How To Play Blackjack

Blackjack Guide

Blackjack is, by and large, one of the most popular casino games in the world. While there may be a handful of variations and rules, depending on where you’re playing, the basics of the game remain the same: beat the dealer and get a hand as close to 21 as possible. In fact, an alternative name for the game itself is ‘Twenty One’. Nowadays, thanks to the prevalence of online casinos, blackjack is enjoyed on PCs and smartphones everywhere, and in this guide we will be addressing some of the most frequently asked questions about the game, explaining how it differs from its land-based counterpart, and more. 

Basic Blackjack Rules

Remember that when you’re playing online blackjack, it’s just you versus the dealer, even if there are other players taking part. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the additional players are winning or losing, it will have no effect on your hand. Also, when we refer to the dealer, it’s a virtual one when you’re playing the standard online blackjack game, and an actual person when you’re playing the live online casino version.

To start a hand, you must bet by clicking on a chip denomination and then again on the table to put your bet down. In online blackjack, you will see that there are lower and higher limits, so make sure your bet size is not only somewhere in-between, but also appropriate for your own bankroll. Once you’ve completed the betting action, you can click or tap the “Deal” button. You will then be dealt two cards that are face-up to show you the value of your hand, while the dealer is given one that’s also face-up and one that’s looking down. The dealer must then check the value of the facedown card (referred to as the hole card), and if “blackjack” is possible, the cards are turned over, the dealer wins, and you go bust.

If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, you will have the following options:

  • To Stand: You are happy with your cards and you’ll keep them as is for the next round.
     
  • To Hit: You want to draw another card – take note that you can continue to draw cards as long as the total does not exceed 21, in which case you’ll bust.
     
  • To Double: You want to double the bet size and get an extra card.
     
  • To Split: If you have a pair, or any two cards with 10 points each, you can split and double the size of your bet. An extra two cards will then get added to give you another hand. Take note that if you’re splitting Aces, you will only score one extra card.
     
  • To Surrender: You give up immediately after seeing your initial two cards and receive half of your stake back.

Blackjack Card Values

When it comes to knowing the value of blackjack cards, it’s easy, as these are generally what’s denoted on the cards. In other words…

  • 2 – 9 Points: Any 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 card.
  • 10 Points: Any picture card or a 10 card.
  • 1 or 11 Points: The Ace card.

As for the best hand, which is of course, ”blackjack”, it’s when you hit both an Ace and a card with a 10 value. 

How to Play Online

Whether you’re playing online blackjack as a stand-alone game at an online casino, or amongst other players in a live dealer environment, the rules of the game remain the same: beat the dealer’s hand without going over and above 21. A common variation in the game is the number of decks used – this is often in order to prevent would-be ‘card counters’ having an advantage. After placing your bet, the dealer will deal himself one card – or two, depending on the variation you’re playing – and two cards for you. Now, depending on the total value of your cards, you can either choose to ‘hit’ or ‘stand’. This is where luck, chance and a little bit of clear thinking come in: for every extra card you get dealt, the dealer will also deal himself one. If the total value of your cards is quite a long way from 21, you’d be wise to hit. If the value is close to 21, you might be better off standing. In short, whoever is closest to 21 will win the hand. It must be noted, however, that a standard rule of the game is for the dealer to stand once his card values are equal to or above 17.

Also, if the dealer’s first card is an Ace, you will have the opportunity to take ‘insurance’, which is basically a bet that their next card will have a value of 10 and, ultimately, complete a blackjack. You can take insurance on half of your placed bet, and even if the dealer does complete a blackjack with their next card, you can still break even. 

How Do Online Blackjack Odds Work?

The odds of online blackjack will vary from casino to casino, and will depend largely on the different variations of the game rules in place, which we will look at in a moment. One of the most obvious things to look out for is how many decks are used in a particular online blackjack game. This won’t usually be obvious just by the name of the game, but will usually be clarified in the rules or information page of a game. As a rule, the payout ratio for completing a blackjack is 3 to 2. These following common rule variations will affect the house edge:

  • Splitting: when a player is dealt a pair, they have the option of splitting them into different hands. An extra card is dealt per hand and the bet is doubled. This cuts the house edge by .13
     
  • Re-splitting of Aces: usually, if a player splits Aces, they receive only one more card on each one. Being allowed to split the pair should another Ace be dealt results in the house edge being cut to .03
     
  • Dealer hits soft 17: if the dealer is allowed to hit hands, including an Ace or Aces that can total as 7 or 17, the house edge is increased by .2 

The Difference Between Online and Casino Blackjack? 

While this question may seem rather obvious, what with one being online and the other not, there are some important differences between playing blackjack at a land-based casino and playing blackjack online. The first one to be aware of is that online blackjack variations will have different rules, but these can be quickly and easily accessed within the software.

Secondly, card counting is simply not possible when playing blackjack online. Random Number Generators are used by online casinos, both with online slots as well as table games. This ensures that the deck is re-shuffled – albeit digitally – after every hand, making it impossible to strategize and increase your odds. This doesn’t mean that no strategies can be employed, but the most obvious one is quickly ruled out.

Unless you’re playing Live Dealer Blackjack, there is no real person dealing the cards in online blackjack, so no matter how good you may be at reading people, you won’t be able to pick up subtle hints and clues to give you an advantage.

Lastly, but no less importantly, when choosing to play blackjack online, you will have the added advantage of being able to focus on the game in whatever environment you wish. At land-based casinos, there will be a lot of distractions like noise, alcohol, shouting high-rollers and the like. While this may add some exciting atmosphere to your play, it could also distract you from the game. Plus, with so many online casinos being accessible on mobile platforms, more and more people are enjoying online blackjack on the move. 

Is Online Blackjack Legal in Canada?

In a word, yes. As is the case with many forms of online gambling in Canada, as well as many states in the neighbouring US, it is perfectly legal to play blackjack online at a number of internationally accredited online casinos. It is only forbidden to operate an online casino from within the borders of the country.

Is Online Blackjack Fair?

The topic of fairness when it comes to online gambling and whether or not online blackjack is rigged is one that is hotly contested. There are those who believe that a computer will always have an advantage, and therefore prefer to play at land-based institutions. However, it is now common knowledge that the most reputable online casinos will be externally audited and regulated by independent bodies such as eCOGRA to ensure that gameplay is fair and casino conduct is liable. Reputable online casinos will have stringent security measures in place, as well as a transparent listing of their licenses and registrations. It could even be argued that online blackjack is even fairer than its land-based counterpart, owing to the fact that there is no room for human error and deception.

Best Blackjack Games Online

Classic Blackjack Gold
Classic Blackjack Gold
Multi-Hand Atlantic City Blackjack
Multi-Hand Atlantic City Blackjack
High Limit European Blackjack
High Limit European Blackjack
AtlanticCity Blackjack
AtlanticCity Blackjack
Blackjack Surrender
Blackjack Surrender
AtlanticCity Gold Blackjack
AtlanticCity Gold Blackjack
European Blackjack
European Blackjack
European Blackjack Gold
European Blackjack Gold
Vegas Blackjack
Vegas Blackjack
Double Exposure Blackjack
Double Exposure Blackjack

Different Types of Online Blackjack Games 

While the classic version of Blackjack is by far the most popular, there are some different versions of the game that are enjoyed around the world. In short, here are some of the most common:

  • Classic Blackjack 

    • Uses between 2 and 4 decks
    • Dealer must hit on soft 17
    • Doubling and splitting allowed
    • Up to 2 re-splits allowed
  • European Blackjack 

    • Usually uses 2 decks
    • Dealer must stand on soft 17
    • Players can double down only when they have a total of 9, 10 or 11
    • Players can double after splitting, but only once
  • Spanish 21 

    • Dealer must stand on soft 17
    • You can double after re-splitting
    • You can surrender after doubling
  • Multi-hand Blackjack

    • Players can use more than one hand at a time
    • Players can only double on total values of 9, 10 or 11
    • Dealer must stand on soft 17
    • You can only split once 

Online Blackjack Strategy

The Importance of Online Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is one of the most popular card games to play, in both the online and offline gambling communities. Why? Because it’s considered a game of skill more than luck, and there is an element of prestige that comes with understanding how to win at blackjack. In other words, the odds are generally more in favour of someone with a solid skill-set having a winning session than they are for someone who doesn’t. By fully grasping the options available, you can take the first step to becoming a skilled player, as several decisions need to be made per hand that could have game-changing consequences.

While many believe that the aim of online blackjack is to try and get as close to 21 as possible, that’s not actually true. The aim is more clear-cut…it’s to beat the dealer. Here we’ll discuss aspects like blackjack betting strategy, blackjack card counting, and blackjack side bets, as well as basic blackjack rules, and more. Let’s take a look!

Blackjack Strategy Chart

When you’re playing online blackjack, one of the best opportunities for you to get to grips with the game is to refer to a blackjack strategy chart. This is, essentially, a colour-coordinated diagram showcasing both yours and the dealer’s hands, while providing suggestions on what your next move could be. In addition, it’s easy to get hold of – simply put in a search online, download the chart, and keep it on hand when you’re playing. The moves recommended in the chart are generally regarded as the statistically best decisions you can make in specific situations. While following the chart does not mean you will win every hand, it will result in long-term wins. In other words, it’s important that you understand what is being presented to you, so that you can apply the suggestions when you’re playing online blackjack. From when to stand, hit, surrender, split or double up, you’ll find it all on your strategy chart, and we highly recommend you refer to one when playing.

How to Beat the House Edge

The house edge is the statistical advantage the casino builds into every game – in other words, it’s the percentage of the money you’ve bet that the casino gets to keep. To beat or reduce the house edge or advantage, you must use a basic blackjack strategy. The correct decisions can make winning a 50/50 possibility. The key is to refer to your blackjack strategy chart while you’re playing to help you with your choices. If you don’t, you could end up making the incorrect decisions regarding standing, splitting, hitting or doubling down. Just by using a basic strategy you can reduce the house edge by 0.14%.

A Basic Blackjack Strategy

This is the best way to optimise your chances of winning when playing online blackjack. The objective of a basic blackjack betting strategy is to not only win as much as possible, but also to maximise your wins, while minimising your losses and reducing your chances of busting.

Of course, you must remember that the house will always have a slight edge – they’re in it for profit after all, not your entertainment. But strategy can help reduce that edge significantly, especially when you’re playing blackjack online. If you are new to the game, we recommend that you keep a blackjack strategy chart nearby, either on your PC/mobile device or printed out, as a quick and easy reference guide. You’ll find that the more you play, the less often you’ll have to refer to it, as you begin to memorise all of the possible situations and outcomes, and start seeing general patterns at play that you can use to your advantage. For example, always hit if your hand is below 11, and always stand if its 17 and above, unless it’s soft. A soft hand is one that has an Ace valued at 11 as one of the cards, while a hard hand is a hand that doesn’t have an Ace, or has an Ace that counts as 1.

How to Beat the House Edge

The house edge is the statistical advantage the casino builds into every game – in other words, it’s the percentage of the money you’ve bet that the casino gets to keep. To beat or reduce the house edge or advantage, you must use a basic blackjack strategy. The correct decisions can make winning a 50/50 possibility. The key is to refer to your blackjack strategy chart while you’re playing to help you with your choices. If you don’t, you could end up making the incorrect decisions regarding standing, splitting, hitting or doubling down. Just by using a basic strategy you can reduce the house edge by 0.14%.

A Basic Blackjack Strategy

This is the best way to optimise your chances of winning when playing online blackjack. The objective of a basic blackjack betting strategy is to not only win as much as possible, but also to maximise your wins, while minimising your losses and reducing your chances of busting.

Of course, you must remember that the house will always have a slight edge – they’re in it for profit after all, not your entertainment. But strategy can help reduce that edge significantly, especially when you’re playing blackjack online. If you are new to the game, we recommend that you keep a blackjack strategy chart nearby, either on your PC/mobile device or printed out, as a quick and easy reference guide. You’ll find that the more you play, the less often you’ll have to refer to it, as you begin to memorise all of the possible situations and outcomes, and start seeing general patterns at play that you can use to your advantage. For example, always hit if your hand is below 11, and always stand if its 17 and above, unless it’s soft. A soft hand is one that has an Ace valued at 11 as one of the cards, while a hard hand is a hand that doesn’t have an Ace, or has an Ace that counts as 1.

Using Side Bets

In order to encourage more play, casinos often offer side bets in online blackjack. This usually requires a small wager. Here are some examples…

  • Insurance: If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, you will have the option of taking out a side bet “insurance” before the dealer checks the value of the hole card. If the hole card is checked and its value is 10, you can win 2 x the value of the “insurance” side bet.
     
  • 21 + 3: This side bet is based on the initial two cards that you’ve been dealt and the dealer’s face-down card. If these three cards together form a flush, three-of-a-kind, straight flush or straight, you’ll win.
     
  • Royal Match: This is based on the first two cards you’ve been dealt. If they’re both suited, say a queen and a five of hearts, you’ll score 5 to 2. 

Blackjack Tips

When playing blackjack, you need to know that it’s unlike other games, such as slots, for example. Blackjack is a game of skill, as opposed to a game of luck, which means the quality of your blackjack strategy play and the extent of your knowledge will go a long way towards helping you win with the bets that you make. However, there are blackjack tips and tricks you should consider in order to help you increase your winnings.

  • Practice! The leading online casinos offer blackjack in ‘Free Play’ mode, which means you can play for free while honing your skills. Once your confidence levels are up, you can start playing for real money.
     
  • When you start playing for real, make sure you’ve determined how much your bankroll will be. You need to look at this amount as money you can actually afford to lose.
     
  • Take advantage of a casino’s sign-up bonus – you can use this to play the blackjack game of your choice. However, make sure you check on the requirements when wagering as this varies from casino to casino.
     
  • Always play the variations that have the lowest house edge, as this increases your chances of winning big.
     
  • When it comes to selecting the best blackjack table, a rule of thumb is to always go for the one with a betting limit of no more than five percent of your bankroll. This will assist you in losing less, plus it helps to lengthen your play time. More importantly, it’ll help improve your chances of scoring.
     
  • Make sure to split when it comes to pairs of 8s and Aces. And understand the rules regarding when to hit and when to stand: For example, you hit hard before you reach 17+, and you stand when you’re on 17+.
     
  • Always be observant when it comes to blackjack card values as these help determine your strategy. For example, you can double your 10 if the dealer holds 9 or lower.
     
  • Vary your betting patterns – if you are losing, then decrease your bets, and if you are winning, then increase!

Blackjack Card Counting

Many Blackjack players wish they had the skill to count cards, because it can be quite a thrilling achievement to walk away with huge sums of money by having outsmarted a casino and having not gotten caught. While counting cards is not entirely illegal, it is frowned upon by many land-based casinos because it is viewed as cheating.

Players can however consult a Blackjack guide to counting cards, and although its far harder to put this principle into practice online, it’s still a useful skill to learn, and it will help you appreciate the game and all its intricacies even more.

The Appeal of Card Counting

Avid Blackjack players are quite fascinated with card counting because it is a unique strategy that takes some serious schooling and dedication. Playing casino games in itself is a risky and daring activity, but counting cards is even more so and once you’ve mastered the skill you’ll discover why it offers such a real thrill. Anyone playing Blackjack also wants to live the dream of walking away with very big wins, and card counting can help make this a reality.

The Facts About Card Counting

Card counting, which has also been called card reading, is a strategy that has been adopted by many to win at Blackjack. The basis is determining whether the hand or cards that will be dealt next will be profitable for the dealer or the player.

The card counter uses an incredible focus on the details, and keeps track of what cards are dealt to the dealer and the players. They consider which high or low value cards have been dealt, and determine which cards have a high probability of being dealt next.

In order to use the card counting strategy, a player must have a huge bankroll. They must bear in mind that losses do occur and they must avoid being caught by the casino. A successful card counter can acquire a house edge over the casino of 0.5% up to 1%.

With card counting not being outright illegal, it is a strategy that many use, but beginners should not try it because of the consequences if they are caught. Counting cards when playing online Blackjack is a different story, but as the games use RNG’s to determine results it is that much more complex. Live dealer Blackjack games do allow for card counting online, so savvy players will soon get to grips with the requirements.