Blackjack is the king of casino table games, offering both fast action and some of the best odds in the casino. Not surprisingly, then, blackjack is also one of the biggest draws in online casinos. In fact, not only can you play blackjack for real money online, you can usually choose from a number of different blackjack variants at any given casino, almost all of which offer great odds to players.
Where to Play Blackjack Online
Blackjack can be played at any online casino – we’ve yet to see one that doesn’t offer the game. But it’s not as simple as just saying that online casinos all offer blackjack; most casinos offer several different blackjack variants. For instance, a typical selection at an online casino would allow you to play Las Vegas style blackjack, but would also include European Blackjack, a single-deck blackjack game, and more. In addition, most casinos also spread several variants that allow you to play online blackjack with a few added twists. Some of the most popular variants include Pontoon, Super Fun 21, and Blackjack Switch.
Choosing an online casino to play blackjack online for money comes down to finding a casino that offers a variety of games you enjoy playing, along with the best possible odds. Of course, since not everyone enjoys playing the same blackjack games and variants, no one online casino can truly be said to be the best online casino to play blackjack.
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How to Play
Playing blackjack for real money is quite simple. Most online casinos prominently display their blackjack games in their software, often under a wider group listed as “table games.” Simply log into your casino software, join a real money game, and you’re ready to go! If you need a refresher on the rules of blackjack, keep reading.
Blackjack is a game played with a shoe made up of 1-8 standard decks of playing cards. The object of the game is to beat the dealer by making a hand worth as close to 21 points as possible without going over. Hands are scored based on the cards they are made up of; numbered cards are worth their number, face cards are worth ten, and aces may be counted as either one or 11.
A hand begins with each player making a bet and being dealt two cards, normally face up. The dealer is also dealt two cards: one face up (the up card) and one face down (the hole card).
The best possible hand in blackjack is an ace and a 10-point card – known as a blackjack. If the dealer is showing either an ace or a ten, the dealer will check for blackjack. If the dealer is showing an ace, the players will first be offered insurance. This bet costs half the amount of the player’s initial bet, and pays 2-1 if the dealer does indeed have a blackjack; the net result being that the player “saves” their initial bet and breaks even for the hand. A player who has a blackjack will be offered even money on their blackjack, but this is mathematically the same as being offered insurance.
If the dealer does have a blackjack, all players lose immediately, with the exception of players who also have a blackjack; those players push. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, player blackjacks immediately win at odds of 3-2.
Assuming neither the dealer nor the player has a blackjack, the player can then play their hand. Players have several options for attempting to improve their hand. At any time, the player may hit, taking an additional card for their hand. The player may also choose to stand, which ends their turn.
Players have two other options available to them only at the start of the hand, when they hold just two cards. The first is known as doubling down. If a player chooses to double down, they must make a second bet equal in size to their initial bet. After doing so, the player will receive one additional card; they must then stand. This is typically done when the player has a significant advantage, and wishes to wager additional money.
If the player’s first two cards are of the same rank, the player may split their hand into two, playing each for a bet of the same size as their original wager. Depending on the rules used in each blackjack game, players may be able to split additional times if they receive more cards of the same rank; rules will also vary as to whether or not the player may double down after splitting, and how the player can handle splitting aces.
If at any time a player’s hand goes over 21 points, the player is said to have busted. That hand is collected by the dealer, and any bets associated with that hand are immediately lost.
After all players have either chosen to stand or have busted, the dealer will reveal their down card. The dealer will then follow a set of rules that determine how the dealer must play their hand. These rules will typically require the dealer to hit with all hands of 16 or less. At some tables, the dealer will stand with all hands of 17 or more; in some cases, the dealer may instead be instructed to hit with a “soft” 17 – that is, one with an ace that still counts as 11 points.
If the dealer busts, all players remaining in the hand win even money on all bets associated with live hands. If the dealer stands, the dealer’s hand is compared to the player’s hand. If the player hand is higher, the player wins even money on their bets. If the dealer’s hand is higher, the player loses all bets. If the two hands are of the same value, bets on that hand push.
The best strategy to employ in any given blackjack game will depend heavily on the exact rules being utilized. Whether or not the dealer hits on a soft 17, how many times the player can split, and when the dealer checks for blackjack are just a few of the rules that could impact exactly how the player should approach certain situations.
A full, optimal strategy for a given blackjack game is known as the basic strategy. A basic strategy will tell you the mathematically correct play to make given your hand and the dealer’s up card, without considering what other cards have been removed from the shoe.
While basic strategy varies depending on the rules being used, there are simpler strategies that come reasonably close to basic strategy in terms of their returns to the player. The following strategy (inspired by one first developed by Michael Shackleford of The Wizard of Odds) is designed to give the player a fighting chance in any blackjack game – allowing blackjack to remain one of the best games in the casino, but not requiring the player to memorize complex charts.
To use the following strategy, consult the part of the table that corresponds to your hand: a hard hand, a soft hand (one with an ace that still counts as 11 points), or a pair. Then, simply follow the rule that applies to your hand. Also, remember to never take insurance, and if the chart says to double down when you cannot for any reason, hit instead.
- If your hand is 8 or lower, always hit.
- If your hand is 17 or higher, always stand.
- If your hand is 9, double down with against a dealer hand of 3-6; otherwise, hit.
- If your hand is 10 or 11, double down if your hand’s score is higher than the dealer’s up card.
- If your hand is 12-16, hit if the dealer is showing a 7 or higher; stand against 6 or less.
- If your hand is 15 or less, always hit.
- If your hand is 19 or more, always stand.
- If you hand is 16-18, double down against a dealer showing a hand of 3-6; otherwise, hit.
- If you have a pair of aces or eights, always split.
- If you have a pair of fours, fives or tens, never split.
- With any other pair, split only if the dealer’s card is a 6 or lower.
- If you do not split a hand, play it as normal using the charts above.
In addition, if your game allows you to surrender, surrender against a dealer 10 if you’re holding a hard 15 or 16.
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Card counting is an effective strategy in many live blackjack games. This is due to the fact that as cards are removed from the shoe, the remaining distribution of cards is no longer random; by keeping track of what cards are left to be seen, the player can know how the odds of certain outcomes are changing, and adjust their bets and strategies accordingly.
For example, one popular real money blackjack card counting system counts the number of aces and fives that have been removed from the shoe. Aces are the best cards for the player, while fives are the best card for the dealers; thus, as fives leave the shoe, the remaining composition improves for the player, while seeing aces leave the shoe is a bad sign. Thus, players add one to the “count” when a five is seen, and subtract one when an ace appears. Depending on the count (and the specific system being used), the player may raise their bets to take advantage of a favorable shoe.
However, card counting is not a strategy you should try to use when playing online blackjack. Much like casinos that employ continuous shuffling machines, online blackjack “shuffles” the shoe after every hand, meaning that the distribution of cards is truly independent and random. With no discard pile, there’s no true shoe to keep track of; even if you’ve seen aces come out of the deck on the last five hands, there will be just as good a chance as seeing more aces on your next hand.
You can win online blackjack through making smart decisions and tilting the odds in your favour. We show you what the different types of blackjack and strategy are, and where to play for the biggest blackjack bonuses.
Why Play Blackjack Online
Playing blackjack online has several distinct advantages to doing so at real world casinos.
1 – The barriers to entry are much lower. You can play for pennies per hand, whereas in a bricks and mortar casino you would have to meet higher minimum per hand to get started. Of course, you don’t have to, and high stakes blackjack is also available at most casinos online.
2 – There are many other variants of blackjack available at online casinos than there typically are at live venues. It’s not uncommon to find 20 versions of blackjack at one online casino, whereas you might only find two or three if you were in a casino in Vegas, Atlantic City, or Macau.
3 – The online blackjack bonuses and casino welcome offers. You won’t walk into any physical casino and get chips worth hundreds or even thousands to play with on top of your own cash. At online casinos offering blackjack, you will basically be able to enjoy two hands for the price of one thanks to welcome bonuses and offers.
4- Playing 21 online is extra convenient. You don’t have to drag yourself across town to the nearest casino, paying for taxis, drinks, and other expenses. You can play blackjack from anywhere, anytime you feel like, as and when is convenient.
There are lots of variants of online blackjack, and given that it has been around for a long time and spanned across the globe that is hardly surprising.
Classic Blackjack & Other Styles
The basis of all forms of blackjack is the original game. The objective is to get a total of 21, without exceeding it, and if you fail to reach 21 exactly, get as close as you can by adding the values of the cards you have been dealt.
All blackjack variants follow this basic structure. The differences are simply the rules such as whether or not you can surrender late, whether or not the dealer peeks for blackjack, and how many times you can split hands if you get matching cards.
Other types of blackjack include Atlantic city, Vegas strip, perfect Paris, European blackjack, and many others. There are subtle differences between them, but the basic overall objective and main rules remain the same.
How to Win Blackjack
This is a remarkably simple game. You can learn how to play blackjack in just a few hands.
The import things to remember are that all number cards hold their numerical value (for example, a six of Clubs is worth six), all face cards are worth 10, and Aces are worth either 1 or 11, depending on how you choose to play them.
Knowing this, you will be dealt two initial cards and will have to decide to ‘hit’ (request another card), or ‘stand’ (play the cards you have been dealt).
You always play against the dealer, and whoever has a total value of 21 or as close to it as possible, without exceeding it, wins.
Live Dealer Blackjack
Live dealer blackjack is becoming available at more and more casinos online as video technology and internet speeds improve around the world.
This blackjack game style allows you to experience the real deal, as such, meaning play against real dealers in the flesh, with all the comforts and benefits of playing with your feet up at home, while stuck in traffic, or from the office on a slow day.
Live blackjack games are usually the classic, standard version, and the buy ins are a little higher than the digital blackjack games.
Playing live blackjack isn’t exactly the same as standing at the tables in a bricks and mortar casino, but hey, it’s close enough to the real thing and as things heat up in the tech world there are going to be some major improvements, making live dealer games even better.
It’s exciting to play live blackjack and it really brings social gaming to the forefront.
Playing Mobile Blackjack
Both live dealer blackjack and digital versions are available at mobile casinos across the web.
This has the obvious advantage of allowing you to play wherever you are, and most mobile casinos these days are compatible with both iOS and Android tablets at the very least. In many cases, you won’t even have to download an app, and can enjoy instant play straight from your browser.
Add to this that there are many casinos offering extra casino bonuses for mobile players, and you have an excellent reason to play blackjack on your mobile device.
One of the main reasons for blackjack’s enduring popularity is because it is a decision-based game to some extent, meaning there are things you can do to increase your chances of winning.
Blackjack strategy is a vast subject and we cover lots of different types on this site. From blackjack strategy charts to basic 21 strategies like using math to win through probability, our guides can help you learn blackjack strategy and tilt the odds in your favour.
Of course, there is still some element of luck involved, but there are for sure ways you can increase your odds playing blackjack. Here is a quick summary of some of the most popular strategies:
Blackjack Strategy Charts – Quick and easy to use, charts can help you quickly calculate your probability of winning blackjack. You would probably be kicked out for using these at a real casino, and that is one of the advantages of playing blackjack online.
Basic Strategy – This involves considering what the dealer’s upward facing card is and making your decisions about whether to hit, stand, or surrender based on this. There is a basic strategy cheat sheet which makes life a lot easier. Blackjack is a game of decisions, and this strategy can help you make the best ones given the cards dealt.
Mimic the Dealer – This means if your total cards are 16 or less you hit, or request another card, whereas you always stand and play with 17 or more. Many consider this a bad blackjack strategy, and there is a house edge of over 5% if you use it.
These are just some simple blackjack strategies. There are many more to consider and try out in your quest to win blackjack.
Blackjack Bonuses at Online Casinos
Specific blackjack bonuses are rare, but there are other casinos bonuses which reward blackjack players.
Live Blackjack Cashback Bonuses
It is possible to receive 10% or more back as a second chance blackjack bonus at many online casinos. This rewards those who play live dealer blackjack and these bonus offers are becoming more and more common.
Casino Welcome Bonuses
Welcome bonuses will allow you to play blackjack at a discount. Since many of these deals will double your initial deposit and oftentimes give you a reload bonus, too, you are essentially getting two hands of blackjack for the price of one.
You can also use this money to double your blackjack bets, risk-free, since 50% of every bet will be free casino cash.
Free Blackjack for Real Money
Some casinos give you a no deposit bonus which you can play blackjack with. This is free blackjack for real cash prizes, although wagering terms will likely apply before you can withdraw what you win.
Blackjack Tournaments Online
Players from around the globe can join live blackjack tournaments and win extra bonuses and cash prizes by coming out on top. Typically, you will square off against the dealer and climb the leaderboard by winning more hands than other players in a given amount of time.