What is online blackjack?
Arguably one of the most famous card games you can play, blackjack (known as 21 to many people) is also one of the first games many card players learn. A simple game and the basics of the game can be mastered in just a few minutes if you don’t know how to play it.
This guide has been designed to give players a helping hand in that department, so read if you want to learn a little bit more about this magical game, where it comes from and how it is played. Roulette is also a very popular casino game.
A brief history of blackjack
The game is very old. It has been around since the Eighteenth Century when it first appeared in casinos popular with the French aristocracy. Although it wasn’t quite played with the same rules as it is today, the game was already then, well on its way to being a major crowd pleaser.
After making its debut in the casinos of Las Vegas and the French Riviera, the game exploded. Today, it can be found in online casinos as well as land-based venues and is frequently played at home, too. So popular is the game that there are over 25 major variants out there for you to play, each with their own variations on the rules found in the basic game, otherwise known as classic blackjack.
Basic blackjack gameplay
We’ll go into the basics of how to play the game in just a moment. First, though, let’s talk about the overall objective of the game. As we’re sure that you’re aware, the objective of the game is to beat the dealer with the hand you have. Players can take cards to try and get closer to this figure, but it is crucial that they don’t go over that figure, or they will lose. Ultimately, a common misconception is that you need to get as close to 21 points as possible to win. While this is an objective to win outright, it isn’t the case. You only need to beat the dealer to win, with however many points as that takes.
Blackjack is often played with a single deck of cards but can feature as many as 8 decks. Obviously, if you’re planning on counting cards, it becomes a lot easier the fewer decks have. We’ll come to that shortly, but for now, though, let’s look at the basics of getting started with blackjack.
Getting started with blackjack
The first thing that any player must do is place a bet. These bets vary depending on the table limits of the game you are playing. Once you have put your chips down in the betting circle on the table, the dealer will hand you two cards face up. They will also hand themselves two cards, only one of which you will be able to see in the classic games.
How to play blackjack
After receiving those two cards, players can choose to hit or stand, or they can opt to double, split, take insurance or in some cases, surrender. We will just look at the most basic options for now, which involve hitting and standing.
Each of a player’s cards will have a numerical value or a face on them. All cards count for their numerical value (so 2s are worth 2 points, 8s are worth 8s, and so on). Face cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) are always worth 10 points. Aces can be worth either 1 or 11 points, depending on what you need.
If the player has an ace and a face (or a ten) straight away, they are said to have blackjack and win the game outright if the dealer doesn’t have the same. Likewise, if the dealer has blackjack and the player doesn’t, they will also lose outright. However, most of the time, this won’t be the case, leaving players with the option of hitting or standing. If you like to play other games try slots or bingo.
If they choose to hit, they are taking another card. Players can take as many cards as they want, but if they go over that 21-point limit, they will be out of the game. Players can also choose to stand, which is stick with the hand (points total) that they have.
If the dealer goes bust (over 21), the player will win their hand if they are at or under the 21-point total. If the player does bust, the dealer will win. Ultimately, if both players are still in the game (and thus, not bust), the hands will be compared. The winner will be the person with the highest points total. In the event of a tie, the hands are usually considered a push (draw) and bets are returned.
In many blackjack games, the dealer must draw (hit) to achieve at least 16, while they will stand on 17s or greater. Sometimes, dealers will hit to 15 and stand on 18, but these are only found in blackjack variants. Any win in blackjack pays 1:1, with blackjack itself paying 3:2. Insurance bets, as mentioned pay 2:1.
Doubling, splitting, insurance bets and surrendering
As well as hitting and standing, most blackjack games allow players to double, split or take insurance bets.
A player can double down by placing an extra bet down, equal to the original bet. They will then be able to take one more card. They are, in effect, doubling their bet in the hope of winning twice the figure with a good hand.
Should the first two cards a player receives be of the same denomination, they will be allowed to split their hand into two separate hands by placing a bet equal to the original. A new card will be added to each of the hands, and the game continues as usual. Some blackjack games allow players to split aces, and some do not.
Insurance bets are a side-bet, offered to players who think that the dealer may have blackjack. Obviously, there is no way of knowing for sure, but most players who do take insurance do so when the dealer has a 10 or a face showing. The insurance bet will pay out 2:1 to the player if the dealer does indeed have blackjack, irrespective of how the hand turns out. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, the player loses their insurance bet.
Surrendering is an option only available in certain games, such as Surrender. This involves folding your hand to surrender just half of your bet. The other half is returned to you. Surrender rules may appear in Early (before the dealer checks for blackjack) or Late (after the dealer checks for blackjack) formats.
Players can find a host of different blackjack strategies out there on the net, the most common of which is Basic Strategy. Any players hoping to use these strategies are advised to study them in advance. Also memorise the betting table so that they have a good idea of what to do if a certain hand crops up. This is painstaking and time-consuming work.
Of course, you don’t necessarily need strategies to be a good player. You just need a few handy hints and tips. For starters, players should always avoid an insurance bet. Only experienced blackjack players know when to place insurance bets, so if you aren’t a pro, leave them well alone.
Secondly, we’d shop around a bit to find the ideal blackjack game before you begin. For instance, playing the game with the option to split aces is going to be more advantageous than one which doesn’t offer this. Lastly, always keep an eye out for rule changes in variants. Players may find that some rule changes (such as seeing both the dealer’s cards) may come at a cost, such as lower payouts, or the inability to draw a tied hand, with the dealer winning tied hands. Check the rules of each variant before you play.
Blackjack bonus bets
Quite a few blackjack games can be played with bonus bets. These games run on the side of regular blackjack games and their payouts are not linked to the outcome of the standard blackjack game. Most side-bets involve betting on whether you will land a three-of-a-kind, a pair or another combination of cards. Excellent examples of blackjack bonus bets are the 21+3 and Perfect Pairs games. Which you can find more information about online.
Play online blackjack today
Now that you know what online blackjack is. And the types of games you have open to you out there, it is time to play. Before you do decide to dive in a wager real money on blackjack, though, why not try free blackjack? Try learning strategies and playing the game with free blackjack games before you wager for real money. You might just hone your skills beforehand, putting you in a better position to win later. Scratch cards are also fun to play!