Basic Blackjack Guide

Welcome to the Ladbrokes Basic Blackjack Guide! If you're a beginner and you're looking to learn how to beat the dealer on our Ladbrokes blackjack tables, then you're in the right place. This guide is designed to help the very beginners to learn the basics, from the table layout to the basic moves: hit, stand, split and double down.

Once you've read through this, you can practice the new skills that you've picked up here over at the Ladbrokes Blackjack Academy, or take your knowledge one step further with our blackjack e-book


Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world, both online and offline. Blackjack isn't just a game that you should jump on if you're unsure how to play. It's not just a game of luck, like roulette or the slots are deemed to be. Blackjack is a game of immense skill, maths and probabilities, but that doesn't mean that it's difficult to learn. If you're new to the blackjack table, then there are a few things that you should learn before you begin to play. Our basic blackjack guide can give you all of the skills that you need to know, before you take to the tables. At Ladbrokes Casino, we want you to have the best possible time playing our online blackjack games, and have completely stripped back the popular table game, to help you to learn the basics of beating the dealer.


The layout of the table in blackjack is relatively simple, once you know what you're doing. The blackjack table is semi-circular in shape, with the dealer sitting or standing behind the table. The table can have up to seven players sitting around, with 4-5 players being the average on most tables. Each position is known as a base, and it is represented by a circle or rectangle where players can place their chips. First base is located to the far right of the table. Cards will first be dealt to the player in the first base, and this will move around in a clockwise direction. In the middle of the table, there will be some text telling you how the game is going to be played out. These include:

·        Blackjack pays A to B – how much a blackjack (a total of 21 in your first two cards) pays out, usually 3:2


·        Pays C to D – how much a win pays out, usually 2:1


·        Dealer must draw to E and stand on all F's – what the dealer must stand on and what the dealer must hit on


·        Insurance –A side bet generally used by advanced players, to insure against the dealer getting a blackjack

At a bricks and mortar casino, the cards are shuffled when the dealer almost reaches the end of the deck – which allows for more frowned upon strategies such as card counting to come into play. However, on an online casino, every hand is generated with a random number generator, essentially meaning that every hand is played with a brand new deck. Your place on the table, mathematically doesn't impact the cards that you're likely to get, and so you shouldn't worry too much about the table, and focus on the basic blackjack strategy that you will learn below.


Blackjack is a very basic game when it comes to learning the terms that are used during gameplay. It is unlike most other casino games, as the objective is to beat the dealer. The other players around you are not your opponents, like they would be in games such as poker. Your sole focus and goal is to beat the dealer. You can do this is a number of ways:

1.Have a hand total higher than the dealer's without going bust – by going over 21

2.Have the dealer go over 21

Trying to get your cards to 21 is a common misconception of the game, probably derived from the traditional blackjack game Vingt-et-un. Once again, the only objective in a game of blackjack is to beat the dealer, without going over 21. Of course, getting to as close to 21 as possible is ideal as it reduces the chance that the dealer is going to win.

In blackjack, the value of each card is represented by the number printed on it – for example 3 is worth three, 9 is worth nine. Aces can be worth either one or eleven, depending on whichever will help you to win. Jacks, Queens and Kings (known as Face cards) all have a value of 10.

When you decide which table you want to sit at, the game will begin when you put your chips on the table. Then, the dealer will give each player a face-up card, before giving him/herself a face-up card, known as the up-card. The dealer will then give you and the player to your left a second face-up card, before dealing themselves a face-down card, known as the hole card. At this point, all you need to focus on are the two cards you have in front of you, and the one card from the dealer that you can see.

This is where you will need to make the decision: hit, stand, split or double down.


When it comes to blackjack, there are a few gaming terms that you will need to learn before you take to the table.

·        Hit – This is a term used for asking for another card. If your hand total goes over 21, you will go bust and lose. Think wisely when it comes to hitting, as you don't want to go bust.


·        Stand – This is what you say when you don't want any more cards, and you're ready to see what the other people on the table have. Once you stand, you cannot reverse this.


·        Split – If you have a pair of cards that have the same value, you can pay extra to split them into two separate bets. There are certain cards such as Ace's and 8's where this is recommended, but we'll get to that later.


·        Double Down – This bet says that you will take one more card only and then stand. If you then win, you will receive double the normal amount.

The choice you make will depend on a number of factors such as your hand total, the face-up card the dealer has, and for more advanced players, the cards seen from the deck already.

Other terms that you might want to consider learning, so you know what to do when certain rules come up are soft and hard cards. Soft is a hand that includes an Ace, and is generally associated with 17, and it is a hand that you generally can't bust on. For example, a soft 17 will be made up of an Ace and a 6. If you hit and get a 10, you won't end up with 27, as Ace can also hold the value of one – you'll end up with 17 again. Hard cards are, in the simplest terms, a hand of two cards that does not include an ace.


If you're brand new to blackjack, then you might want to just play for a little bit of fun rather than worrying about learning a basic strategy. However, if you want to maximise your chances of winning, there are a few tips that you can learn along the way. The basic blackjack strategy comes accompanied with a chart, but to make things a little bit easier, we've put together a list of tips and rules that you might want to consider following, in order to up your chances of beating the dealer.

1.The Rule of 10's – 10's are the most common card in a deck – assume that every card coming up and the dealer's face down card is a 10-value card.

2.Hit on a soft 17 – It's impossible to bust on a soft 17, but there's a chance you can get to 21. Always hit on a soft 17.

3.Beware the hard 17 – a hard 17 is a relatively low hand, but it's easy to bust. Be aware, that unless the dealers up card has a value of 3-6, your chances of winning on a hard 17 are quite low.

4.16 is the worst hand total – you can't win on a 16 unless the dealer busts. Always hit and hope on a 16.

5.Always split 8's and Aces – Or you're stuck with 16 or a soft 2. Either way, it's bad, so make sure to split.

6.Don't split the 10's – You're already on 20 which is hard to beat. Stick don't split.

7.Never split 4's or 5's – Or you're likely to left with incredibly low hand totals.

8.Double Down is risky – As much as the extra winnings might be appealing, doubling down can be quite risky. Generally, only advanced players should be doubling down as there are various rules to take into consideration.


As with any casino game, blackjack has an unwritten code of conduct – which we have written out for you to make things a little bit easier. Simply, if you're rude, or you do any of the things laid out in this code of conduct, then you're probably going to end up getting asked to leave the table, or the casino generally.

1.Don't Touch The Cards

2.Don't Drum The Table With Your Fingers

3.Treat Your Fellow Players As You'd Like To Be Treated

4.Treat The Dealer Like You Would The Other Players

5.Tip Your Dealer

6.Don't Take A Long Time To Make Decisions


Despite blackjack being such a popular game all around the world, its origin is slightly muddled – with sources suggesting that a similar game was played by ancient Romans, Egyptians and Chinese before playing cards were even invented. Evidence suggests that a form of blackjack game called One and Thirty in the 1400's or Veintiuna in the 1600's, all popular Spanish card games, were the origin of blackjack. The rules were very different to how we play blackjack today, and was played with a Spanish Baraja deck rather than the standard 52-cards used today.

The French game Vingt-et-un is said to be the closest relation to the blackjack that we know, where the objective of the game was to get to 21 in three cards or less. Although the modern game has adapted to the objective of simply beating the dealer, Vingt-et-un is a close variation. It was throughout the 1700s that Vingt-et-un became extremely popular, with famous French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte regularly playing it. When the French made it to America, they bought Vingt-et-un with them: making it one of their biggest past times. It wasn't until Nevada legalised gambling that blackjack evolved into the form we know today.

Since then, the game has quickly grown in popularity, with the basic blackjack strategy coming into existence in the 1950's by the statisticians The Four Horsemen, and the Beat the Dealer book on card counting by Edward O. Thorpe in 1962. Now, there's plenty of ways that you can play blackjack, both in a real casino or tucked up in bed on your mobile phone. If you want to learn how to beat the dealer in a game of blackjack, then read on.