How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack was popular at land-based casinos before online casinos were even imagined. Other than slots, casino classic blackjack is probably one of the most popular games with players in Ireland. Established and new gambling sites all have a great selection of blackjack games to enjoy. Where people are drawn to slots because of their simplicity, some look at how to play blackjack and think it will be too complicated. But when players take the time to have a proper look, they realise blackjack really isn’t that complicated. Unlike poker, where there are strategies to be used, blackjack is largely a game of chance.

If you love games of chance such as roulette and baccarat, you will probably find blackjack enjoyable too. With many versions of blackjack to enjoy, you can also enjoy the live version of the game once you’ve mastered the game in free play. If you want to learn the basics so you can soon be playing this casino classic, then read on.

What is the aim of blackjack?

It is good to start with knowing what the aim of blackjack is. Some players mistakenly think they are playing against everyone else. But in blackjack you are only playing against the dealer. The aim of blackjack is perhaps given away by one of its other names. Commonly known as 21, the aim of the game is to have a hand of cards worth as close to 21 as possible, without going higher than that figure. To beat the dealer, your hand needs to be closer to that number than theirs.

The dealer can be beaten by:

  • Your hand has a higher total
  • Your first two cards totalled 21
  • The dealer holds more than 21 and goes bust

The ways that the dealer can beat you are:

  • You hold cards worth more than 21 and go bust
  • At the end of the game, the dealer’s hand is higher than yours

Hopefully, you can see the game is relatively simple. Seeing how you can win means you will know how to play blackjack in no time.

How does a game of blackjack work?

A standard 52 deck of cards is used when playing blackjack. When learning how to play blackjack, there are several variations to be aware of. One of the most common games sees six decks being used with a total of 312 cards. Players place their bets. This could be against a live dealer or RNG (random number generator) software. The cards are dealt when all bets have been placed. 

The dealer has two cards. One of these will be face down and the other will be face up. Both of the player’s cards will be face up. Once all players have their two cards, the dealer reveals what their second card is by turning it over. To know how to play blackjack, players then need to know what all the cards are worth and how to make the best hand.

Card values and options while playing

As we know, the aim of the game is to hold a hand that totals as close to 21 as possible. Players get to see the dealer’s hand. If the dealer has a total of 17 or more, they must stand. This means they keep those cards and no more are added. If the dealer’s hand is less than 16, they have to hit. This means they are dealt another card. They keep doing this until their hand is 17 or more. If the dealer exceeds 21, they are bust.

When you are faced with your cards, knowing how to play blackjack means you need to know what they are worth and what you can do with them. First, let’s take a look at what each card is worth:

  • Aces – these are worth either 1 or 11. You can decide here so that you have the best hand possible
  • Number cards – these are worth their face value
  • Picture cards – these are all worth 10

When you have added the total of your two cards, you then need to know what you can do with them. Your options include:


If your total is quite low, it may be worth being dealt another card to increase it. You can do this by asking to hit. You can keep hitting until you decide to stop, you are holding 5 cards, or you go bust by exceeding 21.


If your hand is worth anything close to 21, you may choose to stick where you are. By asking to stand, you are just keeping the cards you have and nothing will be added to the total.


When a player is dealt two identical cards, they can be split. When the cards are split, they can be played as separate hands.


Surrender is only available in some versions of blackjack. It can help a player to cut their losses if they have been dealt a poor hand. By surrendering, a player has half of their stake refunded. The other half is forfeited.

Who is the winner in blackjack?

There are a few different outcomes at the end of a game:

  • The dealer has gone bust and so loses
  • You have exceeded 21, so you lose
  • Both you and the dealer still have a hand at 21 or under

If you both still hold a hand, it is then the person with the highest total who wins. It is possible to be dealt 21 with your first two cards. When this happens it is known as blackjack.


Can I increase my chances of winning at blackjack?

While some players refer to things such as card counting, the truth is that blackjack is a game of chance. This means there is nothing that you can do to boost the chances of a win.

What are the staking limits in blackjack?

Some online casinos will allow you to play blackjack by staking as little as €0.25. There are also high stakes games where players can wager €10,000 or more.