Online blackjack – perhaps the most popular casino game? UK blackjack players are drawn to casino blackjack like no other game. This has been a sentiment that has been long-lasting, given that the blackjack game has been around since the 1800s. Its popularity is certainly not declining, but rising year after year with three out of four UK residents aware of the basic blackjack rules. It’s a great game to play, is very easy when it comes to how it is played and the rules involved, and gives players a chance to win money with a low house edge.
This is the same, regardless of whether you are playing blackjack online or in a land-based casino. As mentioned, this game has a much lower house edge in comparison to other games found in a casino. This is a massive factor for players who seem to gravitate to the game time after time. Its popularity is felt around the world, given its reach and frequent coverage on TV and in movies.
When a novice player is looking for a game to play, they may be referred to blackjack by experienced gamers. Quite often, it is one of the first recommendations given by experienced players to novices. The appeal of this game makes it an absolute non-negotiable when players are looking to sign up somewhere new, and UK blackjack online casinos are aware of this. As such, there is an impressive number of different versions of blackjack out there.
So where did it all begin for blackjack? Well, that is not exactly certain. What we do know is that the version we play nowadays in blackjack online casinos originated in the 1600s. We take a look at the game itself, the rules involved, how to play, and what to expect in our casino blackjack guide, below.
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What makes a good UK blackjack casino stand out?
Blackjack is the most popular online card game at casino sites. The game is simple: you can pick it up in a few minutes. But it’s got a deep history and heritage and can involve sophisticated and involved gameplay. And its theoretical return to player is usually among the best on the site so it’s good value for players.
With loads of players looking to play there are loads of sites offering these games. So…
What makes a good blackjack online casino stand out?
1 – A lot of Blackjack!
It sounds obvious doesn’t it, but if you love blackjack you want to see plenty of it. Blackjack now comes in a lot of forms, including live blackjack.
Look for a blackjack site that has a good selection of simulator games, where you play against the computer, and live games.
2 – A good set of black variants
This won’t apply to you so much if you’re brand new to blackjack, but if you’ve played around the tables a bit you want to know that the games you love are available on the blackjack casino you pick.
You should consider this if you’re just getting into blackjack too as a good set of games will give you some variety.
Learn the rules that differentiate games, including whether or not you can split pairs, when the dealer must check, and which bets pay out. You might enjoy games with side betting too.
3 – A great set of live games
We’ve mentioned live games, and this is the must-have for a casino site in 2020. A live game uses real dealers to deliver the cards and sweep up the chips – or hand them over to you!
Live games are more interactive and bring a social level to your online play. Blackjack, with its eyeball-to-eyeball aesthetic, is perfect for this kind of play and you should look for it in a blackjack site that stands out.
4 – Money makes the chips click around?
Money is what makes a casino work. Make sure the site you want to use to play blackjack accepts the payment method that you want to use, whether that be your bank or an e-wallet. Best of all for many blackjack players is PayPal blackjack casino!
Also, check withdrawal limits and betting limits. Don’t look just for the highest numbers but check for safety limits you can set on your play too.
5 – A safe blackjack casino for all!
If the site has good instructions on the game you love – blackjack of course – then that’s a nice bonus, and the best quality sites will invest in this sort of content.
Blackjack Casino Guide
Get your cards ready, it’s time for blackjack!
You probably already know the game in some sense. It’s a favourite of not just casino players – on and offline – but also of a load of film directors, who like nothing better than the drama and confined man-on-man contest of this exciting green baize game.
The fact that it takes place – or can do, you could play in a field if you want – in a small frame is one of the keys for blackjack’s success as an online game. While the mathematics is potentially fiendishly complex, the game itself can be easily portrayed in a small frame with relatively simple graphics. In fact, versions of blackjack must be the oldest computer casino games.
The basics of the game are very simple, but like most casino games, which have stood the test of time, in a really big way, there’s a good deal of sophistication in blackjack, not just in the game, but also in techniques for playing, side betting and more.
This type of game is called a “comparing game”, for fairly obvious reasons. Players compare their hand against a dealer, who they try to beat. They can win by out-scoring the dealer without going over the magic number, which in the case of blackjack is 21.
Blackjack – like almost all of these games – is part of a family of games. Its closest relatives are 21, Spanish 21 and pontoon, though these games are much less common, and almost invisible in online casino sites.
Twenty-one was being played by the time Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote’s creator) was writing in the 16th and 17th centuries. That game was played using a Spanish deck of cards called the “baraja” (which has only 48 cards) and was brought to America by immigrants before it really took off.
American players turned it from a one-on-one game into a game against a house and with some extras. One of those extras was the addition of extra-valuable hands that paid out. One of these was a match of the ace of spades (worth 11 points) and one of the blackjacks (worth 10) to hit 21. From this black-jack combination, the game’s name was coined.
The name lasted, but sadly the 10 to 1 odds it paid out didn’t! Today, you can claim a blackjack with an ace and court card combo. It’s the best hand in the book!
How to Play Online Blackjack
To play online blackjack you don’t need much beyond a lot of cards, a dealer, and you.
The mechanics of the game are very simple.
Aces are worth either one or 11 points, whichever is to the advantage of the player.
The numbered cards from two to 10 are worth their face value.
The court cards – Jack, Queen, King, Ace – are all worth 10 points.
The dealer – usually using a big wooden box called a shoe that contains several (often five) packs of cards – deals two cards to the player. These can be face up or face down – check at the table you’re playing at (not that it really matters when you’re playing against a machine).
The dealer then gives themselves two cards. Usually, one of these cards is on display and the other stays face down.
Then the game gets interesting. The player can ask for extra cards – sometimes called hitting or twisting – to try to win the game by getting a higher total in his hand than the dealer without going past 21 and going bust.
Aces are most often going to be valued as one because the aim is to get as many cards as you can without scoring too highly. Eleven points are only really useful when you’ve got a blackjack or another total of 21. Cards with the ace currently valued at 11 are called “soft” because you can’t go bust in that position. Cards with an ace valued at one are called hard.
When the players have taken all the cards they want and don’t think they can do any better, it’s up to the dealer to try to beat them.
Make sure you check the rules at the table for all of these details, but the usual routine is that a dealer must keep dealing to himself while the total for the cards in his hands remains less than 17. He must also keep dealing if he has a “soft” 17 – so one with an ace in – and sometimes if the hand contains a pair of cards from ace and two to ace and four.
The side – player or dealer – with the highest total under 21 wins. If the dealer goes bust and the player doesn’t the player wins. If the player gets a blackjack then the only way the dealer can match it is with a blackjack (or “natural”) of their own.
Tied hands usually result in bets being returned.
Every gambling game has rule variations. Make sure you know what the deal is with the dealer you’re playing with.
The Blackjack Hit
Game terms in blackjack have generally defaulted to their American version. Sadly there are none of the stylish bits of French slang that survive in roulette and baccarat for example.
So one of the first questions for a blackjack player is whether to accept another card or not. That would be communicated as “hit” or “stand” (though “twist” and “stick” might also appear).
When you “hit” you’ll be given another card. You can keep hitting until you go bust.
Hitting is a big decision. There are acres of print expended on how you should make this decision. The thinking is generally that the dealer’s decision – made for them, remember – to hit up to 17 is probably too risky when you’re playing with your own money. However, you might want to give that a go, particularly if you’re playing with free money.
Your other option is to stand. And that’s it. If you stand your ground you’re done, and you have to sit back and watch the dealer do his stuff.
(Incidentally, what any other players in the game do or do not do should have no effect on you. This game is played between the dealer and a player independently in turn. The only reason you should be looking at the hands of other players is if you’re attempting to card count.)
Again, the decision to stand has been discussed at great length by some very clever people – blackjack is one of the few games where statistical analysis might play a useful role for players – and we’ll go into that a little later on.
What you should know is that a stand is the end of the game for you.
Blackjack Double Down
There’s more to blackjack than that though.
Another nice option for players is a phrase you might have heard in relation to American politics of late. That’s doubling down!
Doubling down – “reaching deep” if you’re very deep into the casino world – is a risky proposition in a lot of ways, but it’s risky for a reason because it might mean big wins.
It works very simply. You’re dealt your first two cards. Then you say you’re going to Double Down and double your initial wager. The catch is that you can only then receive one more card.
So it’s a risk.
There are plenty of theories about when you should double down. Really. Probably 21! One of the best we’ve seen is the suggestion that one should double down if the total value of your first two cards is either 10 or 11.
That means you’re unable to go bust, but you also have a decent chance of getting a high score that might beat the dealer, who has to stick at 17 remember.
What is in the dealer’s hand should also play into your thinking too.
Another option for players is to “split”.
This is a rule that doesn’t apply in all games, so check what the routine is at the table where you’re sitting.
If you can split, it means you can split any pairs you are dealt into two separate hands. These cards are played in exactly the same way as you would a normal hand, with your single-hand bet doubled to ride the same amount on each hand.
There’s a lot of strategy around this decision too. Most players agree that if you’re dealt a pair of aces you should split them because you then get four chances of scoring a 21.
Eights are also a popular must-split pair. The thinking here isn’t so much based around the opportunities of the hands you might get with the new deal, it’s more about the fact that you might never see a worse score in blackjack than 16!
You’re one below the 17 where the dealer has to stop, and any card over five busts you. It’s a tough hand and you’ll have more chance with a pair of eights.
You can usually continue to split as long as you are dealt pairs, and it’s perfectly logical and sensible, as long as you have the cash, to follow the same routine with those pairs.
The name says it all – surrender! There’s nothing dishonourable about making this decision though. If you’re playing a free game then we would recommend you play through most hands to familiarise yourself with the game. However, if you’re playing for real money then surrendering might well be a good thing to do.
The first thing to note is that there are two types of surrender: early surrender and late surrender. Both types are not offered at all tables, so please make sure you check the rules at the table you’re playing at.
An early surrender takes place after the first two cards have been dealt to both the players and to the dealer. If you have a poor hand, and the dealer has a good one – 10 is usually considered the best – then you can surrender, deciding not to play the hand and handing over half of your bet.
The late surrender takes place at the same time, but after the dealer has checked his hand. If the dealer has a blackjack or a natural (21, so a 10-scorecard and an ace) then you cannot surrender. If he doesn’t, then you can.
There is a lot of decent statistical analysis on which hands you should surrender, and it is worth studying. However, always remember that even the advice based on fantastic mathematical and statistical analysis is basically powerless against a random event – it’s good to know, but it’s no guarantee of outcomes.
Experts recommend playing different strategies for the early and late surrender.
The 16 is generally rated as the worst possible hand to get in blackjack, and if you have that against a 10 in the dealer’s hand then perhaps you should surrender it.
The most important thing to know about surrender is whether you have the right to do it and when you have the right to do it. Make sure you’re aware of the rules.
Blackjack Side Bets
If playing the game itself isn’t enough then you can also bet on the play of other players. If you fancy this rather voyeuristic experience – arguably – then it’s something you might want to consider. It’s also a way to try to win bigger prizes when the core card game itself has relatively limited betting and staking options – there’s no raising in blackjack.
Check the bets that are available on your favourite casino site rather than following a secondary source. Most importantly, check the odds they are paying.
Here are some of the most popular side bets on blackjack:
- The 21+3 puts poker hands into a blackjack setting. It uses the player’s initial deal and the dealer’s showing card to make a poker hand, paying out on straights, flushes, straight flushes, and three-of-a-kinds. These can pay as high as 9/1, but the odds tend to be lower.
- The Royal Match looks for the first two cards dealt to the player to be in the same suit – this is called the Easy Match. If they are, you will get a payout of 5/2 odds. If the pair is a king and queen then it jumps to a 25/1 payout. The pay-offs will likely alter depending on the table where you’re playing, and the type of game – you may see 3/1 and 10/1 for example if the game uses (or simulates using) a single pack of cards.
- The Over/Under 13 bet is just what it sounds like. A bet on the total of the first two cards. Of course, the ace plays a big role here as it can be worth 11 or one points. In this bet, it is always rated as 1 point. Hitting exactly 13 is almost always counted as a loss. Normally, pay-outs are around 10/1.
- Super Sevens simply pays out on the number of sevens in a hand. The more sevens the better! There is usually the added extra of betting for sevens also matching the suit. These payouts can get to very high numbers – around 5000/1 for a trio of suited sevens, which is also 21, so almost guaranteed to win the pot too! Because of the potentially high pay-outs, this bet often has a low limit on stakes.
- The Lucky Ladies are queens. And they’re lucky when there are two of them. This is a great bet for losing hands, paying out 1,000/1 for a pair of queens of hearts when the dealer has a blackjack. The odds and payouts are quite complex, so check the pay-table at your casino and your table.
- A Pair Square simply pays on a pair dealt to the player. Pairs in the same suit usually pay higher – say 15/1 to 10/1.
- It tells us something about this exciting game that the best-known bet of all is called insurance. This is betting so that you win something if the dealer gets a blackjack. Half of your original bet is staked as a bet on blackjack, with a payout of 2/1.
So when should you play insurance?
Everything we say here is presented in good faith and is decently researched. However, it is quite truncated. There are millions and millions of words written on the theory of blackjack betting, card counting, and blackjack strategy. We’re providing an introductory blackjack guide, and you should – if you love this game – go out and read more and more on this subject.
So the blackjack insurance bet is made after the first deal, and usually only in the case of an ace being dealt to the dealer. Then you have the option of putting half of your bet on the dealer getting a blackjack and you’ll win 2/1 – so your bet – back if they do.
Should you do it? If you fancy it. It’s a random event, after all. If you’re counting cards you may actually know that the odds are slightly more in favour of a 10 showing up next. But, you should also have confidence in your own hand.
You should also bear in mind that blackjack is the winning hand because it’s relatively unlikely to happen. In the long run, if you keep taking insurance bets at every opportunity then you are statistically likely to lose money.
Blackjack Card Values
If you’re going to hit 21, then you need to know what card is worth what!
Fortunately, it’s very easy.
The Ace is worth either 1 or 11 – and that’s the choice of the player, going low when he wants to get more cards in, and high when he wants to hit 21.
The numbered cards, 2 to 10, are worth what is printed on them. Lovely and simple.
All court (or face) cards, so Jack, Queen, and King are all worth 10 points.
While the total of 21 is easily enough understood, the odds of hitting it are much more complicated.
Blackjack is the game in which card counting became famous. The idea of card counting is very simple – and it’s not the magic formula that people think it is. It is simply the act of trying to keep track of which cards have already been dealt – usually from six decks of cards – and so which cannot be dealt again. If you can do it, it is a good way to slightly alter the odds in your favour. It is certainly useful to know that, for example, all the aces in a shoe have been gone, so you have no chance of picking one to go with your total of 10. However, they will not tell you which cards are actually going to appear.
You should also remember that all gambling games are titled in favour of the house – the casino. Without this house edge, there would be no profit. No casino. And no games.
The house edge in blackjack is largely down to the order of play. After being dealt two cards, the player must then choose what to do. If the player chooses to take another card then there is a nearly 30% chance that you will go bust. And that’s it, that’s the end of the game for you, and the casino picks up your cash. This edge is usually said to be around 8% in favour of the casino. Check the theoretical return to player figure at the casino you’re using to get some idea of what the deal is with the game you’re playing.
The player does have things working in their favour though. The higher payouts on natural blackjacks (usually 3/2) plays in your favour. As does the set of rules that the dealer has to follow. The rules are there for a reason, and that reason is that they statistically guarantee the house wins more often, but the fact that the dealer must play that way no matter what the other players have is in your favour.
Here are the probabilities of going bust from the first two cards:
- With a total of under 11, the probability of going bust is 0%.
- With a hand of 12, the probability is 31% – see, it goes up very quickly!
- When 13 it is 39%.
- From 14 you have a 56% chance of going bust.
- From 15 then it’s 58%.
- At 16 – generally considered the worst starting hand, and the pair you should split – then it’s 62%.
- At 17 – where the dealer has to check out – you have a 69% chance of going bust.
- From 18 it’s a 77% chance.
- With a score of 19, you have an 85% chance of going bust.
- At 20, there is a 92% chance.
- And, as you know, from 21 there’s a 100% chance of going bust!
Looking at the odds for the dealer you’ll see that because they have to stand on 17 – and this varies on high-and-low value aces, hard and soft 17s – their odds of going bust can be calculated from the first card they are dealt. And these probabilities are lower than the player’s odds.
But it is the interaction of the player and the dealer that the complexity comes in. So, from a 12, you have a relatively low chance of going bust. But if the dealer has a six, he has a very high chance (42 – 44%) of going bust himself, so you should probably actually stick on a 12 against a six.
Blackjack tables are beautiful! That’s our opinion anyway. There’s something very stylish about the green baize, the wooden shoe and the lines.
In real life, you can play standing or when sitting at a table. Online of course you can play hanging upside down and naked if you so, please!
The table itself will be pretty similar, though.
Normally, the players sit in a semi-circle facing the dealer. You might well see the odds for the game printed on the table – take good note of these. You’ll also see the rules on what the dealer has to do with 17s.
Each player has their own betting circle, in which they can put their chips. You’ll also see an insurance bet line. You may see the side bets marked up too.
Blackjack is a very simple game when it comes to betting.
You put up an amount of your choice and within the maximums allowed in the game you’re playing. If you win then you’ll usually get the amount of your bet back and your stake – so an evens or 1/1 pay-out.
The exception is with blackjack. If you tie with the dealer on a blackjack then you will usually still get the 1/1, evens pay-out. If you beat the dealer with a blackjack then you will usually get a 3/2 payout.
However, there are some casinos that pay out at 6/5 for blackjack. To be clear, this is a lower amount. Don’t play at houses offering that pay-out unless you need to.
The strategies for blackjack are too many and various to go into here. However, there are loads of options out there and we heartily recommend that you dig into this as deeply as you want. You shouldn’t have to pay for this advice, it’s all available for free, and people who want to charge you are probably scamming you – not necessarily, they might have something new, and they might be presenting their information in a nicer way than someone else or offering some other extras.
Be warned though, it is complicated.
Be warned, too, that no strategy in blackjack will guarantee that you win, or will even guarantee that you will lose less often.
It is likely that statistical analysis will allow you to enjoy playing blackjack for longer because you’ll hang on to your money longer. In the long run, almost all gambling games will lose you money.
Remember, there are a lot of options in blackjack, despite it being a simple game: it may allow surrender at different stages, it may be played with different numbers of cards, it may pay different odds on blackjacks, it may demand different strategies of the dealer.
All of these have a marked influence on the odds of various outcomes that you’re gambling on. Any blackjack strategy that doesn’t take these into account is not really detailed enough.
Another thing to bear in mind when considering playing by strategies is that is very boring.
That is, a full blackjack strategy will tell you what to do in every situation. That is good advice and based on statistical likelihoods. However, it completely takes every other option out of the game. So you’ll essentially be playing the game as an agent of a strategy – you’ll become a bot!
So, if you’re happy consulting a piece of paper that will tell you what to do if you have a 13 and the dealer has a five showing rather than thinking, “I feel lucky!” and going for it then use a strategy.
Be careful of spammy sites and try to use good quality people. You can also try out online blackjack strategies in free games and see what sort of results you get, though remember that won’t stand true in every game.
An example of a blackjack strategy (unknown author)
This strategy is based on a four-to eight-pack game.
This blackjack strategy argues that you should never make insurance bets. If you are not allowed to split fives and 10s then you should consider your total as a hard total. The same is true if you cannot split because of a limit on re-splitting.
This strategy is also recommended for games in which the dealer stands on soft 17s.
The author of this blackjack strategy says you should:
- Surrender hard 16s unless they are a pair of eights and if the dealer has a visible Ace, 9, or 10.
- You should surrender hard 15s if the dealer has a 10.
- You should split all Aces and all eights.
- Do never split pairs of fives or pairs of 10s.
- If you have pairs of twos or threes and the dealer has a four to a seven, then you should split them. If the dealer has a two or three then you should split if doubling after a split (DAS) is allowed.
- Split pairs of fours if the dealer has a five or six showing and DAS is allowed.
- Sixes should be split if the dealer has a three to six. If DAS is allowed then you should also split sixes against a dealer two.
- Sevens should be split if the dealer has a two to seven.
- Nines should be split if the dealer has a two to six, an eight or a nine.
- You should double, hard nines if the dealer has a three to six.
- You should double hard 10s if the dealer has a 10 or an Ace.
- Double hard 11s unless the dealer has an Ace.
- Soft 13s and 14s should be doubled if the dealer has a five or six.
- Double soft 15s or 16s when the dealer has a four to six.
- Soft 17s and 18s should be doubled down if the dealer has a three to six.
- When should you hit or stand (twist or stick)?
- Under a hard 11 – always hit.
- Hard 12 should hit unless the dealer has a four to six showing.
- Hard 13s to 16s should stand if the dealer has a two to six.
- Ultimately, Hard 17s and above you should always stand on.
- Hit soft 17 or below.
- Soft 18s should be a Stand unless the dealer has a nine, 10 or Ace showing.
- With a soft 19 or above, you should always stand.
The author of this strategy recommends this strategy as OK but also suggests making these modifications for dealers who have to stand on a soft 17.
- Surrender 15s, 17s, and pairs of eights if the dealer has an Ace.
- Double 11s if the dealer has an Ace. Double soft 18s if the dealer has a two. And double soft 19s if dealers have sixes.
As you can see, blackjack strategies can be complex and prescriptive, so one of the big choices is whether to use one or not! We suggest you give it a try, ideally on a free blackjack game.
There are a number of blackjack rule variations that can apply in all blackjack games. We’ve covered those – doubling, hard and soft 17s for the dealers, and so on – above.
There are three standard versions of the blackjack game that you are most likely to see, though:
Vegas Strip Blackjack
Vegas Strip Blackjack is played with four decks. The dealer stands on soft 17s. You can double down on any cards. You can double after splitting pairs and you can resplit and you cannot surrender. The dealer looks at their cards when their first card is a 10 or Ace. (This is called “Dealer’s peek” and it’s good news for players because dealers must reveal if they have a blackjack.)
Atlantic City Blackjack
Atlantic City Blackjack is played with eight decks of cards. The dealer stands on soft 17s. You can double down on any cards or you can double after splitting pairs. You can resplit pairs. And you can surrender. Dealer looks on 10s and Aces.
European Blackjack is usually played with six-packs. The dealer stands on soft 17s. You can only double down on totals of nine, 10, and 11. You can double down after splits and you cannot resplit pairs. Or you can surrender. And dealers never look at their cards.
These are shorthand though, and you should always check the actual rules of the actual table at the actual casino site where you’re playing actually!
Spanish 21 is a proprietary name for a version of the blackjack.
It uses six to eight decks of card. It uses a Spanish deck, which is a standard pack with the 10s taken out.
This is the main difference in the game, and it can be varied in the way that blackjack itself can be with surrendering and splitting variants.
There is usually an extra side bet to match the dealer’s card.
Spanish 21 Online
Because this game is a trademark, it is relatively rare. There is a Microgaming version of the game that you’re most likely to see.
Double exposure blackjack
This exciting sounding game is actually a fairly tame variant of blackjack. The exposure in question is of the dealer’s cards, which are both dealt face up.
The house edge on this game is slightly higher than standard blackjack, though the rules are very similar.
Usually, the only differences are the showing of those cards. The dealer is granted the win in all ties except for when both have a natural blackjack. Blackjack for the player usually only pays evens. And the player can only split a pair once.
As usual, we very strongly advise that you check the rules on the actual game you’re playing.
Double Attack Blackjack
Double Attack Blackjack is different enough to be almost a completely different game.
All of these rules are what should apply “usually” so check that they apply where you’re playing.
The game is played with Spanish decks, usually eight of them. Dealers have to stand on a soft 17. Dealers have to check cards for blackjacks. You can double down after a split. Resplitting is not allowed for all cards.
The double attack is the opportunity for the player to bet again after the dealer has been dealt their first card, which is the first card dealt in this game.
This is another trademarked variant that was invented in 2009 by a guy called Geoff Hall.
The very obvious difference between the game and the standard blackjack is that you get two hands! Sadly, you can’t play both, but you do have the choice of swapping the top two cards in each of these hands.
The switch decision is made after the first two cards have been dealt, face up, to each player. The game is otherwise largely similar to standard blackjack, though it normally allows dealers to tie with 22s.
Blackjack Switch Online
You can play blackjack switch online, but it is much less common than the standard game.
There are versions from a lot of big developers, including Playtech. As ever, the prime duty of the player is to check out the rules of the game they are playing and to know where they stand.
Play for free first if you can.
Super Fun 21
Another variation of blackjack is Super Fun 21, played with a standard pack of cards.
The added extra here is a six-card trick. This – six cards that add up to 20 – becomes the winning hand (beating even blackjack) in all circumstances.
You can also split your hand as many as four times. Doubling down can come into play at any time. And a five-card hand totalling 21 is worth a 2/1 payout.
This all seems very generous. And it is! And very fun! But the changing of the payout on blackjacks to less generous odds puts the advantage back in the house’s hands.
European Blackjack and American Blackjack
As we’ve seen already, there are variations within these two versions of the game (Las Vegas vs Atlantic City for example), so check that you’re fully up on the rules where you’re playing.
American Blackjack allows the dealer to look at their first card if the second card, dealt face up, offers up the chance of a blackjack, which they must declare and end the hand.
European Blackjack has no face-down “hole” card. The dealer deals his own second card face-up only when the players have completed their hands. Both dealer cards are already face up. This allows players to make some decisions before they’ve seen that the dealer may have a blackjack, potentially increases their losses.
Doubling Down by doubling your stake is allowed in European Blackjack only on 9s, 10s, and 11s. American blackjack allows doubling down on any total.
European blackjack is more restrictive on splitting or playing pairs as independent new hands. In the European Blackjack game you can only split once, and only with cards that are worth 10 points. American blackjack allows three splits and allows any value to be split, with the exception of Aces, which can only be split once, and after splitting only one card may be dealt to each hand.
Online Blackjack Tournaments
Tournament play is available in most online casino games now. Playing alone will get boring after a while, so it’s nice to jump in with other card fans for a while.
You’ll need to be a casino site member to play in a tournament. It’s sort of free play because you pay once to enter, then you can play as many hands as you can for a top prize that will be set – usually in the shape of a prize pool to be shared between the winners – in advance.
Most big casino sites host these online blackjack tournaments quite regularly, so if you’re able to find them you can keep coming back to them.
Free Blackjack: Online Blackjack for Fun
The lure of free games is obvious. You get to play for free!
You also get to find your way around a game before you play it. It’s also a good reminder that blackjack – and all gambling games – should be played for fun.
If you’re going to use free blackjack games for research then make sure you match the type of game and rule variants exactly to the game you want to play for real money.
Real Money Blackjack
Playing for real is a different thing entirely. So, make sure you’ve done your homework before you start.
Real money play can be high pressure, so be sure that you’re in a good place mentally, and follow all those safe gambling rules that we like to dismiss – BUT SHOULDN’T!
There are plenty of online blackjack strategies you can find to bet more successfully on real money blackjack. We say you should only use free blackjack guides, and remember that no strategy can guarantee anything, least of all winning!
Online Blackjack Bonuses
Bonuses are great news. It’s another way to play for free. If you find a blackjack game that you like it’s probably worth looking around to see if you can find a casino with a good welcome bonus where you can play it.
Once you’ve been a member of a blackjack casino site for a while you’ll start to be offered all sorts of bonuses and promotions that might include blackjack.
Blackjack, though, is a popular game, and casinos typically restrict the use of the most popular games with bonus funds or to pay off the play-through on a bonus game.
How to choose the best blackjack sites
A good blackjack site is likely to be a good slots site, a good roulette site, and a good sports betting site.
There are the speciality, one-game sites, of course, but they are few and far between.
So in most cases, you’ll be looking for a good casino site.
You might want to pick by blackjack casino game though. Check out reviews and try free blackjack versions of all the main developers and find the one you enjoy the most, then find out where it’s hosted.
One bad reason for picking a blackjack casino site is because you find the live dealers there attractive. Just so you know.
Otherwise, you should use all the usual safeguards and checks on licensing, safe gambling rules, banking, and personal data security at an online blackjack site that you would at any other site.
Online Blackjack FAQ
At the top of every casino game page in the world, there will be a blackjack game on offer.
Online blackjack has taken a mainstay of the casino world and made it a global favourite of players sitting at home playing on screens of all sizes.
Blackjack is both sophisticated and simple. You should be able to pick up the game after a couple of minutes of explanation, but the game rewards study and is one of the very few games that (in its real-world variation) can actually repay strategy.
It’s also one of the best value games at most casino sites with a very good theoretical return to player in most variants.
What is online blackjack?
Online blackjack is a version of the popular card game that can be played in a number of ways including:
Live games or random number generator simulators,
All rule variants of blackjack, and,
A large number of game style variants.
How do I play online blackjack?
Blackjack is a simple game.
In its simplest form, a dealer deals out two cards to players and to themselves. Players then must decide whether to take extra cards in an attempt to get a total higher than the dealer that does not surpass 21.
Players who beat the dealer without going bust win, usually getting a 1 to 1 return on their bet.
The game has many variants and there are also a number of rule tweaks that you need to understand but that is the basic game.
Is it safe to play online blackjack?
It is safe to play online blackjack if you use a safe, legal, licensed site.
The best way to start finding such a site is to find a licensed site. It is illegal to use a site that is not licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, so this is your basic safety standard.
Once you’ve done that you should go father and make sure you’re using a good quality site that you’re happy to play at.
How do I play free online blackjack?
Blackjack can be played for free at some sites. You cannot, usually, play live casino games for free because they must be staffed at all times. However, random number games can be played for free in a number of ways.
You can play the games at a review or demo site or at the manufacturer’s website.
You can play the games at licensed sites at which you have an account but set them on demo mode.
You can play the games for free if you can find an offer that gives you free blackjack games.
How do I play online blackjack for real money?
If you want to play for real money you need to play t a licensed gambling site.
You also need a way to get money from your bank account or your pocket into your casino account. That means something like a bank account, a debit card, or an e-wallet like PayPal or Skrill.
You can also use specialist mobile payment apps like Apple Pay on the iOS system or Boku and PaybyMobile on other systems.
You need to understand these payment systems and what they cost to use before you start throwing money around with them too freely.
How do I win at online blackjack?
The best approach to playing blackjack to win is to accept that it is random.
Blackjack is one of the favourite games of the online casino world because it has been cracked. Very clever people acting in teams and using the slight advantage that doing so gave them have been able to turn blackjack – in real-life casinos – into a game that they could win large amounts of money at.
However, many of the options available to real-life card counters cannot be used online.
Even live games are often beyond the card counter because they use endless shoes of cards.
To card count, the best way to slightly improve y our chances, you need to find a single-deck game and go from there.
But most of the result will still be done to pure dumb luck and you should be aware of that as your first step to safe gambling.
What variants of online blackjack are there?
There are a number of points of difference between blackjack games.
There is live versus simulated.
There are also points in the game that give players options. These include the choice of whether to double-down (doubling up) some bets, whether you can split pairs of cards, and whether you have to wait your turn to play and when you can look at your cards.
The way that the dealer behaves is also an important point of difference and the variant that you are playing will tell what the rules are.
The chief difference is whether or not dealers have to hold at 17, and we suggest you look up this rule variant and make sure you understand it.
How do I bet safely on online blackjack?
We’ve mentioned safety a number of times in this Q and A and for good reason. It is the most important part of your online gaming life.
While finding a safe site is important, it is even more important to know that you are behaving safely and not falling into addiction or other dangerous behaviours.
Because of concern about unsafe gambling, there are a lot of tools that you can use to keep you safe, but you need to know what they are and how to use them. A little research in this area goes a long way, if you’re going to play online blackjack for real money then please make sure you make these checks.
Can I play online blackjack on my mobile?
Most online casino sites now offer blackjack, both live and simulated, as a game on mobile. Be aware that you’ll be using a smaller screen and make sure you know what’s going on and how to make choices on a mobile screen before you get stuck in.
Then play safely and have fun!
Having joined our team in 2021, Rhonda Wilson is our newest team member. She discovered her interest in blackjack in 2006 and has written blackjack reviews for several gambling sites.