Blackjack

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The Ultimate Guide To Playing Online Blackjack

Hands down, blackjack is one of the most popular card games on the planet. This makes blackjack a favorite game for many beginning online gamblers. Blackjack is less daunting than Poker, more accessible than Craps, and better known than Baccarat.

Because it is seen as an easy game to learn and play, it’s unsurprisingly to see so many people are eager to give it a go.

Many players know how modern blackjack works but the game has a long and rich history. 

While blackjack is believed to have originated in Europe, it gained its notoriety in the Wild West of America.

Online casinos use the version of blackjack used in the 1956 analysis by the Four Horsemen of Aberdeen. The so-called Horsemen were four U.S. Army engineers stationed at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Using their mathematical skills, the engineers devised a system to win at blackjack. The team published a book, Playing Blackjack to Win in 1957. However, it wasn't until 1965, that they were dubbed, “the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” by Dr. Allan N. Wilson in his book The Casino Gambler’s Guide. 

Horsemen's method is what we will help you to understand. We'll give you all of the terminologies, we’ll outline the best strategies to help you be successful at playing online blackjack, no matter your current level of play.

The Basics of Online Blackjack

You're probably reading this to find out how to devise a winning blackjack strategy that will allow you to cash in a big jackpot. However, strategies are nearly useless if you don't understand the rules of the game.

By first understanding blackjack basics, you'll understand how your decisions impact the outcome of the game. Also, you'll need to know what to do if things don’t go according to plan.

Possessing a deep understanding of the basics will also help you learn advanced features of blackjack games more quickly. 

The Goal Of Online Blackjack

Most players think that when it comes to playing blackjack online, the goal is to simply get a hand that adds up as close to 21 as possible.

This is basically true, but that doesn’t go far enough if you want to play blackjack like a pro.

But let's be clear, the real goal of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand. That means you're playing against the house and not against the other players.

You beat the house if your hand adds up to a higher value than the dealers by the end of the round. You also win if the dealer’s hand adds up to more than 21, but yours doesn't.

How To Play Blackjack

The first thing to do before playing online blackjack is to decide how many chips you want to put on the table.

The minimum and maximum you can bet typically depend on the casino where you're playing. Most often, these limits are $1, $5, $25, and $100.

In general, the amount of money you are allowed to bet depends on the casino you’ve chosen. $1, $5, $25, and $100 are the most common options.

After all of the wagers have been placed, the dealer will deal 2 cards to each player. At most online casinos, the dealer also deals 2 cards to themselves, one card face down, and one card facing upwards.

It's key to remember you’re playing against the dealer. That downward-facing card will influence the decisions you make as you play.

The game only begins once every player has received two cards. From here, you have two choices going forward.

The first option is to ‘stand’. You stand when you're satisfied with the hand you’ve been dealt. If you choose to ‘stand’, you won't be dealt any more cards.

The other option is to ‘hit’. If you decide to hit, you'll be dealt another card. You can hit as many times as you like until you're happy with your hand.

If your hand adds up to more than 21, you go 'bust’. When you go bust, you've lost that round. You'll have to sit it out while the other players finish their hands before the next round begins.

Once all the players have finished, it’s time for the dealer to turn over that downward-facing card. The dealer can also keep hitting until they reach or surpass a total of 17 for their hand.

As you know by now, you'll win the game if the value of your hand is higher than the dealers. Or, if your hand adds up to 21 or less if the dealer is bust.

The Blackjack

While an online game of blackjack usually plays out like the game above, there is an exception; The Blackjack.

“Blackjack” is called when either the dealer or a player is dealt with an ace and a face card that add up to 21. If someone gets a blackjack, the game is over and the lucky player, or dealer, wins.

If you’re lucky enough to get a blackjack, most online casinos will pay you 1.5x your original bet on that game.

For example, if you bet $10, you'll immediately be paid $15 with no other action needed.

The Value Of The Cards

Knowing how playing cards are valued is a crucial part of playing blackjack. Knowing the values will motivate every decision after your first two cards. 

While the card values seem somewhat complicated, it’s really not.

There are only three things you need to remember concerning each card’s value. 

  1. All face cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings) are worth 10 points
  2. Depending on your current hand, Aces are worth either 1 or 11 points
  3. Cards between 2-10 are simply worth their face value

To simplify things even further, you’ll be glad to hear that card suits like spades and diamonds don’t mean a thing in blackjack. That means that your hand simply can be added up as 10+2+8=20, no matter the suit.

It's a little more complicated if you have an ace, but not very much.

Just remember that in most blackjack games, aces are valued at 11 points, except if the total hand would add up to more than 21. In that case, an ace is valued at 1. 

The Rules of Blackjack

The best thing about blackjack for beginners it's very easy to play. However, there are a few rules that you really need to know.

One basic rule you need to remember is that the game moves clockwise beginning on the dealer’s left. Blackjack is traditionally played around a semi-circular table, and playing clockwise is the way it's done whether it’s an in-person game or online.

The other thing you need to know when playing online blackjack is that there are separate player rules and dealer rules.

The Player Rules

As a player, the first rule you must remember is that you should place a wager aligned with the maximum bet allowed for that game. This should be done as soon as you enter the playing room before the start of the game.

Throughout the game, every player will have the same opportunities to apply the same betting options.

Players can play with more than one hand, as long as there are seats at the table. However, some online casinos limit players to two hands after a player leaves. Other casinos will allow more players to join the game, as long as there is enough room at the table.

The Dealer

The main rule blackjack dealers must remember is that they must wait for all other players to take their turns before they take theirs. Also, dealers adhere to special rules concerning whether they can stand or hit.

When the dealer's hand totals less than 17 the dealer must hit. The dealer needs to stand on any hand adding up to 17 or more.

It's called a soft 17 when a player has an ace that can be used as an 11 or 1. If that happens, the rules concerning whether a dealer should hit or stand can change. These new rules can differ between online casinos, so check out the rules where you are playing.

Online Blackjack Terminology

Due to the fast-paced nature of online blackjack, there really isn’t such a thing as easing yourself in as a beginner. That's why you need to know the terminology inside and out before you play your first game.

The various online card communities often have slightly different audiences, so there may be different blackjack jargon from place to place. but most will make allowances there.

Here is a list of the common terminology you definitely need to know if you want to play the world’s most popular online card game.

Face Cards

Face cards are another name for picture cards: the Jacks, Queens, and Kings of a deck are the face cards. These are the most valuable cards in the deck, worth 10 points each. Each deck has a total of 12 face cards.

Hole Card

The hole card refers to the downward-facing card the dealer deals themself. The hole card remains face down until every player has taken their turn.

Insurance Bet

Players can place an insurance bet just in the event the dealer has drawn a blackjack. A player that places an insurance bet will automatically win twice the amount of insurance bet if the dealer does hold a blackjack.

Push

If both the dealer and the player have the same number of points, that's called a push. When this happens, the player's bet is returned and the game is a draw.

Standing Hand

Drawing a 17 is considered a standing hand. This is because the dealer cannot stand until their hand total reaches 17.

Hard Hand

Usually, a hard hand is when a hand does not include an ace. But, a hard hand can also be when an ace is used as a 1, but not as an 11.

If for example, a player has a face card, an ace, and an 8, that would be a hard 19 hand. This is because an ace can't be used in this hand as an 11 without going over 21.

Soft Hand

A soft hand is when an ace card is used as an 11. For instance, if you have an eight and an ace, you have a soft hand of 18. 

Split

When a player is dealt the first two cards at the beginning of the game, the player can ‘split’ the hand, giving them two opportunities to win.

Surrender

You will often be offered the opportunity to surrender during an online blackjack game. If a player surrenders, they could get a portion of their initial bet back. However, this depends on the house rules for each individual casino.

Busting

Busting, or ‘to bust’ or 'go bust' means that a player has exceeded the maximum hand value of 21. Some online casinos call this a break, but it's the same thing.

An Overview of Basic Blackjack Strategy

After learning the terms and general gameplay of online blackjack, you must understand the most basic strategy available. This will ensure that you don’t look like a total newbie during your first few games with other players. The strategy will also give you a better chance to beat the dealer.

Essentially, this strategy is comprised of an exact set of rules telling you the best moves to make when playing your initial two-card hand.

This strategy uses the value of the dealer's upwards facing card and mathematical equations for a solution to almost any situation you may face during a game.

To become familiar with this strategy, we recommend trying it during free blackjack games before playing a paid game. Only jump into a paid game once you feel confident in your ability.

Examples Of Basic Blackjack Strategy

While you can easily find graphs explaining this basic strategy on the Internet, sometimes the best way to learn is to try using it in real-life situations. The following are a few examples of situations that could happen during a game:

When to Hit

Hit when you have a card worth two points and a face card. Hit when the dealer’s upwards-facing card is valued at three points.

When to Split

Split when your two-card hand is worth a total of 9 points. Likewise, split when the dealer’s card is a nine.

When to Double

Double when your hand consists of an 8 and an ace. Also, double if the dealer’s upward-facing card shows a 6 in a game in which they need to hit a soft 17.

Popular Blackjack Strategies

The basic blackjack strategy is the only one you really need to know before you begin to play online blackjack. As you begin to get the hang of the game, naturally, you'll want to grow your skills to have even more success. Keep reading for more blackjack strategies that you need to know.

Doubling Down

Remember, the house always has the advantage in every casino game and blackjack is no exception.

That means you'll need to take advantage of all opportunities that present themselves to you. The doubling down strategy is something to keep at the ready.

Doubling down means you can place another bet of equal value to the one you've already placed, as long as you don’t take any more cards.

That means that when you double down, you can only take one more card. Moreover, you won’t be able to ‘hit’ until you’re satisfied with your hand.

If you’re going to use the double down strategy, it's best to use it when there is a good indication that the dealer could bust from the beginning. That's when the dealer holds a low-value hand.

Many blackjack players avoid doubling down if they have a soft hand. But, you don’t need to follow that advice. In fact, doubling down when you have a soft hand can give you more money in the game if the dealer does go bust.

Paroli Betting

If you’re familiar with other casino games, you may already be familiar with Paroli Betting. The Paroli strategy is common in all card-based gambling games.

For those who are unfamiliar with this method, it's a positive progression cycle. This involves increasing your bet by a certain amount every time you win.

The first bet of the cycle, known as the single unit bet, can be any amount. When playing blackjack, the single unit bet is usually the table minimum. Or, it can be any amount that you want, based on your how much money you can afford to gamble.

If you win on your single unit bet, you then double the next bet. So, if your initial bet was $1 and you win, next, you'll bet $2.

You'll double your bet for the next three winning hands. Following three wins, you'll return to your original single unit bet. While it seems complex, that complexity is what makes the Paroli method safer. It works out to be more economical compared to other progression betting strategies.

However, if you are using the Paroli method, but lose one of the first two games, you'll immediately go back to the beginning of the cycle and start over.

Card Counting

Admittedly, card counting is extremely controversial in the blackjack world.

This is primarily due to the fact that most people don’t understand how card counting works. Many people assume you must memorize the entire deck of cards in order to deploy this strategy.

However, you just need to understand when a deck of cards has low-value cards and when it has high-value cards.

This knowledge will tell you when to stand or hit. It will also give you an indication of whether you should stay with low bets or go higher.

While there are several different ways to count cards, the Hi-Lo system is the most popular and easiest card counting strategy.

For the Hi-Lo method, follow these guidelines:

  • Use +1 for cards valued between 2 and 6.
  • Use -1 for aces, face cards, and number 10 cards.
  • Use 0 for cards valued between 7 and 9.

Using this classification system, all cards with a +1 rating are low-value cards. That means that -1 cards are high, and middle-value cards are valued at 0.

Surrender Strategy

Surrendering in blackjack is used when you think your chances of winning are very low. Surrendering is simply a way to avoid losing your entire bet.

You'll lose half your bet at most online casinos. But remember, every online casino is different, and they're free to take more or less than half.

When it comes to surrendering, the best and common option is the late surrender.

Late surrender is when you surrender your hand after the dealer has revealed their hole card to see if they have a blackjack. While this method might sound overly complex, it’s actually quite straightforward to use. 

Following are a few examples of how you can decide whether a late surrender is the right move:

For example, if you're playing a single deck blackjack game with a hard 17 when you hold 16, and the dealer’s upwards facing card is 10, you should surrender.

At the same time, if you're playing a six-deck game with a soft 17 and you hold 16 and the dealer’s upwards facing card is 9, surrender.

If you deploy this method properly, it will reduce the house edge by 0.07 percent.

If the online casino follows Asian or European rules, you could possibly use this strategy as an early surrender.

When you play an early surrender, you can surrender your hand before the dealer has looked to see if they have a blackjack.

As we pointed out, this method isn’t as popular, as most online blackjack sites. Most would rather stick to more mainstream methods to help maintain consistency.

You’re Ready To Play Online Blackjack

You're ready for your first game, now that you have an understanding of the fundamentals, including general gameplay and strategies you can use. Now that you're comfortable with the blackjack, you are ready to go and place your first bet. Whether you try a few free online games first, or jump right in and play for money, we wish you luck!