Blackjack, or 21 is without a doubt one of the most popular and widely played casino games in the world. It is believed to have originated with the French game Vingt-et-Un (21 in French) in the 18th century. In the early 19th century it arrived in Canada and the US courtesy of French immigrants, and spread to gambling parlors, saloons and bars. Today, it´s considered the most popular casino game in the world, and it is available in many different variations. Our online blackjack guide will explain how to play,the rules and strategy, and have a look at the most common blackjack variations online.
How to Play Blackjack
Blackjack is a card game played against the house. In a brick and mortar casino, you would be playing against a dealer, or against the computer if you are playing online. In online blackjack the game starts with the player making a bet. Online, this is usually done by clicking on different valued markers and then clicking in the betting area of the table.
Then you click Deal, and the computer will deal two cards, face up, for the players and then two cards for the dealer, one face up and on face down (the dealers face down card is often referred to as a hole card).
Online Blackjack Rules
The goal in 21 is to beat the dealer. A Player beats the dealer by getting a total card value as close as possible to 21 without “going bust”, meaning going over 21, and either outscore the dealer of have the dealer go bust. All face cards has a card value of 10, all others have their normal numerical value.
Aces can be counted as either 1 or 11. The best possible hand you can get is Blackjack, a two-card combination with the value of 21, consisting of an Ace and a face card. Blackjack beats other 21 combinations.
Once you have received your two cards, you decide whether to Stand or Hit. Standing means you are satisfied with the hand you’ve been dealt, either because you reached 21, or because you deem the risk of going bust if you take another card to be too high. Hit means asking the dealer for another card. You can take as many cards as you want, until you are satisfied or go bust. If you go bust, you lose your bet and the game starts over.
Once you have chosen to stand, it´s the dealers time to play his cards, starting with the face down card. The dealer will hit on 16 and stand on 17. In some games the dealer must hit on a “soft 17”. This is a a card combination with a value of 17, where an ace is counted as 11.
If you lose the hand, you lose your bet. If you win, the payout is 2-1, except for a Blackjack win, that pays 3-2.
Except for Hit and Stand, there are some other actions that can come into play when playing Blackjack.
- Double Down – The player has the option to double his initial bet in exchange for receiving one, and only one, more card.
- Split – The player is allowed to split a hand comprised of two cards of equal value into two hands. The player then continues playing the hands separately.
- Insurance – If the dealers face up card is an ace, the player can insure against the dealer having a blackjack, by placing a side bet called insurance. The insurance payout is 2-1, so if the player wagers as much on insurance as the initial bet, he breaks even if the dealer has blackjack.
- Surrender – Some games offer the option for the player to surrender as their first action, in the case that the dealers face up card is a 10 or an ace. If the player chooses to surrender, he will get half his wager back. This rule is very uncommon online.
Knowing when to stand, hit or double down isn’t the easiest, and even if you have a keen mind for counting probabilities, pure brain power will not lower the house edge that much. The Blackjack Basic Strategy, however, will. If you play according the strategy in the chart below, you will actually lower the house edge to less than 1%.
Using this chart you will learn exactly what to do for every possible combination of player and dealer hands. And that´s the benefit of playing online, you can take how much time you want. So we suggest you print the chart out and have it beside you when you play.
- Practice makes perfect – and playing blackjack online is no exception. Fortunately, all modern online Casinos nowadays offer you to try out their online casino games for free. Playing for free is the perfect way to learn the rules, as well as try out the different versions to find the ones you like best.
- Never take Insurance – It may seem like a good idea to take insurance when faced with the risk that the dealer sits on a blackjack. However, this risk isn’t more than around 30%, and it´s simply not mathematically sound to take insurance.
- Keep bankroll and rent money seperate – “Scared money doesn’t win” as the saying goes, and there is truth to that. If you are afraid to lose, you won´t be thinking clearly, so don’t be so fast to bet with your rent or grocery money.
- Card counting for online Blackjack is impossible – many guides mention bankroll management and card counting, the idea being that you should bet big when your chances are high, and low when they are not. Because all cards not on the table are constantly being reshuffled it is impossible to count cards online, . This is also the case nowadays in many brick-and-mortar casinos.
Online Blackjack Variations
There are a lot of different versions of online Blackjack, with slightly different rules and house edges. Below we present the most commonly available.
American Vs European
American and European Blackjack differs from classic Blackjack because they have more limitations on when a player can double down. In American Blackjack, you can only double down on your bet if the first two cards totals 10 or 11. In European Blackjack you may also allowed to double down on 9. These restrictions raise the house edge over the player slightly.
Double Exposure is another variant that is common in online casinos. The dealers cards are dealt face up , this should reasonably give an edge to the player, but it doesn’t.
The house cleverly compensates for this in two ways. In Blackjack when the dealer and player tie, also called a “push” the player keeps his wager. In this version, it means the player loses. Even worse, in Double Exposure, Blackjack only pays 2-1 instead of 3-2, making the house edge even higher than usual.
Best Blackjack Casino
There are many good blackjack casinos online. But clearly, a good casino should offer as many versions as possible. These should include Live Dealer Blackjack, American and European blackjack. Below we have listed our favorite place for blackjack. This casino offers all the thrills you could ever wish for. Good luck!