split hands), and above all, stick to your budget.

WHEN SHOULD YOU STAND IN BLACKJACK?

Unlike poker, where you should know when to hold or fold, the art of 21 is knowing when to hit and when to stand. Consider our expert tips to win the game.

  • Why You Should Stand on 17: In most variants, the dealer has to stand on a soft 17. Players should do the same because the next card might result in going bust.
  • When to Double Down: If your initial hand is worth nine or less, the odds favor you to double down and draw another card. You won't go bust even if you draw a face card or an ace.
  • When to Stand: If you're fortunate enough to have a pair with seventeen or more, the wise move is not to draw another card because you will most likely go bust. 
  • Knowing when to Split: Split aces if you have one. With a new hand, that ace counts for eleven, and you can increase your chance of gaining an additional card to have a better hand than the dealer. If you have tens, you're already at twenty, so don't split because the odds favor you winning the hand!
  • Be Cautious with Insurance Bets: If the variant accepts an insurance bet, you might lose more bets in the long run by trying to guard against the dealer hitting 21.
  • Make 8 Your Lucky Number: A pair of eights offers flexible betting options, including splitting. Some variants allow you to double down after splitting eights, which can help counter the dealer's standing on a soft 17.
  • Know when to Surrender: Variants like blackjack surrender allow the player to fold their hand sometimes before or after the dealer stands and checks for the highest hands. Consider surrendering if you notice that the dealer's upcard is a ten or an ace and you have a hard hand.

WHAT BASIC BLACKJACK STRATEGY CAN I TRUST?

While most 21 variants favor the house, the 1956 article Optimum Strategy in Blackjack was one of the pioneers of blackjack strategy to help players even the odds.

Also during the 1950s, fans of 21 and mathematicians began using adding machines to calculate probabilities and test them for accuracy, which continues to serve as the bedrock for today's enduring 21-game strategies.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT BLACKJACK GAME

So, now is the time to choose your variant. Below are some additional tips on choosing the right one.

  • Blackjack 3:2 Options: Most land-based and online gambling parlors feature 3:2 titles. We recommend staying with this payout ratio because the payouts are higher and more consistent than 6:5 variants.
  • Variants with Doubling Down: Most 21-game variants let players double down regardless of the hand value. However, variants like European Blackjack only allow doubling down under certain circumstances.
  • Variants with Soft 17: For the most part, 21-variants mandate that the dealer stand at a soft 17. But some variants and some gambling parlors might relax the soft 17 rule.

STRATEGIES FOR DIFFERENT GAME VARIANTS

Listed below are some of the top 21 variants that players flock to. We give you a head start with some winning strategies.

  • Strategy for Multi-Hand Variants: Because players can play at multiple tables, starting with small wagers is wise to keep your bankroll manageable.
  • The Rare Blackjack Switch: This variant has players dealt two hands. Because players can switch out the second card of each hand, the art is to apply your strategy or chart to the timing of the swap.
  • The Art of Winning Lucky Lucky: The Lucky Lucky variant features side bets based on the dealer's card facing up.
  • The Atlantic City Variant: Due to variations in minimum and maximum wagers from the eight decks, stick to a basic strategy, especially if you can surrender a weak hand late in the game.
  • The Spanish 21 Variant: Spanish 21 ditches tens, so you'll have to adjust your blackjack basic strategy accordingly. While you can use basic charts, you have to factor in that neither you nor the dealer has tens.

TOP SITES TO PLAY BLACKJACK ONLINE

If you're ready to use our tips and don't want to make the trek to your nearest casino, check out these top sites to play blackjack online.

CAESARS PALACE ONLINE CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code VIBONUS2500 Claim Now

Caesars Palace is a common download at the Google Play Store and the Apple Store. The 888 software engine allows app users to play the three 21 variants for as low as a buck.

BETMGM CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code VIBONUS Claim Now

Fortunately, most of BetMGM's 21 titles carry over to mobile players. However, there might be subtle differences between states. BetMGM works for Android and Apple and can easily be installed.

BET365 CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code VIBONUS Claim Now

bet365's mobile casino app gives 21 lovers in New Jersey anytime access to six non-live dealer options, with RTPs ranging between 93% and 99%. You can't help but notice how sleek and well-organized bet365 is with plenty of access to 21 titles.

FANDUEL CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code No Code Needed Claim Now

FanDuel lets you filter through the different options in alphabetical order. Also, FanDuel's app ranks as one of the fastest with outstanding uptime, so you don't have to worry about glitches in the moment of truth.

GOLDEN NUGGET ONLINE CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code No Code Needed Claim Now

Golden Nugget uses its software for live dealer play for High Limit and Unlimited blackjack options for those who can handle higher stakes.

FANATICS CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code No Code Needed Claim Now

Playing 21 variants is as smooth as butter on Fanatics. The Fanatics mobile app is lightning-fast and has no clutter to speed up navigation to the 21 variants.

BORGATA CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code VICOMBONUS Claim Now

Borgata has incredible uptime and frequent updates so you can keep an eye on your strategy chart. You'll also appreciate the razor-sharp, sleek design.

OCEAN CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code No Code Needed Claim Now

Ocean invites players to download the mobile web browser to enjoy exclusive options. The app syncs to the desktop and has a compact menu for user-friendly navigation.

TIPICO CASINO

Updated on 04/13/2024
Bonus Code No Code Needed Claim Now

Tipico boasts variants like Zippit and Blazing 7s, available 24/7. Soon, 21 fans can play live Lightning blackjack.

REAL MONEY BLACKJACK PROS AND CONS

While some consider 21 the perfect card game, some might beg to differ. Below, we list some to give you a better gauge.

PROS

Real money blackjack is a favorite among online gamblers because of reasons such as:

  • Standalone games sometimes have a demo play
  • Most bonuses apply to standalone 21 titles
  • More online variants compared to traditional casinos

CONS

Cons of real money blackjack include:

  • Live dealer doesn't qualify for bonuses
  • In-game variants usually have higher buy-ins
  • In-person play doesn't support demo play

BEST LIVE BLACKJACK GAMES

If you have your bearings and understand how to work the chart, why not give live dealer 21 a shot? Below are some of the premier live dealer casinos that raise the competition with leading titles.

CAESARS PALACE

Caesars Palace online offers five live dealer options. The platform runs frequent promos, some of which reward members for making live dealer blackjack selections.

BETMGM 

BetMGM has four live blackjack options, including Infinite and Blackjack Lobby.

BET365 

bet365 only has one live option, VIP Blackjack. Still, it's a great way to get in on the excitement by interacting with a live dealer and other players.

FANDUEL

FanDuel has four live options including the highly popular Free Bet and Infinite variants. Wagers begin as low as fifty cents, and high rollers can break the bank with $5,000 hands.

DRAFTKINGS

DraftKings puts its own spin on 21 variants by having live features with different stakes. For those with deep pockets, lay it on the line with $100 and $250 minimum blackjack games.

WHY CHOOSE ONLINE BLACKJACK GAMES?

So, what exactly distinguishes virtual blackjack from premier table games like poker and baccarat? Reasons you should invest in 21 variants include:

  • Flexible betting hands
  • The rules aren't overly complex
  • More variants online compared to retail casino games

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BLACKJACK STRATEGIES

For more information about the nuances of blackjack, like how to find the strategy that suits your style, consider the FAQs below.

CAN I PLAY BLACKJACK FOR FREE ON MY MOBILE PHONE OR TABLET?

Yes, you can play blackjack for free on your mobile phone or tablet by opting for demo mode. Many online casinos offer this feature as a way for players to practice. Note that some iGaming sites or titles (especially live dealer titles) might not have demo mode available.

WHAT IS THE BEST BLACKJACK STRATEGY?

For newcomers, start with small bets and only play variants with 3:2 payouts like classic 21.

HOW DO YOU LEARN BLACKJACK ONLINE?

You can refer to our expert guide anytime to pick up tips. Some iGaming parlors have strategy guides on their site. You can also watch professional players on social media or play demo versions for first-hand experience.

WHICH ONLINE 21 GAMES LET YOU WIN REAL MONEY?

You can win real money by playing online 21 games at reputable, licensed casinos like BetMGM, FanDuel, Fanatics, etc.

HOW DO YOU PRACTICE BLACKJACK?

If the site supports it, feel free to play practice hands to put your chart and strategy to actual use. You can test out different approaches before switching to betting with real money.

WHAT IS FREE BET BLACKJACK?

It's a unique variant in which specific scenarios and bets, like the double down, don't require extra wagers (provided that the first two cards have a specific value or splitting).

IS THERE A TRICK TO BEING GOOD AT BLACKJACK?

Practice, practice, and more practice! The more comfortable you get with decision-making based on basic strategy, the easier it'll be to win.