How To Play Online Blackjack
The rules of online blackjack are the same as when you play blackjack at home or a real-world casino. You’ll notice that there are a few versions of the game. Each type of blackjack has its own rules, so you’ll need to confirm which version you’re playing and check if there are any more rules you should know about.
This article will give you a grounding in online blackjack; the rules, card values and how winnings are paid. Once you’ve grasped the basics, you’ll be able to pick up whichever type of blackjack you’re playing in no time. With there being so many advantages to playing online, it’s worth getting a grasp of the game now and using it to win real money when you’re ready.
The Basics of Online Blackjack
Also known as twenty-one, blackjack is a game of luck and skill. First off, you need to know that you’re playing against the dealer, not other players on the table. In the online version, you can go head-to-head with the dealer at single-player tables. It is to your advantage, as other players aren’t affecting the outcome of the game. When you play blackjack, if your fellow players make bad calls, you’ll lose out too.
Online Blackjack: How You Win
The aim is to score a higher hand than the dealer without going over 21 and ‘busting.’ To maximise your winnings, you must hit ‘blackjack’; a hand value of 21 exactly. In this game, the dealer has the advantage because he or she plays after the other players. So, if most of the players go bust before it gets to the dealer’s turn, the dealer knows they have competition and will take a less risky approach.
The value of the cards in blackjack are as follows:
- 2-10 = face value
- Ace = 1 or 11
- King, Queen, Jack = 10
A hand with an Ace valued at 11 is known as a ‘soft’ hand, and when it is valued at one, it is a ‘hard’ hand. E.g. ace + six = ‘soft 17’.
Online Blackjack: Order of Play
As the player, you place your first bet and get dealt two face-up cards. The dealer then deals himself one face-up card and a second card face down.
If your two cards have the value of 21 (an ace + face card/ten), this is a natural and you win. Your win will pay odds 3:1. However, if the dealer also has blackjack, both hands are tied (known as a ‘push’), and you get your bets back.
If neither of you has blackjack, you can do one of the following
- Stand – you stick with your hand, and the dealer plays his hand
- Hit – you take one or more cards until you stand or go bust
- Double down – you double your bet and receive one more card before standing
- Split – when you have two cards of the same value, you split them to make two hands on which you place a bet equal to the initial bet, thereby doubling your bet. Each hand receives at least one more card, after which you play each hand individually as you would normally.
- Surrender – when you think you have a losing hand you can surrender. You’ll lose half of your original bet, but this that’s better than playing on and losing the entire stake.
- Insurance – If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, you can take insurance against him getting blackjack. To do this, you have to place a side bet of half your original bet. This will pay out at 2:1 if the dealer does get blackjack. If he doesn’t, you lose the insurance bet but go on to play your hand.
Now, it’s the dealer’s turn to play (unless you bust or surrender, in which case the game is over). The dealer will stand or hit based on a set of rules. These rules will vary depending on the version of blackjack. Familiarise yourself with the rules before you play blackjack, so you know if the game’s going in your favour. Here are the ground rules for dealer play, which apply to most variants of blackjack:
- For hands valuing 16 or less, the dealer must hit.
- For hands valuing 18 or more, he must stand.
- On a hard 17, the dealer must stand, e.g. 9 + 8.
- On a soft 17, the dealer must hit, e.g. ace + 6.
Online Blackjack Payouts
- If your first two cards make blackjack, e.g. Ace + King, and the dealer does not have blackjack you win at 3:1.
- When you bust you lose
- If you stand and the dealer busts you win with a 1:1 payout (i.e. one chip plus your original bet)
- If neither of you busts the closest to 21 wins at 1:1.
- When you tie, the game is a ‘push’ and you get your bets back.
- Insurance pays out at 2:1.
Payouts may vary from table to table and in online casino variations. Always check the details before you play blackjack.
Variations of Online Blackjack
When you first play blackjack online, you might be surprised by how many types there are. Some versions will use more card decks than others. What’s more, whether or not the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17 will change. As well as rules on doubling down, re-splitting and surrendering.
For more information on particular types of blackjack, check out these guides.
Tips for Playing Blackjack Online
Now you’ve got to grips with the basics, go online to practice on free games. These free play games give you a chance to get used to the game before trying your luck in real-money games. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:
- Get familiar with the table limits, rules and payouts of the particular game you’re playing and table you’re playing at.
- Pick single-player tables, so you get through more games in the amount of time you have.
- Have a clear betting strategy. Increase your bets when you’re winning and stick to the minimums when you’re losing.
- Set your loss limits and your winning goals and stick to them. In other words, learn to quit while you’re ahead.
- As with all gambling, protect your bankroll and don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose.
- Know when you’re starting to make poor decisions and take a break when you do.
- Move between tables. When playing online and it’s not going well for you, pick another table, visit another site or just take a break.
- Don’t get too comfortable when you play blackjack in the comfort of your own home: never drink and play.
- Note that card counting, even at a single-deck table, is not a viable strategy online as the cards are randomly generated.
- Only play at reputable and trusted online casinos.