Online blackjack is the casino game where the house enjoys the smallest edge: as little as 0.28% advantage. Players would do well to learn the rules and strategies well, because there is no other casino game that levels the playing field to that extent.
The casinos below are some of the best places to play blackjack online.
Rules of Classic Blackjack
The rules for the basic Blackjack game are straightforward. The object of the game is to be dealt cards, which have a total, combined face value greater than that of the dealer but not more than 21.
A round of blackjack begins by selecting how much you want to make as an initial wager or “ante”. Often the ante is pre-set by the house, with minimum and maximum amounts varying from casino to casino, game to game, and table to table. Usually the minimum runs from €1 and €5, while maximums can range from €100 to €200.
After your ante is in, in the classic game, the dealer will deal you a pair of cards. The dealer also takes two, with the second card visible. After receiving your cards, calculate their combined value by adding their values. An Ace can be worth either 1 or 11. The ten card and face cards are worth 10.
The combination of an ace with any card worth 10 has a special status of being a “blackjack” and therefore a winner automatically– unless the dealer also gets a blackjack too. In this case, the round is deemed a “standoff” or “push” and no money is exchanged. The same principle applies to other instances where the combined card value of you and the dealer are identical.
If there is no blackjack, then the round continues, you make the first move.
Your Six Basic Move Options
You have 6 moves you can make to try and beat the dealer and win the round.
- HIT: you will get one card. You can get hit as many times as you wish, but bear in mind that if the combined value of dealt cards is more than 21, you are “busted” and lose the round.
- STAND: You decide not to be dealt more cards.
- DOUBLE: You opt to double your wager. You can get just one more card.
- SPLIT: You divide two cards with the same value into distinct “hands” and get hit cards to each hand, with a separate total accumulating for each split “hand”.
- INSURANCE: If the dealer displays an ace at the outset, some casinos will offer you the chance to buy “insurance” for half the value of your ante. If the dealer gets blackjack and you have insured yourself, your ante is returned and you lose nothing.
- FOLD / RETIRE: There are some casinos which let you to surrender your dealt hand at the cost of half your ante, if you are convinced from the outset that your chances of winning are low.
By moving first, the player has the big disadvantage of having the first chance to exceed 21 and therefore lose.
The Turn of the Dealer
Assuming you have made your moves and did not go bust, it’s the dealer’s turn. Unlike you, the dealer has no choice. The dealer must draw cards until they add up to at least 17. And if the dealer reaches 17 or more, no additional cards may be drawn. you are a winner!
If the dealer exceeds 21 and you didn’t, or if the total card value in your hand exceeds that of the dealer, you win money equal to your ante’s value. If you were lucky enough to draw blackjack, and the dealer did not, you will win one and a half times (150%) the value of your ante.
What are your odds of winning in blackjack?
Blackjack is not just dumb luck. Smart players who know the rules and the odds have a good chance to win. In fact, there is no other online casino game, which gives players a better chance. Whereas the house edge in classic blackjack is 0.28%, Video Poker favours the house between 0.5 to 5%, Roulette between 2.7% and 5.26%, and pokies from 5% to 17%. Now you know why pokies are “front of house” both online and in land-based casinos!
Blackjack Strategy: 6 Tips for Winning
Blackjack players have created tables for what to do in every situation. Try to memorise these rules so they become second nature in the heat of battle. There’s no point trying to count cards in online blackjack as cards are electronically “shuffled” before each hand is dealt. There is no cumulative information of value to remember and count. But there are some math-based tips that you should remember.
Don’t split two 5s. Double down.
If you are dealt double 5’s, don’t split them! Indeed, with a combined value of 10, it may be wise to “Double Down” and hope your next card will be a high-value card.
Split a pair of 8’s
It’s almost always a good idea to split a pair 8’s. A hand totalling 16 is a likely loser. If you split your cards, you have a better chance for at least one respectable hand!
Don’t split 10’s
20 is a winning hand most of the time. While you may think that by splitting you can double your winnings or draw a blackjack, the math says you are better standing pat.
“Hard” hand Tips
If your dealt hand has a value of 12 or more, it’s called a “hard” hand…. Hard to win! You should stand, of course, if you have 17 or more. You should also stand with cards totalling 12 to 16 if the dealer shows between 2 to 6 as an open card. Get hit a card if the dealer shows a 7 or greater card value.
“Soft” hand Tips
If you are dealt an ace and your cards would total at least 18 if the ace is valued at 11, you should get hit with another card only if the dealer’s open card value is 8 to 10. Many experts advise to double down in that situation. Get hit when you have a soft hand with a combined card value of 17 or less.
There are many variations on Blackjack. The differences are typically minor but better to learn them and practice free before betting real money!
In Double Exposure, the player immediately sees both cards of the dealer. This gives you more information and simplifies strategy. But on the negative side, blackjack in this variation pays only your ante’s value, not 150%.
In European Blackjack, there are minor rule changes. You play just 6 cards. The dealer must stand on a soft 17 and the player may only double on a hand with a total value between 9 and 11. Players must double after a split. The player loses everything if the dealer draws blackjack.
In Atlantic City Blackjack, players may double down on any dealt hand. While a player can double after a split, no re-splitting is allowed. Only one card ´can be dealt on each split ace.
There are more nuances to the blackjack variants above, and many other variations, such as Spanish, Pontoon, multi-hand and live blackjack, and these are dealt with in a more in depth article.
Final Word on Blackjack
Blackjack is casino classic. It’s a simple game to learn and mastering can provide much lucrative entertainment.
Give the casinos listed here a try – they’re known for carrying a variety of blackjack games, which you can try risk free in demo mode, before claiming bonuses and free casino credit to start playing for real money. It’s an easy game to learn, and if you keep in mind the tips I’ve outlined here, and you take advantage of the welcome bonuses offered by each of the casinos, you should stand an excellent chance to take on the house and make some serious bank!