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How to Play Blackjack for Beginners

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This page is written by
Rudie Venter
Rudie VenterOnline Slots and Casino Games Expert
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Blackjack is a popular card game that’s been loved and recognised all around the world. The basic goal of the game is to combine the cards in your hand to have a higher score than the dealer and other players, however, not exceeding a count of 21.

The player or dealer with a total closest to 21 wins the hand. Blackjack is a strategy game, for the most part, with a bit of luck tossed in. With some practical experience and an understanding of the game, you will soon learn all the ins and outs of the game.

The card game can seem somewhat intimidating to learn, understand and master. And if you’re reading this right now, you’re probably a beginner looking for a detailed guide on how to go about the game.

In this article, we’ll be detailing the rules and steps that you need to follow to understand the game entirely. Also, we’ll be taking a good look at how you can enjoy the game either at a land-based casino or online casino. So, rest assured that any beginner can learn the game with a few easy steps and with enough practice. You can be the master of it in your own right.

Who is this Guide For?

This is the ultimate blackjack guide for players of all levels. Whether you’re a total newbie at the game, simply wanting to learn how to play blackjack, or whether you’re a seasoned player looking for ways to improve your blackjack strategies, you’ll find all you need in this guide.  You’ll learn all about blackjack rules and variations, as well as blackjack tips and tournaments. We’ll explore the difference between online and live blackjack, examining the pros and cons. This guide is ideal for players contemplating real money blackjack after enjoying it for free. It also answers all the frequently asked questions about the game.

Is Blackjack Hard to Learn?

Blackjack isn’t hard to learn, but as with anything, practice makes perfect. It’s always been proven that practising any skill improves your technique and makes you better, and it’s no different in a game of Blackjack. Your technique, system and strategy will improve with time.

Learning How to Play Blackjack

An excellent start to learning how to play Blackjack would involve you using demo versions of online blackjack games or playing around with free game versions. Play as many games as it takes to get a good understanding of the game and become comfortable with the rules before joining a table that plays for money. This will help improve your skill, technique, and personalised strategy for your game at no cost to you.

Quick Blackjack Tips

Implementing a working strategy or technique may influence the success or failure of your gaming experience. Still, it’s always good to look out for some valuable tips and tricks for a better experience.

Using our tried-and-tested online blackjack tips will help you shift the odds of the game even further in your favour.

  • Learn a basic strategy. Memorizing the correct way to hit, stand, split and double down is imperative to your success.
  • Avoid playing insurance. It doesn’t give you an advantage unless you are card counting.
  • Check the dealer’s up card. What the dealer has makes a major difference to what action you should take as a player.
  • Start small. If you’re new to blackjack, play small amounts to familiarize yourself with real money blackjack play without blowing your entire bankroll.
  • Practice for free. The best way to practice your blackjack strategy is to play online for free. Boost your confidence until you feel that you’re ready to switch to rewarding real money winnings.
  • Play wisely. Set yourself a limit about how much you’re willing/able to lose. Don’t chase your losses. Don’t play under the influence of any substance or when you’re tired.


Use a strategy that will work best for you. If you can master a personalised technique for splitting, hitting, standing, and doubling down, then you will master the skill in no time.

  • Use free demo versions and start small: The function of a demo version is to familiarise the player with the game. This can act as a massive bonus to beginners so they can practice the rules of the game. Once you feel confident in playing for real money, it would be beneficial to you to start off by betting in small amounts. Once you’ve had your try at the game for some time and are confident in your game strategy, you can then bet to your desired amount.
  • The dealer’s up card: Your next move as a player should be influenced by what the dealer has.
  • Exercise responsible gambling: Avoid chasing losses or using strategies that will have short-streak successes. A good habit to have is a strict gaming budget for yourself and play using limits to avoid getting excited while playing and possibly blowing your entire budget.

Play Using a Basic Strategy

Build a personalised foundation for your gaming so you develop a working technique of your own. Some points to look out for during the game are:

  • When you get Aces of Eights, always split them.
  • Hit or double in the event of getting Aces – six.
  • Should you find that your dealer has seven Aces, choose to hit when your hand has between 12-16.
  • Stand immediately when you have a hand of 12-16, and the dealer has between two and six.

Strategy 1: Split

When you’re dealt a pair of cards (eg. 2 x Nines), you’re faced with the question of how to proceed. You can either decide to split the pair to form two new hands or not to.  Most variants of blackjack allow you to split pairs, where you essentially place a second bet on each hand, equal to the starting bet.

In a nutshell, the splitting strategy says that you should always split when:

  • You get aces
  • You get eights
  • The dealer’s up card is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7, and you have a pair of 2, 3 or 7.
  • The dealer’s up card is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and you have a pair of 6
  • The dealer’s up card is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9, and you have a pair of 9.

You should not split when:

  • You get nines or tens
  • You get fives
  • You get fours

Strategy 2: Double Down

When you start playing a game of blackjack, you place your initial bet. Once you know your own hand and the dealer’s up card, you may have the option of playing an additional bet called the Double Down. This bet is always worth the same as your original stake. It earns you one further card (only). You forfeit the option to ‘hit’ and receive further cards.

If your hand total is 9, 10 or 11, you can be pretty confident that you will beat the dealer, and doubling down is a good strategy. Practising this strategy and familiarizing yourself with the method will help you choose wisely when to Double Down and when not to.

Strategy 3: Surrender

Some online casinos allow you to fold your hand before drawing more cards. If you choose to surrender, you will forfeit half your original wager and the cards are removed. As a strategy, surrender should be used in only 4 instances when the dealer stands on soft 17. If the dealer hits on soft 17, surrender is an option in 7 instances. Read up more about the rules of surrendering and decide how you can use it as a strategy to improve your chances of winning in blackjack.

Strategy 4: Hit or Stand

The most frequent decision you’ll need to make when playing online blackjack is to hit or stand. Hitting means receiving another card from the dealer, which you can continue doing until you go over 21 (go bust) or decide to stand and take no more cards.  Both are easy to understand as a concept, but it takes skill to know when to hit and when to stand.  For example, when you learn how to play blackjack, you are told that if you have a total of 8, you should hit against any card that the dealer holds.  Another example is that you should stand on all totals of 17, 19 or 20.

Blackjack Rules and Strategy- Hit or Stand

In simple terms, saying “Hit” means that you, as the player, are asking for another card. You will then be dealt another card from the deck. Saying “Stand” means that you are ending your turn and holding your total. You will receive no more cards when ‘Standing’.

If you go over 21, you bust, that is to say, you go over 21, and the dealer will win regardless of the dealer’s hand.

Although most casinos tend to have similar rules and strategies in their gameplay, it is good practice to check the rules of each game before joining and avoid any avoidable mistakes.

When to Hit in Blackjack

You may wonder when you should hit in Blackjack. Let’s take a look.

If you have a total of 8 with your two cards, then it makes sense to hit no matter what the dealer has because many of the cards in the deck have a value of 9 and 10, and therefore, the chances of you making a good hand are high.

Another time to hit is when the dealer is showing a high card; this means they have a high probability of making 21 or a good hand, and you should hit in order to try to beat the dealer’s total.

When to Stand in Blackjack

Whenever your total hand is 17, 19 or 20, you should stand. No matter what the dealer has, you will not gain anything by hitting; more likely than not, you will bust.

Another helpful hint is to check out for totals that can be split. like if you get 8-8, 9-9, or 10-10, they can be split into two hands.

The Difference Between Soft and Hard Hands

In Blackjack, there are soft hands and hard hands. A soft hand contains an ace, which can either be used as a 1 or an 11. Hard hands, on the other hand, are made up of other value cards.

One of the strategies surrounds this difference. For example, if you have a hard 16, it is ideal to stand if the dealer shows any of the following cards:  2, 3, 4, 5, or 6.

On the other hand, a “soft” 16, is worth taking a hit, if the dealer shows a 2 because a soft hand has a good possibility of making a higher total if you draw a high-value card

Classic Blackjack Online

You may not be aware of this, but Blackjack is also available to play online. To access the game, some online casinos may require that you register with them in order to play for real money, however, most offer the free or demo versions of games without having to register. In most cases, you also don’t need to download or install any software and can play directly in your browser.

Playing Blackjack online has the advantage of having players access the game using a free demo version, which means playing to familiarise yourself with the game at no risk to your gambling funds.

There may be various variants of the game offered online, but the basic fundamentals and principles of the game still remain the same.

How to Play Blackjack Online

Follow these step-by-step instructions to play Blackjack online.

Step by Step Explanation

  • Take a seat at a virtual blackjack table.
  • Place your bet.
  • The dealer deals cards.
  • The player decides on the next move.
  • The game can go through several rounds.
  • The winner is determined.
  • The objective of Blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand by having a total that exceeds the dealer’s total or by not going over 21 when the dealer does so.
  • Players are paid out if they’re winners.

Online Blackjack Rules

The above was a simplistic look at how the blackjack game is played out. Now let’s look at the basic online blackjack rules to further explain how to play blackjack.  These rules apply to classic blackjack; there are several variants of blackjack where the rules may change slightly.

  • The player places a bet at the blackjack table.
  • The dealer deals 2 cards to the players around the table and two to himself.
  • The dealer’s cards are dealt as follows: One card face up, the other card face down.
  • Cards count as their face value (eg. a number 2 is worth 2). If you’re dealt a picture card (ie. Jack or Queen), it’s worth 10. An Ace counts as 1 or 11. In blackjack, the card suits are of no importance.
  • The total value of your blackjack hand is the sum of the card values of your dealt hand.
  • At this point, you need to decide on your blackjack strategy: whether you want to stand, hit, surrender, double down or split (more about those below in the Best Blackjack Strategies section).
  • The dealer is the last to play; he needs to hit on 16 and stand on 17 through 21.
  • The player is the winner if his hand totals higher than the dealer’s hand OR his hand value is 21 or less if the dealer’s hand exceeds 21 (ie. goes bust).
  • The payout in blackjack is 1:1
  • The player is the loser if his hand goes bust OR if his hand’s total is less than the dealer’s hand.
  • In the case of a tie or a push, the player (ie. when the two hands total the same), the player retains his bet.

How to Play Live Blackjack Online

Live blackjack is offered in many online casinos to bring an authentic and life-like experience to players. This can be enjoyed on a desktop, and software providers have also extended the advantage to mobile devices at an uncompromised level.

After taking time out to understand the rules and strategies of Blackjack, you can move on to selecting a reputable and credible South African casino to play your favourite game. Wondering where to go from there? We have a step-by-step guide on how to play live Blackjack online:

  • Choose your preferred blackjack game and start the round by taking a virtual seat at one of the open spaces while waiting for the next betting round to begin.
  • Two cards will be dealt to you face up. While this is happening, one card from the dealer’s side will be showing while the other card will remain face down.
  • Based on your strategy, you will need to make a choice on what your next move will be based on what’s been dealt to you and what the upper card of the dealer is.

During the process of deciding on your next move, these are your options:

  • You can choose to hit by requesting another card or stand by, sticking with the two cards you already have and finishing your go.
  • If you have a matching pair of cards, you can split. This will create 2 hands, and you’ll need to double the stake if you wish to continue playing.
  • Should an Ace be the upper card to the dealer, you can take insurance. This will pay out when the dealer finally has a blackjack 21.
  • If you, for some reason, wish to get back a portion of your bet, you can do so by surrendering. Note that you cannot choose to surrender after choosing to hit. Also, this is not offered in all Blackjack games, so make sure to check the rules of the specific game.
Online BlackjackLive Blackjack
You against the machine. You’ll play with computerized graphics and a virtual dealer.It is as close to an original bricks-and-mortar casino blackjack table experience as you’ll get to play at home. 
The only interaction you may have is through a chat feature with other players, and that may not always be availableYou can interact with the dealer and chat about the game in real time.
Available 24/7It is important to remain focused, as live casino gaming has greater distraction potential.
More variants of online blackjack are available. It is not always easy to translate some of the online variants to live blackjack tables. 
New blackjack players may find it easier to start with traditional games at low betting levels.A better choice for confident, seasoned blackjack players who don’t get nervous about playing against a human.
Good for casual players who prefer a slower pace or who like to dictate the speed of their games. Faster pace. New players may feel self-conscious about taking their time making decisions at the table.

Playing Blackjack Online for Real Money

You can find several highly reputable and accredited South African online casinos to play at. Being regulated by a recognised authority means that you know your funds, personal details, and privacy are always a priority to the site. In this way, you can enjoy your gaming using real money, which means real rewards during those peak moments and wins.

You can also find online casino guides that can provide lists of top online casinos in South Africa that you can try. It’s a safer bet as opposed to trying to find one yourself.

To make the experience far more rewarding and worthwhile, be sure to check out the welcome bonus offers, promotional deals, and any blackjack tournaments. You also want to make sure what the payment options are and how you can withdraw your winnings.

Always remember to play responsibly and make sure to set limits on your spending while playing. Should you feel that you are practising poor gambling habits, be sure to check out the Responsible Gambling section of the online casino to seek help and be offered advice.

Play Blackjack Online for Free

Most online casinos offer players the option to play for real money or play using a free version. Since you’re a beginner, it would be advantageous to play using a free version first so you can be confident of your game plan when playing for real money. The only downside to this option is that you don’t get to withdraw any funds.

Advantages to consider during free play include:

  • No registration or deposit is required
  • There’s no need to share any personal information before playing
  • Many online casinos offer this option to the different variant options that they may have
  • Some sites offer you the option to play exclusive titles using free versions

Blackjack Gameplay

In 5 easy steps, this is how blackjack gameplay goes:

  • Join the blackjack table where each player will be dealt two cards face up.
  • Based on your assessment of the cards in your hand as well as the dealer’s card, decide whether you will hit or stand and ensure that your next move does not make you go bust.
  • If your hand value is 21 or less, you’ll stay in the game. If you chose to hit, and your hand value is more than 21 you lose.
  • At this step, the dealer is going to reveal their hidden card that has been placed face down.
  • This is the reveal time, and if you’re closer to 21 than the dealer, you win.

How to Play Blackjack at a Casino and Win

Take a look at our recommendations for how to play Blackjack at a Casino and Win:

Hole Carding

This technique involves gaining knowledge on cards dealt by the dealer meant to be hidden from other players at the blackjack table. These hidden cards are known as down cards or hole cards. It allows you to make a more informed decision on your next move, which can count in your favour.

There are several ways that you can gain the upper hand from this, including watching out for sloppy dealers, seating yourself in a position that can allow you to see these hole cards, or closely watching the dealer before making your bet.

Shuffle Tracking

With this technique, you will be tracking specific cards or card sequences through a professional series of shuffles. This advanced technique allows you to monitor where the high cards and 10s throughout rounds are coming up. You always want to make sure that you bet more in the event of the round being abundant in high cards. With perfect shuffle tracking, you can gain an advantage of up to 50%.

Ace Sequencing

This is another technique that’s similar to shuffle tracking. With this technique, you have to predict when an ace card is going to be dealt. This gives the player an advantage of up to 50%.

To accomplish this, you need to watch discard segments to guess which clumps may appear together after the cards have been shuffled. You also want to keep an eye on where the aces are placed in the discard tray so you can see when an ace card will be dealt. After this, you need to cram two to three cards that have been placed on top of that ace card in the tray.

Edge Sorting

Here, the player needs to learn, observe, and exploit small details found on the back of dealt cards to see whether the face-down card is perhaps low or high. With this technique, you would need to be meticulous in knowing different designs for manufactured decks. The best way to see these designs is when the cards are placed at 180 degrees so you can have a better view of the diamond patterns.

Winning at Blackjack

Here are points you should look out for so you can win at your game of Blackjack and have maximised winnings.

  • You know your bankroll needs, so find tables that have matching stakes.
  • Always split your eights and Aces.
  • Always stand when you see that you’re going bust.
  • Tables with double down options should always be your choice.

How Much You Can Make from Playing Blackjack?

There can’t be a real value as to how much you can make from Blackjack because there are factors at play that can affect your outcome. This includes the casino itself, what your bet size is and how experienced you are in the game.

As an experienced player, you have an estimated 1% advantage over the casino, meaning you can win roughly 1% of your total wagers. From this, you have a good idea of what your chances are as an inexperienced player.

For this reason, we encourage beginners to make use of free play and start off by placing small bets in the beginning stages of your blackjack playing journey.

Why Play Blackjack?

Unlike online casino games such as slots or roulette, the outcome of blackjack is not only based on chance. Blackjack is mathematically different from other games and is thus considered a game of skill. The way that you play the cards that you are dealt, can greatly influence your chances of winning.  By learning to play with a blackjack strategy and certain betting techniques, you are in fact maximizing these winning chances. By learning a simple playing strategy, you have the potential to bring the house edge down to less than 1%. Learning specific betting strategies could even have you GAIN an advantage over the casino. And let’s not forget that blackjack is highly entertaining casino game to boot!

Basic Blackjack Rules to Remember

The rules of the game are simple and easy to understand. These basic rules are:

  • As the player, you should always aim to have a higher value then the dealer without exceeding the number 21.
  • In the event of you getting a split, a tripling or a quadrupling from the bet, you can go double on a dealer’s hand.
  • All your face cards; King, Queen and Jack; have a value of 10.
  • All your aces have a value of one or 11.
  • In the event of two aces splitting, you aren’t allowed to play on them.
  • At the start of the game, the dealer will have one card hidden right until the end of the game. You, as the player, will start off with two cards face up.
  • As an initial, first move, you have the option to double or split, or as a result of a split, you have the first move of a hand.
  • If you wish to ask for another card, you say “Hit”. If you want to end your turn or perhaps hold your total, then you say, “Stand.”
  • Because every new hand holds the value of the original bet, choosing to split doubles the bet.
  • Should you find yourself over the goal limit of 21 and bust, then the dealer will automatically win the game regardless of his or her hand.
  • When you are in a position of having two of the same cards, you can split, and this pair split will be divided into two hands.
  • To get a blackjack, you need to be dealt 21, which is an Ace and 10, from the beginning.
  • Doubling is similar to a hit. However, you’ll find that the bet is doubled, and you will only receive one more additional card.
  • Depending on the casino, Blackjack means that you would have won 1.5 times the stake of your bet.
  • The dealer continues to hit until the dealer’s cards have a total of 17 or more.

Blackjack Variations

You’ll find that most online casinos not only offer classic blackjack, but several variations of the game.  The basic gist of the game stays the same in most of these variations, but the rules are tweaked to create something slightly different.  Some of the more popular online blackjack variants include:

  • Spanish 21
  • Blackjack Switch
  • European Blackjack
  • Vegas Strip Blackjack
  • Blackjack Surrender
  • Progressive Blackjack
  • Double Exposure Blackjack

Blackjack Tournaments

An online blackjack tournament has you taking on other players at the casino, instead of the house. The rules of online blackjack tournaments will change from site to site, but in general, they give players the opportunity to win as many credits as possible within a certain time frame. The more credits won, the bigger the prize.

A tournament traditionally consists of several rounds, and players are given a certain number of chips to play with. The best players at each table will progress onto the next round, with winning players from each table meeting up until a final table is reached. The best-performing players left standing take a share of the prize pool.

It’s a good idea to check out the rules of each blackjack tournament that you’re thinking of entering to make sure that you understand how things work before you start playing.


How do I play blackjack online?

Choose an online casino from our list of recommended sites, register an account and find blackjack variants and betting limits that appeal to you. Play blackjack online for free or, if you want to play for real money, transfer funds to your account and start winning!

Why is blackjack so popular?

Blackjack is simple to play and understand. Unlike most other casino card games, it has a significantly low house edge. Moreover, if you learn a basic strategy, you shift the house edge to your advantage. In other words, it gives you a very fair chance of winning.

What is “card counting” and is it illegal?

Card counting is when the player keeps a running tally of the cards in the deck. This strategy allows the player to decide when to bet heavily, and when to hold off on bets.  Casinos don’t like card counters, for the simple reason that it reduces their house edge. Brick and mortar casinos in South Africa have been known to ask players to leave if they are obviously counting cards. It is not, however, illegal.  It’s practically impossible to use card counting as a strategy online.

How do I win at blackjack?

The best way to win at blackjack is to stick to a basic strategy, and apply theory to practice relentlessly.  The better you know the game, the greater your chances of winning, or at least minimizing your losses. Of course it goes without saying that you should protect your bankroll by playing wisely.

Is Blackjack gambling legal in South Africa?

Sure! Blackjack is a popular card game that is available at many brick-and-mortar casinos across South Africa. You can also play blackjack at multiple South African facing online casinos, for free or real money, in traditional online blackjack format or as Live Blackjack.

How Do You Play Blackjack With Two Players?

It is possible to play Blackjack with just two players. You can follow these steps:

  • The dealer will be the one player, while the other person will be the second player.
  • The dealer will deal one card up and another card down to the other player.
  • Both players will look at the bottom cards dealt to each of them.
  • To the top card, they will add the face value of their bottom cards.
  • The player with 10 or less in value should hit.
  • The player with any value close to 21 should stay.
  • Any one of you that has gone over 21 has busted.

Remember that cards two to 10 hold that exact face value. An ace can either be a one or 11, depending on the player’s choice. The Jack, Queen, and King have face values of 10.

Can You Make Money Playing Online Blackjack?

Yes, you can make money playing online Blackjack if you are playing using the real money versions as opposed to the free demo versions. Remember, however, that there can’t be a real value as to how much you can make from Blackjack because there are factors at play that can affect your outcome. This includes the casino itself, what your bet size is and how experienced you are in the game. As an experienced player, you have an estimated 1% advantage over the casino, meaning you can win roughly 1% of your total wagers.

Is Online Blackjack Rigged?

Suppose you are playing from an authorised and regulated online casino. In that case, their online casino games are regulated to strike a balance in advantage for both the online casino and the player. Playing at a regulated online casino means that you reduce the chances of playing on sites that have their games rigged to give the casino a tremendously unfair advantage.

Rudie Venter
Rudie Venter

Online Slots and Casino Games Expert

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Rudie Venter is a seasoned online casino games expert with 13 years of industry experience. Holding a ...continue reading

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