Blackjack dates back centuries and has become more popular as history has progressed. Fast forward to 2023 and this classic casino game is played in physical casinos around the world, as well as through multiple New Zealand online casinos. The reasons behind this sustained popularity are plentiful. But for those who have not yet tried their luck at the blackjack tables, it’s natural to wonder how to play and how to get involved. 

This is what we will be running through on this page. Read on, take it all in and you’ll be enjoying online blackjack before you know it. 

How to play blackjack – rules explained

Although many different versions of blackjack have emerged over the years, the fundamentals created all those years ago still apply. You must become familiar with these fundamentals if you are to learn how to play blackjack and subsequently feel confident playing online. 

The overall objective

Regardless of the type of blackjack you choose to play, the main objective is always the same – to get as close to 21 as possible without going beyond this total. Of course, the dealer is also attempting to do the same thing, which means you must finish on a value higher than the dealer’s hand to win. It isn’t quite as simple or as easy as it may sound, though. 

Card values

Card values play an enormous role in understanding how to play blackjack. The good news is the values are quite easy to understand compared with other casino table games such as online poker. Every number card (2-10) is its stated value, while every face card (Jack, Queen, King) is worth 10. An ace, though, can be worth 1 or 11, whichever suits your hand at the time. While you may have figured this out already – blackjack is the term given to the combination of an ace and a face card, issued as the first two cards. 

Playing an actual hand

Now you understand the objective and the card values, let’s run through an actual hand to get you prepared for the real thing. The dealer will issue you with two cards (face up), which can be any of the values we’ve already mentioned. The dealer will also issue his/herself with two cards, with only one of the cards in a face up position. This face up card will dictate the decision you then make.

After you receive your two cards, you have several options open. If you ‘stand’, this means you are happy with the value of your cards and you won’t take another. If you think the cards you have aren’t looking too good concerning the potential to beat the dealer, you can ‘hit’. This simply means you take an extra card. You can repeat this until you are satisfied with the value you have in your hand, although this does carry the risk of going over 21 – known as ‘going bust’. 

Once you are happy with your hand and choose to stand, the dealer will then flip their second card over. According to blackjack rules, the dealer must play until they reach 17 or above, during which time they could also ‘go bust’, or land on a higher number than your hand’s total. Unfortunately, there is no real way to boost your chances of success. You just need to play your hand according to whatever you feel is best.

This is the basic way in which a blackjack hand is played. If you are still not feeling overly comfortable with going ahead and playing blackjack for real money, why not play free blackjack at one of our recommended sites? This way you can practise without taking on any financial risks.

Key blackjack terminology

To truly become familiar with how to play blackjack, the terminology used needs to become second nature. Please take some time to familiarise yourself with the terms outlined below. 

  • Hit

Whenever you ‘hit’ in blackjack, this means you want the dealer to give you another card from the deck. When you play blackjack in a physical casino, you can indicate you want to make this play by tapping the table. 

  • Stand

In contrast, when you choose to ‘stand’, this means you will not take another card, sticking with the total value you currently have. 

  • Surrender

This is only offered if the dealer turns over an ace or a face card for the one card that they do place ‘face up’. You are given a ‘surrender’ option before you even get to choose how you play your hand. If you do surrender and the dealer turns over a blackjack, you will get half of your stake back. Think of it as insurance.

  • Split

You can only ‘split’ your hand if you have two cards of the same value. For example, if the dealer issues you with two 7s, you could split the hand and play two separate hands against the dealer. This will also double your stake, however. 

  • Double

Should you ‘double’, you will be given one extra card, and your stake will also be doubled. That’s why this play is often referred to as ‘doubling down’. It’s a rather high-risk, high-reward strategy. 

Main blackjack categories

Pretty much all of the leading gambling sites in New Zealand will have a set of different blackjack games for you to try, and they generally fall under two categories:

Live blackjack

Rather than playing random number generator (RNG) blackjack, you can venture over into the live casino, where most sites will have a set of live blackjack games for you to play. This is where you can compete with a real dealer through games which are streamed in high definition. The action is real, the thrill is intense and some of our all-time favourites include the likes of Power Blackjack and Quantum Blackjack.

RNG blackjack

If you don’t really fancy the live blackjack action just yet, there is always a set of RNG games to enjoy. RNG blackjack games are run through software as opposed to operating in a real life setting, and there are plenty to choose from these days. The same rules apply and since there are options such as European Blackjack, American Blackjack, Perfect Pairs Blackjack and many others to experiment with, you won’t get bored too quickly.