Everyone has heard of blackjack, which is commonly seen as the centrepiece of casino gaming. It has continued to thrive since its inception, and there are now many variants to choose from. The classic card game has led to the development of many strategies, meaning that you can become a master of blackjack if you practice playing at blackjack casinos. To find out where to play the best online blackjack, stick with me at Professor of Casinos and you’ll find out all you need to know.
How to Play Blackjack
If you want to play traditional blackjack, the process is simple to learn and put into action. To start with, players will make bets, and then the dealer will deal out two cards to each one. This includes two cards for himself. When it comes to the dealer’s pair of cards, 1 will be face down and the other will be face up.
Each card is played according to the value stated on it, and picture cards are counted as ten points. The ace is a good card to have, as it can either count as one or eleven points depending on what you want to play it as.
The options a player has are to stand, hit, surrender, double down or split. The dealer plays last, and if their result is 16 or below they must hit. A number between 17 and 21 means they have to stand. If a player has a hand with a sum total higher than that of the dealer – or they have a card total which is 21 or under when the dealer goes bust – they win. The aim of the game is ultimately to have a total greater than the dealers’ but not one that goes over 21. When a player or dealer has a hand which is over this figure, this is described as going bust.
Types of Online Blackjack
American Blackjack – The rules for this variant are similar to those seen in the traditional game. The player makes bets against the dealer, who represents the house in each round. The difference with American blackjack is that the player is permitted to play 1, 3 or 5 hands at the same time. Freedom is granted when it comes to the table you want to play at, and you can choose from green, red, blue and black chips. Turbo mode is available in many online versions of this game, and this can typically be toggled on and off within a digital screen. There are six decks of cards, with 52 playing cards in each, and the player has the option of doubling, which means one final card can be taken and the wager doubled. Another difference is that with American blackjack, there’s just one player and one dealer, while in classic blackjack there are seven.
Spanish 21 Blackjack – While this game is based heavily on the classic blackjack game, there are a few rules which make it different. There are between six and eight decks included, but the suited 10 cards aren’t involved in this variant. The rules are similar in that players can hit, stand, split or double. However, there are some additional features. A player’s 21 always overrides that of the dealer, and redoubling is permitted up to three times with some casinos. Furthermore, a double is permitted after a split, you can draw several cards after splitting an ace, and bonus payouts can be won if you get certain hands.
European Blackjack – Many people see this blackjack variant as the most popular. Six decks are involved in this game, with 52 playing cards apiece. Before the game starts, the decks get shuffled, and if the player gets a blackjack, the payout is 3:2. However, if they lose to a blackjack, they will give up their starting bet. Additionally, any bets which haven’t bust will get pushed and returned. With this blackjack variant, players can double down on a two card hand, so first bets can be doubled if it’s feasible to stand after being dealt an additional card. If two cards in the hand have an identical value, they can be split, so two hands can be created for a bonus wager of the same amount. It’s also possible for players to surrender, which means that they give up their two cards and therefore get half of their wager back. However, this option won’t apply if the dealer has an ace on show.
Multi hand Blackjack – Those who play multi hand blackjack will be able to play up to five hands at once. It’s best played in an online environment, as this gives you more time to think through each hand that is being played. The first step is to decide how many hands you’re going to play. You don’t have to make each multi hand blackjack bet the same. Then the dealer will deal two cards to each hand, and the player will go through each of their hands individually, intending to beat the dealer by getting closer to 21 than them but not exceeding this number. Multi hand blackjack players are advised to use a strategy table due to the number of hands being played, as this will ensure the best use of a strategy.
Crazy Blackjack – Four decks of 52 cards get shuffled together for this exciting blackjack variant, which sees a payout of 3:2 and a pretty low house edge. When the player has received their cards, they can hit, stand, split or double their bet. Three side bets are available, and these are the highest hand, safe and 777 jackpot bet. It’s only possible to place these after placing a standard bet, however. By using the safe side bet, a player has a safety net for the first two cards of their hand, as they can win money despite not having a strong set of cards. The side bet will be won if the first two cards have a total value between 12 and 16. This rule doesn’t apply, though, if there is an ace in the card or two cards with the same value.
Types of Blackjack Side Bets
Bet the Bust – If the dealer busts, then this side bet will be successful. Once the dealer has exposed his up card, the player can decide if he wants to use the bet. If the odds of a bust are high, then the bet payout will be low, and vice versa
Blazing 7s – The payout for this side bet depends on the number of sevens available in the first three cards of a player’s hand. If you have one seven in the first two cards, the payouts begin, and this goes up to a progressive jackpot for three suited sevens or three sevens of diamonds. Ultimately, this can vary slightly depending on the version you’re playing.
Lucky Ladies – Lots of people use this popular side bet. Any player’s 20 point hand is eligible for a prize under its rules, and if you have a particular 20 – such as two kings – this qualifies you for a larger prize.
Dead Man’s Hand – This side bet can be added to any blackjack game which follows conventional rules. If at least one of the player’s first cards are an ace or an eight, a payout is provided, and if both of them are, the payout is higher.
Raise The Roof – If the dealer busts, this side bet lands the player with a win. The amount is dependent on what the bust card was. The payout increases depending on how low the card was.
Copy Cat – This side bets states that the players’ wins will match the dealer’s up card with one or both of their first two cards. If this happens, the player gets paid. If both cards match the dealer’s face-up card, then the hole is considered in addition. If it also matches rank, the player gets paid for three matches.
Super 4 – This is a progressive blackjack side bet based on the first four cards. The player gets paid if the dealer lands a blackjack, and the amount varies depending on the poker value on the four cards of the player and dealer.
Blackjack Tips, Tricks and Strategies
Card counting – This is a strategy used primarily in blackjack to discover if the next hand will give an advantage to the player or the dealer. Players who card count will attempt to decrease the house edge by keeping a record of all the high and low valued cards. This allows players to bet more with less risk when the count provides an advantage, as well as reduce their losses during a count which doesn’t look to be in their favour.
Pair splitting – This was introduced by casinos initially, in an effort to lower the house edge, but it’s now an option players choose without thinking too much about it. To make an informed decision, first ask yourself if you should surrender. If you shouldn’t, and there’s a pair in your hand, decide whether splitting would work for your gameplay. Before hitting or doubling down, this decision should always be made. If you need additional support, you can perfect your technique by finding a strategy table online to use.
Hit and stand – This is the most common decision made during a game of blackjack. It is advised to consider the move after you’ve thought about surrendering, doubling down or splitting. You can always hit if you have 21 or under in value in your hand and you haven’t surrendered or doubled down. Strategy tables can advise whether you should hit or stand by examining your hand and that of the dealer.
Doubling down – The best doubling down strategy can result in a reduction of the house edge by nearly 1.5%. While players usually focus on doubling down with their best starter hands, bear in mind you can also double down in a way that takes advantage of the dealer’s weaker hands later in the game.
Surrender – You can either engage in late surrender or early surrender. If you do late surrender, you give up your hand and lose half your bet after the dealer lands a blackjack. If you do early surrender, this is unusual and is not often found in blackjack variants, but it involves giving up your hand and half of your bet before the dealer gets a blackjack.
Insurance – With this strategy, you can use it whenever the dealer shows an ace. If you insure your hand, this can save you money in the event that the dealer lands a blackjack. You can then place another bet, adding up to half the value of the first one, which gets wagered on whether the dealer has a blackjack. The payout is 2:1, or three times your stake. This means that if the dealer has a card value of 10, which does result in blackjack, then you break even and subsequently lose no money.
Even money – You can participate in this strategy if you’ve been dealt a 21 and the dealer’s first card is an ace. If your choose even money, then the hand will end, and a payout of double your stake is awarded. This means you don’t take the risk of the dealer also having 21, because this would lead to a push and you getting your stake returned.
Popular Blackjack Terms
Split – This option involves being able to divide your hand into two separate ones, and each one has an equal bet amount. You can only split if your first two cards are of identical value. By deciding to separate the cards and make two individual hands, you need to lay down another bet which has an equal value of the original wager to cover the second hand. After this step, the dealer will draw an additional card for each new hand. Then both hands are played out in turn.
Stand – When you choose to stop being dealt any further cards, this is known as standing, and you therefore retain the total value of your current hand. If you have 18 or above, you should usually stand in most situations. If you’re at a land based casino, you signal that you’re going to stand by waving your hands over your cards. This indicates that you don’t want any more cards dealt to you. If you’re in a face down game, you would signal this move by sliding your cards under your existing bet.
Five Card Charlie – In blackjack, the five card Charlie is the name given to a hand which has five cards and doesn’t go over 21. In some versions of the game, this results in a payout at 1:1 odds, no matter what hand the dealer has. When it comes to statistics, this hand will show up once every 50 hands. It’s even more rare to land a six, seven, eight, nine or ten card Charlie.
Hand – This term refers to the number of cards the player or dealer is holding. You can have various types of hand, such as a hard hand or a soft hand, and they have their own values attached to them which help with gameplay strategy.
Hard Hand – Another term for this is stiff hand. It refers to a hand which doesn’t have an ace, but has a value of 12 or more. Alternatively, it can be a hand which has an ace which must be valued at one to avoid a bust. The name comes from the difficulty of playing out and winning this type of hand.
Ace – Many see the ace as the best possible card you can be dealt in any game of blackjack. Without it, you can’t hit blackjack with your first two cards. The ace has two values – it can be 1 or 11, depending on which number best fits with your hand for game strategy. If you are dealt a pair of aces, it’s recommended to split them into two separate hands, as this maximises the chances of getting a blackjack.
Surrender – If you surrender, then you take the offer to give up your hand in the round and gain back half of your wager in return. It’s viable as a tactic if you have a hard hand and find yourself in a position that’s difficult to work out. That being said, it’s not recommended to surrender on a regular basis, and it should only be considered once you’ve weighed up every other option on offer.
Hit – Also known as drawing, to hit is to ask for another card. If you’re in a land-based casino, this would be indicated by knocking on the table. When you hit, you increase the value of your hand. In a face down game, you would signal a hit by sliding your cards to and fro across the table.
Bust – A bust refers to a losing hand which has gone over 21 points. The bust card is that which is dealt and leads to the hand going over 21. If you reach a value higher than 21, this results in an instant loss. If the dealer busts and you don’t, however, this will grant you an instant payout. In some versions of blackjack, if the dealer reaches a hand worth 22 in value, this is a stand-off, where no-one wins or loses.
Stand Off – Also known as a push or tie, this situation occurs when the player and dealer have hands with the same value. Once this has been established, nobody is a winner or a loser and the player’s wager gets returned without a profit.
Hole Card – If you are playing a hole card game, then the dealer receives their first card face up, and after they have dealt to the other players, they get a second card face down, which is known as the hole card. The dealer can choose whether or not they look at the card, but if they do, it’s to see if they have blackjack. According to the rules, the hole card isn’t revealed until the players have finished their turns. The exception is if the dealer has peeked to see if they have blackjack and they do.
Soft Hand – If you have a soft hand, you have a hand containing an ace which can be valued at either one or 11 points. It’s not possible to bust with an additional card if you have a soft hand. With this scenario, there’s a good chance to improve your hand if the dealer has a bad card.
House Edge – The house is the organisation which sets the rules and controls the play of blackjack and other casino games. The house edge is the advantage they hold over a player in any game, which is usually recorded as a percentage.
Double Down – If you double down or double, you will be doubling your original wager after looking at your hand. In return, you only receive one more card to be dealt. If you have a hand which totals either 9 or 11, these are considered to be the best hands to double down on. Some versions of blackjack allow you to double down whenever you like, while others only allow this move if you have a total of 9, 10 or 11.
Natural Hand – A natural hand is a hand comprising two cards which totals 21 points, otherwise known as blackjack. The possible card combinations for this result are a 10 and an ace, a Jack and an ace, a Queen and an ace or a King and an ace.
Up Card – An up card in a face up game of blackjack refers to the dealer’s first card to be dealt. This card is always revealed to the other players, which lets them examine what options they can play in return.
Bankroll – The bankroll is the amount of money a player is willing to wager at a casino game. It’s recommended to have a specific bankroll for a visit to a casino to avoid heading into personal financial difficulty.
Shoe – This is a gaming device used by dealers to hold more than one deck of playing cards. It holds all of the cards which are to be used in upcoming games, and makes it difficult to count cards.