A Beginner’s Guide to Progressive Blackjack

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Playing cards showing a ‘blackjack’ with casino chips on a red felt table.
BetMGM Dec 05, 2022, 2:22 PM

Blackjack is tremendously popular with most people who play casino card games and for very good reason. It has the best potential RTP (return to player) of all casino table games when played well and it has some of the simplest casino card game rules. For beginners, blackjack is one of the easiest games to learn, unlike poker, which requires a lot of hands and strategies to understand. There’s no need to read other players, either, which makes blackjack the ideal game to play at a live table or at an online casino.

But there’s more to blackjack than easy gameplay, such as “Lucky Lucky,” “Perfect pairs,” “Royal match,” “21+3” and “Lucky Ladies.” Moreover, one of the more interesting blackjack side bets in recent years is a wager for a progressive jackpot. This often has the potential for big wins. Read on as we provide blackjack tips for beginners and take you through the basics of progressive blackjack.

Basic blackjack rules

To play progressive blackjack, you need to know the basics of blackjack. Skip this part if you already know these casino card game rules. The aim of the game is to build a hand of cards that’s as close to 21 as possible without going above that number. Cards showing numbers (2 through 10, regardless of suit) are worth their face values, while the royal cards (J, Q, K) are worth 10, and you can choose whether aces are 11 or 1 – whichever suits you best. At the start of the game, players must place their initial bets. Then they and the dealer all receive two cards each, but one of the dealer’s cards is face-up. 

Basic options are to “hit” (have another card dealt to you) or “stand” (stick with what you’ve got.) Hit as many times as you want, but if you go over 21, you’re “bust” – this is one of the most important and easy blackjack rules to remember. If you stand, play passes to the next player. When every player has had their turn, the dealer shows their face-down card. Whichever hand is closest to 21 wins. And that’s it. We told you it’s one of the easier casino table games! Now you’re ready to take the next step and learn about progressive blackjack.

How close to 21 should I go?

Hitting 21 or staying close to it is the aim of the game. If you hit 22 and above, such as a 10 and a queen, you’re out “bust.” So, if you’re wondering how to play blackjack in a casino for beginners, start by having a few practice rounds before playing for money and understand the probability of going bust to get a feel for the game. 

Another way of understanding how to play 21 for beginners is by setting up benchmarks of numbers you will “stick” or “hit” with. Sticking is when you decide to leave your cards as is and hitting is when you want another card from the dealer. 

If the dealer places down a 10 and you have pairs of 7s, 8s, or hold a hand adding up to a 14 to 16, it’s not ideal to hit as your chances of going over 21 are high. Rather stick and hope the dealer goes bust. Anything between 17 and 20 is regarded as a strong round, so it’s recommended to stick. However, experienced players will often call for another card with any hand 13 and below – sometimes you have to risk it to win big. 

Progressive jackpots explained

Progressive blackjack is simply blackjack with a side bet for a progressive jackpot. The first progressive jackpot games to surface were online slots like the ever-popular Mega Moolah, which feature a jackpot that keeps growing the longer you play. A fraction of the player’s bet goes into the base jackpot amount, or seed jackpot, along with a fraction of all bets by all players on the same progressive jackpot network. This continues until somebody wins the jackpot and the seed jackpot reverts to its base amount. The potential for mega wins makes these online slots very popular. Maybe that’s why casino table games are increasingly featuring progressive jackpots too – both at land-based establishments and online casinos.

How to play progressive blackjack

A common type of progressive blackjack is played with four decks of cards. You place a side bet in the hope that your two cards will combine with the dealer’s two cards in a way that triggers a jackpot payout. Whether you win or lose, the bet doesn’t affect the outcome of the base game and vice versa. A progressive blackjack side bet pays out a number of winning combinations in addition to the progressive jackpot itself, although it’s worth noting that you will have to stake more to be in the running. Here’s how you can win:

  • One ace of any suit pays 3:1
  • Two aces of different suits pay 15:1
  • Two aces of the same suit pay 50:1
  • Three aces of different suits pay 200:1
  • Three aces of the same suit pay 1,000:1
  • Four aces of different colors pay 2,000:1

Four aces of the same color (either red or black) will trigger the progressive jackpot.

Progressing further in blackjack

It’s true that you only need basic blackjack knowledge to play progressive blackjack, but that isn’t the whole story. There are a couple of extra rules. One is that you can’t win the jackpot if you split the aces.

Splitting in blackjack is a concept you’ll need to understand to improve your base game. If your first two cards are a pair – that is, they have the same value – you can split them into two separate hands and get another card for each hand. You also have to place another bet equal to your initial bet. It’s a rule of thumb to always split a pair of aces, but you should keep them together in progressive blackjack.

Another rule concerns doubling down. If you double down, it means you raise your initial bet by up to 100%. But you also have to take one more card in return. The rule in progressive blackjack is that you can only double down when your hand scores 9, 10 or 11 and you can’t double down after you split.

Practice makes progress: Live dealer blackjack

Ultimately, winning in blackjack can be explained as being the one who is closest to 21. As simple as this sounds, getting used to these concepts takes some practice. A great way to learn the ropes at the blackjack table is to play live dealer blackjack in an online casino. You can literally join a live blackjack table on your mobile phone or tablet and play against a trained blackjack dealer who deals out real cards. You can learn all about how to split and double down and explore other side bets, too. There’s also a great social aspect when you play in a casino online. The gaming interface enables you to interact with your friendly online blackjack live dealer and other players at the table via a chat box. Another plus when you play live online blackjack for real money is that you can practice using a blackjack chart, which is a strategy chart that shows the best possible plays for any given card combination. After all, practice makes perfect.

Best online casino side bets

Live dealer blackjack doesn’t feature progressive jackpots at present, but there are some great online blackjack variants with awesome side bets that come close – a great way to keep blackjack fresh and exciting. One of the best online casino side bets for blackjack players comes with Blazing 7s Blackjack. It pays out 5x your stake if either of your first two cards is a 7 and the payout increases the more 7s appear in the draw. Two 7s in your hand pay out 35x your side bet, which goes up to 77x if the dealer’s up card is also a 7 and 350x if your first two cards and the dealer’s up card are the same color. If they’re all in the same suit, it’s a big win of 777x your stake. You can play up to three hands of Blazing 7s Blackjack at once. Don’t forget to use your blackjack chart to help you judge the best action for the cards you’ve been dealt.

Play casino blackjack for real at BetMGM

At BetMGM, we’re proud to offer the best online casino blackjack variations, from Blazing 7s Blackjack to live dealer titles. Yes, you can meet your very own online blackjack live dealer when you register with us. 

Read up on blackjack etiquette and play online blackjack for real money anywhere you choose on our mobile gaming platform. Be sure to explore all our other casino table games, including live dealer variations of online poker, baccarat and roulette. And when it’s time to unwind, our broad range of online slots and other game types will be sure to keep you entertained.  

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.