How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the easiest casino table games to grasp, but it can take you a little longer to master. With the aid of this comprehensive guide on how to play blackjack, we can equip you with the skillset and knowledge to have fun even when you are sat playing against a real dealer in the LiveRoulette live casino.

With over 20 live blackjack tables to choose from at LiveRoulette, there is always an opportunity to play a basic hand of blackjack or dabble with some of the side bet variants that can switch-up your gameplay. Before you get started, why not familiarise yourself with the basics of blackjack and get to grips with an optimal strategy to minimise the house edge.

The on-screen layout of a live blackjack table

From the moment you load up your live casino blackjack table, you will meet a friendly, professionally trained dealer to manage your game. You can see the seven-player seats around the table. Vacant seats will say ‘Sit Here’ and you only need to click to join the action.

The display of your account balance is in the bottom left corner of the screen and you can choose the size of your stake in the ‘Total Bet’ button next to it. Click the inner circle of your seat position once to bet one unit. You can also click on the side bet areas to place additional bets if you wish.

It’s possible to chat with the dealer and the other players at the table in real-time using the ‘Lobby’ button in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Card values in live blackjack

The values of cards in a game of blackjack are easy to follow. They correspond to their numerical value displayed on the card. Face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are worth ten, while an Ace can be worth either one or 11 and played however you see fit.

In-play actions available in live blackjack

Hit

By ‘hitting’, you’re requesting an additional card from the dealer to try and improve your hand(s). You can continue to hit cards until your hand value is 21 or greater.

Stand

You can choose to stand on your hand, which means that you are happy with the value of your cards and don’t require any more from the deck. You may choose to stand your hand to avoid exceeding 21 and going bust.

Split

When a dealer gives you two cards of equal value, you can split them. Splitting turns these cards into two separate hands, with the dealer giving you one additional card for each hand. You must pay to split. The additional bet must be equal to your starting stake.

Double Down

If you believe one additional card will improve your hand to defeat the dealer, you may choose to double down. You’ll only get one more card from the deck and you must double your starting stake.

Insurance

Whenever the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, the dealer will offer you an insurance side bet which can cover your losses if the dealer has a blackjack.

How many hands can you play in live blackjack?

You can play as many hands as you want at most live blackjack tables. Wherever there is a vacant seat at the table, you can normally use it to play multiple hands in different seats – providing you have the bankroll for it. Unlike other card games such as Texas Hold’em Poker, where it’s not possible to take up multiple seats at a table, you can do so in blackjack because you are not playing against the other players at the table, only the dealer’s hand.

What does bet behind mean?

At some live casino blackjack tables, you may have the option to ‘bet behind’ another active player at the table. This means that you will be betting on your chosen player’s hand to beat the dealer’s hand. Although you will have no say or control over how the hand turns out, you obviously have a choice as to which player you choose to bet behind.

Each active player at the table will have icons displayed next to their name, displaying how well they are playing. Those on a ‘hot’ or winning streak will usually have a gold medal or star next to their name.

How does the dealer play their hand?

You should now know how to play your blackjack hand at the tables, but do you know how the dealer plays their own hand? Put simply, if the dealer’s first two cards add up to 16 or less, they must hit and take an additional card. If their first two cards value is between 18 and 21, they must stand and take no further cards.

If the dealer has a ‘hard’ 17, they must stand. A hard 17 is a hand that does not contain an ace or has one or more aces with the value at one. If the dealer has a ‘soft’ 17, they must hit and take an additional card. A soft 17 is a hand that does contain an ace with the value being at 11.

The dealer’s hand automatically wins the round if your hand busts, or if the option is available to surrender your hand and half of your original stake. Their hand also wins if it is closer to 21 than yours. If you and the dealer have hands of the same value, then this is a ‘push’. In this event, you receive your original stake in full due to the tied game.

It’s worth noting that the dealer has very little say in how they play their hand. They must adhere to the house rules of standing on hard 17 and hitting on soft 17. Under no circumstances can they change tac and play their hand differently.

Available payouts at the blackjack tables

First and foremost, if you win a hand of live blackjack against the dealer’s hand, you will win a payout worth 1:1. If you bet €10, you’ll receive €10 in winnings, plus your €10 stake back.

It’s a little less straightforward for blackjacks. Some tables payout 6:5 for blackjack, while others will pay 3:2. For example, if you bet €10 and get a blackjack at a 6:5 blackjack table, you’ll receive €12 in winnings, plus your €10 stake back. If you bet €10 and get a blackjack at a 3:2 blackjack table, you’ll get €15 in winnings, plus your €10 stake back.

If you choose to take out the insurance bet, this pays out at 2:1 in the event the dealer lands a natural two-card blackjack.

Side bets in live blackjack

Although bet behind is also considered a side bet option, there are two primary side bets that you can place when sat at most of our live blackjack tables:

  • 21+3
    Let’s start with the 21+3 side bet. This one happens around the first two cards you receive, as well as the dealer’s visible ‘upcard’. If you can form a three-card poker hand using your first two cards and the dealer’s upcard (flush, straight, straight flush or three-of-a-kind) you will win a payout. The size of the payout depends on what kind of poker hand you can form. It typically ranges from 5:1 for a flush through to 100:1 for three-of-a-kind cards of the same suit.
     
  • Perfect Pairs
    Perfect Pairs is the second most popular side bet you’ll find at our live blackjack tables. This optional side bet requires you to find matching card values, card colours or, better still, two identical cards. You can win 5:1 for a Mixed Pair, such as a pair of eights of different suits. You can win 12:1 for a Coloured Pair, like a pair of sixes of the same colour i.e. diamonds or hearts. Finally, you can also bag 25:1 payouts for a Perfect Pair, which is two identical cards.

Understanding optimal strategy in live blackjack

The key to giving yourself the best chance of winning at the live casino blackjack tables is to adopt a smart strategy. A smart strategy is one that minimises the game’s house edge. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the betting techniques you should employ as part of an optimal blackjack strategy:

  • Doubling down on 10 and 11
    Some casinos will only allow players to double down on hands when their initial two-card hand is worth 10 or 11. Doubling down on 10 or 11 is a powerful play, particularly if the dealer’s hand is lower. It may even be prudent to double down when your hand is worth nine and the dealer’s hand is of a lower value still.
     
  • Splitting Aces and 8s
    If you have a pair of aces in your hand, this is a hard or soft total of 12. This is rarely a good situation to be in. There’s a high probability of landing a face card or a ten with your next card and going bust. Splitting them gives you a chance to potentially land two blackjacks or two cards valued higher than 12.

    A pair of eights is a hard total of 16, which means there are plenty of cards in the deck that could bust your hand when you hit. Splitting your eights into two hands gives you a chance to land a ten on both hands to achieve 18, which is a respectable outcome in this scenario.
     
  • Avoid taking Insurance
    Whenever the dealer’s upcard is an ace, you will get the chance to buy ‘Insurance’. This requires you to pay half the size of your original stake as a side bet, which pays out 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack, ensuring you break even for the hand. The dealer will not have a blackjack more than 50% of the time, so Insurance is a statistically bad play – unless you are certain their next card will be a ten.
     
  • Surrender 16 against a ten (if allowed)
    If early or late ‘Surrender’, the best time to use it is when you have a hand value of 16 against the dealer’s ten. There are plenty of cards in the deck that can bust your hand and a similar amount that can give the dealer’s hand an unassailable advantage. That’s why it makes more sense to cut your losses and surrender half your stake in this position.

Live blackjack variations

Not content with conventional live blackjack games? We’ve got you covered. At LiveRoulette, you can immerse yourself in three different blackjack variations. All of which offer exciting, fast-paced gameplay, available on all desktop and mobile devices.

Speed Blackjack

Are you short on time? If you don’t have a moment to waste, Speed Blackjack could be the ideal solution for you. Powered by LiveRoulette partner Evolution Gaming, Speed Blackjack accelerates the gameplay wherever possible. The first two cards play as normal, but the next step is completely different.

In Speed Blackjack, the quickest players to make their decision to stand, hit, split or double down will play first with the dealer. It reduces the waiting time for experienced players that know what they are doing, even if it does not provide a mathematical edge to your action.

Infinite Blackjack

If you are someone that can only devote time to playing live blackjack during ‘peak’ hours, the chances are that most live blackjack tables will be full of players when you log in. There’s no need to worry about not being able to play though, thanks to our Infinite Blackjack tables.

As the name suggests, these low bet limit tables cater to an unlimited number of players, with no need to wait for a seat to become available. That’s because all active players receive a ‘community’ two-card hand. Subsequently, each player can play the remainder of the hand however they wish. There are no less than four side bets to choose from too.

Blitz Blackjack

Blitz Blackjack, powered by LiveRoulette partner NetEnt, operates on the same principle as Infinite Blackjack. All players receive the same two cards on-screen from the dealer and are then given the option to hit, stand and split the two cards to make the remainder of the hand their own. Again, there is no limit on the number of players that can play at these tables, which is great for peak hour gaming.

Blackjack is not a complex or scary casino game. You can grasp it within minutes and start to enjoy yourself at the tables!

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