Derived from a family of games known as Twenty-One, Blackjack has become the most popular casino card game in the world. What, at first glance, is a simple game of adding up card values, turns out to be a game of skill, strategy, and decision-making.
Let's explore the exciting world of online blackjack. Whether you are brand new to the game or need a quick refresher to get you up to speed, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about playing online blackjack.
It doesn't matter if you are playing online, at a brick-and-mortar casino, or with a few friends at home; the rules of the traditional blackjack game remain the same.
In most cases, the only real difference when playing online is that your dealer is a computer instead of a human being. And unless you are playing live dealer blackjack (which we will discuss in a while), there won't be any other players involved, just you and the dealer.
The objective of the game, and the reason it is often known as 21, is that you want a card hand value higher than the dealers which doesn't exceed 21. Card values are counted using the standard point values, with all court cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) worth 10 points and Aces count as either 1 point or 11 points. All other cards are worth their numeric value (2-10).
To start the game, you'll place a bet, and the dealer will deal you two cards, face up. The dealer also gets two cards, but only one is dealt face up.
At this point, you can either:
Hit - ask for another card
Stand - keep the hand you have
Double down - is to double your betting stakes and draw just one extra card.
Split - if you have a pair, you can make two separate hands out of them with a second bet
Surrender - give up half your wager and end your turn
If your hand goes over 21 points, this is known as a 'bust', and you will automatically lose the hand.
Once you have decided on the course of action, the dealer will either hit or stand depending on the value of their face-up card and their own set of blackjack rules.
If your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer, you win the bet; if the dealer has a higher hand total than you, you lose your bet. The dealer could also 'bust' by having a hand value exceeding 21.
That's pretty much the basics of blackjack; once you get a handful of games under your belt, you'll be able to quickly learn any variations that might come up.
More About Betting And The Blackjack Table
Now that we have covered blackjack rules, it's time to discuss how you place bets. When playing online, this is a very straightforward process as you will be using virtual chips that are deposited into your account.
You can usually choose from a wide range of chip values and bet as many or as few as you like on each hand (within reason).
Typically, blackjack pays out 1:1, meaning that if you bet $5, you will win $5 if you beat the dealer.
As you'd expect, the house has the advantage (otherwise, they wouldn't make a profit). However, you can lower the house edge with the right strategy to almost nothing.
Playing blackjack using basic strategy, which we'll discuss next, can bring the house edge down to around 0.5%. Which knocks all other casino games out of the water in terms of which offers the gambler the best chance to win.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
Yes, blackjack has an element of luck to it, but optimal play requires a strategy. While the outcome of each hand depends mainly on the cards that are dealt, there are certain moves that players can make to increase their chances of winning.
This is where blackjack basic strategy comes in. Basic strategy is a set of guidelines that tell players the best move to make in every situation.
For example, basic strategy will tell you when to hit, when to stand, when to double down, and when to split.
Die-hard blackjack players might take the challenge of memorising basic strategy guidelines. Still, there are plenty of charts and cards available online that make it easy to apply basic strategy while you are playing.
Remember, you have all the time in the world when you are playing instant blackjack games against the computer. If you are playing live dealer games, it's different as the game moves a lot faster, but you can always take a quick peek at your strategy card in between hands.
Once you have mastered basic strategy, you can lower the house edge to less than 0.5%. This makes blackjack one of the best games in the casino from a player's perspective.
Why Play Online Blackjack?
The primary benefits are:
You get to enjoy playing in the comfort of your home.
There are many blackjack variants and stakes to choose from.
You can enjoy bonuses and other promotions.
You can play free blackjack games.
No pressure - you can take your time to decide on your next move.
However, the biggest draw has to be its convenience. Now that we are connected to digital devices all day long, we can choose when and where we play blackjack.
Playing Blackjack Online vs. at a Real Casino
There's no getting away from it; a trip to a casino is an exciting experience. But it's not always practical if you live miles away from the nearest one.
And even if you do live close to a casino, you might not want to deal with the crowds, the noise, and everything else that goes along with gambling in a brick-and-mortar establishment.
So, playing blackjack online has some big advantages over playing at a real casino. But there are also some potential downsides that we should discuss.
As we've already mentioned, the most significant advantage is convenience. You can play whenever and wherever you want without traveling or taking time out of your busy schedule.
Another significant benefit is that online casinos offer way more game variety than land-based establishments. Sure, you'll find blackjack but also poker, slots, roulette, and every other gambling game you can imagine, all located in one place. And you won't have to wait around for a table to free up or worry about somebody taking your seat.
Online blackjack also offers some fantastic bonuses and promotions that you can take advantage of. For example, many casinos offer sign-up bonuses in the form of free cash or free spins that you can use on their blackjack games. And reload bonuses are often available that give you a percentage of your deposit back as bonus cash.
The primary downside is that you miss out on the social aspect of gambling. When playing online, you usually do so by yourself in front of a computer screen or on your cell phone.
However, with the advent of live dealer blackjack games, we can even get that authentic casino feeling without leaving our homes. It really is the perfect way to enjoy this classic game without any of the hassles or crowds that come with visiting a land-based casino.
Live Dealer Online Blackjack
Continuing with the subject of live dealer games, if you are new to this concept, it's worth taking a few minutes to learn about it.
In short, live dealer blackjack is played with real cards dealt by a real human being. The action is streamed live to your computer or mobile device in high-definition. You'll be able to see the dealer and hear them speaking and chat with them and other players using the live chat function.
While the instant play blackjack games against a computer or perfectly legit at a reputable online casino, many players report feeling much more reassured seeing a real dealer shuffling the cards and dealing them out.
Congratulations! You've now equipped yourself with the essential knowledge and valuable strategies to conquer the exhilarating game of blackjack. As you step into the realm of card counting, mastering basic strategy, and making calculated decisions, remember that practice and patience are key to becoming a skilled player.
By implementing the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you're now armed with the tools to enhance your gameplay, make informed choices, and maximise your chances of success. So, embrace the challenge, enjoy the thrill, and may every hand bring you closer to victory. Good luck as you embark on your blackjack journey!
Q: Can you count cards in online blackjack?
A: If you play against the RNG, no. If you play live dealer blackjack, then yes, you can attempt to card count just like you would in a regular casino. The caveat is that online casinos are very aware of card counting and have taken measures to prevent it. Typically they will shuffle the deck more frequently and use multiple decks.
Check out our guide to card counting in Blackjack for more information.
Q: What is a 'natural' in blackjack?
A: A natural is a hand that doesn't require any further cards to make 21 points. This is also known as a blackjack and pays out at 3:2 rather than 1:1.
Q: Do online casinos rig blackjack games?
A: You can expect fair play if you are playing at a reputable casino. The casino has the edge over the player, but this doesn't mean online blackjack is rigged. Instant play games use RNG (random number generator) software to ensure fairness and that the results of each hand are entirely random.
With live dealer games, you can see all the action in real time, so if you do see something that you believe to be shady, you can report it to the casino. Check out our guide to find out what are the red flags to look out for to ensure you’re not playing at a rigged casino.