Looking for the best online casinos to play blackjack? Check out my newest guide!
Blackjack — sometimes called Twenty-One — can be one of the most enjoyable games in any casino to play. It’s one of few casino games that seems to have just about the right mix of everything. It moves fast enough to hold your attention and deliver excitement, but not so fast that you feel pressured and nervous. There is a large element of chance, but the player also has a significant influence on the results of each hand. The basics of the game can be learned quickly, but players can choose to look deeper, learn more, and improve their skill. It’s no wonder that Blackjack has been a favourite with players and a standard game of the gambling industry for decades.
Where to Start when looking for a Blackjack Casino?
If you’re new to Blackjack, and especially if you want to play Blackjack at gambling sites, finding the right game and the best place to play Blackjack can be a little bit tricky. In land-based casinos, you’re likely to find just a few tables of the “classic” form of Blackjack. At casino sites, however, there are often at least a few different variations of the game with different twists on the original rules to make things more interesting.
So, if you want to find the best online casinos to play Blackjack, you’re going to need a good understanding of the standard rules of Blackjack and some basic knowledge about some of the most common variations that you’ll see online. So then, let’s first look at the base rules of Blackjack and a basic strategy for playing, and then we’ll give you some suggestions about where you can find the best Blackjack games online.
The Best Online Casinos To Play Blackjack
So now that you know the rules and you’re armed with a good basic strategy for Blackjack, it’s time to find an online casino that’s going to be convenient and offer the games that you want to play. Once you’re comfortable with the standard-rules game, you’ll surely find some interesting variants at your chosen casino as well.
As we’ve said throughout this article, though, be sure to read and understand all the rules before you put your money down. Even slight variations in the rules can make a big difference in the win rate of any Blackjack game.
The Best Online Casinos To Play Blackjack In The USA
It can be difficult for players in the US to find online casinos that offer good Blackjack games, but it’s not impossible. Following is a list of some of the best online casinos that accept players from the US and can deliver the great Blackjack experience that you’re looking for:
The Best Online Casinos To Play Blackjack In Australia
Quality online casinos that accept Australian players may also require some research to uncover. Luckily for our Aussie friends, however, we’ve already done all the research and compiled a great list of top-notch online casinos that will gladly accept players from Australia and have you seated at a Blackjack table in no time.
The Best Online Casinos To Play Blackjack In The UK And Europe
When it comes to Blackjack in the UK and Europe, finding an online casino is really no problem. Finding a GREAT online casino that’s going to offer you the top games and player benefits is another story, though. That’s where we come in. We’ve done all the legwork and gone through the classiest and the trashiest to find the online gaming centres that are really worth your time and deserve your play.
The Basic Rules Of Blackjack Online
Although you’re sure to see different variations of Blackjack at many online casinos, all casinos, without a doubt, will feature at least one standard-rules version of the game that is played exactly the same no matter where you are playing, online or offline. Here’s what you can expect to see at these games:
The Deck(s) Of Cards
Blackjack is played with a standard 52-card deck with no jokers. It can be played with anywhere from one to eight decks at the same time. In land-based casinos, it is extremely rare to find any games played with one or two decks. Most games are played with six, but tables using four or eight decks are also fairly common. Multiple decks are used to make it more difficult for players to count cards and gain an advantage over the casino. At online casinos, cards are shuffled between each hand, making it impossible to count cards, so single-deck games are easily found online.
Object Of The Game
The object of Blackjack is very simple. All players at the table compete against the dealer. Everyone starts with two cards and may then choose to take more cards (hit) or not (stand). Whoever comes closest to a point total of 21 without going over — compared to the dealer, not to other players — wins the hand.
The point value of a hand is determined by, as you might have guessed, adding up the value of the individual cards. The values of the cards are as follows:
- Ace – Worth either 1 or 11 at the choice of the player
- 10, J, Q, K – All are worth 10 points
- 2 through 9 – All are worth their face value
Hands made with an ace counting as 11 are called “soft” hands because if another card is drawn that would put the total over 21 (a bust) the value of the ace can be changed to 1. For example, let’s say a player had a total of 18 made from an ace and a seven and then drew an eight. Instead of having 26, the value of the ace would change to one, giving the player a total of 16.
The game of Blackjack begins with the players placing their bets. At land-based casinos, the minimum bet is generally at least a few dollars. At online casinos, it’s not unusual to find games that will allow you to bet as little as $.05 or $.10 per hand. Maximum bets can go up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
When all bets have been placed, the dealer will give one card face up to each player at the table starting with the player to his left and continuing clockwise around the table, dealing the last card to himself, also face up. Going around the table once more, each player will receive a second card face up. The dealer’s second card, however, is dealt face down. So, at the end of the deal, each player at the table will have two cards face up and the dealer will have one card facing up and the other face down.
When a player’s first two cards are an ace and a ten point card (10, J, Q, K) this is called a Blackjack or a “Natural”. When this happens the player automatically wins one and a half times his bet as long as the dealer does not also have Blackjack. If both the player and the dealer have Blackjack, this is a draw, called a “push”, and the player takes back his initial bet.
In case the dealer’s face-up card is a 10, J, Q, K, or ace, he will peek at his face-down card to see if he has a natural Blackjack. If so, the hand is over and all players who do not also have Blackjack lose their bets. Otherwise, if the dealer’s face-up card is not one of the above cards, he can not possibly have a natural Blackjack and therefore does not look at the face-down card until it is his turn to play his hand.
As with the deal, player action moves around the table clockwise starting with the player to the dealer’s immediate left. Each player is given the choice to either stand (stay with the cards he has) or hit (take another card). The player can take as many cards as he likes as long as he does not go over 21 total points. If the player does go over 21, this is called a “bust”, the hand is terminated, and the dealer will immediately collect the bet. The action then moves to the next player.
In addition to the basic options to stand or hit, there are three other options that can come up during a hand of Blackjack. The exact rules for each of the following options can vary from one casino or virtual table to another. Players should be careful to ask about or read the rules concerning the following plays before making them.
When the dealer’s face up card is an ace (and only when it is an ace) the players are given the opportunity to make an “insurance” bet, up to half of the amount of their original wager, that the dealer’s face-down card is a ten point card. Once all insurance bets are made, the dealer will look at his face-down card and immediately turn it over if it is indeed a ten point card. If this happens, the hand is over, players are paid two to one on the insurance bet and all original wagers lose (unless a player also has a natural Blackjack). If the face-down card is not worth ten points, the insurance bets are immediately collected and play continues as normal.
To double down, a player places an extra bet equal to the amount of his original wager and receives one — and only one — more card. The double down bet must also be made on the first two cards dealt. The player is not allowed to double down if they’ve already hit their hand one or more times.
This extra bet is usually only made when the original hand has a value of 9, 10, or 11. Some casinos require the point total of the first two cards to be equal to 9, 10, or 11 in order to double down while others may allow players to double down on their first two cards no matter what the point total is.
If a player receives two cards of the same value, he can choose to place an additional bet equal to his original wager and split the cards into two individual hands. Once split, each hand is played independently of the other. In other words, it is possible to win on one hand and lose on the other. The hands and bets are completely separate.
It’s important to note that the rules on splitting hands can vary widely from one casino/game to another. Some will allow you to split any two cards worth ten points such as a queen and a jack while others will only let you split true pairs such as two jacks or two queens. In most casinos, the rules also state that if you split aces, each hand will only receive one more card and you can’t hit, but this is not always the case.
Check how many times you can split
You should also check how many times you are allowed to split hands. In some cases, you can split more than once. For example, if you are dealt two eights and split them, then get another eight on one of the hands, some casinos will allow you to split that hand as well, making three hands all together. Others will not allow the second split. In some places, you are allowed to split up to three or four times, which changes the expected win rate for the player quite a bit.
And finally, it’s important to note that when you split either aces or cards worth 10 points and make 21 with two cards on either or both of the split hands it does not count as a natural Blackjack. In this case, the player will be paid two to one for the win instead of the usual three to two that is paid for a natural.
The Dealer’s Play
The rules that the dealer must follow in a game of Blackjack can vary considerably from one place to another. It is extremely important to read or ask about the house rules for how the dealer will play at any given table. Slight variations can significantly affect the expected win rate.
Unless the dealer has a natural 21, he will act after all of the players have either decided to stand or busted their hand. At that point, he will turn over his face-down card (often called the dealer’s hole card) to reveal the total for his two initial cards. What happens next depends on the house rules, but the following rules are the most common.
No Decisions, Just Follow House Rules
The dealer does not make any decisions about his hand on his own. He is required to take certain actions by the house rules or the rules of the individual table. In general, if the dealer has a hand totalling 16 or less, he must hit. If he has a hand totalling 17 or more, he must stand. For the player, those two simple rules provide the best win rate expectation.
Variations on these rules that you will most often come across involve “soft” hands. At some tables, the dealer will hit on a soft 17 but stand on a hard 17. You might even see some tables where the dealer hits up to a soft 18. These are very subtle changes, but they will affect the edge the casino has over the players.
Blackjack Basic Tips
It is possible to reduce the house edge on a standard-rules Blackjack game down to about 1% if the player follows an optimal strategy. All decisions about what to do with your hand at the Blackjack table are based on the value of the dealer’s exposed card. The following is all based on house rules where the dealer must hit on 16 and stand on any 17.
Decisions: Hit or Stand
When deciding to hit or stand, remember that the six and seven are the key cards. If the dealer has a 7, 8, 9, or 10 value card showing (7 or more), then you should hit your hand until you have a total of at least 17. It should be easy to remember that if the dealer has 7 you want at least 17. Just remember the seven. If the dealer is showing a six or less, then you should stand on a total of 12 or more. If the dealer shows a two or three, then you should stand on 13 or more. With 11 or less, you want to hit at least once since it’s impossible for you to bust.
The basic idea of the above is that if the dealer’s exposed card is 6 or less, because of the hit/stand rules he has to follow, he is more likely to bust. So, if he’s more likely to bust, you should just sit on your hand and let him do that rather than risking a bust yourself.
Do the Oposite!
Another easy way to remember what to do without making things to complicated is to just pretend that whenever the dealer turns a card over it will be a ten point card. Then, based on what he’ll do with that total, you’ll do the opposite. If the dealer will turn over a ten and stand, you hit. If he will hit, you stand.
So, for example, if the dealer has a five showing, assume he will turn over a ten and make 15. With 15 he has to hit, hopefully turning over another ten and busting. So you should stand on any hand over 11 and let him bust. If the dealer has a seven showing, assume he will turn over a ten and have 17. With 17, he must stand, so you want to hit to at least 17 to push or higher to win. He hits, you stand. He stands, you hit.
Playing Soft Hands
When you have a soft hand — a hand made with an ace counting as 11 — you should hit until you reach either a total of soft 18 or your hand meets one of the conditions we outlined above. The idea here is to hit in an attempt to make 21 or stop when you have a hard hand using the rules above.
When To Double Down
You should always double down when your first two cards equal 11. Double down with a total of ten if the dealer’s exposed card is nine or less. Double down with a total of nine if the dealer’s exposed card is six or less. You should not place a double down bet with any total less than nine.
When To Split
The two main rules to remember with splitting are that you should always split eights and aces and never split tens or fives.
Again, you should always assume the next card to be revealed is going to be a ten and play accordingly. Aces, obviously, will make 21 when a ten hits and eights will make 18, which will win the majority of the time. Tens should not be split because together they make 20, which is hard to beat, and fives play better together as ten points where another ten would give you 20 as opposed to being played as separate fives where a ten added to each would make 15.
Pairs of fours should also be kept together. They will play better as eight points that could become 18 or 19 rather than two separate fours that, at best, will only increase to 15 with an ace.
As for what’s left, pairs of twos, threes, and sevens can be split if the dealer’s exposed card is seven or less, and pairs of sixes can be split if the dealer shows six or less.