21 is extremely popular card game played on the internet. If you are a beginner in playing online BlackJack then playing the game for free is the best way for you as you can here learn the hangs and ruses that can be applied when betting with real money. Playing for free is fun, but also exciting. If you have decided to take the plunge, decide which site is the best for you. Some online casinos cater to beginners, while others are favoured by professional card sharks. The game below is Paddy Power blackjack that is provided by Playtech and this classic variant is our favourite.

You put the bet in the circle on the table and as long as it is above the minimum bet and below the maximum, it is valid. The dealer then deals the cards starting with the circle on the far left placing in each a card, faced down, including himself. That is the dealer's down card. Then he deals another card out to every circle facing down but when he gets to himself he deals himself a card facing up. Yes, you guessed it, this is the dealers up card. Now you have to check all cards and adds them up to figure out what you want to do with them.

But first you must understand what the values or certain cards are.
2 - 10 are basically self-explanatory. Jack, Queen and King are also worth ten. An Ace is counted as 11 unless your total exceeds 21 when the Ace counts as 1. A hand containing an Ace with a value of 11 is called a soft hand and a hand with an ace which value is 1 we call a hard hand.
If you have been dealt cards with a total of 21 already then this is called blackjack and you should reveal your cards straight away. The dealer has an up card, which if it is an Ace, can cause the players to worry and ponder over what his down card could be. Please note that the dealer always checks for a dealer blackjack and then puts the cards back down and continues playing. And as I have said before, if you have cards in your hand which total is over 21 (doesn't include Aces in their soft status) then you are bust and have lost all chances of winning the pot in the game.

After you have looked at your cards the dealer will go round one by one asking what you would like to do, and this proves be confusing for a first-time player so here are the definitions.
  • Stand - This implies that you are happy with your hand and think you have a good chance of winning with the total that your cards add up to. Hit - Means that you would like another card dealt because your card total is low and you have no chance of winning with the total you have at the minute.
  • Double - Only if you are sure that you can win with an extra card, and be aware that you must double your bet.
  • Split - This is applicable if your hand consists of two cards of the same value. The hand is then split in half and acts as two individual hands, with twice the chance of winning.
  • Insurance - Insurance bet is placed if the dealer have Ace as an up card and you would like protection against it being blackjack. This requires to pay half of your initial bet again and will receive 2:1 odds if the dealer manages to get a 21.

When you are finished and happy with your choices then the dealer plays his hand in front of you. He has certain rules, he has to hit every hand that totals below 17 and stand on those that total 17 and above. If there are any more rules regarding the dealer the will be noted in the tables rules or on the table itself. You win based on a 1:1 ratio so you win your bet back if your hand is totalled higher than the dealers or he is bust. Blackjack which consists of an Ace and a 10 is better than the one combined with more cards totalling up to 21 and it pays 3:2 odds.

Basic strategy with chart

If you do not follow any strategies at blackjack, due to the game rules and the payments, the house is going to have the advantage against you. This advantage is somewhere between 0.1 to 1.5%. In the single deck game, the house advantage is 0.1% and in the case of a standard 8 deck game, this advantage is 0.5%! The deviation of the game is about 1.15, which is very low when compared with other casino games.

An optimal strategy exists in Blackjack, which minimises the house edge to less than 0.1%. This, complemented with a good stake management strategy, brings the advantage to your side, so you can be a long-term winning player.
Since the dealer makes decisions according to pre-established rules, the ideal strategy can be calculated mathematically. Applying this strategy, we will not always win, but selecting the given step, we shall have the best chance of winning. The large part of the house advantage is given by the fact that players act first by not knowing the second card of the dealer. Therefore, if we bust, we always lose this hand, regardless of the cards of the house. Therefore, the house is in a better position to wait for the cards.

By default (as long as we are not professionals) it is not worth making an insurance in any case! It is worth making an insurance only by certain methods of calculation, which requires a lot of practice (it is not very applicable in online conditions). If we never make any insurance, the advantage is still staying on our side, applying this easy-to-remember rule.
The optimal steps are summarised in the next image where you can look up the optimal step for the proposed situation.
On the left side, the first column shows the value of your hand, while the top row shows the dealer card. We should identify three basic starting hand combinations: Hard hands, Soft hands and Pairs.
Hard Hands means different values without an ace.
Soft hands are starting cards, one of which is an ace. This is a special starting hand because the value of an ace can be 1 or 11 as well and this fact can influence our optimal step.
Pairs are equal value start-up cards.


The 1st table shows how to play hard hands, 2nd one shows how to play soft hands and the 3rd one is for pairs.

S: Stand (stop - not requesting any more cards).
H: Hit (draw - asking more cards).
D: Double (doubles - double our bet by pressing the double button).
Ds: Double if allowed, stand IF NOT.
Dh: Double if allowed, hit IF NOT.
SP: Split (split - split pairs by pressing the Split button).

Based on the above tables, the optimal step can be tracked, which should be followed for an optimal game.

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