How to Play Online Blackjack

Casino blackjack is easier to learn than most people think. The rules are straightforward, basic strategy involves following a chart, and advanced techniques like card counting don’t require memorization; you’re simply adding and subtracting the number 1. After reading this guide, you’ll feel like a pro whether you’re playing online or at a land-based casino.

Blackjack Rules

How to Play Blackjack - Rules

The goal of blackjack is to get a higher score than the dealer without going over 21 points. If either of you manage to get exactly 21 points on the initial deal, that’s blackjack—an automatic winner.

A round of blackjack starts with getting two cards. The value of your cards will be displayed beside your hand, but for reference Tens and face cards are worth 10 points, Aces are worth 11 or 1 point, and all other cards have face value. Upon receiving your initial two-card hand, you may want to add more cards to your hand. Below are the standard blackjack actions:

Hit: Add another card to your hand. You may hit as often as you want—unless your score exceeds 21 points.

Stand: Decline adding any more cards to your hand and go head to head with the dealer.

Surrender: Some versions of blackjack will let you forfeit your hand and retrieve half your wager. You can only surrender your initial two-card hand.

Split: When you receive two cards of equal rank right off the bat, you can split them into two individual hands. A second card will be dealt to each split card to create two two-card hands.

Double: Put down a second bet that’s the same size as your original bet. You’ll receive one card and be forced to stand.


Another action that pops up every so often is insurance. The dealer’s two-card hand consists of one card that’s face up; if that card is an Ace, there’s a decent chance the dealer has blackjack. An option to insure your hand will pop up. It costs half the amount of your original wager and pays 2:1, meaning you’d break even if the dealer does have blackjack. If, for example, you bet $10 on the round, the insurance would cost $5 and would yield a $10 payout if the dealer’s hole card is 10-value.

Certain blackjack rules are universal in our casino, while other rules are specific to the version you’re playing. Below you’ll find a list of the common rules, but always be sure to consult the list of rules provided for the version you’re playing.

  • Standard wins pay 1:1, Blackjack wins pay 3:2, Insurance wins pay 2:1.
  • Getting a 21 from split Aces is not considered blackjack.
  • Split Aces receive just one more card and then automatically stand. You can’t re-split Aces.
  • Cards are shuffled after each round.
  • Depending on the version of blackjack you’re playing, the dealer will either stand on soft 17 or all scores of 17.

Basic Strategy

Determining the optimal move for every scenario in blackjack would take a long time. Fortunately, experts have already crunched the numbers and the results are available in blackjack strategy charts that you can find online and in casino gift shops. These charts compare the dealer’s visible card with your score, directing you on when to hit, stand, double and surrender. It may seem cumbersome to refer to this chart for every round in the beginning, but after using it for a while, it’ll become second nature.

We’ve included a chart that can be used for our standard six-deck blackjack, which has the dealer hit on soft 17. To use it, locate your score in the left-most column and the dealer’s up-card in the top row; the optimal move is displayed where both meet.

Hard 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
5-8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D D D
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13-14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H Sr Sr
16 S S S S S H H Sr Sr Sr
17 S S S S S S S S S Sr
18+ S S S S S S S S S S

The “Soft” chart is for hands that contain a soft score. Anything with an 11-point Ace is soft because it can still be converted to a 1-point Ace if necessary. Once the Ace becomes a 1-point Ace, it becomes a hard hand.

Soft 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
13-14 H H H D D H H H H H
15-16 H H D D D H H H H H
17 H D D D D H H H H H
18 D D D D D S S H H H
19 S S S S D S S S S S
20+ S S S S S S S S S S

The Pairs chart is for hands that contain two cards of equal rank. Some of these hands will be split; refer to the chart for which ones are better off being divided.

Pairs 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2, 2 Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp H H H H
3, 3 Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp H H H H
4, 4 H H H Sp Sp H H H H H
5, 5 D D D D D D D D H H
6, 6 Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp H H H H H
7, 7 Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp H H H H
8, 8 Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp P P P Sr
9, 9 Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp S Sp Sp S S
10, 10 S S S S S S S S S S
A, A Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp


H: Hit

S: Stand

D: Double

Sp: Split

Sr: Surrender

Blackjack Advanced Strategy

Advanced Strategy

Those who want to know how to win at blackjack at casinos will need to learn about counting cards. Once you memorize the optimal move for every hand, the next step is determining when to increase and decrease your bets, which can only be done through card counting at a land-based casino.

The premise of card counting is based on Aces and 10-value cards being good for the player, and low cards being bad for the player. To establish whether the remaining shoe is 10-value rich or full of low cards, all cards are assigned to groups, and each group has a value.

10s, Aces are worth —1

Sevens, Eights, Nines are worth 0

Twos to Sixes are worth +1

Every card that you see pass through the table should be added or subtracted from your running count.

There’s an additional step when playing with multiple decks. In these scenarios, you need to establish a “true count” by dividing the running count by an estimate of how many decks are still in the shoe.

A high true count means there are many Aces and 10-value cards left in the shoe. This is a good time to make bigger bets. Low true counts mean there’s a high concentration of low cards left in the shoe—a good time to decrease your bets or take a break.

Online Blackjack Games You Can Play

At Bovada Casino, there are six different ways to play online casino blackjack. Read the descriptions of each variant to determine the best one for you.

Blackjack (Standard)

Our standard blackjack games come in a classic format and the new mobile-optimized format; the latter allows you to select a deck and customize the background color. This game uses six decks and has the dealer hit on soft 17. You can also surrender hands.

Double Deck Blackjack

One of the few blackjack games that has the dealer stand on soft 17, Double Deck Blackjack offers great value for Blackjack players looking to build their bankrolls. This game comes with a lower betting maximum ($250) than our other blackjack games.

Single Deck Blackjack

It may be hard to find Single Deck Blackjack on the Vegas Strip, but it’s very accessible in our online casino. This version has the dealer hit on soft 17 and has a betting maximum of $300.

Blackjack Games Variations

European Blackjack

European Blackjack feels a lot like standard blackjack except for a few things. For one, the dealer doesn’t get his hole card until you’ve made all your moves—something that won’t affect your play until the dealer gets dealt an Ace. This version also has the dealer stand on soft 17.

Perfect Pairs

For a chance to cash in on some fun side bets, try playing Perfect Pairs. Payouts for getting dealt a pair right off the bat vary from 6:1 to 25:1 depending on how perfect it is.

Zappit Blackjack

Ever wish you zap away bad cards? With Zappit Blackjack, you can. Any time you have a score of 15, 16, 17, you can zap those cards and they’ll be replaced with fresh new ones.

All these blackjack games can be played for free. Simply opt for Practice Play mode and see which ones you like best. When you’re ready to start earning real money payouts, switch to Real Play mode.