Online Blackjack: Rules, Strategies, and How to Play with Real Money
I highly doubt that there’s any casino, online or land-based, that does not offer Blackjack or showcase it as one of their top games. This classic card game has been around for centuries and still gets gamblers from all over the world excited and ready to spend huge sums of money on it.
If you’re new to the Blackjack card game or you’re back from your gambling hiatus and want to start over from the basics, I’ve got you covered. This comprehensive guide will teach you all that you need to know about the game.
So, let’s get started.
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack is also known as Twenty One/21. It is an interesting card game that is played between a player and the dealer. When there are two or more players, each one of them will take turns to compete against the dealer, and not against each other.
The objectives of the game are to get a hand with a total value of 21 or almost, and to beat the dealer’s hand. It is very easy to learn and play, as you’ll soon find below.
What is Online Blackjack?
Technology makes things much more convenient, including games. Online blackjack is basically the same timeless game but on an online platform. There are some online variations of the game but I’ll get to that later.
More and more people sign up for online blackjack every day because it beats going to an actual land-based casino to gamble. You can play from anywhere in the world and on any device. You also get paid via online payment channels.
The Blackjack online game is more fun to play than the physical version because of the bonuses and features added by innovative software and game developers. It is also a great way to get acquainted with the game since you can try out a demo version.
Facts about Blackjack Card Game
Here are some interesting facts about Blackjack that you probably don’t know:
- Blackjack’s house edge is one of the lowest of all casino games. It usually falls between 0.5% to 1%
- The game originated in France where it was called Vingt-et-un (translates to 21) until it came to America and became popularly known as blackjack because casinos paid extra if the winning hand contained a blackjack (Spades or Clubs)
- You don’t have to be concerned about other players’ moves
- The dealer does not affect your odds of winning
- You can have long losing streaks in Blackjack
- Blackjack has a Hall of Fame in San Diego
- The chances of you getting a blackjack (natural 21) are 4.8%
- You can be taxed on your Blackjack winnings
- Land-based casinos use red discard trays to catch cheaters. The dealer and/or security will be able to spot any invisible ink on the red tray. They may also use tinted glasses to see better
- A good strategy can help you lower the house edge even more
How to Play Blackjack Online?
In Blackjack, it’s all about the numbers. It is a simple game that requires you to get a higher total-value hand than the dealer, but the value must not exceed 21. Like most casino card games like Teen Patti and Andar Bahar, even Blackjack uses a standard 52-card deck.
- Players buy chips from the casino and then place their wagers on the table. After the amount has been verified, the dealer starts dealing the cards (face up) one at a time, clockwise.
- When all the players have one card each, the dealer draws a card for himself, face up. Another round of dealing begins and at the end of it, the dealer deals one more card for himself, face down this time.
- At this point, the players have 2 cards each. They can now add the value of their cards. The number cards (2-10) have the same value as what they display, while the face cards (J, Q, K) are all worth 10.
- Depending on the rules or variant of the Blackjack game you’re playing, the Ace could be worth 1 or 11. Be sure to find out first.
- If you get dealt a 10-value card and an Ace, it means you got a natural Blackjack and most likely won the game.
- If the dealer also gets a Blackjack, you won’t win any chips but you’ll get to keep your wager.
Game Terms Used in Blackjack
Here are some terms you need to get familiar with before playing blackjack at online casinos:
- Bankroll: This is the money that a player has set aside for the game. The player will place bets from this amount.
- Blackjack: This is the best hand possible in the game. It consists of an Ace and any card that’s valued at 10.
- Bust: A player busts when the total value of the cards in their hand exceeds 21.
- Chip up: When a player increases their bet
- Chip down: When a player decreases their bet
- Double down: This occurs when a player doubles their original bet and requests one more card from the dealer. In this case, the player is confident that the extra card will help them beat the dealer.
- Even money: In the case where a player gets a blackjack and the dealer has an ace card but has not yet checked his other card(s), the player can decide to take their winnings before the dealer’s total is revealed. The payout here is 1:1.
- Flat bet: This is a bet that remains constant throughout a game. Some players decide not to increase or decrease their bets at all and stick to the original wager.
- Hard hand: Any hand which does not contain an ace or has an ace that is valued as 1 (instead of 11) is called a hard hand.
- Hit: This happens when a player takes another card from the dealer to add to their initial two, in hopes of increasing their total without busting.
- Hole card: This is the dealer’s face-down card.
- Insurance: If the dealer’s first card is an ace, a player can buy insurance to protect half of their original bet. This is like a side-bet. If the dealer gets a 10-value card, making it a blackjack (combined with the ace card), the player will only lose half of their original bet. However, if the dealer’s second card is less than a 10, but the total value is higher than the player’s hand, the player will lose their original bet plus half of the money they used for the insurance.
- Pair: When a player has two cards of the same value.
- Pat hand: A hand that is worth at least 17 points is called a pat hand.
- Push: This is also known as a stand-off and it occurs when the total value of a player’s hand is the same as the dealer’s.
- Shoe: This is the place on the table where the deck of cards is held and dealt from.
- Soft hand: Any hand that contains an ace that is valued at 11 is referred to as a soft hand.
- Split: If a player gets a pair, they can decide to split it and form two separate hands. For example, if a player is dealt with two 6s, they can split the hand and add one card each.
- Stand/Standing Hand: This happens when a player refuses to take more cards because they have a total hand value between 17 – 19 and they don’t want to risk going bust.
- Stiff hand: A stiff hand is a hard hand with a total value between 12 and 16.
- Surrender: This is also known as folding. It usually happens when a player doesn’t think that their hand is good enough to beat the dealer. By surrendering, they only lose half of their bet.
- Up Card: This is often the dealer’s first card which is dealt face up.
- Unit: A unit is a minimum amount that a player can bet.
Rules of Blackjack
You would think that a big shot game such as Blackjack would be complicated, but it actually isn’t. The rules are surprisingly simple. I’ll break them down into steps so you can really understand the gameplay.
- Step 1: You buy some casino chips to enter the game and then place your starting bet on the table.
- Step 2: Depending on the casino’s rules, the dealer picks 1-8 standard 52-card decks and shuffles the cards.
- Step 3: The dealer deals one card each to the players, facing up, as well as one for him.
- Step 4: The dealer deals another round of single cards to the players and keeps another for himself, face down.
- Step 5: Players check their total hand value. If any player gets a Blackjack (21), they win the game.
- Step 6: Keeping in mind their hand value, the players decide to either hit, stand, split, double down, or surrender.
- Step 7: When each player has made their move, the dealer will reveal his face down card to find out if he has a Blackjack or a higher card than any player. If the dealer has a Blackjack, the house wins.
- Step 8: If the dealer’s hand value is 16 or less, he will have to hit, and if it is 17 or higher, he will have no choice but to stand.
- Step 9: At this point, if no player has gotten a Blackjack or a higher hand than the dealer, there will be another round which will start from Step 6.
There are some special situations that can change the gameplay. These are:
- Insurance: If the dealer gets an Ace face-up card, you can buy insurance to keep you from losing the full amount that you bet if the dealer gets a Blackjack.
- Dead Hand: If every single player goes bust before the dealer reveals his second card, the game will end.
- Up Card is 10: If the dealer’s up card is worth 10, he’ll play his hand before the players are allowed to make their decision. This means that, if the dealer’s second card is an Ace, he’ll win immediately.
In summary, there are three ways you can win at Blackjack:
- You get a hand value that is higher than the dealer’s
- Your first two cards give you a total hand value of exactly 21
- The dealer’s hand value exceeds 21
Probability of Blackjack Game
There are different parameters that you can use to calculate probabilities in Blackjack. The three main odds and probabilities you should know are:
1. Probability of going bust on a hit
This probability is very important because it helps you decide whether you should stand or hit.
|Total Hand Value||Bust Probability|
You can see that a hand that totals 11 has the lowest chance of going bust. It is definitely one of the best and safest hands in Blackjack.
2. Frequency of hand types dealt
This is the average number of times that two-card hands with the following total values are dealt to players.
|Total Hand Value||Frequency|
3. House advantage percentage
Some casinos like to use more than a single deck of cards in order to prevent cheating and also increase the house advantage.
|Number of 52-card decks||House Advantage|
Winning Strategies of Blackjack
Understanding the game is important and all, but how do you win it? There are a few strategies that you can apply to turn the odds in your favor. These include:
1. The basic blackjack strategy
If you want something easy with no guesswork involved, the basic strategy is your best bet. This is simply a chart that shows the best moves to make for each hand, by taking into consideration the dealer’s up-card.
With this, you’re not just trying to get as close as possible to 21 without going bust, you’re using the dealer’s revealed card to determine the best way to beat them. And that is the main aim of the game.
Let’s look at the chart so you’ll understand what I mean.
|DEALERS UP CARD|
|13 – 16||H||S||S||S||S||H||H||H||H||H|
|17 – 21||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S|
|A – 2||H||H||H||D||D||H||H||H||H||H|
|A – 3||H||H||H||D||D||H||H||H||H||H|
|A – 4||H||H||D||D||D||H||H||H||H||H|
|A – 5||H||H||D||D||D||H||H||H||H||H|
|A – 6||H||D||D||D||D||H||H||H||H||H|
|A – 7||S||D||D||D||D||S||S||H||H||H|
|A – 8||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S|
|A – 9||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S|
|A – A||P||P||P||P||P||P||P||P||P||P|
|2 – 2||P||P||P||P||P||P||H||H||H||H|
|3 – 3||P||P||P||P||P||P||H||H||H||H|
|4 – 4||H||H||H||P||P||H||H||H||H||H|
|5 – 5||D||D||D||D||D||D||D||D||H||H|
|6 – 6||P||P||P||P||P||H||H||H||H||H|
|7 – 7||P||P||P||P||P||P||H||H||H||H|
|8 – 8||P||P||P||P||P||P||P||P||P||P|
|9 – 9||P||P||P||P||P||S||P||P||S||S|
|10 – 10||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S||S|
The chart above shows the player’s hand against the dealer’s up-card. If you remember some of the terms used in Blackjack (Stand, Hit, Double down, and Split), you’ll find this chart really easy to understand.
Let’s try to analyse it.
If a player has a hand of A-2 and the dealer’s up-card is 4, the best move, in this case, will be to Hit (take another card from the dealer).
This is because the player’s hand is valued at 13 and there’s only a 39% chance (refer to the probability table) that the extra card’s value would fall between 9-11, making the player go bust.
Since the dealer’s up-card is 4, it also means that hitting would increase the chances of the player beating the dealer. Even if the dealer’s second card is an ace, it would only be valued at 15. If the player gets a card valued at 2 or higher (but less than 9), they won’t lose their bet.
Now, if the dealer’s up-card is 6 instead of 4, you can assume that their total hand value is 16 or 17 (if the second card is a 10 or 11) and that if they take another card, they would most likely bust. With this information, you can double down (double your bet and collect an extra card) since you’re more likely to get a hand value that is equal to or more than the dealer’s.
Another example is when a player gets a hand with a total value of 18. Here, no matter what the value of the dealer’s up-card is, the best and only reasonable option for the player is to stand. If the player decides to test their luck and hit, there is a 77% chance that they would bust.
This chart is really a lifesaver, especially for beginners. However, the problem is that most brick-and-mortar casinos do not allow players to use it. The casino needs to make money so they have to try to increase their house edge.
This means that you’ll have to memorise the chart, and that is rather stressful. If you want to use this strategy, I would advise that you play at an online casino where there are no rules against using the chart.
2. The martingale blackjack strategy
This popular betting strategy is also used in roulette. It was designed for players with short-term winning goals. It works by betting the same amount of money each time you win and then doubling the bet when a loss occurs.
For instance, if you bet ₹100 in the first round and you win, you’ll bet the same ₹100 in the second round. If you lose in the second round, you’ll have to double your bet (₹200) in the next. The next time you win, you can go back to betting the initial ₹100.
The idea behind this is that, if you have a short losing streak, you’ll be able to recoup your losses and make a profit by doubling your bet.
This strategy can be quite risky because you may experience a long losing streak and exceed your bankroll before you get the chance to win and recoup your losses. Casinos also have wagering limits so you can only double your bet so many times.
3. Progressive betting system
There are two progressive betting systems you can use to manage your bankroll and extend your time at the table. The first is a 2-stage system, which requires you to set a minimum and maximum wager.
After this, you’ll begin by betting your minimum wager until you win. Once you’ve won a round, you can start betting your maximum wager and then revert to your minimum wager when you lose.
For example, if your minimum wager is ₹100 and your maximum is ₹300, you’ll start with a ₹100 bet. If you win, your next bet will be ₹300. If you win again, you’ll continue with the ₹300 bet until you lose. Then, you’ll go back to betting ₹100 and repeat the process.
The second system is a 5-stage system which requires you to set 4 wagers. The first wager will be the minimum and the other three will follow a 2, 3, 5 progression, with the last one being the maximum.
If we set our minimum bet to ₹100 again, our second bet would be ₹200 (minimum x 2), third would be ₹300 (minimum x 30, and the fourth would be ₹500 (minimum x 5).
So, to apply this strategy, you’ll start with your minimum bet then keep increasing it to the next level with each win. If you get 4 successive wins, you’ll start over from the minimum bet. The same goes for after any loss.
4. One-half-up strategy
In this system, you are only required to increase your wager after two successive wins. This way, if your winning streak is cut short by a single loss, you will only lose half of the amount you had before the loss, instead of everything.
Different Variations of Blackjack
The following are the most popular variations of Blackjack:
- 6:5 Blackjack: The payout of a typical Blackjack game is 3 to 2, but in this case, it is reduced to 6 to 5. This means that, if you bet $50 and you got a two-card hand worth 21, you’ll get $60 instead of $75. This is to increase the house edge.
- Dealer’s Soft 17: In this variant, the dealer is allowed to hit when they have a soft 17. This also increases the house edge.
- Double Exposure Blackjack: Instead of the dealer having one face-up card and one face down card, both cards are exposed before the players decide what to do next.
- Doubling Down After Split: Some casinos allow players to double down (increase their bets) after they just split their pair.
- Early Surrender: This is similar to insurance. If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, players will be given the chance to surrender half of their original bet before the dealer checks his second card to see if it is a 10, instead of playing their hand and risking losing the full bet.
- Late Surrender: Here, the players give up half their bet after the dealer has checked his second card.
- Perfect Pairs: This is more like a side bet. A player wins if they are dealt a pair. The payout depends on the value of the pair.
- Re-splitting Aces: If a player gets a pair of aces and splits it, then gets another ace after hitting, they would be allowed to split the aces again.
- Spanish 21: Spanish 48-card decks are used in this variant. The difference between this deck and the standard one is that the number card worth 10 is removed from each suit. It is played with a hole card.
Where to Play Blackjack Online
You can find Blackjack and its variants at virtually any online casino. You won’t have to look far at all. To attract players, most of these platforms allow you to play for free. Of course, you can also bet with real money and challenge other players.
Some of the most trusted casinos that offer Blackjack are:
- Royal Panda
- Genesis Casino
These online casinos have no payment issues or security issues. The sign-up process is also pretty easy. You’ll be hooked before you know it!
Playing Blackjack for Real Money or Free
Blackjack is one of the top gambling games in the world. People bet high stake wagers and go all in to win. Some gamblers play it for entertainment, while others take the game as seriously as a business.
Whatever reason you have for playing it, it is best that you start with a free version first. You can test out all the strategies you want when playing for free, and also get used to the game so you won’t be so nervous when you start playing for real money.
You really should try to get as much gaming experience as you can. Do this, and you’ll get better at analysing your sessions and betting responsibly.
Is It Legal to Play Blackjack in India?
India’s gambling laws prohibit gambling of any form in the county. If you’re outside of India, you can play as much as you want in any land-based casino. But if you are in India, the best option is to join a legit online casino as the laws do not apply to online gambling.
Blackjack is an exciting game, especially when real money is involved. If you can absorb all the information presented in this guide, you’ll have no issue winning the game, or at least reducing your losses. Make sure to practice on a secure platform!