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HOW TO PLAY BLACKJACK

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HOW TO PLAY BLACKJACK

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There aren’t many card games easier to learn than blackjack, and it’s not just the game's simplicity that makes it popular. Unlike some casino games, blackjack offers you control over the outcome that brings strategy into the mix. In fact, when you play hands according to an ideal mathematical strategy, your odds can be nearly equal to the house.


With simple rules and good odds, it’s no surprise blackjack is the most widely played casino table game in the world. DraftKings offers online blackjack, so you can get in on all the fun of the game of 21 whenever and wherever you want.

Get into the action, start playing today!

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How Blackjack Works

Blackjack rules are easy to learn. Even if you’re a total beginner, you’ll be ready to join a table before you can say, “hit me!”

Objective in Blackjack

Blackjack, often referred to as “Twenty-One,” has a simple goal. You want to finish higher than the dealer without going over twenty-one. There are three ways to win:

  • Finish with a hand total higher than the dealer’s hand total.
  • If the dealer draws a total that goes above twenty-one. However, if you go over twenty-one as well, you don’t win.
  • If you’re dealt twenty-one on your first two cards, also known as a blackjack, but the dealer isn’t dealt twenty-one on their first two cards.

How to bet in blackjack

Before the next hand starts, everyone places their bet. Bets pay 1:1, and you must bet at least the table minimum. DraftKings has tables with one-dollar minimums, which allows you to hone your skills without breaking the bank.

How to deal blackjack

Dealing blackjack is nice and straightforward. A card is dealt to each player face-up, then to the dealer face-up. A second card is dealt face-up to each player. This time, the card to the dealer is placed face down. You may not want to play against a dealer for a home game. In this case, take turns dealing, and deal everyone’s cards face up.

Card values in blackjack

Cards two through ten are all worth their face value. Face cards (jacks, queens, and kings) are worth ten. Aces are worth one or eleven, whichever gives you a better hand. If you use your ace as an eleven, your hand is called soft. So an ace and a six would give you a soft seventeen.

How a hand works in blackjack

Every player has two cards face up, and the dealer has one card face down and one face up. Pay particular attention to the dealer’s face-up card because a lot of your strategy will depend on what it is.

You can hit or stay when it’s your turn to play. Hit means you want another card. Staying means you’re going to try to beat the dealer with what you have. You can hit as many times as you’d like, but remember not to go over twenty-one. If you do, it’s called busting, and you automatically lose—even if the dealer busts, too. When you’re happy with your hand and stay, the dealer reveals their face-down card. If they have seventeen or higher, they’re required to stay. If the dealer is lower than seventeen, they have to hit. Many casinos will hit a soft seventeen. However, at DraftKings, the dealer stays, which is advantageous to the player.

If the dealer stays and your total is higher, congratulations—you win! If the dealer busts and you don't, congratulations—you win! However, if the dealer scores higher than your hand without busting, you lose.

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Blackjack Strategy

There are many ways to win at blackjack on a given day. However, to have the best chance each time you play, you can incorporate some fairly simple strategies to increase your odds. Check out our guide to blackjack strategy for a more in-depth look at strategy, including basic blackjack strategy, which is the statistically best way to play every hand.


When to hit in blackjack

It can take time to determine when to hit, especially with a mediocre hand. If you hate risk, you might find it hard to hit when you should. When it comes to taking a new card, some guidelines can help you know when to take a chance and when to play it safe. Remember, always consider the dealer’s card. If it’s likely that the dealer has a good hand, you should play more aggressively. If the dealer is likely to have a bad hand or bust, you can play things safer. Here are some basic rules for hitting in blackjack:

  • If your cards add up to eleven or less, you should hit. It’s impossible to bust at this stage, so you’re improving your hand without risk.
  • Be more aggressive when the dealer shows a seven or higher. It’s not a bad idea to hit with anything worse than seventeen.

When to stand in blackjack

If you have a strong hand, say twenty, standing is an easy choice. However, with mediocre hands, things can get tricky. If you like a level of risk, you may find it hard to stand when you should. Here are some guidelines to make your decision easier:

  • If the dealer is showing a five or six, you should probably stand. These are the worst cards for a dealer, and they’ll likely bust. But you can’t win if you go over twenty-one, so play it cautiously. If you have anything twelve or over, it’s a good idea to stay.
  • Strongly consider standing with seventeen or higher, even if the dealer is showing an ace. The chances of hitting a four or lower will always be worse than your chances against the dealer.

When to split in blackjack

If you’re dealt a pair for your starting cards, like two fours, you can split them. To split, you have to place a second bet down at the same value as your original bet. This turns each card into its own individual hand. You play one hand, hitting until you bust or decide to stay, and then move onto the second hand. A well-played split can have a big payoff.

There are two times you should split a pair, no matter what the dealer has:

  • Always, always, always split aces or eights. Why? Aces give you two or a soft twelve, both of which are unlikely to yield a strong hand. But when you split, you have two separate power cards. Eights, however, give you sixteen, which is the worst hand you can start with. By splitting, you have two hands and two chances at making a better hand than sixteen.
  • Consider splitting when the dealer has a bad hand. Nines, sevens, sixes, threes, and twos are worth splitting if the dealer shows between a two and a six.

When to double down in blackjack

Like splitting, doubling down is an opportunity to increase your payouts and odds in blackjack. You’re allowed to double your bet, or “double down,” after seeing your first two cards. The catch? You can only take one more card. So if you have a total of seven, double down, then hit a two, you’re stuck at nine.

Doubling down may be an opportunity to win larger amounts, but if done recklessly, it can also result in big losses. So when should you double down? Well, like all blackjack hands, you need to take your cards and the dealer’s card into account. If the dealer shows a strong card, like a ten or an ace, don’t risk a double down. However, a double down is a good idea if the dealer’s card is weaker than that and you have a ten or eleven total. Why with a ten or eleven? Because any face card will give you twenty or twenty-one. The worse the dealer’s starting card, the more lenient you can be with a double down.

Insurance

What is insurance in blackjack? Insurance protects you against the dealer having blackjack, and you can buy insurance when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace. Insurance is offered before the dealer checks their face-down card, and it’s usually half the amount of your initial bet—so if you lose your initial bet to blackjack, you essentially break even.

The odds are slightly against you if you take insurance. You may get lucky this time, but if you play long enough, you’ll lose more money buying insurance than you win.

Other Blackjack Tips

Now that you know how to play blackjack, here are some additional tips to increase your chances:

Set a limit

Before you begin playing, set an amount you’re going to play with (and are willing to lose). Stick to this number, reminding yourself you picked it when your emotions weren’t running high.

Keep your betting consistent

There are plenty of betting strategies available. Some include doubling your bet each time you lose, so you’re back to even when you win. However, you need to be willing to lose a lot of money if you hit a bad streak. You’ll extend your play and avoid big losses by keeping your bets consistent. If you feel inclined to increase bets as you play, consider only increasing bets after wins, so you’re playing with the house’s money.

Stick with your strategy

After losses, it’s only natural to want to win your money back. But don’t force the issue. When you’re down, resist the urge to increase bet size or play more aggressively.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and inhibitions help you stick to your strategy. Avoid drinking while playing to give yourself the best chance of playing smart.

Playing Blackjack at DraftKings

Play blackjack when and where you want with online blackjack at DraftKings. Classic blackjack gets a new look with various themes, like sports or holidays, to keep the game fresh. Want to take your game a step further? Find blackjack variations with side bets, such as “four 20s blackjack,” which lets you play four hands and bet on twenties coming up on any of them.

At DraftKings online casino, you can enjoy other classic casino games like online slots, online roulette, and online craps.

Get into the action, start playing today!

Gambling Advice & Strategy Articles

Check out our casino blog for all the tips, tricks and strategies you need to take your gameplay to the next level.

Gambling Advice & Strategy Articles

Check out our casino blog for all the tips, tricks and strategies you need to take your gameplay to the next level.