Blackjack is no doubt one of the most popular card games for gamblers in the US. This easy to learn game involves a little skill, some luck, and a lot of fun. Whether you’ve played before or are looking to start, you’ll find the Casino Guru guide to online blackjack helpful. Throughout this guide, we’ll lead you to the best places to play blackjack online, explain the rules of the game, introduce you to a few different versions, and load you up with plenty of tips and tricks.
The Best Online Casinos for Blackjack
How to Play Blackjack: The Rules
The basics of online blackjack are the same as if you were to walk into a casino and sit at a table. The players play against the dealer, so the dealer also deals himself a hand. Players must try to get as close to 21 points in their hand as possible without breaking 21. Then, if a player is closer to 21 than the dealer, the player wins! We’ll walk you through step by step.
- Place a bet. If you are playing multi-hand blackjack, you’ll be placing more than one bet by placing a bet on each virtual seat you are playing.
- The dealer will give you two cards. Both cards will be facing up. Next, you’ll need to determine the value of your hand. Cards numbered 2-10 have a value equal to its rank. Face cards are equal to 10 points. Aces can be worth 1 or 11 points, whichever value most benefits the player. For example, a hand of 2Q is worth 2+10 = 12.
- The dealer also receives two cards. One of the dealer’s cards is face up and the other is face down.
- Depending on the value of your two cards, you need to determine your next action. Players have the options to stand, hit, split, double down, or surrender. If you stand, you do not receive any more cards and decide to challenge the dealer’s hand with the first two you were dealt. If you hit, you are dealt an additional card. You can hit until you decide to stand or until you bust (your hand breaks 21 points).
- The dealer will play their hand after the rest of the players at the table. The dealer must ‘hit’ until they reach a certain number of points (usually 17) or the dealer busts.
· If the points in your cards are closer to 21 than the dealer’s cards, then you win! If you bust (go over 21) then you automatically lose. Or, if the dealer busts, then you win. If both the dealer and the player have blackjack, this is a push. In the event of a push, the player’s bet is returned.
Check out our helpful glossary for common terms used at the blackjack table.
Bust – when the cards in one person’s hand add up to over 21 points; this is an automatic loss for the player (or dealer) or ‘bust’
Double Down – after seeing your hand, you can place a second bet to increase your initial bet and draw another card
Even Money – This is a side bet available to players when the dealer’s face up card is an Ace and the player has blackjack. The stake can be up to half the amount of the original wager. If the player with blackjack takes this option and the dealer does have blackjack, the player will push on the original bet and receive a payout of 2:1 on the side bet. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the hand and initial bet are treated normally, and the side bet is forfeited to the house. The player can make the same side bet if he or she does not have blackjack and the dealer’s face up card is an Ace. In this case the side bet is called ‘insurance’.
Face Down Game – a version of blackjack in which the first two cards dealt to players are done so face down
Flat Bet – when a player stakes the same bet on multiple successive rounds
Hard Hand – a hard hand is any hand that does not have an Ace (the card that has the ability to change values between 1 and 11)
Heads Up – this is when there is a single player at the table competing against the dealer
Hit – the action of a player when they ask the dealer to deal another card to the player’s hand
Hole Card – the dealer’s card that is face down and unknown to the players until it is flipped
Insurance – In the case that the dealer’s face up card is an Ace, player’s have the opportunity to place a side bet known as ‘insurance’. The amount of the side bet staked can be up to half the value of the original wager. This a bet in which the player is predicting that the dealer has blackjack. This is also known as a bad bet, but more on that late in our tips section.
Natural – when a player reaches 21 points with the first two cards dealt, it’s known as a ‘natural 21’ or a ‘natural’
Pitch Game – a version of blackjack in which the dealer uses one or two decks when dealing
Push – a push is when the dealer and player have hands of equal value; all bets the player made are returned in the event of a push, this can happen even if both the player and the dealer have blackjack (21 points) in their final hands
Soft – a hand that has an Ace (a card that can either have the value of 1 or 11)
Split – This is an action a player can take after being dealt the first two cards if the first two cards they are dealt are of the same value. The player can opt to play each of the cards as a separate hand, playing each with the same initial bet. For example, if a player is dealt two Aces, with an initial bet of $20, the player can opt to split. The player would then separate the Aces, place another $20 bet on the table, and treat each Ace as a separate hand.
Stand – the action a player takes to keep his or her hand as-is and take no more cards; if a player is as close to 21 as he or she expects to get without busting, they will stand
Stiff – a hand that may bust if another card is dealt
Third Base – the last player at the table to play, this will be the player to the dealer’s immediate right
Upcard – the dealer’s card that is dealt facing up
The Best Strategy for Online Blackjack
Test your skill with free play. Test your chances of getting as close to 21 as you can without busting using different card combinations in your hand. Free play can help you build confidence at the table before diving in to the real thing. With free play blackjack, you can also fine-tune your ability to have awareness of what’s being played on the table, to really up your blackjack game.
Don’t bother with insurance or even money bets. In the long run, players will lose. This is especially true online, since counting cards isn’t an option. About that…
Most online casinos shuffle all of the digital cards after every hand – so don’t get caught up trying to count cards.
Split your hand if you’re dealt a pair of 8s or a pair of Aces. In both of these cases, you’ll most likely be better off splitting your pair into two hands.
In online blackjack, the house always has an edge. It’s this risk that can make the game so exciting, but don’t go chasing any losses. Remember to enjoy the experience without getting carried away.
Different Versions of Online Blackjack in the US
Blackjack is a simple game that, over decades of play, has lent itself to a number of variations. Variations include differences in rules, payout structures, and the number of decks used by the dealer. We’ll walk you through a few of the different versions of blackjack below:
European Blackjack – In this version, the dealer uses two decks of cards and deals his or her first card face up. The dealer then does not deal his or her second card until all players’ hands are complete. Also, in European blackjack, players can split a hand when their first two cards are of the same value, whereas in American blackjack, the cards must be a pair (of the same rank).
Double Exposure – In this version, the player deals both of his or her cards face up on the table. All players can now see the dealer’s full hand. But in this version, the dealer will win any tie that may occur.
Pontoon Blackjack – In this version, the dealer does not deal him or herself a hole card. If the dealer is dealt 21, the players do not automatically lose. If a player chooses to double down on their hand that contains an Ace, the Ace must be counted as a value of one. Also, if a player splits Aces, they can only draw once after the split. These regulations may pay off because if a player’s hand contains an Ace and a 10 or a face card, they get a higher payout for their ‘Pontoon’.
Spanish 21 – The main variation in Spanish 21 is in the deck. The deck contains 48 cards with values 2-9, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. There are no 10 cards used in the deck. There are also a number of bonuses in this version for different hand combinations like three 7s.
Blackjack Switch – Players can play two hands simultaneously, which allows them to play more hands in a shorter amount of time in Blackjack Switch.
Blackjack Surrender – The option to ‘surrender’ may be available in a game of blackjack. It is only allowed at certain tables, so check the rules at your online blackjack table. Surrendering is not very beneficial in the long run or if a player is using the optimal blackjack strategy, but this may be a good option in certain circumstances. After the first two cards are dealt to all players and the dealer, players may have the option to surrender instead of hit, stand, double down, or split. If the player surrenders, he or she is giving up on the hand and will take back half of their initial stake. A player can only surrender in blackjack as their first action and if the table allows.
Progressive Blackjack – Progressive Blackjack is usually played with the classic rules. The only difference is that players have the option to place a side bet. This side bet includes them in a chance to win a jackpot that is the accumulation of all players’ side bets in the network. Players win pieces of the jackpot by being dealt an Ace. If a player is dealt more Aces, they are rewarded with a larger piece of the jackpot. In order to win the entire jackpot, a player must draw four Aces in a single hand.
Live Casino Blackjack – Many online casinos offer live casino blackjack. In this version, you can play blackjack online and be dealt in to the game by a live dealer. This can enhance your experience by giving you the social benefits you may otherwise be missing in your time while gaming online.
Mobile Online Blackjack – Most online casinos also offer their blackjack games on mobile. So now you can step up to a blackjack table truly at your convenience.
Blackjack or Bust
Blackjack is an easy game to pickup and an exciting game to keep you engaged. At Casino Guru, we don’t doubt you’ll enjoy trying different blackjack strategies, having a go at a progressive blackjack game, or testing your hand at a new version. Players can enjoy blackjack whether they are high rollers or are placing smaller bets just to pass the time.
Take a look at the best online casinos to find a no deposit bonus, so you can go get started at an online blackjack table today.