BlackJack is one of the most popular table games out there. It’s been hugely successful in land-based casinos, and there are even BlackJack tournaments including a world championship – it isn’t just Poker that gets all the limelight.
However you can also play BlackJack online.
This is a great way to get to play the game, within the comfort of your own home. You can even play free BlackJack online either for your own amusement, or to try out if you like the game or even to learn and hone your strategy.
How do you play BlackJack online?
Most variants involve you playing against an automated program which takes the place of the ‘House’ (we will explain more about that below) but there are also Live Dealer versions where a real life person will deal the cards for you, to give you the feel of being in an actual walk-in casino! This is particularly useful for those who can’t get to a land-based casino, whether it’s because they live in an out-of-the-way area, or they are not mobile or where physical, bricks-and-mortar casinos are not permitted in their jurisdictions.
In this item we will set out the rules of BlackJack, before turning to online BlackJack strategy. Both of these are obviously quite complex areas so it will only be a summary and a point in the right direction for you to take and do with as you will.
When played properly, BlackJack offers a very attractive Return to Player (RTP) when compared with some other games.
We will also shed some light on where you can go to play BlackJack online, both for money, and also where you can play free BlackJack games, so read on!
Casino BlackJack rules for beginners
BlackJack is quite a simple game to grasp, yet it takes a lifetime to master! However, if you only take away one thing from this article, let it be this: in BlackJack the aim is to beat the house (ie. the casino or dealer) and that’s all!
People get confused, since under the rules of BlackJack, if you go over ‘21’ on the cards you are dealt, you go ‘bust’ and lose, so they come to the conclusion that you simply have to get as close to 21 without going over. This is not the case. Again we repeat, the aim is to beat the dealer.
In BlackJack you are dealt 2 cards, as is the dealer. You are not shown the dealer’s second card, unless they have ‘BlackJack’, which is a 21 made of an Ace and a ’10’ card (which is not only the number 10 but also all the face cards).
Let’s take an example. You are dealt a 6 and a 2, giving you 8, and the dealer is dealt a Jack and the face down card. In this case, the dealer will ‘sneak a peak’ to check if they have an Ace, which would give them BlackJack – the computer program when you play BlackJack online will also do this for you.
If the dealer has BlackJack that will be declared immediately and you will have lost. If not, you have a choice to ‘hit’ (receive more cards) or ‘stand’ (ie. stay with the amount you have). Using our example, since 8 is quite low you would always hit. Let’s say the next card is a 10, the best move here is to ‘stand’. The dealer then reveals their second card. Let’s say it’s a 3, giving them 13 in total. They hit again (usually they automatically have to hit up to around 17) and let’s say the next card is a 10. This means the dealer has ‘bust’, ie. gone over 21 (with 23) and you have won.
There are a few other options sometime available to you including ‘split’, ‘double down’ and occasionally ‘surrender’, and you can also buy an ‘insurance’ bet against the dealer getting a BlackJack, but that’s the basics – a great way to learn more as you go is to play free online BlackJack. Most online casinos will allow you to do this indefinitely.
Blackjack strategy tips for players
As we said, though we’re gonna say it again, remember that you’re only playing against the house, and the idea is to beat the house. There may be others playing too in the Live Dealer version, but they are only playing against the house as well, so you don’t need to worry too much about what they’re doing.
What about some BlackJack tips? Well, practice, practice, practice is the real key of course, so any chance you get to do that is almost essential.
Some people hold that you should ‘mimic the dealer’, ie. hit up to 17 regardless of what cards the dealer has. But this is in fact not a good idea – say for instance you had a 16 and the dealer had 2, that strategy would call for you to hit, which is not a good idea.
The best thing you can do, and this goes for all versions of casino BlackJack, is to seek out the various BlackJack tables. They’re no secret, casinos have been known to give them out and in any case if you’re playing online, who’s going to know!?!
These tables tell you exactly what you should do in each scenario, depending on what cards both you and the dealer has. They’re no guarantee of a win of course, and they will very slightly depending on what rules the house plays by (for instance some casinos allow you to ‘surrender’ and thus keep your stake, but not all). But they give the mathematical best-chance option at the BlackJack table in each case.
How to win at a BlackJack table?
We’re not just interested in damage limitation at the tables but also playing to win. We’ve already explained how tables are an important consideration on how to win at BlackJack.
The great thing with online BlackJack is that you can take your time – whereas playing in a casino hall can be quite an intimidating experience, especially if you are a newbie, and the pressure on you to act fast so as not to hold other players up can be intense, the BlackJack game online suffers from no such problems and you can take as long as you like on each hand!
That said, you should choose your game carefully. Avoid a table where your stake does not ‘push’ back to you in the event of a tie where you and the dealer get the same values.
Also consider whether the game is single-deck or multi-deck; there are different BlackJack tables to reflect the differing odds that this entails, and also whether the dealer stands or hits on ‘soft 17’ (which is made up of an Ace, which can count as both 1 and 11 – so soft 17 could also count as 7).
When you get a bit more adept at playing you can try your hand at Live Dealer casino as outlined above.
This is a little more involved; as there may be other players, your position at the table can have an effect (if you are first in line after the dealer you will have a lot less time to consider your move than if you are later in the rotation).
But one great aspect of Live Dealer is that you can engage in BlackJack card counting. It’s beyond the scope if this item to elucidate fully what this is, but essentially it’s keeping a count of how many ‘high’ cards are still in circulation; the more high cards there are, the better your chances of winning, so you can bet more (BlackJack always pays evens for a win, except a BlackJack itself which pays 3:2).
Free BlackJack at online casinos
As noted, you can play Black Jack online for free with a lot of casinos, often for as long as you like.
Of course this is only for play money – any winnings you make won’t be yours to keep alas.
Another possibility of playing for free is to take advantage of the Free to Play (F2P) boom of the last couple of years. There are BlackJack games in that sector too, and many of them can be played on your mobile.
It’s also possible to make use of the bonus money that casinos often offer for signing up to an account and making a deposit, or promos at other times as well. However, since BlackJack does not fully fulfill the wagering requirements for such free money (which gives you an idea of the favorable RTP that BlackJack offers) it is not the ideal way to go.
That completes our brief look at how to play BlackJack online, where to play and how to win. We hope it was useful.
Remember it was just an intro, there is quite a lot more to it than this. But if you follow the basic principles you can’t go far wrong with online Black Jack, and will also have an enjoyable and entertaining experience as well!