Real money blackjack is one of the most popular gambling games in the world. Blackjack combines fast action with some of the best odds of any casino game, offering players the chance to improve their odds by using strategy and intelligence during the course of the game. If you’ve never played real money blackjack, this page should get you up to speed with the rules and strategies you need to know before you start.
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How to Play Real Money Blackjack
The object of real money blackjack is to make a hand worth as close to 21 points as possible without going over. Numbered cards are worth their printed number (in other words, a five is worth five points), face cards are worth ten, and aces can be worth one or 11. Players begin the hand with two cards, usually face up; the best possible hand is an ace and a ten-point card, known as a blackjack.
To start a real money blackjack hand, each player makes a bet, and then each player receives a two-card hand face up. The dealer will also receive a two-card hand, with one card face down. If the dealer has a ten or an ace, the dealer will typically check to see if they have a blackjack; a dealer blackjack beats all player hands, except for a player blackjack, which will push. In all other cases, player blackjacks immediately win at 3-2 odds.
Assuming neither the player nor the dealer has a blackjack, the player will then have the option to improve their hand by taking additional cards. This is known as hitting. However, if the player ends up with a hand of 22 points or more, they will have busted, meaning they immediately lose any bets associated with that hand. Thus, the player may also choose to stand at any time – choosing to take no more cards and stick with the hand they currently hold.
Players also have two other options sometimes available to them. Players may double down on their first two cards, choosing to double their bet in exchange for taking just one additional card, after which they must stand. If the first two cards the player received were of the same rank, they may also split those cards into two different hands, each of which can be played separately for the cost of a full bet.
After all players have finished playing their hands, the dealer reveals their second card. The dealer will have rules they must follow to play their hand; the most common rule is that the dealer must hit with 16 or less, and stand with 17 or more. If the dealer busts, all players remaining in the hand will win even money on their bets. If the dealer stands, then the player must be able to beat the dealer hand in order to win. If the dealer beats the player, they lose all bets on that hand. If the two hands are of equal strength, then those bets will push.
Basic Real Money Blackjack Strategy
While the strategy involved when you play online blackjack for real money can be fairly complex, there are some simple rules you can use to play reasonably well the first time you head to the table. The following strategy will get you off on the right foot; however, if you want to play real money blackjack more seriously, it’s a good idea to learn the full basic strategy for the blackjack game you are playing (which can vary depending on the specific rules being used).
To use the following strategy, you must know the difference between a hard hand and a soft hand. A soft hand is one with an ace that still counts as 11 points; all other hands are hard hands.
With Hard Hands:
- With a hand of nine or less, always hit.
- With a hand of 10 or 11, double down if your total is more than the dealer’s up card; otherwise, just hit.
- With a hard hand of 12-16, hit if the dealer’s card is a seven or higher; otherwise, stand.
- With a hard hand of 17 or more, always stand.
With Soft Hands:
- With a soft hand of 15 or less, always hit.
- With a soft hand of 19 or more, always stand.
- With a soft hand of 16-18, hit if the dealer has a seven or higher; otherwise, double down if possible.
- Always split aces and eights.
- Never split fours, fives, or tens.
- Split other hands only if the dealer has a six or less.
- If you can’t (or shouldn’t) split, use the above rules for hard hands instead.