How to play blackjack UK: a beginner’s guide

Blackjack is one of the oldest and most-loved card games, and it’s a key feature of all online and brick-and-mortar casinos.

If you’re new to gambling and are looking for an easy game to start, blackjack is undoubtedly the best option.

This article explains how to play blackjack UK by introducing you to the rules and gameplay before recommending some of the best places to get started with blackjack online. 

How to play blackjack UK: the basics

Blackjack is one of the easiest card games to play, and it is commonly known in family game parlance as pontoon. Colloquially, many know blackjack as 21, as the game aims to form a hand that totals 21, beating the dealer in the process.

You are dealt two cards in blackjack, with the dealer receiving two cards. The total of the two cards in your hand is added together; for instance, having a ten and a seven would give you a total of 17. All number cards retain their face value, while royals are worth 10. An ace can be worth either 1 or 11. The best combination you can receive in blackjack is J/Q/K-A, known as blackjack. 

After placing your bets and then receiving your two cards, you have a choice – you can either stand or take another card. Standing means that you’re happy with the cards you have been dealt, and you think you are closer to 21 than the dealer (or that the dealer might bust, based on their face-up card).

If you take another card, you need to add to the total of the other two cards in your hand. You can take as many extra cards as you like, but be careful! If the total number of cards in your hand exceeds 21, you will go bust and lose to the dealer.

The betting mechanics of blackjack 

A game of blackjack online begins with you (and other players at the table) placing a bet. The casino will set minimum, and maximum limits, which typically range from £1 to £500 in live online casino blackjack, or mere pennies in the real number generated games like those on Mr Green casino.

Once you’ve placed your bet, the dealer deals the cards. You will receive two cards face up, while the dealer will place one face down and one face up in front of themselves. With the game underway, the following options are possible: 

  • Beating the dealer: If you end the round with a better hand than the dealer, the return is 1:1. For this reason, blackjack is known as an even-money card game. You will also get your stake back if you beat the dealer. 
  • Doubling down & beating the dealer: If you’re confident about your hand, you can choose to double down when you take your first extra card. This doubles the number of units you bet on the hand and increases your 1:1 payout if you win. Of course, you also stand to lose twice as much as your original bet. 
  • Landing a blackjack: The best hand you can receive in blackjack is a face card + ace, known as blackjack. Some casinos offer a payout of 3:2 for winning a hand with blackjack, while others payout 6:5.

In addition to the above payouts for beating the dealer, you should be aware that blackjack has one of the highest return-to-player percentages (RTPs) of all online casino games – somewhere in the region of 99.6% if you follow a basic blackjack strategy!

This means that for every £1 spent on blackjack, 99.6p is returned to players over the long term, considerably higher than the 95% average RTP of slots. 

Other blackjack rules 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s worth looking at some of the other rules that govern blackjack, including: 

Splitting pairs 

If the first two cards that you are dealt are of the same denomination (two sixes, for instance), you can choose to split your hand. As a result, you will compete against the dealer with two hands instead of one, starting with one of the cards from the pair.

To split a pair, you must place a matching bet on the newly formed hand. This essentially presents you with a double chance of beating the dealer. 

Doubling down

Some casinos also offer players the option of doubling down their bet. You should do this if your total is something like 9, 10, or 11 since the next card will likely be a ten, giving you a strong finishing total.

As is the case with splitting pairs, you’re required to place an equal bet to the original bet placed, and the dealer will issue you with only one card. All bets will be settled at the end of the hand.


You can often place a side bet in blackjack, known as an insurance bet. This is usually up to half the value of the original bet and can be placed when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace.

You’re betting on the dealer’s face-down card being a ten-card, thus forming a blackjack hand for the house. Once bets are placed, the dealer will reveal the face-down card and if it’s a ten-card, those players that made an insurance bet are paid out 2:1.

Game variants 

If you’ve spent some time looking for blackjack games at online casinos, you will know that there are lots of game variants to consider. Some of the most popular include: 

  • European Blackjack: The classic version of the game introduced above. 
  • Progressive Blackjack: The same classic game but with a mandatory side bet, which players place to have a chance of winning a progressive jackpot. 
  • Blackjack Switch: In Blackjack Switch, players can switch between two pairs of cards throughout the game. 
  • Spanish Blackjack: All cards with a value of ten are removed from the game. 
  • Free Bet Blackjack: In Free Bet Blackjack, all players can double down and split for free. 

How to play blackjack UK: Tips for getting started

How to play blackjack in UK

So, you now understand all the basics and are ready to start playing blackjack online or in person. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to play blackjack UK that will help you get started like a pro: 

  • Before deciding whether to hit or take another card, always consider the dealer’s face-up card. If the dealer has a 7, 8, 9, 10, or A showing, you should keep drawing until you have at least a total of 17 in your hand. 
  • However, if the dealer shows a lower card (4, 5, or 6), it makes sense to stop drawing when you get a 12 or higher. The key here is never to risk going bust when you know the dealer hasn’t got the strongest hand. 
  • When it comes to splitting a blackjack hand, eights and aces are the best to split, while ten cards shouldn’t be split. Provided the dealer has an 8, 9, or 10 card, 2s, 3s, and 7s can be split. 
  • Always set a limit when playing online blackjack and spend within your means. Playing cards online should be fun, so make sure you know your limits before playing. 

Where to play online blackjack UK

You’re all set to play online blackjack at a trusted online casino. At Smashing Life, we recommend blackjack at Hippozino, William Hill Casino, and 888 Casino. These sites are all regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, offer excellent welcome and ongoing bonuses, and provide excellent value for blackjack players.

You will also find other table games and popular slot titles to keep things interesting while playing online.

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