How to Play Blackjack Live and Online

Blackjack is the most popular casino table game. The goal of the game is to get as close to 21 without going over, while at the same time beating the dealer. Played live at casinos and online, there are numerous blackjack variants. We will go over each one that we have found dealt in the United States in this article. 

The most common type of blackjack uses six decks. Eight-deck blackjack games are nearly identical to six-deck ones. Other types of blackjack include single deck, double deck, Free Bet Blackjack, Spanish 21, Blackjack Switch, Super Fun 21, Players Edge 21, Down Under Blackjack, and Most Liberal 21.

Online blackjack tables

Like live casinos, blackjack is the table game of choice online. The rules are usually better at online casinos when compared to live ones. That is because blackjack nearly always pays 3/2 on the internet. The dealer often stands on soft 17.

One major benefit of playing blackjack online is the low limits. Most casinos set the cheapest bets from $0.10 up to $1. You can play up to three hands at many blackjack tables on the internet. A variety of variants are available.

Live dealer blackjack is another option. This plays like stadium gaming at a casino. There are real cards and a dealer. Players push buttons to hit, stand, split, and double down. Some live dealer games have one hand for all to play while making independent decisions. Others give each player a unique hand.

US Casino Advantage is supported through advertisements and sponsors. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

How to buy into a live blackjack game

Blackjack table at Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania
Blackjack felt

A blackjack hand starts by buying into the game. At a live casino, a player either buys into a game with cash or brings chips to the table. Those who want to enter a blackjack game with cash should place the money on the dealer. Cash may not be handed to the dealer. The dealer will count it and exchange it for chips. 

Players who bring chips to the table may put them right into action. If large chips are brought into the game, the player may ask the dealer for change.

How to make a bet

The first step in playing a hand of blackjack is to make a bet. At a live game, place at least the posted minimum bet in the circle in front of your seat. Some casinos will permit the player to bet on multiple hands at once. In this case, the player must usually wager at least double the table minimum at both hands. This prevents a player from locking a seat up for someone else that may bet more than the minimum. Multiple bets placed at a live blackjack game by the same player must usually be equal. 

Playing a hand of blackjack

Once cards are out, the dealer will give each player two cards. At most tables, these are face up. At some single and double deck games, the cards are dealt down to players. The dealer receives one card up and the other face down.

Once cards are dealt, the dealer will check for blackjack if a 10-value card or an ace is showing. If a 10-value is showing, and the dealer has an ace in the hole, the hand ends. Any player with blackjack pushes the dealer. All other players lose. 

If the dealer is showing an ace, players will be asked if they would like to buy insurance. A player can make an insurance bet for up to half the original bet. If insurance is purchased, and the dealer has a blackjack, it pays 2 to 1. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the insurance bet is lost. 

At 3:2 games, players may ask for an even money payout before the dealer checks for blackjack with an ace showing. This is the same as taking insurance. Players may not take even money on a dealt 21 if blackjack does not pay 3:2. 

If the dealer does not have blackjack, the hand proceeds. Players dealt blackjack are paid. All other hands require a decision by the player. The options are typically hit, stand, double down, and split.

Types of actions

  • Hit: Receive one card. Players may hit until they stand or bust, meaning a hand total over 21.
  • Stand: Stay with the current hand. This ends the player’s action.
  • Double down: The player may double the original bet and receive only one card.
  • Split: If the player is dealt a pair, it may be split. This is done by the player making a bet equal to the original one. At most casinos, players may split pairs up to four hands. However, some casinos do not allow this. In most casinos, aces may only be split one time and receive one card on each.
  • Surrender: Some casinos permit players to surrender in six and eight-deck games. This means that the player gives the house half of the original bet and folds. 

Proper table procedures for blackjack tables

There are different procedures for games dealt face up and face down. The latter is known as a pitch game, often used in single and double-deck games. Saying the word of your action is not sufficient. These motions are required for the camera in the event of a dispute. 

Hand signals used at blackjack tables where players’ cards are dealt face up

  • Hit: Tap the table behind the cards or swipe your hand toward your seat.
  • Stand: Waive a hand over the cards.
  • Double down: Place an amount equal to the bet behind the original bet.
  • Split: Place a bet next to the original bet, motion with two fingers.
  • Surrender: If available, drag your finger behind the bet from right to left or left to right.

Hand signals used at blackjack pitch games

Make sure to only pick up your cards with one hand at a pitch blackjack game. If you are dealt a blackjack, you can flip your cards over immediately. 

  • Hit: Swipe your cards towards you with one hand.
  • Stand: Tuck your cards under your bet.
  • Double down: Place your cards in front of your bet and place a wager equal to the amount of the original bet behind it.
  • Split: Place each card away from each other in front of your bet and place a new bet behind one of them.

Surrender is not available at pitch blackjack games.

Settling bets

Once all players have acted, the dealer plays the house hand. The dealer may not double down or split. 

If the dealer has 16 or lower, the hand hits. If it is 18 or higher, including soft hands that include an ace, the dealer stands. Hands with 17 are played based on house rules disclosed at the table. If it is a soft hand, meaning it includes an ace and cannot bust, it hits or stands based on this rule. Most blackjack tables hit soft 17. If it is a hard 17, meaning it can bust, the dealer always stands. 

If the dealer makes a hand of 22 or higher, all players that did not bust get paid even money. When the dealer has 17 through 21, it is compared to each player’s hand. If the dealer has a higher point total, the house wins. If the player beats the dealer, the player wins even money. When the player and the dealer tie, it is a push. The bet is returned to the player.

Settling wins

If the player is dealt a blackjack, it is paid immediately, unless the dealer also has blackjack. Then, it is a push.

Most blackjack games pay 3:2. This means that a $10 bet wins $15 on a blackjack. Some blackjack tables, especially lower limit ones on the Las Vegas Strip, pay 6:5. This means $10 wins $12. This difference is about 1.4% in house edge.

More online casino welcome bonus offers

Blackjack FAQ

What is surrender?

Surrender is when a player folds a blackjack hand before hitting a card. Half the bet is lost. The other half is returned.

When is surrender available at blackjack tables?

Surrender being offered depends on the house rules. If available, it is only at six and eight-deck tables.

Is there surrender at single or double deck blackjack tables?

No. Surrender is only found at blackjack games that use six or more decks.

Can I hit aces after I split them at blackjack?

Traditional blackjack games do not permit players to hit split aces.

Can aces be re-split at blackjack?

Some casinos permit players to split aces up to four hands. Most do not.

What is the difference between a blackjack dealer hitting and standing on soft 17?

If the dealer hits soft 17, that means the house hits a 17 with an ace in it that cannot bust. If the dealer stands on soft 17, it means that the house will stay with any 17, whether it may be busted or not.

What is a blackjack soft 17?

A soft 17 is a hand that has an ace and may play as either 7 or 17. If the player has a soft 17 and draws a 10-value card, it becomes a hard 17. Soft 17 cannot be busted.

Last Updated on September 9, 2023 by John Mehaffey