Online Blackjack Strategy Guide and Rules | Bodog

Join Now

Learn the fundamental Blackjack rules and be better prepared to take on the dealer while playing one of the world’s most popular casino games. Whether you’re at a brick and mortar establishment, or an online casino, Blackjack is one of the most widely played casino games worldwide, so if you haven’t played it yet, now’s the time to brush up on your online blackjack strategy. Though Blackjack is easy to pick up and certainly fun to play, any beginner should get a good handle on the fundamental rules of the game and its basic underlying strategies before playing Blackjack online.

What you’ll find below is a rundown of the game’s most essential concepts and terms, allowing any beginner to improve their strategy. When you’re finished acquainting yourself with the ins and outs of online Blackjack, start a session with one of our nine online Blackjack games using Practice Play mode for the ultimate Blackjack training grounds. Though easy to pick up and certainly fun to play, any beginner should get a good handle on the fundamental characteristics of the game and its basic underlying strategies before going head to head with any dealer – whether human or computerized – if they want to wind up victorious.

Blackjack Guide: The Essentials

If you’ve never played before, you should take note of Blackjack’s golden rule: to win at Blackjack, your hand must add up to a total of 21 or less and must also beat the Dealer’s hand. If your hand adds up to a score that exceeds 21, you lose automatically. To understand how the hands are calculated, you must know the value of the cards in the standard 52-card deck. 

Blackjack Card Values

  • Two to Ten: Cards in the Two to Ten range are worth face value. For example, an Eight is worth 8 points, and a Five is worth 5 points; these two cards would give you a score of 13. 
  • Face Cards: Jacks, Queens and Kings are all worth 10 points.
  • Aces: Aces are worth 11 points and can be reduced to just 1 point (more on this later).

A round of Blackjack starts with a bet; after putting money on the table, you’ll be dealt two cards face up. With the exception of European Blackjack, the Dealer gets two cards right away too, but with the Dealer, one card is placed face up and one face down on the table. 

Based on your two cards, you will may choose to build upon your score by adding more cards to your hand. When you’re ready to face off with the Dealer, you stand, and your hands will be compared. If you win, you get paid even-money (unless you won with a Blackjack, which pays 3:2). The Dealer, meanwhile, will always hit until he reaches a score of 17. While this is a general explanation of how to play Blackjack, there are different versions of Blackjack, which impact some rules, so you want to take note of what type of Blackjack you’re playing—this is especially important when you’re using a Blackjack strategy chart. Bodog Casino offers nine variations, each of which employs the golden rule highlighted above. However, each game also comes with its own set of rules.

Take, for example, the difference between Blackjack and European Blackjack. In the former, the Dealer must hit on a soft hand of 17, whereas in the latter, the Dealer must stand on a soft 17. A soft 17 is a score of 17 that comprises an Ace and a 10. Aces are worth 11, but convert to 1 point in order to prevent you from busting. When the Dealer has a soft 17, the odds of him busting are low, meaning he’s better off hitting. 

Another difference between the two games lies in the fact that Blackjack offers players the option to surrender their hand (allowing them to secure 50% of their bet back for forfeiting their hand), whereas the European version does not offer this option. A surrender must be done at the start of the round. Among the nine variations, there are numerous subtle differences that players should be aware of. For more details on these subtleties, be sure to check the game rules before beginning your session. You’ll find details regarding which cards can be doubled, how many hands you can split, and information on how split Aces are handled.


Blackjack Terms

Before pulling up a seat at the table, you should have a solid understanding of basic Blackjack terms. Here are a few to get you started:


First, you must understand what it means to “hit a Blackjack”. Also known as a “natural”, hitting a Blackjack is defined as being dealt a hand that comprises an Ace and any 10-value card (K, Q, J, 10) on the initial deal. Unless the Dealer also has a Blackjack, that hand beats all other hands and results in a 3:2 payout.


Going “bust” is something you want to avoid. This means your hand has exceeded 21 points and results in an automatic loss. Something important to note is that if you hold a soft hand, you cannot go bust.

Double Down

Putting a second bet on the table equal to your initial one is a double down. This allows you to win 2X your wager should you beat the Dealer.

Hard vs. Soft Hands

You also want to wrap your head around the concepts of “soft” and “hard” hands. A soft hand includes an 11-point Ace. Since this card counts as either a 1 or an 11, these types of hands are considered to be flexible, and hence soft, in value. For example, a hand consisting of an Ace and a 6 would initially give a score of 17; if you hit and got a 5 for a total of 22, the 11-point Ace would convert to 1 point, giving you a score of 12. 

A hard hand does not have an 11-point Ace, meaning there is no flexibility in the score. For example, a hand consisting of an Ace, a 9 and a 7 is considered a “hard 17” – if the Ace were to count as having a value of 11, the hand would exceed 21 and would be considered a bust.


Requesting another card to be added to your hand is a hit. You can keep hitting unless you go over 21 points.


A tied score in Blackjack is referred to as a “push” and results in your bet being returned to you. One exception with tied scores is when one person gets a Blackjack the natural way, while the other builds a hand that has a score of 21. If the Dealer has Blackjack and your hand total amounts to 21 after hitting, you lose. The outcome of the round would be a push if you and the Dealer both have Blackjack.


Taking a pair and dividing them into two separate hands is considered a split. A second card is dealt to each split hand, creating two 2-card hands. Split Aces typically receive just one card before you’re forced to stand.


The opposite of hit, stand means you don’t want any more cards added to your hand, and that you’re ready to face off with the Dealer.


With some versions of Blackjack, you can muck your initial two-card hand and recoup half of your bet in what’s known as a surrender.

Upcard vs. Hole Card

Unless you’re playing European Blackjack, the Dealer will get two cards to start the round—an upcard and a hole card. The upcard is the one that’s placed face-up, giving you a partial reveal of the Dealer’s score. The hole card is placed face-down and concealed until you’re finished making your moves for the round.

Blackjack Fundamentals: Part Two

Now that you’ve mastered the fundamentals, it’s time to take your online Blackjack skills and strategy to the next level. Improve your Blackjack strategy by gaining a better understanding of the actions involved in this classic card game. The first step to becoming a skilled online Blackjack player involves understanding the game’s golden rule and having a working knowledge of all the important terms the game employs. Next, you’ll want to have a solid grasp of the potential moves at your disposal and know when to use them. Learn more about the moves you can make and when to make them, starting with hit vs. stand.

To Hit or To Stand

Choosing whether to hit or stand is the single most important recurring decision people face while playing Blackjack, as it essentially determines whether you bust or remain in the game. Hitting means you’re adding another card to your hand, while standing means you don’t want to add any cards and are prepared to face off with the Dealer. To put things into perspective, we’ve listed a few scenarios that will help you make the right choice when it comes to hitting and standing. 

The only reason for hitting is to improve your current score. Should your hand add up to a hard 17 or more, you’ll want to stand. The reason for this simply has to do with the sheer number of cards in the deck that could bust a hard hand of this value.  Conversely, If your hand value adds up to less than 17, and the Dealer shows any 10-value card (A, K, Q, J, 10), a 9 or an 8, you’re going to want to hit. This is because the Dealer’s chances of busting are low when holding these cards, and unless your hand value adds up to a minimum of 17, your chances of winning are quite low. 

There are two reasons for standing: either you’re confident that your hand can beat the Dealer’s, or you think the Dealer might bust. If, for example, your hand total is above 12 and the Dealer shows a 4, 5 or 6, you should stand, as the Dealer’s chances of busting are high; he’s going to need to add a minimum of two more cards to his hand, which puts him at risk of busting. If you’re holding a soft hand, your strategy will differ slightly. Remember, soft hands are the ones that include an 11-point Ace, making the hand flexible in value and impossible to bust. With this in mind, should you be holding a soft 13 through 17 and the Dealer shows a 7 or higher, you’ll want to hit. If, on the other hand, you’re holding a soft 19 or higher, you’ll want to stand no matter what the Dealer shows. 


Doubling Down 

Doubling down can be both a blessing and a curse: making this move under the right circumstances doubles your winnings, while making this move blindly can cause you to lose twice as much. Here are the situations in which you should always double down, allowing you to end up on top. Always double down on hand totals of 11. The highest card value you could be dealt next is a 10, bringing you to a total of 21 and eliminating any chance busting. You’ll also want to double down if your hand value adds up to 10 and the Dealer shows a 9 or lower, or if you’re holding a 9 or a soft 13 through 17 against the Dealer’s 4, 5 or 6. If you find yourself in a situation unlike the above-mentioned three, you’ll find no joy in doubling down and run the chance of ending up in the red. 

Splitting Hands

Regardless of which version of Blackjack you’re playing, when you’re dealt a pair right off the bat, you get the option to split the cards into two separate hands. For example, if you receive two Eights for a score of 16, you can split them, and each Eight will be dealt a second card. Then you play out each hand as you normally would, giving you two chances to beat the Dealer. You could spit every pair you receive, but it’s not advisable. For example, splitting a pair of Tens could result in you receiving two scores of 20 instead of just one, but basic strategy advises against this move. A score of 20 is almost a guaranteed win, so jeopardizing it with a split isn’t a good move in the long run.  

Splitting Aces is always a good move, as it turns a score of 12 into two potential Blackjack hands. Just be aware that most versions of Blackjack have special limitations on splitting Aces. Often, you will be forced to stand after receiving the second card, and if your second card is an Ace, the hand can’t be further split.

Surrendering Your Hand

Some versions of Blackjack will include the option to surrender your hand and retrieve half of your bet after receiving your initial two-card hand. No one likes to sit out of a hand and lose half of their bet, so fortunately, there aren’t many scenarios that advise this move. The best times to surrender are when the Dealer has a highly competitive upcard, and you have a weak hand. Competitive upcards for the Dealer are high in value. Nine, Ten and Ace are all good upcards for the Dealer, who would end up with close to a perfect score should he have a 10-value card in the hole. Combine that with a Player score of 15 or 16, and you have a scenario that calls for surrender. At least you get to keep half of your wager.


Every time the Dealer’s upcard is an Ace, he could have Blackjack, and that’s why you get the opportunity to insure your hand with the Insurance side bet. Insurance is always half the amount of your original wager and pays double when the Dealer does indeed have Blackjack. For example, if you put down $10 to start the round, Insurance would cost $5 and pay out $10, which cancels out your loss to reduce the sting of getting beat. Basic Blackjack advises against taking Insurance—unless you’re counting cards in a brick and mortar casino and are confident that the shoe is rich with 10-value cards. The payout versus odds of winning the bet combine for a high house edge, which will reduce your profits in the long run. Take note of these scenarios and apply them to your next game and you could find yourself laughing all the way to the bank. 

The most important thing to remember when facing off against the Dealer is that all Blackjack games involve a high degree of decision-making, which is why casino strategists love playing it. As a beginner, you won’t make the right call 100% of the time, but paying close attention to the rules and information available to you at the time, and remembering the strategies highlighted above will greatly improve your chances of making the right decision and showing the Dealer who’s boss.

Online Blackjack Strategy Guide and Rules | Bodog