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What Is Online Blackjack?
Blackjack is a popular, fairly simple casino game played against the dealer, not with other players. The game is also known as 21, as the player’s goal is to create a hand close to 21 without going over it. You win when you have a score higher than the dealer and lose when you have a lower score. Anyone with a hand over 21 loses. Don’t get confused! We’ll explain how this works in detail later in this guide.
Perhaps you are wondering who a dealer is and what they do. A dealer is a casino site employee who runs all the action at the table, including dealing cards and handling bets. The traditional blackjack game uses the classic 52-deck card, while some versions of the game use multiple decks. Blackjack has several variations, with each one having its own special rules.
However, if you learn the basic rules explained in this post, you won’t have difficulty grasping the special rules of other online blackjack versions. Furthermore, unlike online slots and roulettes, blackjack is not purely based on luck, so it’s essential to learn all the basics before sitting at the table. In other words, equipping yourself with some knowledge could increase your chance of winning.
Why Is It So Popular?
Before we go into the details of how to play online blackjack games, let’s give you a glimpse of why there is so much hype about blackjack. The first main reason blackjack is popular is the ease of learning and playing the game. Unlike other casino games with twisted rules, blackjack’s rules and strategy are simple and easy to understand. All you need to know when playing blackjack is when to hit, stand or split.
Another reason there is so much hype about this casino game is its low-house edge. Of all casino games, blackjack has the lowest house edge. In simpler terms, your odds of winning on the blackjack table are higher than in other casino games. For instance, the average house edge of blackjack games on most blackjack sites is 0.5%, while that of roulette is 2 – 15%, baccarat is 1 – 15%, and slot is 2 – 15%. This fair chance of winning that baccarat offers is one of the reasons players keep coming back for more.
Furthermore, blackjack is also popular because the game’s rules are static. Although there are different versions of blackjack, the basic rules are the same across the board. So once you learn these rules, you are good to go whether you are playing blackjack games at an American, Australian, or British casino. Additionally, online blackjack games are readily available at almost all casinos.
In addition, punters like the game’s fast pace as it is not a long-drawn-out game. It is one of the top casino games to play if you have limited time. Lastly, some bettors prefer blackjack to other casino games because it is not solely based on luck.
How Cards Are Scored In Blackjack
As earlier mentioned, blackjack is played using the standard 52-deck cards. These cards have four suits – clubs, spades, diamonds, and hearts. The cards with heart and diamond suits are red, while those with spades and clubs are black. In addition, a standard 52-deck card features 13 ranks – K, J, Q, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
The K (King), Q (Queen), and J (Jack) are face cards, while A (Ace) is called Ace. Further, each suit in the standard card has 13 ranks. For instance, the clubs have 13 ranks, and the same goes for hearts, diamonds, and spades. When scoring cards in most Blackjack variants, the suits do not matter. Instead, you get scores based on the rank of the cards in your hands.
Here is a low down of how to score cards when playing blackjack:
- Ace (A) – 1 or 11 points.
- King (K), Queen (Q), and Jack (J) – 10 points
- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 – same points as their rank. In other words, 8 = 8 points
To calculate the score of your hand, add all the points of the cards you have. For instance, if the cards in your hand are K, 3, and 4, your score will be 10 + 3 + 4 = 17. The same calculation applies to the dealer’s hand. After calculating both hands, the person with the number closest to 21 wins. However, anyone that goes over 21 automatically loses.
How To Play Online Blackjack
You can play your favourite blackjack games at online casinos or in traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. The rules and gameplay are almost the same whether you are playing virtually or physically. However, it is you vs the dealer when playing at online blackjack sites, while the number of players could go as high as 7, including the dealer, when playing at physical casinos.
All punters at the blackjack table play against the dealer. You kickstart a blackjack game by placing a bet on the table. If you are playing at a physical casino, you must get chips to place your bet. So meet the dealer at the blackjack table and ask how you can convert your cash to game chips.
Once done, you place your bet by placing your chips in the spot specified by the dealer. However, chips are not used in online blackjack sites, so you don’t have to worry about converting your cash. Instead, you bet on online blackjack tables directly with the funds you deposited in the casino’s account.
When all players place their bet, the dealer will deal them two cards each. After that, the dealer deals him or herself two cards, one facing up and the other facing down. Before we discuss what happens next, we like you to note that the highest score you can get with two cards is 21, and you get this only when you have a ten and an Ace.
In addition, there is a sucker bet called Insurance Pays 2 to 1 you should avoid while playing online blackjack games. You will often get this offer from the dealer when their faceup card is an Ace. This offer increases the casino house edge, so we don’t recommend accepting it if you are a beginner.
What to do after the dealer deals cards
Once all the players at the blackjack table get their cards, the dealer checks the rank of his facedown card. You lose if the dealer has blackjack. If otherwise, you are to decide whether you want to hit or stand, depending on the score of the cards in your hands.
If you choose to hit, you will get an extra card to increase your score. With an additional card, your score may go closer to 21 or beyond it. It is a bust if your score goes beyond it. If you choose to stand, it means you want to retain your cards. With this option, you don’t get an additional card, so your score remains the same for the next round.
However, you should not decide on whether to hit or stand randomly, as your chance of losing is higher if you do. Later in this blackjack guide, we’ll walk you through some blackjack strategies you can use to make a smart decision and increase your chances of leaving the table with some cash.
Other moves you can make while playing blackjack
Although hitting and standing are the most common moves on blackjack, they are not the only moves available to players. You can also split, surrender or double down. Below is a brief of each move to give you an idea of how it works.
You can split when the two cards in your hands have the same rank. For example, you have two sixes, two nines, or two fives. This move involves splitting your cards into two separate hands and getting a new card for each hand. This way, you have two hands with two cards each that you can play separately. To split, you must place a fresh bet for the newly created hand. The new bet must also be the same amount as your original bet.
Here is an example to help you better understand how splitting works. Let’s say you bet £20 and get two 6s after the dealer deals cards. You have three options – stand, hit, or split. If you choose to split, you must place an extra £20 bet on the new hands. Once done, you split the two 6s into two different hands, and the dealer deals your one card extra for each hand.
After splitting, three scenarios can play out. You could win on both hands, lose on the two hands or lose one hand and win the other. We’ll share more information on when to split later in this beginner’s blackjack guide.
Another move you can make after the dealer deals your card is to surrender. Surrendering involves throwing away your card rather than hitting or standing. When you surrender, you lose half of your bet and get the other half back. There are two types of blackjack surrender rules – the early surrender and the late surrender.
The early surrender rules allow players to give up half their bet before the dealer peeks at his facedown card. This way, you lose half of your stake if the dealer has blackjack. Early surrender lowers the casino’s house edge, so you only get this option on a few blackjack tables.
Unlike early surrender, late surrender allows you to give up your hand and half of your bet after the dealer checks his facedown card. With this option, you are not allowed to surrender if the dealer has blackjack but can forfeit your hand and give up half of your stake if the dealer doesn’t.
- Double down
Double down is a blackjack move that allows you to increase your original bet by up to 100%. This move involves placing an additional bet and getting one extra card. For instance, you wager £15 on a blackjack table, and the dealer deals you cards with ranks 6 and 4. With this score, you could decide to double down, hoping to get a score closer to 21. If you are lucky to get an Ace as your new card, you have blackjack and win the round.
Here is a blackjack scenario to help you understand the gameplay and how the moves discussed above work:
- You wager £50 on a blackjack table
- The dealer deals cards to all the players at the table, including himself
- After that, the dealer peeks at his facedown card to see if he has blackjack
- If the dealer has blackjack, all players without blackjack lose
- If the dealer does not have blackjack, any player with a hand that has blackjack wins
- Let’s say you have blackjack; you win and get a 3 to 2 payout. That’s £75.
- If you and the dealer do not have blackjack, the game continues, and all players, including the dealer, decide their move
- You can choose whether to stand, hit, double down or surrender
- After players make their move, the dealer calculates the score of each player’s hand
- All players with a hand over 21 losses
- Then players with scores closer to 21 than the dealer win while others with lower scores lose.
- After that, the dealer settles all bets.
How Dealers Play Their Hands In Blackjack
Unlike players, blackjack dealers can’t decide whether they want to stand or hit as there are specified rules to follow.
- Blackjack dealers must hit whenever the score of the cards in their hands is 16 or below
- Blackjack dealers must stand whenever the score of the cards in their hands is 18 or above
- Blackjack dealers can hit or stand, depending on the table’s rule, if the score of the cards in there is 17.
Blackjack dealers make their move after all players at the table have played. So they always have an advantage over you. For example, let’s say you get two cards totaling 22 after placing your bet at the table. You lose immediately without getting a chance to see whether the dealer’s total point is also 22 or more.
Four Basic Terms You Should Know
You will often come across four basic terms when playing online blackjack games. As a beginner, you must properly understand these terms to have an optimal experience at a blackjack table. To help you, we’ll list these four blackjack terms and explain what they mean comprehensively.
- Blackjack pays 3 to 2
- Insurance pays 2 to 1
- Dealer must hit soft 17
- £5 minimum, £500 maximum
- Blackjack pays 3 to 2
Perhaps you have heard blackjack pays 3 to 2 before now and wondering what it means. This term describes the payout you get when you have a blackjack. For instance, if you place a £50 bet and have a blackjack, your payout will be £75. Blackjack pays 3 to 2 is the most common payout on most tables. However, some blackjack sites offer 6:5 instead of 3:2. We recommend avoiding blackjack games with such payout as their odds increase the house edge, thereby putting you at a disadvantage.
However, there is an instance when you do not win even when you have a blackjack. For example, a push occurs when you get a blackjack, and the dealer gets a blackjack too. When it happens, there is no winner. Thus, the dealer will return your bet to you.
- Insurance pays 2 to 1
As stated earlier, insurance involves placing a bet on whether the dealer has a blackjack or not. The payout for this bet is 2 to 1. In other words, if you place a bet of £100 and win an insurance bet, you win £200. An insurance bet is a risky bet as the house edge is high. Blackjack dealers always encourage players to take this bet as they know that the probability of you winning is low. So we recommend that you stay away from an insurance bet when playing at a blackjack table, especially if you are a beginner.
Here is an example to help you understand what insurance pays to 2 to 1 means. Let’s assume you wager £50 on a blackjack table. After dealing cards to all players, the dealer may offer an insurance bet if he has an Ace or ten. Let’s say you take this option and place a £50 insurance bet.
You lose your original £50 bet and win the insurance bet (£50 x 2) £100 if the dealer has blackjack. The downside of an insurance bet is that you may lose the original bet and insurance bet if the dealer does not have a blackjack. For instance, the dealer deals cards with ranks 7 and 6 and deals himself ranks 9 and 10. Here, you lose your insurance bet as 9 and 10 do not equal 21 and may still lose your original bet depending on your next move.
- Dealer must hit soft 17
Blackjack tables have a rule on what will happen if the cards in the dealer’s hand are Ace, seven, and nine. Here, there are two options – the dealer must either hit or stand on soft 17. Most online blackjack sites will have this rule written visibly on their blackjack table. However, if you can’t find it, you should ask the dealer before the game commences.
Here is a lowdown of how the rule works. If the rule on your blackjack table is dealer must hit soft 17, the ace is counted a one, and the dealer will get an additional card when the soft hand occurs. This scenario increases the game’s house edge, so it often favours the casino. However, it sometimes works in the players’ favour too. If the rule is dealer must stand on soft 17, it means the dealer won’t get an additional, and the score 17 stands.
Wondering how the dealer must hit 17 can work in your favour? Here is an example. Let’s say the dealer has an ace, nine, and six, and the rule is the dealer must hit. The ace turns to one, and the dealer draws a new card. The dealer will go bust if he gets a card with a rank of five or more, as the total points will be more than 21. Hence, you win.
- £5 minimum, £500 maximum
Most blackjack sites have the phrase £5 minimum and £500 maximum on their blackjack tables. It means the minimum amount you can wager on the table is £5 while the maximum is £500.
Best Blackjack Strategies To Boost Your Odds
This section covers some of the best blackjack strategies for beginners. You will learn how to make informed decisions in different scenarios.
- How to play hard hands and soft hands in blackjack?
There are two types of hands in blackjack – hard and soft hands. We’ll explain both hands below and provide tips on what to do when you have a hard or soft hand.
- Hard hands
A hard hand occurs when you get two cards that do not give you a chance to negotiate. This can happen in two ways. First, you can have a hard hand with no ace in it. For instance, a Jack and 4 gives you a hard of 14. You can’t change your score.
Second, you can have a hard hand with an ace that can only count as 1. Otherwise, you go bust. For instance, if you have an ace, 7, and 5, you can only count the ace as one to make the total 13. If you count the ace as 11, your total will be 23, and that’s a burst.
- Soft hands
A soft hand occurs when you get cards that give you room to negotiate whether you want your ace to count as 1 or 11. For example, if the dealer deals you an ace and 6, you can decide to make your ace count as one and take a hit, hoping that the new card will bring you closer to 21.
- What to play after seeing the dealer’s faceup card
After understanding how soft and hard hands work, the next step is to learn how to make decisions after seeing the dealer’s card. First, you should note that a 10 has the highest chance of showing up than other ranks in the cards. Remember, we mentioned earlier that Jack, King, and Queen also count as ten. So in a standard-52 deck card, there are 16 cards worth 10 points each.
The common strategy players use in making decisions after seeing the dealer’s faceup card is to assume that the facedown card is a ten. Based on this assumption, players play conservatively if the rank of the dealer’s faceup card is six or lower and aim for a higher score if the dealer’s faceup card is seven or higher.
Here is why this strategy makes sense. If the dealer’s faceup card is six or lower (5, 4, 3, or 2), his total points will be 16, 15, 14, 13, or 12. With these points, the dealer has a high chance of going bust if he takes a hit. So it is okay to play conservatively, not take a hit. However, if the dealer’s faceup card is seven or higher (8, 9, 10), his possible score will be 18, 19, or 20. Hence, it makes sense to aim for a higher score by taking a hit.
- When to split in blackjack
There are two instances when you should always split when playing blackjack. First, you should split if you have two aces. Two aces (11 + 11) will give you 22 points; that’s a bust. If you take a hit by converting your aces to 1, you will get a hard 12 even when you get ten as your new card. However, if you followed our advice and split the cards into hands, you can get blackjack in one of the hands if any of your new cards is 10.
Similarly, you should always split when you get two 8s. If you stand, the total of your hand is 16, and the dealer wins if he has a higher total. Also, you are likely to go bust if you take a hit, as your total will be more than 21 if you get a new card with a rank of 6 or more. On the other hand, if you split the two 8s by placing an additional bet, you could get a total of 18 on both hands if your new cards are 10s.
- When you should not split in blackjack
Splitting is not an option when you have two 10s. The total of the cards is 20 points, an excellent score in blackjack. The only way a dealer can win when you have 20 points is when he has blackjack. Likewise, you should never split if the dealer deals you two 4s or 5s. If you split, the highest you will likely get on both hands is 14 (10 + 4) or 15 (10 + 5). Hands with these scores are not very good in blackjack. Hence, splitting won’t be ideal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions we get about online blackjack games. If you have more questions, you can leave a comment below this post. Our team will get back to you with answers as soon as possible.
- Why is blackjack so popular among casino players?
The biggest reason blackjack is so popular amount casino players is because it has the lowest house edge of all casino games. Furthermore, blackjack is easy to learn and play. In addition, it is not purely a game of luck. You can increase your chance of winning at blackjack tables by learning some strategies.
- Is it a luck-based game?
No, blackjack is not purely a game of luck. Although luck plays a significant role in whether you will win, you can reduce its effect by calculating correctly and making good decisions.
- Should I take insurance when playing?
Insurance bets increase the house edge, so they are considered sucker bets. You are more likely to lose than win an insurance bet. The only condition when you should take insurance is when you are counting cards and can accurately predict if the dealer has a blackjack or not.
- Which casino offers the best blackjack games?