It's nigh on impossible to walk into any casino in the land, and not find a blackjack table. So it will come as no surprise to find online blackjack at practically every available online casino. Playing blackjack is very easy, with a simple end goal of trying to beat the dealer. In the past it was often referred to as Twenty One, as ultimately the end goal is for you as a player to reach twenty one, before the dealer does.
How to play blackjack
This iconic card game is played between a player and and a dealer, so it is you versus the house. There are many different variants of the game, but the same end result always applies. It is a card game, and usually a single deck game, meaning only a single deck of fifty two cards are used. However, if you find yourself playing live blackjack online, there may be up to eight decks of cards in play due to the quantity of players.
To begin playing, you place a bet within a designated betting box with limits that tend to range from £1 - £100. Once you've done this, your cards are dealt to you by the dealer. The dealer will deal two cards to you, and often one card to the dealer. In most variants of the game, the dealers card will be face up, however there are some versions where the dealer may receive two cards, one card face down, and one face up.
Normally, when playing online blackjack the software will tell you what your hand is worth. As with most card games, the royals are worth ten, and aces can be either high or low. If you don't know what that means, it basically means they can be worth one or eleven. If your first two face cards are made up of an ace and a ten or royal, congratulations you have got a Blackjack, a hand of twenty one with two cards. If this happens, you are pretty much guaranteed to win unless the dealer also gets blackjack, in which case you would "push". Push means you neither win nor lose your stake, your original bet is returned. Blackjack pays out three to two, which means for every £2 you bet, you would receive £3 back in winnings.
If you don't get a blackjack with your first two cards, the idea is to get as near to twenty one without going bust, which means scoring more than twenty one. Once your cards are dealt, you have an option to hit or stand. Hit means you would like another card, stand means you are happy with the cards you have. As per standard blackjack rules the dealer then has to usually draw cards if they have a hand of sixteen or less, and they have to normally stand on soft 17. Soft 17 is a hand made up of an Ace and a six for example (eleven and six). If the dealer scores higher than twenty one, this means the dealer busted and you win regardless. If your hand is higher than the dealers final hand, you would win. Blackjack games always pay out even money on your bet with the exception of if you get a Blackjack as previously mentioned.
If the dealers first card is an ace, then the probability of them of getting a blackjack is significantly increased. Once your first two cards have been dealt, and the dealer has received their ace, you have the option of taking insurance against a dealer blackjack. The insurance bet is in addition to your bet amount, and is half of that figure. Insurance pays out at two to one, and the insurance stake itself is returned to you. In real terms, if you had bet £10, and taken insurance of £5 against a Blackjack, this would be a total bet of £15. If the dealer then received a Blackjack, you technically lose your £10 stake, but the insurance pays you £10 + £5, so you get your money back, nothing won or lost.
If you have a blackjack and dealer has an ace, some online casinos may allow you to take even money, which means if you bet £10, they'll give you £10 in winnings to end the game. If the dealer didn't have a blackjack though, you would of lost out on an extra £5 by doing so. Normally if they did have a blackjack, worst case scenario means you'd have "pushed" i.e neither lost nor won anything.
Double or split
If your first two cards are two of the same, such as two sixes, then you can split your cards into two separate hands. If you choose to do this, you are required to double your stake. Then, you simply hit on each hand to try and get a good outcome, and stand once you are satisfied. It is not considered a wise choice to split tens as you would already have a good hand of twenty. There are also different rules when splitting aces, insofar as you receive only one card per hand, and no blackjacks apply.
If you're dealt nine or ten in your first two cards, you can often double your bet amount to receive one single card. In this instance, you would usually hope for a ten or an ace to try and achieve a high hand of nineteen, twenty or twenty one. It's certainly not a good idea to do this if the dealer has a high card, as their likelihood of beating you is increased.
Blackjack Side bets
Blackjack does come with some limitations on the amount of money that you can win, if compared to a game such as roulette. The online casinos are very aware of this fact, and the need to offer their players different versions of the game. One way to increase potential wins is by trying out the optional side bets. The side bets limits often are lower than the usual game limits, and are placed at the same time as your initial game stake. The most common side bets are 21+3 and perfect pairs.
21+3 is when your betting on your initial two cards and the dealers first card all making a three card poker hand. The possibilities are a flush, a straight, three of a kind, a straight flush or three of a kind of the same suit. The possible returns will different from each casino, but usually a flush would pay out 5:1 and three of a kind of the same suit, or "suited trips" as it's known, pays out 100:1. If you aren't sure what this means, it means for every £1 bet, you'd receive £5, or a £100 back respectively.
Perfect pairs is another popular offering where you're betting on your first two cards or the dealers first two cards making a pair. The amount you are paid out varies depending on the type of pair you manage to achieve. The cards always need to be a pair in terms of the same value, i.e two aces, however they can be a mixed pair, a colored pair, or a perfect pair.
A mixed pair would be two aces of different colours and suits, this usually would pay out around 6:1. A coloured pair is a pair of the same colour but of different suits. It could be the two aces are both red, but one is hearts and one is diamonds, this usually pays out 12:1. The best possible combination is the same colour and same suit, a perfect pair, which normally pays out 25:1.
Live Dealer Blackjack
The live casino version of the game is by far the nearest you'll come to playing in a real casino environment, all from within the comfort of your own home. They are a very unique and innovative setup in a custom built studio environment, complete with high definition video and audio. A real life dealer sits at a real table complete with real cards. There are usually eight decks of cards in play and up to seven or eight seats per table. The game itself is exactly the same as if you were in a land based casino, simply place your bet in your box, and make your options, in the hope that you score twenty one or that the dealer busts. There are rigorous measures in place to ensure security and fairness, and there is a chat facility for you to communicate should you experience any game play issues. Table limits are varied for all, and range from £1 right up to £500+.