While online blackjack can be intimidating at first, the game is actually much simpler. Here’s how it works.
Playing blackjack online – for real money or for free – is simpler than you think. Read on to learn where to play blackjack online, winning strategy & tips, different game variations, FAQs & more.
Want to know how to dominate online blackjack? Watch our expert, Tommy Green, break it down for you.
While online blackjack can be intimidating at first, the game is actually much simpler. Here’s how it works.
When you sit down at a blackjack table, the first thing you’ll have to do is make a bet. Depending on the amount you have in your bankroll and the table you choose, bet anywhere from 50 cents to hundreds of dollars on any given hand. While playing blackjack online, you simply click on the denomination you want to bet.
Once the bet has been made, the dealer will give everybody at the table two cards face-up, while the dealer will receive one card face up and one card face down.
Based on the total of the cards in your hand and an idea of the dealer’s hand strength, you decide whether to stick with the initial two-card hand, also known as stand, ask for another card, also known as hit, or in rarer cases, split ’em and play two hands or double down and receive one more card. We’ll go into how and why you would make these decisions later.
When the value of your cards is close to or at 21, you will stand and the dealer will reveal their hand. Whichever hand is closest to 21 without going over will win the round. If your hand ever exceeds 21, or “bust”, you immediately lose the game.
The game is played on a standard 52 card deck. The suit of the cards you are given does not matter in blackjack.
Aces can be worth either 11 or 1, face cards (King, Queen and Jack) are worth 10, and all other cards are worth their number.
Put simply, the goal in blackjack is to attain a card hand that totals closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over.
The progression of a blackjack hand is very simple to follow and to help illustrate an example please refer to the graphics in this section.
This bears repeating for all types of online gambling – have a bankroll strategy and stick to it. In blackjack, we recommend ensuring that each individual bet represents – at most, 5% of your total bankroll. For example, if you have $100 to play with, we recommend playing $5 hands at most.
Blackjack in particular is a game of math. If you play wisely and follow sound strategy, you will gain the edge over the long term. Do not play recklessly and emotionally, and never abandon your blackjack strategy to win back anything you’ve lost.
Use splitting and doubling down to maximize your wager amount on good hands. In online blackjack, being aggressive is required at times. If one more ten would give you a winning hand, take a calculated risk and double down.
Blackjack is both the name of the game, and the name of a winning hand.
If any player – you or the dealer – receives an Ace and a ten-value card (i.e. a ten or a face card) as your initial two cards, this is called blackjack. In this instance, the player dealt the blackjack automatically wins this hand.
You’ll note that we keep mentioning not to go over 21. If your cards add up to more than 21, this is called a ‘bust’, and means you lose that hand and your bet.
If, once you and the dealer are done taking cards, you have a higher hand than the dealer and you didn’t go over 21, you win! Typically, you earn back your original wager, plus that same amount again. For example, if you wager $10 and win, you’ll be paid $20.
If, once you and the dealer are done taking cards, you end up with the same total, this is called a “push”. This is essentially a tie, and your original wager will be returned to you.
After the bets are placed and each player has received their two initial cards, you’ll have to choose whether you want to hit, stand, double down, or split. You’ll want to make this decision based on what’s in your hand, and what’s showing in the dealer’s hand.
A “hit” is simply asking for another card from the dealer.
Depending on what the dealer is showing and the online casino’s rules, a general strategy would be to ‘hit’ when your cards total fourteen or less.
“Standing” is choosing to receive no more cards from the dealer.
A player would “stand” when they’re confident they have a high enough hand to beat the dealer, typically on hands that total fifteen or more (depending on what the dealer is showing.)
“Doubling down” is choosing to double your original bet and committing to receiving only one more card from the dealer.
As an example, a player should generally “double down” if their hand totals 10 or 11, as the odds of the next card being a ten or face card is in the player’s favor in the long run. Again, this will depend on what the dealer is showing as well as the casino’s dealer rules.
Remember – doubling down doubles a player’s bet, and they only get one more card. If the player gets a good card and win, they win double, but if they get a bad card and lose, they’ll lose double.
A “split” is only an option when a player is dealt a pair. “Splitting” a pair turns the original pair into two separate hands, doubling the amount of hands the player has on the table and doubling the player’s current bet.
For example, if a player was dealt two 8s, they could split these. They would then have two hands worth 8 each, and receive an additional card for each hand. They’d then play these hands the same way they’d play one – choosing to hit, stand, double down, or even to split again.
Choosing when to split is a bit complicated, and depends on which pair you receive, and what the dealer’s showing. When you’re choosing to split, remember these three things:
When playing blackjack, it’s important to find the top casinos which offer the best payout percentages. This will help make your bankroll last longer and give you the best chance of winning.
The standard blackjack casino payout is 3 to 2. While in recent years a number of casinos have switched to a 6 to 5 payout, we recommend never playing for less than 3 to 2. This means that for every $2 bet, the player would receive $3 back on a winning hand – 1.5x the initial wager.
Traditionally, blackjack is the casino game with the highest overall payout percentage and the lowest house edge. While this varies across casinos, blackjack variations and individual games, by using a good strategy and choosing a game with favourable rules, you can find online blackjack games with a tiny (<0.5%) house edge.
Head over to our blackjack payout guide to learn how the rules affect your payout percentage.
When you decide to play blackjack online, you have a host of options when it comes to the different variations of the game. Here are a few of the most popular options for US players, but rest assured, there are plenty of other games that follow the objective of blackjack.
This variation of real money online blackjack allows players late surrenders, doubling after a split, re-splitting aces, players 21 always wins, players blackjack beats dealer blackjack, a player may double down on any number of cards. There are also different payouts when a player hits 21. Whether it’s 5,6,7 card 21’s or three suited 7’s.
In this popular Blackjack variation, players can enjoy a traditional casino experience while playing online as there is a live dealer in real-time dealing the cards. Live blackjack is a great option for players that want the live casino experience with the convenience of playing from their laptop or mobile device.
European blackjack is a popular variation with minor differences from traditional real money blackjack. One central difference is it only played with two decks of cards, where others use six to eight decks. There’s no hole card in the European variation of the game and the dealer doesn’t receive a second card until the player has completed their hand. Doubling down is also limited. In European blackjack, players can only double down if they have a hand of 9 through 11.
This version of blackjack is only played with one deck. For years, single deck was the standard, but casinos began to mix in multiple decks to make card counting more difficult.
Most casinos offer a demo mode where you can play a selection of their games for free. This allows you to learn the rules, test your strategy and see how you like the casino before making a deposit. We recommend playing in demo mode until you understand how the game works. Of course, the inescapable downside of playing for free is that you can’t win money, and that bonuses and promotions for free players are incredibly rare. That’s why, once comfortable, many players choose to play for real money. Blackjack is a great game whichever way you play, but check out the pros and cons of playing for real money to make sure you make the right decision.
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The total amount of chips or cash that you have to play with.
The name for a two-card hand featuring a face card or 10 and an ace, adding to 21 in the game.
The game-ending term for when your blackjack exceeds 21. Bust can only be achieved by hitting, as your initial two-card hand will never exceed 21.
The first card in a deck, drawn and set aside after the cards have been shuffled and cut. It is removed to disrupt the order of the cards and reduce the opportunity to cheat.
The opportunity to double your original bet in exchange for exactly one more card. This can only be done on an initial two-card hand.
when a player has five cards in front of them and hasn’t busted
To take another card from the dealer in the hopes of improving a blackjack hand.
A side wager to protect against a dealer drawing a blackjack.
Any hand which contains an ace card. As the ace cards can be worth 11 or 1, these hands offer a degree of flexibility and can protect the player from going bust.
A side bet for when you draw two cards of the same value. You have the option to split them into two individual hands after doubling your initial wager. You’d then play these hands the same way they’d play one – choosing to hit, stand, double down, or even to split again.
To take no more cards from the dealer and indicate that you’d like to play the current hand against the dealer’s cards.
Not at any of the online casinos we recommend at Gamble Online. Blackjack (as with all casino games) has a mathematical percentage that favors the house, although the payout percentage varies by the skill level of the blackjack participant. Blackjack games at online casinos use random number generators (RNGs) to ensure games are fair.
The best way to win at blackjack online is to follow a betting chart. The odds are always going to favor the online casino, but by playing with a sound strategy, you can lower that limit less than one percent.
No, plenty of casinos make their games available to play free online blackjack. This is a great way for new players to get introduced to gambling and the online platform. For experienced online blackjack players, this allows players to experiment with betting strategies and playing techniques without risking any real money.
The best way to begin playing blackjack is to find free online blackjack games and practice using the online platform. There is a detailed blackjack overview on this page and a great strategy sheet that will help even the most novice player learn the basic strategies.
This depends on the online casino a user chooses to play with. Most online casinos don’t require any software to be downloaded to play on their site. Some will require players to download their mobile casino to play if the player wants to use a tablet or mobile smartphone.
No, you cannot count cards playing blackjack online because online casinos use a random number generator to deal cards. This system means every hand is being played with a new deck. A user could count cards, but there would be no value in doing so.
Yes, most casinos offer free versions of blackjack online for new players. This allows potential gamers to learn how to play blackjack before wagering real money. The best part is that typically these casinos allow free blackjack to be played before signing up for a new account.
While blackjack online players can’t influence which cards they or the dealer receive, they do have control of HOW they play out their hand. There is skill involved in how blackjack players strategize their hand to maximize their odds of winning. In that sense, blackjack is a game of skill and chance.
Both have their advantages, but what’s nice about blackjack at online casinos is that you can enjoy the experience from the comfort of your own home or – if on the go – from your mobile device at a coffee shop or next Uber ride. There’s no need to book a flight or a hotel to enjoy the blackjack experience.
While there isn’t one specific blackjack strategy that applies to all players, knowing which hands a dealer MUST hit on and which hands a dealer MUST stand on is an important piece of knowledge that will help maximize your odds of winning or losing. For example, if the dealer must hit on 16 and he has a 6 up-card showing, basic strategy suggest a face card / 10 is the down card and the dealer’s odds of busting are high. This allows you to make smarter bets with your own hand.