Find out the basic rules of the game of blackjack and the most important terms to sit at the green table as a champion!

Blackjack rules and glossary

It's good practice to acquaint yourself with the rules of Blackjack before you start playing it because each variant will have its own unique set.

Furthermore, when playing online, you will come across Blackjack games from different software developers and whilst the title may be the same, do not take for granted that the rulebook is.

Here are the Blackjack rules For Microgaming's Classic Gold variant to enhance your knowledge


Card values and basic rules

  • Number cards two through to nine are equal to their face value.
  • Ten, Jack, Queen and King are all valued at 10.
  • Ace can either be valued at 1 or 11. If an ace is being used with the value of 1, it is known as a soft hand. If the ace is valued at 11, it's called a hard hand.
  • Number of decks: one to eight.
  • Dealer must stand on all (soft or hard) 17.
  • Dealer doesn't peek for blackjack.
  • Double down on hard 9, 10 and 11.
  • Can only split once.
  • Multiple cards to split Aces allowed.
  • A split Ace and 10 counts as 21 not Blackjack.
  • Cannot split unlike 10 valued cards.

When starting out on your Blackjack adventure, it can be a little daunting knowing which variant to play. These are a few of the most popular options available at our top online casinos:

  • Single Deck - also known as Classic blackjack, this game is played with one 52-card deck and it offers one of the lowest house edges out of all the variants
  • Double Exposure - unlike most variants of Blackjack, Double Exposure allows the player to see both of the dealer's cards before acting on their hand. This clear advantage to the player is negated with a few slight rule changes to still give the casino the edge, but it's still a great game to play
  • Spanish 21 - instead of using traditional 52-card decks, Spanish 21 only has 48 cards (in a deck) with all of the number 10 cards removed. Although this doesn't help the player, it has a modified rulebook that includes early and late surrender to balance things out
  • Blackjack Switch - the player is dealt two hands and has the option of 'switching' the second cards from each hand over to the other hand. This format greatly increases your chances of getting at least one strong hand
  • Double Attack - here the player is dealt one card and the dealer is dealt one card which is face-up. Based on these cards, the player has the option to double their original bet. The hand then proceeds like a game of traditional Blackjack would

House Edge

One of the reasons for Blackjack remaining so popular is due to its low house edge. The exact edge depends on the rules, which is why you should review them before deciding which one to play.

You can find Single Deck games offering a house edge of 0.20% which is delightfully low. Other variants such as Spanish 21, which is played with six or eight decks, have a house edge of between 0.40% to 0.75% and Double Exposure Blackjack can be 0.60% up to 1.00%. It should be noted that you must use the correct Blackjack strategy for the game you are playing in order to obtain the house edge and this is also based on an infinite number of hands - it rarely applies to a single evening's play.

The main terms involved in the game

While the premise of the game is actually very simple, being that you have to get 21 or as close to it as possible without going 'bust', hoping that your cards are closer to 21 than those of the dealer or other players, there is some terminology associated with the that you will need to understand to be able to play properly.

In this Blackjack Glossary, we will cover all of the main terms involved in the game of blackjack. If you commit these to memory, you will be able to play like a pro in no time!

  • Bust - This is when a player gets cards which add up to more than 21. In this case, you automatically lose the round. For example, a 10, and 8, and a 4 would mean you go bust since the total would be 22
  • Bust card - The individual card which brings the total value to over 21, busting the player who was dealt it
  • Dealer - The dealer in an online casino will be a computer program, but still serves the same function, distributing the cards to the player at the table. You can also play against the dealer
  • Five Card Charlie - When you receive five cards without going bust. This is very uncommon. Casinos pay out extra if you receive it
  • Hit - When you request a 'hit' you are requesting another card. For example, if you have two cards, a 10 and a 4, your total is 14. In this case, you may want to request a 'hit' to get closer to 21
  • Head-to-Head - This is where you play the dealer alone, with no other players sitting at the table
  • Hole card - The dealer will have an unseen card, this is called the hole card
  • Insurance - When the dealer is showing an ace, you can take insurance. This is an option in case the dealer gets blackjack. It is half of your existing wager, and if the dealer does have blackjack you will get a 2-1 payout on the insurance wager
  • Multi deck - A game with more than one deck of cards. At some casinos, there can be as many as 8 decks in a game of blackjack
  • Natural - Some player refer to blackjack, or 21, as natural. This is a slang term
  • Push - When playing against the dealer, a push is when you tie. Nobody wins in this case and the bet chips are returned to the player
  • Splitting pairs - If you receive to identically ranked cards, for example, two 10's, you can split them and play them as separate hands. This is always optional
  • Stand - If you receive to identically ranked cards, for example, two 10's, you can split them and play them as separate hands. This is always optional
  • Stiff hand - A hand totaling between 12-16. If you request a hit and get dealt a 10, you will go bust
  • Surrender - You can surrender half of your bet after the dealer checks for blackjack
  • Ten-Value Card - Any card which has a value of 10, for example, a 10 of any suit, Jack, Queen, or King
  • Twenty-one - Another name for blackjack, which is any combination of cards valuing 21, for example, and Ace and a King
  • Upcard - The dealer's upward facing card. This can be seen by all players at the table
Last update: 30-09-2019