Blackjack is a much-coveted game, whether being played online or in brick-and-mortar casinos. Interestingly the basic rules of the game are similar no matter where you play. It’s the most popular of all card games since it’s a game of skill rather than luck, although luck also plays its part. Sometimes, the game is referred to as 21 because that’s the winning combination. We will clarify that later in this article.
There are over 3000 online casinos in the iGaming industry. Almost all these online platforms offer the classic game along with its numerous variants. Therefore, locating the best to wager your money can be unnerving, and that’s where we, the experts, come in.
In this article, we’ll have an in-depth illustration of how and where to play the game. In addition, we’ll show you the basic rules of the game, strategies to employ, and every other minute detail. Even if you’re a rookie, don’t you worry; you’ll emerge a maestro in the craft after reading this article. Before we dive right in, everything has its origin, and blackjack’s history is riveting.
A Brief History of Blackjack
Blackjack is a table game with a debatable origin like most casino games. It dates back to the 16th century, when the game was first heard. It was mentioned in a novel by Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish author. In the book, the card game was referenced as Veintiuno, which is Spanish for 21. More so, the rules of Veintiuno had striking similarities to blackjack rules.
However, history has it that the game also originated in France in the 17th century. Then it was known as Vingt-et-Un, which is French for 21 in English. Other theorists hold that the game was crafted from other card games like Chemin de Fer and French Ferme. These games were popular in France then and had almost duplicate procedures and rules. Now you understand why the debate has been inconclusive.
Blackjack later maneuvered through Europe and eventually landed in the US. Its popularity rapidly and steadily increased with time. Nevada became the first state to sanction gambling in 1931, leading to the rise in the fame of blackjack.
The Blackjack Shift
In the 21st century, blackjack’s prominence is only rivaled by innovative slot games or slot machines. But among table games, blackjack’s supremacy is unexcelled. Since then, prominent software developers like RealTime Gaming (RTG), Microgaming, and NetEnt have engineered several variations of the games. With the industrial revolution and technological advancements, you can now play your ideal blackjack variant on the Internet.
You can play via your computer, laptop, tablets, and mobile phones (iOS and Android devices). Also, you can play the live nail-biting version of the game. The game’s played against the casino’s dealer through a live video stream; you need not visit a land-based casino. The experience is still the same, but this time in your comfort zone.
Basic Blackjack Rules
As a prerequisite for playing any casino game, you also need to grasp the gameplay rules to play this classic table game. Don’t panic; the rules are simple and easy to understand, even for an amateur. As stated earlier, blackjack is a card game and can be played with 1-8 decks of the standard 52-card playing deck. Please note that the joker cards aren’t included.
Blackjack’s table is conventionally semi-circular and can accommodate up to 12 players. The standard tables have seven spots, holding 7 players. However, there are tables with only 5 places. The dealer typically stands behind the table. The game begins with the dealer issuing two cards to players at the table face up. One of the dealer’s cards is usually face down, and you can’t see it. Depending on your cards’ value, you have several playing options with the dealer’s value also in mind. We’ll discuss these options later on.
The goal is always straightforward; beat the dealer by acquiring a value higher than his or getting 21. If you exceed the 21-mark, you’ll lose the bet. At the blackjack table, you’re playing against the dealer and not other players. How do you count the card values you asked? It’s simple!
In a blackjack game, all cards have assigned values. The total of the cards you’re having will determine if you’ll beat the house (dealer) and win or lose. Acquiring a value less than the dealer’s means you’ve lost the round. To cut to the chase, cards from 2-10 are worth their face values. For example, 2 is 2, 5 is 5, etc.
Jacks (J), Kings (K), and Queens (Q) have a face value of 10. Aces (A) always have a value of either 1 or 11. Usually, the Ace has a value of 11, except when it would take the hand value above 21. In that scenario, its value drops to 1, but the decision is the player’s to make. Let’s put that in a table format for easy interpretation.
|CARD TYPE||CARD VALUE|
|Cards from 2 to 10||Face value, 3=3/7=7/10=10|
|Aces or A||1 or 11. The player decides|
|J, Q, & K||10 points|
- Soft hand– This is any hand with an Ace card valued at 11. For example, an Ace and a 4 make a soft 15.
- Hard hand– Includes any hand with an Ace valued at 1. For example, an Ace and a 4 make a hard 5.
- Bust– Refers to any hand with a value of more than 21. That’s considered a loss for the dealer and the player if either hand goes above 21.
- Push– When the player’s and dealer’s hands have the same value, that’s regarded as a tie or push. Neither the house nor the player wins. The player gets their bets back.
- Blackjack/Natural– A hand that acquires an Ace and a face card value of 10 on the first hand dealt with two cards. That hand beats all other hands except another natural.
- Hole card– The dealer’s card that’s dealt face down.
All these basic rules apply to both land-based and online casinos. Earlier, we mentioned the playing options available to players on a table. Now let’s dig deeper.
How to Play & The Blackjack Playing Options
Now that you’ve grasped the most basic rules of the game, this is where the rubber meets the road. To play a blackjack game, you need to place a bet. Bets are placed with chips and not cash. The chips can be exchanged at the cashier for money, just like in offline casinos. These chips are of different colours with different attached values.
For example, in blackjack, you can have up to 6 chips. They include white, green, red, orange, black, and purple. Depending on the casino, the value of the chips may differ. We recommend playing at Ignition Casino. To play, you need to place your preferred bets before the round begins. The dealer will then signal with gestures from left to right to indicate that no more bets are allowed.
The dealer afterwards starts dealing cards to players clockwise from their left to the right. The 1st card is issued to each player on the table face up, and the dealer’s card is also dealt face up. In most casinos, the dealer’s first card is dealt face down. The particular procedure varies from one platform to another. The 2nd card for the dealer is then issued face down while the players’ are issued face up.
You can be allowed to place an insurance bet if the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace or a 10. An insurance bet’s a side bet predicting if the dealer has a blackjack or not. This wager is not related to the end result of the round. To take insurance, you need to bet an additional amount of half the original bet you made. If your original stake was $100, the side bet should be $50. You’ll win the insurance if only the dealer’s hand value is 21 or has a blackjack. If not, the insurance bet’s lost.
When the dealer has a blackjack, all players lose their initial stake unless they also have a blackjack. If both the house and the player have blackjacks, it’s considered a push/tie, and the player’s bet is returned.
The Playing Options or Strategies
In the scenario that the dealer lacks a blackjack, all insurance bets are lost, and the round continues. Therefore, as a player, you have the options below, starting from the dealer’s left to the right. The following options have hand gestures to signal your decision at offline casinos. In online casinos, you simply click on your desired alternatives as they pop up.
- Stand– You may choose to stand or take no further action if you’re satisfied with the total value of your dealt cards. You may choose to stand if hitting will take your hand value to more than 21, which will be regarded as a bust.
- Hit– By hitting, it means you’re drawing another card, and the dealer issues the card face up to your existing hand. Note: we would recommend you hit if you’ll edge close to the 21-mark by doing so. In addition, if after the first hit, your value’s still below 21, you may hit again or decide to stand.
- Doubling Down– If you have a beneficial hand, a total of 9,10, or 11, you may decide to double down. By doing this, you’re placing a second bet of an equal amount to the initial wager, and an extra card will be dealt. Some platforms will allow you to double down for a less amount, but we’re firmly against that. Regardless of the outcome after getting the extra card, you’ll be imposed to stand.
- Split– If your first set of cards has similar ranks, you may decide to split the cards into two hands. You can then place an extra bet of the same amount as the first wager. That increases your winning chances at the table. The cards are then separated, and a different card is issued to complete each hand. Depending on the house rules, you may split again if you receive matching cards after the initial split. However, you can only have a maximum of 4 hands, and no further splits are accepted later on.
- Surrender– While some casino platforms allow players to surrender, others don’t. Surrendering means that you’re giving up your blackjack hand while losing half your bet amount and keeping the other half. However, you won’t play different strategies after surrendering, and the opposite also applies.
If the dealer’s total hand value exceeds 21 or busts, all the other non-busted players’ hands win automatically. No strategy fully guarantees constant wins at a blackjack table. Nonetheless, the above techniques will maximize your winnings if expertly used.
It would be best never to prioritize taking insurance unless you have a proven working strategy. You can use other methods to have a better chance of beating the house at the game. The most popular technique widely used is the HiLo card counting system.
While playing blackjack is thrilling, entertaining, and fun, gambling could be addictive. Also, you shouldn’t wager more money than you can afford. If you have a gambling addiction, our recommended casinos provide free help on top of offering different blackjack variants. The casino allows you to self exclude to cool off and set deposit limits to manage it. It’s that easy, and you can start playing again after addressing the problem.
Blackjack Game Types
There are diverse types of blackjack that you can play at an online casino. The rules are the same, but they do differ from each other.
- Classic Blackjack– This is the most common type of blackjack, as illustrated in this article.
- Multi-hand Blackjack– It has the same rules as the classic variant, but you can play with multiple hands at once. That means you can have more winning opportunities.
- Single Deck Blackjack– This type of blackjack is frequently played with 6-8 decks of 52 cards without joker cards.
- Blackjack Switch– Here, it’s compulsory you play with two hands with equal bets. You receive the cards face-up from 6 decks. So, you can only switch the 2nd card of each hand with each other cards. You can’t switch the 1st card dealt on the one hand with the 2nd card on the other hand.
- Progressive Blackjack– This type of blackjack has a side bet with a progressive jackpot. That will make the payout of a winning hand massive than a typical payout.
- Live Blackjack– You stream this game type via an HD live video in real-time.
Blackjack Odds and Payouts
The reason why this classic table game is prominent is because of its high payout odds. You stand to earn more cash if you beat the house. Blackjack is a game of strategy and panache, and there’s no better feeling than beating the dealer. We’ve already discussed instances you could win or lose as a player. Now let’s talk money matters.
When you win a hand, you’re paid out at 1:1 on the wagered amount. That means if you placed a bet worth $20, you’d cash out a total of $40 at the cashier. If you doubled down with another $20 and won, you’d have a staggering $80 as winnings.
When you have a blackjack/natural, you’re paid out at 3:2 or (1.5 odds). A $20 wager would earn you $50. So, you’ll get your $20 back plus $30 as winnings. The insurance wager is paid at 2:1.
Where to Play Blackjack for USA Players
We recommend these casinos:
Ignition Casino – Our current favorite for players from the USA or Australia. Ignition casino offers eight versions of blackjack including Single-Deck Blackjack, Double-Deck Blackjack, Classic Blackjack & European Blackjack. For players that want to play with live dealers they offer 28 blackjack tables with various table limits from $5 to $10000.
The games are supplied by recognized game developers such as Revolver Gaming and RTG. These games have high-definition video graphics that allow gaming across multiple devices. More importantly, this casino has some of the fastest payouts of winnings on the planet, along with responsive 24/7 customer service.
Wild Casino – This is an online casino that caters to USA players by offering a safe gaming experience with responsive customer service. The top notch software includes an astounding 12 versions of blackjack including Single Hand & Multi-hand Blackjack, Blackjack 11, Pirate 21, Super 7, 21 Burn, as well as specialty games such as Rolling Stack Blackjack & Blackjack Tournament.
They also offer a large number of live dealer blackjack games that features table limits from $10 to $10,000. There’s a generous sign-up bonus for all new players, and a myriad of deposit and speedy cash-out options.
Cafe Casino – Established in 2020, Cafe Casino is a relative newcomer to the gaming scene but they have established an impeccable reputation amongst players for offering state of the art games along with responsive customer support, and fast payouts.
They offer seven versions of blackjack that are all extremely super realistic and they offer the option for free practice play. If you prefer playing with a live dealer they have 2 blackjack games to choose from. New players can of course claim a generous sign-up bonus, and they offer multiple deposit options including by Bitcoin.
Where to Play Blackjack for International Players
For readers from other jurisdictions we have compiled the following guides:
To rookies trying to play the game for the first time, this guide will help you to become perfect. We’ve simplified it all to make you a great player in a matter of minutes. In addition, we’ve gone ahead to suggest the best platforms you can wager at with real money.
Sign up and deposit at any of our highly ranked blackjack casino sites and join in the fun!
Absolutely, all of the casinos that we recommend enable players to enjoy blackjack for a wide range of stakes. Simply choose the blackjack game that best matches your needs.
Yes, all of the casinos that we recommend offer the option to play blackjack for free. You can then practice playing until you are ready to play for real money.
Hit - After the player is dealt the two initial cards, the player has the option to hit (request an additional card). The player should keep asking to hit until they feel that they have a sufficiently strong hand to win (as close to 21 as possible, without going over 21).
Stand - When the player has cards that they feel are sufficiently strong to beat the dealer then they should “stand.” For example, a player may wish to stand on a hard 20 (two 10 cards such as a 10, jack, queen, or king). The dealer must keep playing until they either beat the player or go bust (going over 21).
Split - After the player is dealt the first two cards, and if those cards are of equal face value (for example, two queens), then the player has the option to split their hand into two separate hands with equal bets on each hand. The player must then continue to play both hands with regular blackjack rules.
Double - After the initial two cards are dealt, if a player feels that they have a strong hand (such as a king and an ace), then the player may choose to double their initial bet.
Blackjack - This is an ace and any 10 value card (10, jack, queen, or king). This is an automatic win for the player.
Hard 20 - This is any two 10 value cards (10, jack, queen, or king). It is unlikely that the player will receive an ace next, and the player should always stand. Splitting is also not recommended.
Soft 18 - This is a combination of an ace and a 7 card. This combination of cards offers the player different strategy options depending on what cards the dealer is dealt.
As the name implies this is blackjack that is played with only one deck of 52 cards. Many blackjack aficionados refuse to play any other type of blackjack as this blackjack variant offers slightly better odds, and it enables savvy players the option to count cards.
0.15% compared to multi-deck blackjack games that have a house edge between 0.46% to 0.65%.
This offers more excitement as players can play up to 5 simultaneous hands of blackjack, the number of hands offered varies based on the casino.
The key difference between American and European blackjack is the hole card.
In American blackjack the dealer receives one card face up and one card face down (the hole card). If the dealer happens to have an Ace as his or her visible card, they then immediately peek at their face down card (the hole card). If the dealer has blackjack with a hole card that is a 10 card (10, jack, queen, or king), then the dealer automatically wins.
In European blackjack the dealer receives only one card, the second card is dealt after all of the players have had the chance to play. In other words, European blackjack has no hole card.
The game is always played with 8 regular decks, this means anticipating the next card is more difficult. The other major difference is players have the option to play a "late surrender".
A late surrender enables a player to toss their hand after the dealer checks his hand for blackjack. This could be wanted if the player has a really bad hand. With a surrender the player loses half their bet.
In Atlantic City blackjack players can split twice, up to three hands. Aces however, can only be split once.
The dealer must stand on all 17 hands, including soft 17.
Blackjack pays 3 to 2, and and insurance pays 2 to 1.
As the name implies this is the most popular version of blackjack in Las Vegas.
4 to 8 standard decks of cards are used, and the dealer must stand on soft 17.
Similar to other types of American blackjack, the dealer receives two cards, one face-up. If the face-up card is an ace, then the dealer peaks at his down card (the hole card).
Players have the option to play a "late surrender".
A late surrender enables a player to toss their hand after the dealer checks his hand for blackjack. This could be wanted if the player has a really bad hand. With a surrender the player loses half their bet.
This is a rare variation of blackjack that increases the odds in the players favor by enabling the player to see both of the dealers cards face up, versus just one card. In other words there is no hole card.
Another key difference is that the dealer has the option to hit or stand on soft 17.
This is a version of blackjack that is played with 6 to 8 Spanish decks.
The Spanish deck of cards has four suits and contains 40 or 48 cards, depending on the game.
The cards are numbered from 1 to 9. The four suits are copas (Cups), oros (Coins), bastos (Clubs), and espadas (Swords).
Due to the lack of 10 card it is more difficult for a player to hit blackjack.
This is an optional side bet that is offered to a player if the dealer’s up-card is an ace. If the player fears that there is a 10 card (10, jack, queen, or king) that would give the dealer a blackjack, than the player may opt for the insurance bet.
The insurance bet is half of the regular bet (meaning if the player bet $10, then the insurance bet would be $5).
If the dealer has a blackjack then the player is paid 2 to 1 on the insurance bet.
If both the player and the dealer hit blackjack, then the payout is 3 to 2.
An insurance bet is often called a "suckers bet" as the odds are in the houses favor.
5.8% to 7.5% - The house edge varies based on the previous card history.
In American blackjack players are given the option to surrender at any time. This should only be done if the player believes they have an extremely bad hand. If the player chooses this than the bank return half of the initial bet. (For example, a $10 bet has $5 returned).
In some version of blackjack such as Atlantic City blackjack only a late surrender is enabled. In this case, a player can only surrender after the dealer has checked his hand for blackjack.
Stephany loves gaming, she is especially fond of bingo games, blackjack, slot machines, and old school Nintendo. She has a special place in her heart for Sega and online poker.