Blackjack FAQ

Blackjack is an easy enough game to learn. And we’d like to think that we cover the topic pretty well here on

However, we still get a lot of questions regarding rules, strategies, odds, online and brick and mortar casinos. So we thought it’d be helpful to everyone to answer the most commonly asked blackjack questions we receive here on this page. That way everyone can benefit from them.

What are the best strategies for blackjack?

That depends on the exact game you’re playing. The number of decks, rules regarding splitting and doubling down, and when the dealer stands will all affect your strategy.

As a rule of thumb, though, you can’t go wrong following this strategy:

  • Stand on 17 or higher.
  • Don’t hit 12-16 when the dealer is showing a 6.
  • Split 8s.
  • Double down on 11 if the dealer is showing a 7 or smaller.

What are the best books for learning how to play blackjack?

We haven’t read every blackjack book out there, but here is a shortlist of books that have received great reviews on Amazon.

  • Professional Blackjack – Stanford Wong
  • Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised – Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs
  • Best Blackjack – Frank Scoblete
  • Blackjack Bluebook II – Fred Renzey
  • Blackjack for Blood – Bryce Carlson

What is the easiest way to learn how to play blackjack?

Play blackjack. You’ll pick the game up the fastest by getting hands on experience. If you don’t want to spend money to learn how to play blackjack, you can always play online for free, find an app for your phone or find a casino themed video game.

What is the difference between being good at blackjack and counting cards?

Well, on one hand you’re no financial threat to the casinos. The worst case scenario for them is that you use basic strategy and breakeven. On the other hand, if you can count cards you can win money from the casino. So I guess the difference would be that one player hopes to break even and the other player makes money.

I want to setup my own blackjack game at home with some friends. What is the best way to do this?

What I’ve done in the past is share the responsibility with whoever was willing to be the dealer. In order to be the dealer you need to have a slightly larger bankroll than those playing. Or, you can play for smaller increments. Instead of dollars you play with nickels, dimes and/or quarters. Then just get a deck of cards, any kind of table and chairs. Then have fun!

How much do I tip blackjack dealers?

My personal point of view is that tipping should be based on your experience. As a default I’ll tip the dealer $5 or $10, and even more when I win. I tip the cocktail waitresses $1 per drink. I usually never not tip, unless the dealer was no fun / unfriendly.

What are the advantages of playing blackjack online for free?

There are a few advantages:

  • You can learn how to play blackjack without fear of losing.
  • You can try new strategies without worrying about losing.
  • You can still play blackjack even if you’re broke.
  • You can still play blackjack even if you’re broke and/or not near an online casino.
  • You don’t have to download software (most times) to play for free.

The only downside to free blackjack, in my opinion, is that you don’t win when you go on a hot streak.

I want to play blackjack at my local casino? What is the minimum bet?

Every casino is different, so your best bet is to give them a call or look them up online. That said, in my experience the minimum is usually $5 per hand. Sometimes you’ll come across a special promo or older casino that offers $3 per hand.

Note: If you’re on a budget then I recommend playing online. Most online casinos have a minimum of $1 per hand, so you can play 3-5x as many hands. You also save money and time that you’d otherwise spend traveling.

Is playing online blackjack illegal for Americans?

That depends. For the majority of the states, no, there are no laws against online blackjack. However, there are a handful of states like Washington, Maryland and New York that are against online gambling. So you’ll want to double check your local laws before playing online.

I tried to make a deposit online using my Visa / MasterCard and it was declined. What other ways can I make a deposit? I live in the US.

If you only tried your card once, I’d try it again. You can also call the casino to see if they could run your card through manually.

Assuming that doesn’t work, you can try using a gift card, prepaid Visa or money transfer service like Western Union.

I was playing blackjack, and after a hand someone told me I should’ve doubled. What does that mean?

The person was probably referring to double down, a play where you match your initial bet in exchange for (only) one more card. The best times to double down is when you have a hard 11 (versus a dealer 2-10), a hard 10 (dealer 2-9) or hard 9 (dealer 3-6).

What happens when the dealer and I have the same hands?

This is referred to as a tie or “push.” In most games a tie will pay you your bet back. However, in some blackjack variations like Face Up 21, the dealer wins the ties because it’s one of the few edges the casino has.

How much do I need to play blackjack for the afternoon?

This is too vague to answer. There are some variables missing, like what limits you want to play, how long you intend to play for and whether or not you know basic strategy.

If you play using optimal blackjack strategy, the house only has an edge of about .5 percent. So for every $2 you wager the casino collects $.01. At $5 per hand you’re losing .025. If you play 100 hands per hour in that’s a loss of $2.50.

But blackjack isn’t that black or white. You can lose (or win) more than that in a shorter amount of time. That’s referred to as variance.

To answer your question though, I’d probably bring no less than $100 to play $5 hands, and I’d like it more if I could have closer to $300. I’m sure that would give me at least a couple of hours of entertainment.

How does shuffling make it harder to count cards?

The whole idea behind counting cards is to keep track of cards you’ve seen. More specifically, 10-point cards, 5-point cards and aces. The more a deck is used up, the more accurate your count should be. You’ll know when to bet more or when to bet less. But when a dealer shuffles it resets the count back to 0. That’s why casinos reshuffle their deck so often — to try to throw off the card counters.

What is the house advantage if the cards are reshuffled after every hand?

With optimal strategy the house edge is about .05 percent. So darn near breakeven for you.

I’ve never played blackjack before, but I want to play professionally? How would I do this?

You have a lot of work ahead of you, no doubt about that. It’s not just blackjack that’s hard to play professionally, but gambling in general. You have to have the mental aptitude to handle the swings (ups and downs). From playing poker part time I can tell you that’s the hardest part.

Other than the mental aspect, you’ll need to treat blackjack like it’s your own business. You’ll have to practice to get better, keep track of your wins/losses (your income basically) and expenses. Keep in mind that the better you get and the more money you make, the more likely you’ll be booted from a casino. That will cost you as you’ll have to travel further away to play.

But just to get started — play blackjack for fun, on the side, with no pressure of paying your bills. Make sure you really want to play blackjack all day and can handle the stresses of both winning and losing. Then get into it if you’re able to handle it (and you’re good enough). I’ve seen it mentioned time and time again that gambling is a hard way to make good money. Good luck!

Do you have blackjack related questions? Send them to us and we’ll do our best to answer them.