Live Blackjack Rules And Strategy

Learn how to play live dealer blackjack.

Blackjack is by far the most popular casino table game being played both online and in land based casinos.  While most people are familiar with the basics, we felt it would be helpful to list the official rules for players that would like to be sure they have a clear understanding of the game prior to jumping into the action.  After studying the rules of online live dealer blackjack, we recommend you play for fun for a few rounds to practice and get comfortable with the game.  There are some casinos that do not allow ‘practice playing’ when playing live dealer games.  However, even practicing on the electronic version of the game will get you acclimated to the rules, card values and hopefully, winning!!

Objective of live blackjack:  To achieve a hand as close to 21 as possible without going over while simultaneously exceeding the sum total of the dealer’s hand. 

Blackjack Terminology:

  • Blackjack:  achieved when the first two cards dealt total 21.  Blackjack beats a score of 21 consisting of three or more cards. 
  • Soft Hand:  Any hand with an Ace, where the player can choose between 2 totals.
  • Bet:  To place a bet, a player clicks on the chip value that they choose to wager.
  • Hit:  Player indicates that they would like an additional card. 
  • Stand:  Player decides to keep the hand they were dealt.  The game will automatically stand when the player has 21. 
  • Split:  If a player is dealt two cards of identical value, they may split the cards into two separate hands by placing a wager of equal value.  The player is permitted to have up to three hands at one time, and then proceeds to draw cards business as usual with the following exceptions:
    • If the player splits two aces, they may only draw one additional card for each hand. 
    • A hand totaling 21 after splitting aces is considered 21, not Blackjack.
  • Double or Double Down:  Once a player has been dealt the first two cards, and he/she believes that the third care will give them a position to beat the dealer’s hand; a player can exercise a ‘double down’, or doubling of their wager.  After the wager is doubled, one additional card is dealt to the player.  The player must stand at this point and the dealer’s hand will be completed and then compared to the players’ total. 
  • Bust:  A bust is when the total value of cards exceeds 21 for either the players or the dealer.  If the player busts, then the wager is lost.  However, if the dealer busts then the player automatically wins the wager. 
  • Push:  A push is when the value of both the dealer’s and the player’s cards are equal.  In this case neither win, and the player does not loose their wager.
  • Surrender:  Surrender can only take place on the first two cards a player receives.  If a player chooses to surrender, they will receive 50% of the current bet and the remaining 50% will go to the house. 
  • Insurance:   Insurance, sometimes called ‘even money’, gives you a chance to protect yourself when you believe that the dealer has Blackjack.  A player normally would take advantage of this option if the dealer’s first card is an Ace and the player believes that the dealer’s hole card value is 10.  This insurance against dealer Blackjack is purchased at half the initial wager.  If the player is correct and the dealer actually has Blackjack, then the insurance pays 2 to 1, which corresponds to the amount of the initial bet.  If the player has guessed wrong and the dealer does not have Blackjack, the player then loses his insurance.  The player’s initial bet is then settled by comparing his hand with the dealer’s.  The game will result in a Push if both the player and the dealer have Blackjack, but the player will profit by the amount won from taking insurance.  Insurance bets generally favor the house and should typically be avoided.

Black Jack Card Values

Unlike other card games, in Live Blackjack, suites of the cards have no meaning in the game.  The values of the cards are as follows:

  • Aces can count as either 1 or 11, at the player’s discretion.
  • Jacks, Queens and Kings are all valued at 10.
  • Cards 2 – 10 remain at face value.

Basic Rules of online Live Dealer Blackjack

  • All players are playing against the dealer, not each other.
  • Each player is dealt two cards, face up.  The dealer is also dealt two cards, one face up, one face down.
  • A hand that contains and Ace and a ten value card has a Blackjack, beating all other hands except for another Blackjack.  A player who is dealt a Blackjack wins even if the dealer has 3 cards that add up to 21.
  • Players have the option of standing with the cards they have or taking another card (hitting).  Players may hit as often as they like, however, if the sum total of the player’s hand exceeds 21, they bust, and the dealer wins automatically.  Any players that bust will lose their wager, even if the dealer also busts.  Whatever hand a player ends up with must be 21 or less, but higher than what the dealer has.
  • The dealer will not take any cards until all the players at the table have played out their hands. 
  • If the dealer’s hand totals 17 or higher, he is required to stand and cannot take additional cards.  If the dealer’s hand is 16 or less, he is required to hit until the sum total of his/her hand is 17 or higher.  If the dealer’s hand exceeds 21 while taking additional cards, the dealer goes bust and loses. 

Playing Tips for online Live Dealer Blacjack

Theories on playing strategies for Blackjack vary among online Live Dealer Blackjack enthusiasts.  So we’ve compiled some of the most widely accepted strategic points that we anticipate will assist you when making decisions during your Blackjack game.  Following are six very basic tricks of the trade that won’t be too difficult to memorize.  We have also listed a few ‘don’ts’ based on some common misconceptions of Blackjack strategy.  Finally, you will see a Blackjack Strategy Chart, created based on research performed by computer analysis of thousands of hands of Blackjack.  These tips are very basic and do not delve into the realm of card counting.  While this is a perfectly legal strategy, card counting is quite difficult for the average player to pull off and is grounds for dismissal from a casino should your technique be detected. 

  • Stand if:
  • You hold 12 to 16 and the dealer’s up card is 2 to 6
  • Your count is between 17 and 21
  • Hit if:  You hold 12 to 16 and the dealer’s up card is a 7 or higher
  • Always: Split pairs of 8’s and Aces.
  • Never:  Split 10’s, 5’s or 4’s.
  • Double Down: on 11, unless the dealer shows a 10 or Ace.
  • See Blackjack Strategy Chart for indepth advisement. 

A Few Don’ts

  • Do not assume that playing multiple hands gives you added advantage against the house.  Playing two hands instead of one gives you the same advantage as two different players playing against the dealer using the exact same strategy – this is zero added advantage.
  • Do not assume that a progressive betting system will provide you with added advantage against the house.  Regardless of whether you are behind or ahead, your chances of winning the next hand remain static; therefore increasing your bets during a streak of wins or losses is not necessarily advantageous.  The only exception would be if you are able to successfully count cards and hence you know what is likely to come next. 

Blackjack Strategy Chart

The following chart is an in-depth step by step strategy based on extensive computer analysis.  It is not based on opinions or theories or any other human input and can be an extremely reliable resource.  Playing online Live Dealer Blackjack is a great way to familiarize yourself with this Blackjack strategy chart as nobody can see you referencing it during play.    The data on this chart is widely accepted as reliable and trusted strategy and is used by millions of online live dealer Blackjack gaming buffs.  So don’t just try your luck at Blackjack, go in armed and dangerous!!

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