- The history of blackjack
- Blackjack rules
- How to play online blackjack
- Best online casinos for blackjack
- Blackjack strategy, tips and tricks
- Live blackjack
- Mobile roulette
Blackjack is a classic casino game and one of the most played card games in the world. It is a game that requires a mix of both luck and skill, and playing it before learning the basic rules is not recommended. If you want to learn everything there is to know about blackjack, you have come to the right place. In our comprehensive blackjack guide, we will show you the optimal strategies and the best moves to help you make the right decision when it’s your turn to act.
In blackjack, you go head to head with the casino’s dealer. The goal of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without “busting”, while at the same time beating the dealer’s hand. Although you can have a lot of fun and win round after round with simple luck and basic strategy alone, the game truly shines when you implement math and odds calculation to increase your chances of winning. The beauty of blackjack is that anyone can learn the game within minutes, but knowing what to do in marginal spots takes a lot of practice. Every hand and situation can be played a correct way, and you sometimes need to keep a cool head and gamble on a double when the math says doing so is the right play.
There are many variations of blackjack, and casinos and game providers can sometimes use different game rules. To keep it simple, we will stick to the most common type of blackjack in this guide. Most online casinos offer the same game providers for their blackjack and live casino games, which means that nearly every online blackjack game has the same set of rules and structure. In the end, the goal in any blackjack game is always the same: getting as close to 21 as possible without going over. We will first take a look at the history and the rules of blackjack and then dive deeper into the math and strategy of the game. Hopefully, you will be a real blackjack professional by the end of this guide!
The history of blackjack
The history of blackjack is, for the most part, unknown, but historians do know that its precursor was a card game called twenty-one. An early version of twenty-one is mentioned in Spanish books from the 17th century, so a form of blackjack has at least been around since then – and probably earlier than that as well. The game survived the test of time, and it was played hundreds of years later in casinos across the United States. The name twenty-one was changed to blackjack after certain casinos in the US started implementing a special bonus system. A hand consisting of an ace of spade and a jack of clubs or spades gave a payout of ten to one, and this card combination was dubbed a blackjack. The name stuck, and the game is still called blackjack today.
Originally, blackjack was played with one standard deck of 52 cards. But thanks to rampant card counting in Las Vegas during the 80s and 90s, most casinos use up to eight decks on their blackjack tables today. If you have seen the famous blackjack movies Rain Man or 21, you might have an idea of how card counting works: the players count the high cards on the table and of the previous rounds to determine whether a high or low card is likely to come next. By doing this process over and over, skilled counters could get a slight edge over the casinos and win a lot of money over time. One of the most infamous card counters of all time was the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of MIT students that managed to beat the casinos for over a decade by using an advanced counting technique. Once the casinos started adding more decks of cards, and thanks to online casino blackjack games with an unlimited number of card decks, counting isn’t nearly as lucrative these days.
There have been countless books written about blackjack strategy, and many mathematicians, strategies and gamblers have tried to beat the game over the years. Without effective card counting, it is not possible to beat the house edge and win over a longer period. However, thanks to the game’s high Return To Player percentage, you can win a lot in shorter play sessions by using perfect strategy. Knowing exactly what to do in each spot is vital for your success at the table, and new players will often lose marginal hands by hitting cards when they should stand and vice versa. You don’t need to know everything about blackjack to win, but learning the basic strategies will definitely increase your win rate.
The rules of blackjack are easy to learn. The goal of the game is to beat the dealer by getting a better hand, and the best possible hand is 21. At the beginning of the round, players are dealt two cards face up. The dealer also starts the round with two cards, but only one of them is faced up and visible to the players at the table. Once all the cards have been dealt, the players act first. You can stand when you have a good hand that you think will beat the dealer, or add more cards to your hand by hitting. But be careful – if your hand busts by going over 21, you automatically lose the round and your full bet. There are a few more options available to you in certain spots, and we will come back to these later.
Once all the players have acted, the dealer’s second card is flipped up. In standard blackjack, the dealer must stand on soft 17 or higher. This means that the dealer is forced to add more cards to their hand until they get 17, 18, 19, 20 or 21, or until they bust by going over 21. If the player beats the dealer’s hand, or if they are still in the hand and the dealer busts, they win the round and double their money. A draw can also occur, in which case the player and the dealer split the pot, and the player gets their bet back. Cards are worth their face value, except for face cards and Aces: the Jack, Queen and King are always worth 10 points, and Aces are worth either 1 or 11 points depending on the hand. For example, if you have an Ace and an 8 in your hand, you have both a 19 and a soft 9 at the same time. If you choose to take another card and a 3 comes up, your total hand will be 12 instead of 22 since the Ace can be both a 1 and an 11.
So what is a blackjack exactly? A blackjack occurs when the player is dealt an initial hand consisting of an Ace and any ten (10, J, Q, or K). Unless the dealer also has a blackjack, this results in an automatic win for the player. A blackjack is worth 1,5 times the bet stake, which means that a bet of €10 will reward you with €25 instead of just €20. The probability of being dealt a blackjack in standard blackjack is only 4.83% – or about 1 in 21 hands.
Few casino games can beat the high RTP of blackjack. If you play by the book and avoid side bets and insurance, blackjack has an RTP of over 99%. This is far higher than slots and most other casino games, but it requires perfect play from the player. In reality, the casino earns more on blackjack since few players play every hand correctly. By learning optimal blackjack strategy and implementing it when you play, you will drastically increase your RTP and win more in the long run. In the next parts of the guide, we will teach you how to play blackjack and give you some useful tips and tricks.
How to play online blackjack
Blackjack is different from table games such as roulette and baccarat since you need to make more decisions after placing your initial bet. In most casino games you simply put your chips in the middle and hope for the best, but in blackjack, you need to act at least once more before the round is over. Standard online blackjack gives you six basic options: bet, hit, stand, double, split and insurance, and here comes short explanations of each of them:
- Bet: To join the game, you first need to place your bet. Use the digital chips in front of you to adjust your bet size. Many online blackjack games let you bet on multiple hands per round, so you can choose to place chips on more sections. Remember to take a look at the table limits before taking a seat, and don’t bet more than your gambling budget allows.
- Hit: Hitting is one of the basic moves of blackjack. When you hit, the dealer adds one more card to your hand. You can keep hitting as many times as you’d like, but if you bust by going over 21, you will automatically lose your bet. When to hit depends on your hand, but also on the dealer’s card. In some situations, doubling or splitting is a better option than hitting.
- Stand: When you are satisfied with your hand and it has a good chance of beating the dealer’s hand, you should stand by not taking any more cards. Standing is the last move of the round before the action passes over to the dealer. In general, you should always stand on 17 or higher unless there is an Ace in your hand. If the dealer has a low or medium card, standing with a hand lower than 17 is often the right play.
- Double: Doubling is a more advanced option than hitting, and learning when to double and when just to hit is an essential part of becoming a blackjack pro. If you double, your initial bet on the hand is doubled, and you will receive one extra card only. Doubling is almost a must when you have a 10 or 11 versus the dealer’s 5 or 6, but it should only be done in certain situations.
- Split: The split option becomes available when you have a starting hand with a pair. If you split, you double your initial bet and your two cards become individual hands that are played independently. For example, instead of having a pretty bad starting hand like 16, you can split your hand of two 8s and possibly get two 18’s against the dealer’s low card, which is a much better position to be it. If you split Aces, you will only get one new card to each hand.
- Insurance: When the dealer shows an Ace in their starting hand, the insurance option becomes available. If you pay the insurance, you won’t instantly lose if the dealer has a blackjack. Instead, you will be rewarded with a prize of 2 to 1 on your money. Paying for insurance might sound like a good idea, but it is a losing bet that is disadvantageous in the long run.
Once you have placed your bet and received your two starting cards, you can use any of the options above to make your next move. Of course, you can only split with a pair in your hand, and the insurance option only appears when the dealer shows an Ace. Knowing what to do in each spot requires practice, but once you have learned the basic strategy and played a lot of blackjack hands, you will automatically know what to when faced with a tough choice.
Best online casinos for blackjack
Since blackjack is one of the most iconic card games, you will find it in virtually every online casino that has table games. But as you might know, the site you choose to play on is important. Some casinos are better than others when it comes to its welcome bonus, selection of games and withdrawal processing speed, and we always recommend playing on a licensed and trustworthy online casino. If you are a new player who wants to play online blackjack for the first time, you can’t go wrong with any of our recommended sites. When picking a place to play, make sure to have a look at the following things before creating an account:
- Welcome bonus: One of the first things we check out when reviewing a new casino is its welcome bonus for new players. Deposit bonuses give you a headstart in the casino and extra value for your money. Just remember to check the welcome bonus terms and conditions before you start playing since not all casinos let you play blackjack with bonus cash. If that’s the case, you might want to skip the welcome bonus if you plan on playing blackjack only.
- Blackjack games: We mostly focus on the standard version of blackjack in this casino guide, but there are more varieties to check out. If you play on a site that offers the high-quality blackjack games from Play’n GO or NetEnt, you can try your luck on exciting versions such as double exposure blackjack, European blackjack or single deck blackjack.
- Live blackjack: Nothing is more exciting than sitting down and playing cards at a real casino blackjack table, and live casinos give you the same experience from the comfort of your own home. The best casinos have live blackjack tables by Evolution Gaming or NetEnt Live, the internet’s two leading live casino providers. If live blackjack is your jam, you’ll want to be able to play on a site that operates dozens of tables 24 hours a day.
- Mobile casino: Most casinos are optimised for phones these days, and you don’t have to miss out on any of the fun when playing on mobile. If you want to play a few hands of blackjack while out of the house, you can simply pull out your phone and start playing within seconds. A casino’s mobile site is vital, so make sure to check it out before you commit to the site.
- Payments and security: Blackjack is fun regardless of how small or big you bet, and making deposits should be smooth and easy. Most online casinos let you load up your account by using credit cards, e-wallets, bank transfer and more. The most important part is playing at a secure casino that processes your withdrawals within a short time. Nobody likes waiting for days or weeks before the money they won shows up in their bank account.
- Casino license: We recommend playing at casinos that are licensed and regulated by one of the leading gaming authorities, such as the MGA, UKGC or Curaçao. Licensed casinos follow strict regulations that protect the players, making them much safer than unregulated sites. You should easily be able to find the casino’s license information by checking the footer of the website since that’s where the licenses are listed.
The list includes many of the things we look at when reviewing casinos, but other factors might be equally important to you as well. If you love playing slots, you’ll want to have access to the latest software from NetEnt, Microgaming and so on, and it’s always a good idea to play at casinos that reward their players with frequent player rewards and generous promotions.
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Blackjack strategy, tips and tricks
In this section, we will discuss useful blackjack strategies, tips and tricks. Unlike other casino games, blackjack is not purely luck based, and you need to play your hands optimally to win. Of course, it is possible to get blackjack after blackjack and win that way, but most hands require you to make the right move to take down the pot. Although you will learn a lot just by playing, it’s wise to read up on how to play blackjack before you take a seat at the table. We have prepared a list of basic strategy and some tips and tricks that will help you get started the right way.
Learn when to hit and when to stand. Hitting and standing are the most basic things you should learn before playing. Beginners will often hit in situations where they should stand, and stand in situations where they should hit. For example, you always should hit when you have a 16 against a dealer’s 10, even though you are likely to bust. A hand of 16 against a 5 is a stand, however, since the dealer has a decent chance of busting.
Use double and split to your advantage. Winning a standard hand in blackjack only doubles your initial bet, but doubling and splitting in the right situations can let you win much more. If you have a starting hand of 9, 10 or 11 against the dealer’s 4, 5 or 6, you should always click the double button and make the pot juicier. You are likely to hit 20 or 21 with your one extra card, and if not, the dealer will often bust with their hand. The split option is available when you have a pair in your starting hand. Marginal hands like deuces and eights should be split in many situations, and Aces should always be split – just remember that splitting Aces will only give you one extra card.
Pay attention to the dealer’s hand. Focusing too much on their own hand without paying enough attention to the dealer’s hand is a costly mistake that new players tend to do. Although you want to have a hand that is to close to 21 as possible, you should not hit in all situations when the dealer shows a low or middle card. The card of the dealer is just as important as your own hand, and everything you do should be based on what the dealer has.
Avoid side bets and insurance. Many versions of blackjack games offer optimal side bets that pay out extra prizes on perfect pairs, flushes, three of a kind, and so on. While these bets offer some extra action and can be fun to play on, they have a much lower RTP than base game blackjack. Nothing is wrong with a gamble once in a while, but playing side bets will make you lose more in the long run. As we said earlier, the insurance option becomes available when the dealer shows an Ace. No matter which hand you have, you should always decline the insurance offer since the odds are greatly in the casino’s favour.
Use a blackjack sheet. One of the benefits of playing online blackjack is that you have the whole internet to your disposal. Before you learn how to play the specific hands, you can always look up a blackjack sheet that shows you exactly what to do in those tricky spots. Several websites offer excellent blackjack sheets that work for most online blackjack versions, but make sure to pick one that is tweaked for the rules your game is played with.
Practice! As with everything, practice is the best way of getting better at blackjack. You will naturally become better and more knowledgeable by playing hands. Most online casinos let you try their games in demo mode, which means that you can play blackjack for free by using play money chips. Since blackjack is played with real money, you don’t want to spend tons of cash before you start to understand the game and its rules.
Blackjack has been played for hundreds of years, and it is easily one of the most popular casino games of all time. Today, highrollers all over the world prefer playing their favourite table games in online live casinos. Live casinos changed the online gambling world around a decade ago, and thousands of players enjoy live blackjack, roulette and baccarat every day. These games give you a more authentic casino experience as they are played with real cards, tables and dealers.
Live blackjack is naturally one of the most played game in any live casino lobby, and you will usually find dozens of blackjack tables running no matter what time it is. Leading game providers such as Evolution Gaming and NetEnt Live operate tables all year round, which means that you’ll never have to wait until a seat becomes available. Unlike other live games such as roulette, blackjack requires every player to make individual decisions. Because of this, each table can only have a limited number of players. However, if you don’t like waiting for your turn to play, you can find special tables where all players play the same set of cards.
Live blackjack is played just like regular computer blackjack, but there are a few differences you should keep in mind. Since you aren’t the only player at the table, you need to make your move before the timer runs out. If you don’t make your decision before your turn ends, you will automatically stand. Luckily, you have many seconds to act, and you can pre-select your options before it’s your turn. There are also several types of tables and blackjack variations to choose from in the live casino lobby, and you should make sure to join a table that has the betting limits you are comfortable playing with. Some tables are reserved for real VIPs who enjoy betting thousands of euros per hand!
Thanks to mobile casinos, you can bring the blackjack fun with you wherever you go. Blackjack works great on the smaller phone screens, and each round takes only a few seconds to play, making it an excellent game when you just want some quick excitement. Whether you’re waiting for the bus or sitting on your commute, you can always load up a game of mobile blackjack and play a couple of rounds. All the blackjack games from leading game providers such as NetEnt, Play’n GO and others are optimised for mobile, and you will find them in the games lobby of most online mobile casinos.
To play blackjack mobile, you just need a modern device and a stable internet connection. Most smartphones and tablets can run casino games without any issues. Just remember that if you want to play live casino blackjack on the go, you should keep an eye on your battery level and your internet connection. Since you have a time limit of a few seconds at the live casino table, your turn ends if your phone shuts off or if you lose the internet connection, unlike regular computer blackjack which resumes when you log in and open the game again. The live casino games from top providers are optimised for mobile play, so even the streaming should work on older smartphone models. If you experience any stuttering or lag while sitting at the live blackjack table, you can always open the settings and adjust the video streaming quality.
Blackjack is a timeless casino classic that every serious gambler needs to know how to play. The card game was invented hundreds of years ago, and today, it is more popular than ever. In this comprehensive blackjack guide, we have covered the history, the rules and some of the best strategies of the game. Winning in blackjack takes luck, guts and skills, and knowing what to do when the pressure is on is an essential part of the game. Every blackjack round is a puzzle, and learning how to play your hand optimally can be extremely fun and rewarding.
Before you start playing for real money, you should spend a few minutes learning the basic rules of blackjack. The goal of the game is to beat the dealer by having the highest hand, up to 21. By hitting, standing, doubling and splitting, you can make the most out of your dealt hand and try to beat the dealer. The task is easy if you are dealt an Ace and any ten: this is called a blackjack, which is an instant win. If you are looking for a fun yet challenging casino game that will make you think about every move, blackjack could be the perfect game for you!