How to Play Blackjack

Fashions change with the times, especially in the hi-tech world of online gaming. It’s something you can see here at Refuel Casino, with the new games that are constantly being added. 

But there are some things that remain constant, especially when it comes to traditional table games. One is the simple fact that blackjack has consistently remained the most popular casino game in Canada and across the world. 

Perhaps the reason is that while most Canadians know the basic blackjack rules, this is a game where the closer you look, the more there is to see. 

Refuel Casino has a choice of more than 50 different online blackjack tables you can visit. These include live blackjack with a real dealer (just like catching real action in Montreal), and special variations like power blackjack. 

Whichever you choose to play, the following tips on how to play blackjack will add depth to your understanding of the blackjack rules and will help you develop a blackjack strategy to beat the house! 

The basic setup

Before the cards are dealt, you first need to decide how much to bet. It is worth noting that in some variations of blackjack, there are jackpot awards that become available when you bet the maximum amount, so keep this in mind. With your betting chips placed, both you and the dealer will be dealt two cards. Yours are dealt face up, the dealer has one face up (the upcard) and one face down (the downcard or hole card). 

Cards score at their face value, with picture cards scoring 10. Suits are irrelevant.  The default value of an ace is 11, but if that value would send your total over 21, its value is 1. So for example, ace-5 is worth 16, while ace-5-9 is 15.

People think the idea in blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible without going “bust” by scoring higher than 21. 

However, that is a slight twisting of the blackjack rules. It would be more accurate to say you need either to score higher than the dealer or to avoid going bust when the dealer does so. If you take a look at our blackjack strategy guide, the importance of this distinction is explained in more detail.

Hit, stand, split or double down?

There are four main choices open to you, and these are the first things to get clear when exploring how to play blackjack: 

  • Hit – asking the dealer for another card.
  • Stand – keeping your hand as it is.
  • Split – when you are dealt two cards with the same value, you can split them, double your stake and play each card as a separate hand. Splitting is not mandatory, and whether or not to do so is one of the most important strategic decisions you can make. 
  • Double down – if the cards that are initially dealt leave you feeling confident, you can double your stake. Most tables also allow double down after splitting.

Assuming you don’t go bust, once you have decided to stand, the dealer’s downcard is revealed. Unlike the player, the dealer cannot choose whether to hit or stand. It is simply a case that another card is dealt if the score is 16 or less, and the dealer stands on 17 or more.

Who wins?

The perfect hand is an ace and a 10 or picture card. Known as a “natural” or “blackjack” this beats all other hands. If you and the dealer both have a natural, this is known as a “push” and the stake is returned.

If you have gone bust, the dealer automatically wins. If the dealer goes bust, you win. If you are both still in the game, the highest score wins. Equal scores are again a push – the only exception here is that a “natural” as described above beats a score of 21 made up of three or more cards. 

Note that you still lose your stake even if both you and the dealer go bust. 

At most blackjack tables, a winning player gets an even money payout, but if you win with a natural, there is an additional 50 percent bonus, or more accurately odds of 3/2 are paid out.

Blackjack variations

The above blackjack rules apply to regular blackjack (also known as American blackjack) and the game most commonly played in Canada. The rules also form the basis of every variation of the game. 

Some of the variations at Refuel Casino include Power Blackjack, which has extra options such as being able to split 15 or to discard a double down card and have it redealt, or Multihand Blackjack, where you have up to five hands to play all at once. 

These are recommended if you are an experienced player and really seek to challenge yourself. But if you are relatively new to the game and just want to know how to play blackjack more effectively in a casino environment, choose one of the standard games at a live dealer table. 

It brings all the excitement and drama of a real blackjack table straight to you on your phone or laptop. Good luck!

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