How to Play Blackjack

Like many other casino games, blackjack has simple rules which are easy to grasp. Yet when you watch more advanced players, you will notice just how skillfully they play blackjack to maximise their chances of success.

Though anyone can now play blackjack online, the game’s popularity really came to the force in the World War I era. But historically speaking, blackjack’s roots can be traced back even further to French card games of the 1760s.


Blackjack Rules

To understand the rules of blackjack, a novice player should always remember the game is also known as Twenty One. So the aim of blackjack is to beat the house dealer by presenting a hand of cards which is as close as possible to a total of 21, while never exceeding that total.


Card Values

In a round of blackjack, each card is counted at its original number value. In addition, each of the face cards (J, Q, K) also has a value of 10. The blackjack Ace is a special case. According to what advantage it brings, it’s up to the player to decide whether an Ace they hold will count as 1 or 11.



A blackjack round begins with each player placing their bet. This is done by placing chips in the designated betting area in front of the player. There will be agreed minimum and maximum bet limits, so it’s important to check what these limits are before placing any bet on the table.


Blackjack Basic Strategy

Before looking at some of the most popular basic blackjack strategies, it’s best to explain some terminology used to describe the most common features of the game:

  • Deal – Once all bets have been placed, the dealer then deals out the cards. Starting from the left, each player receives one card dealt face up. The dealer also receives one card presented face up. A second round of cards is dealt in the same manner, but this time the dealer’s card remains face down.
  • Hit – The term hit is used by the player to request a new card. Players will ask for a hit when they believe an extra card will take them closer to the optimum blackjack score of twenty-one.
  • Stand – This expression is used by any player wishing to indicate they want to draw no more cards. That usually means the player is quite confident the cards they already possess will better the dealer’s score. One of the tricky parts of blackjack is knowing when to stand and when to hit. If a player’s hand exceeds 21, that hand is ‘bust’ – meaning they can no longer win that round.


Blackjack Strategy Chart

The following chart describes some of the blackjack strategies open to a player:

Split pairs

When a player’s first two cards are the same value (e.g. two sevens) they can opt to treat them as two separate hands. The original bet goes on one of the pair, and an equal amount must then be wagered on the other. The player must play their leftmost hand first up by hitting or standing one or more times; then the card to the right is played likewise. The outcome of each hand is always treated separately. When a pair of aces are split, the player is dealt one more card for each ace and may not draw further cards.


Doubling down

With an original two-card hand totalling 9, 10, or 11, the player has the option of doubling their bet. When their turn arrives, the player places a bet which equals their original bet and they are dealt just one more card. This is left face down and must not be turned over until the betting is settled at the finish of the hand*. When a hand consists of a pair of fives, the player has the option to split the pair, double down as described, or just choose to play out the hand as normal. It’s important to remember the dealer cannot split or double down.

*Please note that doubling down can sometimes be played with the card facing up.



A surrender can occur when the house permits a player to fold their original hand before drawing any extra cards. When this happens, half of the player’s original bet is returned and those cards are withdrawn from that play. Remember that once a surrender is actioned, that player takes no further part in the hand – even if the dealer should then go bust.

Not all tables will allow a surrender – so always check the table rules. In a live game, players indicate they want to surrender by running a finger across behind their bet. Online games with this option will display a surrender button.



If the dealer’s own face-up card is an ace, any players at the table can take up a further side bet for up to half the amount of their original wager. This bet predicts the dealer’s remaining face-down card will score ten – resulting in a house blackjack. The dealer waits until all these side bets are placed before revealing the final card. If this turns out to be a ten-card, those making the insurance bet are paid out at twice the amount of their own half-bet, which represents a 2:1 payout. Once a dealer blackjack occurs, the hand is finished and all the main table bets are collected in. However, if another player also has a 21 blackjack, this results in a stand-off. An insurance bet is rarely a good option for the player unless they are confident there is a high number of ten-cards still left in the pack.


Blackjack Odds

Any blackjack strategy will always consider the odds and probabilities of winning a blackjack hand. The most important decision for a player is the probability of going bust when hitting on an extra card. While the blackjack best odds of busting are only 31% if your two-card hand totals 12, they rise to 58% for a 15 total, and 85% for a 19.

The dealer’s position must also be taken into account. For example, with one card still face down, the dealer’s probability of busting while holding a six is 42-44%.


How to Play Online Blackjack

Online blackjack is a good way for novice players to learn how to play blackjack. That’s because blackjack software contains a help screen and lots of contextual help for players who want to develop a sound blackjack strategy. Like the live casino game it begins with placing bets, and the game then progresses in the same way as any live dealer game.

As with any form of blackjack, it’s important for players to fully understand the table rules before they start to play for real money.


How to Register at William Hill

When you register for a William Hill online casino account, you just have to click on the ‘sign up to William Hill’ button. Next, you will be asked to enter the relevant personal information on the registration page. And once you have clicked to confirm and added your deposit, you will be ready to bet.