If you asked what casino game has the best chance of winning, the unanimous answer would be blackjack. That is because it has the lowest house edge of all other casino games. Playing the best basic blackjack strategy can bring house edge below 0.3%.

Blackjack is a card game between one or more players and a dealer. Players don’t contest against each other. It is played using a 52-card pack. While this is the standard, online casinos shuffle several decks of cards together.

The value of cards 2 through 10 correspond to their numerical value. The King, Queen and Jack are the face cards, all worth 10. The Ace is 1 or 11, making it the most valuable card in blackjack. 

How to play blackjack

The objective is to beat the dealer’s hand without exceeding 21. 

Black and white Casino Cards in a stack spread out

Blackjack glossary

Bust: When the value of your hand goes over 21, you go bust, which means you lose and the dealer wins.

Doubling: When you double down, you get one more card and double your wager. You win or forfeit twice your original wager.

Hit: When you hit, you go for another card. You can keep hitting till you have 21 or above.

Push: If you and the dealer have the same hand value, you neither win nor lose, and you get back your bet.

Stand: When you stand, you stay with your cards. It tells the dealer that you don’t want any more cards.

Surrender/Late surrender: When you surrender, you give up your hand and get back half your wager after the dealer checks to see if he has a blackjack.

Soft hand: If one of the two cards you’ve been dealt is an ace, you have a soft hand. This is because an ace can be a 1 or 11.

Hard hand: If one of the two cards you’ve been dealt is not an ace, you have a hard hand.

Side bets: A side bet is an additional bet placed during a regular blackjack game. There are many types of side bets, but the common ones are insurance, perfect pairs and 21+3.

Insurance: When the dealer’s up card is an ace, you can buy an insurance bet equaling half your original wager. It bets on the possibility of the dealer getting a blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack, he pays out the insurance bet. If he doesn’t have a blackjack, the insurance bets are collected and game goes on in the regular way.

Perfect pairs: This is a side bet that the first two cards dealt to the player are a pair, which is two cards of the same value between 2-10 and same face value for Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces. Three winning scenarios are possible:

  • Mixed pair: two cards of the same value but different color and suit; example: King of Diamonds and King of Clubs; payout: 5:1
  • Colored pair: two cards of the same value, same suit, different suit; examples: King of Hearts and King of Diamonds; payout: 12:1
  • Perfect pair: two of the same value, same color, same suit; example: Two King of Hearts; payout: 25:1

21+3: This side bet is based on the first two cards dealt to the player and the dealer’s face-up cards. It pays out for the following combinations:

  • Straight:  a hand where three cards are of consecutive values; example: 2-3-4; payout: 10:1
  • Flush: a hand where all three cards are in the same suit; example: Jack, King and Ace of Hearts; payout: 5:1
  • Straight flush: a hand where three cards are of consecutive values from the same suit; example: Jack, Queen and King of Hearts; payout: 40:1
  • Three of a kind: a hand where three cards are of the same value or face card; example: Queen of Diamonds, Queen of Hearts and Queen of Clubs; payout 30:1
  • Suited three of a kind: a hand where three cards of the same value are from the same suit; example: Three Queen of Diamonds; payout: 100:1

Blackjack rules

The game starts with the player and dealer receiving two cards each.  Normally, the player’s card is dealt face up, while the dealer has one card face down or hidden (known as the hole card) and one face up.

If your first two cards are an ace and a 10, amounting to a hand value of 21, you have a natural blackjack. Else, you can hit or stand. If you hit and have a hand that scores higher than the dealer’s hand, you win. Or you can stand with the hope that the dealer will bust.

If the dealer reaches a total of 16, he must hit and continue taking cards until he reaches a total of 17 or more, at which point he should stand. However, the dealer may have a hand containing an ace-5 or ace-3-3 where the ace is counted as 11. This is known as a soft 17. In some casinos, dealers are required to hit their soft 17 rather than stand.

If, at the start of a round, you’re dealt two cards of the same value, you can match the original bet and split the identical cards into two separate hands. Some blackjack variations allow you to resplit pairs – including aces – after splitting them.

You can double-down only after the initial two cards. Doubling down after pair splitting is usually allowed. Payoff is 3-2 or 6-5.

There are a few differences in the way different variants of the game are played, as explained below.

Blackjack variants

Spanish 21

A popular variant, Spanish 21 is played with 6-8 decks of 48-card cards each. The four 10s are removed, which may seem to increase the house edge. However, Spanish 21 has more liberal rules compared to traditional blackjack, which helps players.




Playing rules

  • 3-2 payoff
  • The player’s 21 always beats the dealer’s 21
  • Dealer hit on 16, stands on 17
  • Dealer can hit or stand on a soft 17
  • Can double down on any number of cards
  • Can double after a split
  • Late surrender is always allowed
  • Can resplit up to four hands, including aces

European Blackjack

The origin of blackjack is unclear, but it is believed to have originated in France at the turn of the 17th century. For this reason, some of are of the opinion than European rules are most relevant. European blackjack is usually played using 6 decks, although it can be played using as few as 2 decks and as many as 8 decks.


Playing rules

  • 3-2 payoff
  • Can only split a hand once
  • Can only split like-valued cards of 10 value (10, Jack, Queen, King)
  • Can double down on for a 9, 10 or 11 total
  • Dealer draws on 16
  • Dealer stands on a soft 17
  • No surrender option

Atlantic City Blackjack

Atlantic City blackjack is a spin on the traditional game, thought up to attract players away from the numero uno gambling destination Las Vegas. It is usually played using 8 decks. The rules of this blackjack variant are the same as classic blackjack, with minor differences that give players a slight advantage.


Playing rules

  • 3-2 or 6-5 payoff
  • Dealer stands on a soft 17
  • Can double down after a split
  • Can double down on any two cards
  • Aces may not be resplit
  • Player gets only one cards after splitting aces
  • A split ace and 10 count as 21, not blackjack
  • Late surrender is permitted

Blackjack Switch

In this variant, cards are dealt face up and you make two bets of equal size. After you see the two starting hands you can leave the cards as they were dealt or switch the second card of each hand. This variant uses 6 or 8 decks.

Playing rules

  • Dealers hits on a soft 17
  • Can double on any two cards
  • Can double after a split
  • Can resplit up to four hands
  • Blackjacks are paid out at even money
  • Dealer busts with a total hand of 22 will push against a player total of 21 or less
  • Surrender is an option

Blackjack Double Exposure

In Double Exposure, the dealer’s cards are face-up during the initial deal. As this favors the player, the rest of the rules compensate the dealer.


Playing rules

  • Dealer wins all ties
  • Dealer can hit or stand on a soft 17
  • Can double after a split
  • Splitting is permitted only once
  • Blackjacks are paid out at even money
  • Cannot surrender

Tips to win at blackjack

Learn the basics: Know the rules of the game like the back of your hand. Practice free games before wagering with real money.

Start small: Beginners should avoid betting big. Start with low bets, spread out your wagers, and set a limit for how much you’re okay losing.

Opt for standard payback: Say you bet $10 at a 3:2 games. When you get a blackjack, you make $15. If you bet the same amount at a 6:5 game, you will win $12.

Check the dealer’s up-card: This will give you the information you need to plan your next action.

Prevent losses from adding up: It is best to give up in the middle of a losing streak as carrying on will most likely increase your losses.

Quit while you’re ahead: Pocket your dollars after one or more winning sessions.

Avoid an insurance bet: While tempting, remember that an insurance bet always benefits the casino. Statistically, betting that the dealer has blackjack works very few times.

Don’t split a pair of 10s : A hand with two cards having the value 10 is a good position to be in as you’re close to the magic number of 21. Blackjack players may choose to split a pair of 10s for two hands with a start-up card of 10. However, the probability of drawing another 10 is low, and you may end up with two cards of value lesser than 20.

Don’t split a pair of 5s: Starting off with a pair of 5s is also beneficial total. Splitting creates the risk of landing two cards each with a value of 10. The probability of getting two decent hands is also low. If you draw a 2,3 or 4, your hand total is weak and drawing anything above a 6 can make you go bust on the next hit. By not splitting a hand of two 5s, you have a better chance of getting 21 with one more hit.

Know when to double down in blackjack: After your first two hands have been dealt, there are three groups of the hands that can give you an advantage, and this is when you should consider doubling down.

  • You have a hard 9, and the dealer’s up-card is 2 to 6
  • You have a hard 10 or 11, and the dealer’s up-card has a lower value
  • You have a soft 16, 17 or 18, and the dealer’s up-card is 2 to 6.

Keep your emotions in check: Be attentive and steady your mind when you’re playing blackjack. Anger, frustration or an excited state of mind during the game can affect your focus, and lead to the wrong moves.

Finding a good blackjack table

  1. Decide whether you want to play at an online casino or a live casino. At an online casino, a random number generator shuffles the cards. Live casinos have actual human dealers with whom you can interact via live chat.
  2. Read our review of online and live casino sits offering blackjack. We rate casinos based on fairness, security, payouts, range of games and cashout speed.
  3. Choose a blackjack variant where the house edge is lesser and odds of winning higher.
  4. Playing rules can change from one US-friendly online casino to another. Always read the rules first even if you’re an experienced online gambler.
  5. Most online casinos use 6 decks. At sites that use 8 decks, the payback can be lower. Casinos playing with less than 6 decks may have higher minimum wagers.