Blackjack Rules

Your Complete Guide to Mastering The Game of Blackjack

Blackjack, also known as 21, is a beloved and popular classic card game. Not only is the gameplay riveting, but blackjack rules are simple, and it offers the lowest house edge of all casino games. Let’s get into all the ins and outs of this exciting card game.

Master the Rules & Odds of Blackjack 

The goal of any Blackjack player is to play the perfect hand. You’ll need to know everything there is to know about the game to do this. Once you have the rules and blackjack odds committed to memory, you’ll be able to use them to your advantage.

The Objective 

The simplest objective in a game of blackjack is to beat the dealer. The game’s goal is to achieve a hand with a combined card value of 21, or as close to 21 as possible. Knowing when to take an extra card or stick on your current hand value is the main skill you’ll need to master.

Card Values 

To reach a hand value of 21, each card carries a value that gets added to your total points. Go over, and you’re out. The values of the hands are:

  • Jack, Queen and King: 10 points.
  • 2 through 10: Number cards count as their face value.
  • Ace: Can count as 11 or 1 depending on your preference and what helps your hand the most.

The odds 

The odds in a blackjack game can vary for many reasons. One is that your odds of winning are based on the probability of hitting a winning combination of cards. This can be affected by the number of decks of cards in play. The more decks, the lower your odds of hitting blackjack:

  • One deck odds of blackjack: 4.83%
  • Two deck odds: 4.78%
  • Six deck odds: 4.75%

The house edge is the statistical advantage the house has over every player; the margin holds the key to the casino’s profits. The house edge can vary between game types:

Blackjack VariantHouse Edge
American 0.5%
European 0.38%
Vegas Downtown 0.39%
Vegas Strip 0.48-0.72%

Understand All Side Bets 

Blackjack side bets are wagers that you can place on events outside of the main bet, which involve the outcome of your hand. Side bets cover things like which types of cards will be drawn, whether they’ll be of the same suit, whether the first cards drawn will be a pair, etc.

  1. Insurance

This is a bet you can place if the dealer’s face-up card is an ace. Essentially, you are betting that the dealer will hit a blackjack (21). This bet pays out 2:1 if he does. 

  1.  Perfect Pairs

This side bet is placed on whether your first cards drawn will be a pair. There are three types of pairs that are included in this bet, each paying out at a different rate:

  • Mixed pair 

This comprises two matching value cards of different colours and pays out at odds of 6:1.

  • Coloured pair

A pair of the same value and the same colour will pay you out at 12:1 odds.

  • Perfect pair

The ideal combination of two cards of the same value and suit will get you paid out at 25:1 odds.

  1. 21+3

21+3 blackjack bets bring a bit of poker into the blackjack game. Incorporating your first two cards and the dealer’s first card, five three-card poker hands will payout:

  •  Flush 

All three cards have the same suit and payout at odds of 5:1.

  •  Straight

The three cards are consecutive numbers. A Straight pays out at 10:1

  •  Three of a kind

 Three cards of the same value but not the same suit will get you odds of 30:1

  •  Straight flush

Three consecutive cards of the same suit will pay you out an impressive 40:1.

  • Suited triple

The most valuable 21+3 bet paying out at 100:1 is three cards of the same value and suit.

4. Bet Behind 

In a bet behind wager, you bet on another player’s hand as if it was your own. You can make a bet behind if you’re just watching a game and waiting for a seat, or if you’re playing at the table and simply want to back another player’s good hand.

5. Royal match 

A Royal Match side bet is more common at land-based casinos and will pay you out 5:2 for two suited cards and 25:1 if you have a suited Queen and King.

6. Over/under 13 

With an over/under 13 bet, you can bet whether or not your first two cards will have a total value of over or under 13. In this case, an ace will always be counted as one.

7. Super sevens 

If you place a super sevens side bet, you are hoping to hit three suited sevens on your first three cards. The bet pays out if your first card dealt is a seven, and the payout increases with each consecutive seven. 

The odds paid out for one seven is 3:1, two sevens is 50:1, two suited sevens pay 100:1, three sevens get you 500:1 and hitting three suited sevens is a huge payout of 5,000:1.

8. Lucky ladies 

A lucky lady side bet will pay you out if your hand total is 20. A suited 20 will get you 10:1, while an unsuited 20 will payout at 4:1. A pair of lucky ladies, two queens of hearts, is worth 200:1.

9. Honey Bonus 

A Honey Bonus works the same as a 21-3 side bet with an additional payout of 5:1 for a suited blackjack.

10. Lucky 7 

A lucky 7 side bet is another name for a super sevens side bet and works the same way.

11. Lucky Lucky 

A Lucky Lucky side bet takes into account the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s face-up card to make six winning combinations:

  • Any three cards totalling 19 or 20 pays 2:1
  • Suited 21, pays 15:1
  • 6-7-8 straight pays 25:1
  • Any three sevens pay 50:1
  • 3-7-8 straight flush pays 100:1
  • Three suited sevens pay 200:1

12. Top 3 

This side bet uses the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s face-up card to put together a hand of three cards. Only available on tables with the +3 wager and in games with four, six or eight decks, the bet will payout for three-of-a-kind, a straight flush or suited three-of-a-kind.

13. Hot 3 

Only available on Evolution Gaming’s Infinite Blackjack game, this side bet works similarly to a Lucky Lucky bet, using the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s face-up card to try to score a total of 19 up to 21. 

  • Any three cards adding up to 19 pay 1:1
  • Any three cards adding up to 20 pay 2:1
  • Any three cards adding up to 21 pay 4:1
  • Suited 21 pays 20:1
  • Three sevens pay 100:1

14. Buster 

A Buster side bet pays out when the dealer busts his hand. The more cards in his hand on busting, the better the payout. You can expect odds from 2:1 for four cards to pay up to 250:1 for an eight-card bust.

15. Bust it 

A Bust it bet will pay you out if the dealer busts on his third card. The size of the payout increases the less he busts by, so you’ll get a bigger payday if he busts by six than by ten; the dealer busting with three same coloured eights or three suited eights will increase your payouts drastically.

Live casinos with the best blackjack side bets 

It’s not always easy to find the best place to play online and finding out which casino offers which side bets is even harder. We’ve put together this handy list with online live casinos in NZ that offer the best blackjack side bets around.

CasinoDecks21+3Bet behindRoyal MatchPerfect PairsOver/under 13Super sevensLucky LadiesHoney BonusLucky 7
LeoVegas8
Pokerstars8
Casumo8
Energy Casino8
Royal Panda8
Bet3658

How to Play Blackjack – Breakdown of a Round 

A game of blackjack is broken down into hands, or rounds. Each round will have a specific order that it follows. Let’s take a look at how a round works:

  1. Fund your Balance

This may seem like an obvious step, but the first thing to do is find a casino, sign up and fund your account.

  1. Place your wager

Before the cards are dealt, you will have to make a bet to buy-in. Different tables and casinos offer different stakes, some as low as NZ$0.50 and others up to a whopping NZ$25,000. It’s important to find a table with stakes that suit your bankroll and always keep track of your betting to prevent overspending; never bet what you can’t afford to lose.

  1. The dealer will now deal the cards

When every player has placed their bets, the dealer will deal each a pair of cards, and himself one for now.

The dealer gave me a blackjack!

That’s fantastic! You’ve got the strongest hand possible and must stick; now, you just wait until the dealer has completed all of the dealing for himself and the other players to see what your winnings are.

The dealer gave me cards that triggered my side bet(s)! 

Great! Your side bets will pay off, and you’ll get some extra winnings on this hand. But the game continues, so let’s check out the next step.

  1. Time to make a decision!

So, you now know the value of the cards, the aim of the game and your odds of winning. Try to evaluate the cards you have and decide whether to stay, hit, or split. This decision can either get you to the next step or end your round here.

Damn, I busted! 

That’s too bad! If your cards total over 21, you automatically lose, regardless of what the dealer ends up with in his hand. You’ll have to wait for the next round to play again.

Still in the race 

If your total card value is 21 or under and you asked to stay, congratulations, you are still in the round. 

It’s important to know that, while the dealer always has the house edge on their side, you can minimize this edge by learning about blackjack strategies and using them to your advantage.

  1. Dealer plays hand

When each player has decided what they want to do and their cards have been dealt, the dealer will then play his hand. There will be one of four outcomes here:

  1. Dealer Busts – each player that has a hand still in the game wins.
  2. Dealer sticks and his hand is higher than yours – you lose.
  3. Dealer sticks and your hands are of equal value – it’s a draw.
  4. Dealer sticks and your hand has a higher value – you’re a winner

6. Payouts

The final step in a round of blackjack is where you’ll get your winnings and move on to the next hand.

  1. If you hit a blackjack out the gate, you’ll win 1.5 x your bet.
  2. If you beat the dealer with a higher score at the end, he’ll pay you even money, 1:1.
  3. If you doubled your bet and won, you’ll get 2x your accumulated bet.
  4. If you split your hand and won, you’ll get 1:1 for each winning hand.

a. If you split and doubled your winnings will be 2x your wager.

Frequently asked questions

Side bets can be fun and add more excitement to your blackjack game. While they can lead to some generous payouts, you should know the house edge is higher with side bets.
You can join a table at the end of any hand, provided there’s space.
According to blackjack strategies, it is never a sound mathematical decision to take insurance.