Excluding poker, blackjack is the most popular casino card game in the country. It is the perfect combination of simplicity and strategy, so it’s easy to learn the basics, but you can also improve with experience. Furthermore, with an RTP of around 99.5%, blackjack is one of the best value games you can play.
This guide is designed for players new to blackjack online.You’ll learn how to play and what the rules are. Plus, we’ll share the recommended basic blackjack strategy, and offer some pro tips for improving your gameplay.
How to Play Blackjack
Unlike roulette and baccarat, which are both games of chance, blackjack involves the player making a decision. This essential element gives you some control in the outcome of a hand. Of course, this is a double-edged sword, as it means you can either make the right or wrong choice, which in turn, affects the RTP percentage.
That’s why it’s important to learn how to play blackjack to extract the maximum value from the game - and that’s what we’re going to help you with. Before we go deeper and look at blackjack rules, let’s understand what the overall objective of the game is.
“In blackjack, the player’s objective is to beat the dealer.”
There are three ways that you can achieve this:
- The first two cards you are dealt total 21 points (blackjack), and the dealer’s hand is not.
- By standing with a hand (points) total that which does not exceed 21 points but it is higher than the dealer’s.
- By standing and the dealer’s hand draws more than 21 points.
Many new online blackjack players think that the game is all about getting 21 (or as close to the point value as possible). This isn’t the right approach. As you will see, when we look at the basic blackjack strategy, there are times when standing on 15 is the right call to make.
The next thing you need to know is the blackjack card values:
- Aces can be worth 1 point or 11 points.
- Number cards two through to ten are worth their face value.
- Jacks, queens, and kings are also worth 10 points.
Additionally, there are hard hands and soft hands. A hard hand is any hand that does not have an ace, or if it does, then the ace is counted as 1 point. Soft hands are when the ace is worth 11 points. Often, you will start with a soft hand, and it becomes hard as you draw further cards.
Grasping the basic rules of blackjack online only takes a few minutes.
- A round of blackjack begins with you placing a bet. Each table will have a minimum and maximum betting limit that you must adhere to.
- The dealer then deals you two cards, which are face-up, and two cards to himself; one of these is face-up, the other is face-down.
- If you have blackjack, you won the hand, and you’ll receive your payout. However, if your hand total is 20 points or less, you must make a decision to:
- Stand - stay with the hand total you have.
- Hit - take at least one more card from the shoe.
- Surrender - you fold your hand and receive half of your bet (stake) back.
- Double down - double the size of your original bet and draw another card.
- Split - if you have two cards of the same face value, you can split them to create two hands.
- After you have played your hand, and assuming you didn’t bust by going over 21 points, the dealer will then play his hand.
- The blackjack rules for the dealer are that he must hit with 16 points or less, and stand with 17 to 21.
- The winner of the hand is announced.
Note: There are many variants of blackjack online, and the rules of each game will differ slightly. For instance, not all games allow players to surrender. Then; for those that do, there is early and late surrender. Furthermore, blackjack rules on doubling down, splitting, and whether or not the dealer hits or stands on soft 17 are common tweaks to look out for. Before playing, always check the game rules because this will have a bearing on your blackjack strategy.
When hitting the tables, you want to know how much does blackjack pay? This is something that also varies depending on which games you are playing and the blackjack rules. These are payouts of most online blackjack games.
- Blackjack: Pays 3:2. Therefore, if you bet $10, you’ll win $15 (+$10 stake is returned). There are a few variants that only pay 6:5. Under these blackjack rules, you win $12 from a $10 bet.
- A non-blackjack winning hand: When you win without hitting blackjack, the payout is 1:1. So, a $10 bet wins you $10.
- Surrender: Half of your stake is returned if you surrender. While you don’t win anything, you have salvaged 50% of the bet.
- Insurance: This is a special side bet that is available on most blackjack games. Insurance is offered if the dealer’s upcard is an ace. The bet costs you an additional 50% of your stake, and it generally pays 2:1.
It's ideal to have a strategy of some sort in place when playing Blackjack. Below is a written explanation of the basic blackjack strategy for games using four to eight decks of cards.
Surrender (if available)
- Hard 16 - if the dealer’s upcard is 9, 10 or A. However, don’t surrender a pair of 8s. These should be split.
- Hard 15 - if the dealer’s upcard is 10.
- Always split eights and aces regardless of the dealer’s card.
- Split twos and threes if the dealer’s upcard is 4, 5, 6 or 7.
- Only split fours if you can double after splitting when the dealer’s upcard is 5 or 6.
- Never split fives.
- Split sixes if the dealer’s upcard is 3, 4, 5 or 6.
- Split sevens if the dealer’s upcard is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.
- Split nines if the dealer’s upcard is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9. Note: don’t split against a 7.
- Hard nine if the dealer’s upcard is 3, 4, 5 or 6.
- Hard ten against any up card except for 10 or ace.
- Hard eleven against any upcard except for an ace.
Hit or stand
- Hit hard 11 or less.
- Stand hard 12 if the dealer’s upcard is 4, 5 or 6. Any other total, you must hit.
- Stand hard 13 - 16 if the dealer’s upcard is 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Any other total, you must hit.
- Stand hard 17, 18, 19 and 20. Also, stand soft 19 and 20.
- Hit soft 17 or less.
- Stand soft 18 unless the dealer’s upcard is 9, 10 or ace; then hit.
This basic blackjack strategy is a good starting point for new players to follow; however, it’s not perfect. Differences in game rules, such as how many decks are being used; does the dealer hit or stand on soft 17, double after splitting, and double down on any hand total, each have their own strategy.
Therefore, it is recommended that you check the rules first, then find a blackjack chart for that particular game. This will allow you to master that variant and play to the highest RTP possible.
Online Blackjack Game Variations
When playing blackjack online, you have a world of choice. In addition to classic blackjack, which is played with a single deck, you can also enjoy, among others:
- Double Exposure Blackjack
- Blackjack Switch
- Atlantic City Blackjack
- European Blackjack
- Vegas Strip Blackjack
- Double Attack Blackjack
- Vegas Downtown Blackjack
Further variations include Pontoon, Spanish 21 and Super Fun 21. Each of these games applies general blackjack rules with the focus on a 21 point target. To get a taste, and find out which version you prefer, you can play blackjack online free by registering an account with a casino. Without making a deposit, you’re able to play RNG blackjack in demo mode. You cannot win real money, but it’s good to hone your strategy.
Players wanting a more authentic casino experience are turning to online live blackjack. Our ComeOn! Live Casino has a range of live blackjack tables that are operated by Evolution Gaming. There are standard seven-seater tables with betting limits as low as $1 per hand. Alternatively, if you wish to play for higher stakes, the VIP live dealer tables are the place to be.
Evolution Gaming has also introduced a few of its own variants. Free Bet Blackjack gives players free double-down bets on two-card hand totals of 9, 10 and 11. Furthermore, you can take a free bet if you want to split any pair (with the exception of 10s).
Another new variation is Power Blackjack. This version allows you to double-down, triple-down, or quadruple-down on any two-card hand total, and this also applies after splitting. However, all the 9s and 10s have been taken from the shoe. The result is an RTP of 98.8%, which is a little lower than traditional games, but you have the chance to win big when you’re on a hot streak.
Important tip: The basic blackjack strategy provided above does not work for Evolution’s Power Blackjack because the 9s and 10s have been taken from the game.
Online Blackjack Tricks & Tips
When you play blackjack in a real casino, you can tip the odds in your favour with some simple card counting techniques. However, you can’t use this tactic playing blackjack online. There are still a few hot tips that will help improve your game and possibly lead to you beating blackjack more frequently.
- Side bets drain your bankroll: There are many side bets available for blackjack. These include insurance, perfect pairs, 21 + 3, and any pair. The house edge on these wagers is far higher than the main game, so you should avoid them if you’re playing for profit.
- Try different betting systems: Learn to manage your bankroll by trying out different betting systems. Some are high-risk, whereas others are low-risk. When you find the one that fits your budget, you’ll get more enjoyment from the game.
- Free blackjack: Playing free blackjack allows you to try different variations, improve your knowledge of the optimal blackjack strategy, and find the best betting system. With the exception of live dealer games, there’s a rich selection of free blackjack online to choose from, so take advantage.
- Bonuses, promotions and rewards: At ComeOn!, we have loads of exciting casino bonuses for you to enjoy. Some of these, such as slots Free Spins, are not suitable, but others can be used for blackjack. Furthermore, we offer a very rewarding loyalty program from which you can exchange points for free games.
- Keep your limits: Although the win percentage between the player and the casino is nearly 50/50, you will have good days and bad days. Therefore, before playing mentally set win and loss limits for your session. On a poor day, don’t chase losses, and on a good day, don’t push your luck too far.
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