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Ultimate Guide To Playing Online Blackjack
Blackjack is considered one of the most popular casino card games in the world, which is why many beginners choose it as their first introduction into the gambling world. It's more accessible than Craps, less intimidating than Poker rooms, and more familiar than Baccarat.
Commonly viewed as an easy game to play, it is clear to see why so many people are tempted to give it a go.
Most people are familiar with the modern form of blackjack. The game has a rich history, of which you probably aren’t aware.
Thought to have originated in Europe, slight variations to the modern game still exist in countries such as Spain, France, Italy, and England.
Online casinos stick to the modern version of blackjack that was outlined by the Four Horsemen of Aberdeen in 1956.
This is the method this guide will help you understand, in addition to providing you with all the terminology and strategies you need to successfully play online blackjack, regardless of your expertise.
You might be coming here to learn about how to develop a blackjack strategy that will make you a winner from the beginning. Such information is practically useless, however, if you don’t first understand how the game works.
By learning the basics first, you will have a greater understanding of the impact particular decisions will make on your game, and what to do if something doesn’t go according to plan.
Having a comprehensive understanding of the basics will also allow you to more quickly learn advanced features of blackjack games.
The Objectives Of Blackjack
When it comes to playing blackjack online, most people assume that the objective of the game is simply to get as close to a total hand value of 21 as possible.
While this is partly true, it doesn’t go far enough for those hoping to play the game properly.
In blackjack, you are playing directly against the house, and not as much against the other players. The actual objective of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand.
You achieve this objective if the value of your hand is higher than the dealer’s by the end of the round, or if the dealer’s hand value exceeds 21 and yours does not.
How To Play Blackjack
The first part of playing blackjack online involves deciding how much money you want to bet on the game.
The amount you are allowed to bet generally depends on the casino where you are playing. you are most commonly given the option of $1, $5, $25 and $100.
After all bets have been placed, the dealer will deal 2 cards to all players. In most online games, they will also deal 2 cards to themselves; one facing upwards, and the other facing down.
It’s crucial to remember you are playing against the dealer at this point because the decisions you make later in the game could be influenced by the details of the card you cannot see.
Once you have received both cards, the game begins. You have a couple of choices from which to choose for your course of action.
The first choice is to ‘stand’. You do this when you are happy with the hand in front of you, at which point you will not receive any further cards.
The other choice is to ‘hit’. If you choose this option, you will receive another card. You then repeat this card for as many times as it takes for you to become satisfied with your hand.
If you exceed a total hand value of more than 21, you have lost that round, which is referred to as a ‘bust’. You then wait for other players to finish their hand before another round commences.
Once all the players have finished, it is the dealer's chance to get involved and win the game.
They must reveal their unturned card to create a hand, and keep hitting until they reach or exceed a total hand value of 17.
As mentioned in the objectives section, you will win the game of blackjack if your hand value is higher than the dealer’s, or have 21 or less when the dealer busts.
Although playing blackjack online usually results in a game like the above, there is an exception to this rule; the blackjack.
This is called when a player or dealer is dealt with a face card and an ace, which equals 21, at which point the game is over and the player in question is rewarded.
If you strike a blackjack, most casinos will pay you 1.5x the original stake put on the game.
This means if you bet $25, you will immediately be paid $37.50 without having to do anything else.
The Value Of The Cards
Having a detailed understanding of the way playing cards are valued is an essential part of blackjack.
This understanding will shape every decision you make after being dealt your first two cards, enabling you to reach sensible decisions about what moves you should make next.
Although this might seem extremely complicated, it needn’t be.
There are only three points you need to remember when it comes to the value of cards, which are:
- All picture cards (Kings, Queens, Jacks) are worth 10 points
- Ace cards are either worth 1 or 11 points, depending on your current hand
- Cards between 2-10 are simply worth their face value
To make things even easier, you’ll be glad to hear that card suits like diamonds and hearts are absolutely meaningless in blackjack.
This means that the total value of your hand can simply be added up as 4+3+8=15, regardless of the different suits they come from.
Things get slightly more complicated with ace cards, but not by much.
All you need to remember is that in most blackjack games, the ace card is valued at 11 points, except in circumstances where the total hand value would exceed 21 if this was to occur.
One thing that makes blackjack an attractive game to beginner gamblers is the ease at which it can be played, but there are some rules with which you should be familiar.
The main rule you need to familiarize yourself with is that blackjack moves in a clockwise motion starting on the dealer’s left.
This makes sense when you consider that, regardless of whether you’re playing online or in-person blackjack, it’s played around a semi-circular table with players seated along the circular part of the table facing the dealer.
The other rules you need to know when playing blackjack online can be split into two sections: player rules and dealer rules.
The first rule you need to remember as a player is that you should place a bet in line with the maximum allowed for the game you’re joining based on the appropriate betting space located on the table. This should be done as soon as you enter the room before the game begins.
During gameplay, all players will have the opportunity to use the same betting options.
If there is enough room at the table, players are allowed to play more than one hand. Some casinos limit this to two hands after someone has split; others will allow several more provided there is space on the table at the time.
The main rule for the blackjack dealer is that they must not take their turn before all the players have taken theirs.
They must also follow specific rules regarding whether they stand or hit.
The main one here is that a dealer must hit when their total hand value is less than 17 and must stand on anything of 17 or over.
When it comes to a soft 17, which means a player has an ace card that can be utilized as an 11 or 1, the rules regarding whether a dealer should hit or stand will differ depending on the casino website you’re using.
Online Blackjack Terminology
When it comes to playing blackjack online, there’s no easing yourself in as a beginner. Being as fast-paced as it is, you need to be familiar with the main terminology from the moment you enter your first game.
Although different online communities that cater to different audiences may have additional blackjack jargon, most will make allowances there.
Here are the common terms you absolutely must know if you want to join the world’s most popular casino card game.
Face cards is another term used for picture cards: Queens, Kings, and Jacks of a deck of playing cards. These are extremely valuable, and are worth 10 points each. There are 12 face cards in each pack.
Referring to the first card the dealer places in his hand, this term refers to the card that remains face down until all players have had their turn.
If the dealer’s face-up, the player is able to place an insurance bet to safeguard themselves in case the dealer has drawn a blackjack. If the said player takes this bet and they are right, the player will automatically win double the insurance bet.
In blackjack, the term push is used when both the player and the dealer have the same number of points. If this occurs, the initial bet is returned to the player and the game is treated as a draw.
If you draw a 17, you are considered to have a standing hand. This is because a dealer cannot stand until his total hand value reaches 17.
A hard hand is usually used when the total value of a hand doesn’t contain an ace. It can also be used when an ace is involved where it is used as a 1 and not an 11.
If someone has a picture card, a 7 and an ace, for example, they would have a hard 18 hand. This is because the ace cannot be used as an 11 without exceeding a total value of 21.
A soft hand is the opposite of a hard hand and refers to any hand that has an ace card used as an 11. If you have an ace and a six, for example, you would have a soft hand because you have the flexibility to choose the value of your hand.
When you are dealt your two cards at the start of the blackjack game, you have the option to ‘split’ the hand, meaning you have two chances to win.
In online blackjack games, you will often be offered the option to surrender. If you do this, you may get a portion of the initial bet back, though this is dependent upon the house rules of each individual business.
Busting, or ‘to bust’ as it is sometimes referred, simply means that you have exceeded the maximum hand value total of 21. On some casino websites, this may also be called a break, but it means the same thing.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
After learning how to play blackjack online, you need to understand the main and most basic strategy available. This will ensure that you don’t come across as a complete novice in your first few games and give you ample opportunities to beat the dealer.
This strategy is essentially made up of a specific set of rules that tell you the best moves you can make when you play your initial two-card hand.
It takes into account whatever the dealer’s upwards facing card shows, and uses mathematical principles to provide solutions to almost any situation you may face during your first few games.
To familiarize yourself with this method, we recommend using it in free blackjack games before transferring over to paid ones once you are more confident.
Examples Of Basic Blackjack Strategy
Although there are graphs easily accessible on the internet that go through this basic strategy, sometimes the best way to learn how to use it is to see examples of real-life situations. That’s why we have provided a few examples based on situations in which you could find yourself during your first few games.
When You Should Hit
You have a face card and a card that is worth two points. The dealer’s upwards facing card shows a card worth three points.
When You Should Split
Your hand consists of two cards that are worth 9 points in value. Your dealer’s card is also showing as nine.
When You Should Double
Your hand consists of an ace and an 8. Your dealer’s upward-facing card shows a 6 in a game where they must hit soft 17.
Popular Blackjack Strategies
The only thing that you must know before beginning to play online blackjack is the basic strategy. As you get further into the game, however, it’s natural to want to grow your current skills to build success, which is where these more complicated blackjack strategies are useful to know.
Always remember that in all casino games, the house will always have the advantage. Blackjack is not an exception to this rule.
This means you need to take advantage of any and all opportunities that arise, with one of these being the doubling down strategy.
If you double down, you will be able to place an additional bet of equal value to the one you have already placed as long as you do not take any more cards.
This means that when doubling down, you will only be able to take one more card, and won’t be able to continuously ‘hit’ until you’re satisfied, as is the case with normal blackjack.
If you’re going to employ this strategy, it is best to do so when there’s a clear sign that the dealer might go bust from the start-when the dealer has a low-value hand.
Most blackjack players will avoid doubling down on soft hands, but you don’t necessarily have to do so. In fact, doing so can allow you to have more money on the table when the dealer does go bust.
If you’ve played other casino games, there is a chance you’ve already heard of the Paroli Betting strategy, which is commonly used in all card-based betting games.
For those who haven’t heard of this method, it is essentially a positive progression cycle, where you increase your bet by a certain number of units every time you win.
The first part of the betting cycle, otherwise known as the single unit bet, can be any price you desire. In blackjack, it’s often a good idea to start with the table minimum, or an amount that you would be happy to greatly increase based on your personal bankroll.
If your single unit bet wins, you double your next bet.
You will do this for three consecutive winning hands before returning to the original single unit bet. Although slightly complex, this is what makes the Paroli method less risky and more economical than other progression strategies.
If you are doing this cycle and you lose during one of the first two games of blackjack, however, you instantly go back to the beginning of the cycle and again begin to build.
Card counting is, admittedly, extremely controversial in the blackjack world.
This is mainly because most people don’t understand how it works, with many assuming you have to memorize an entire deck of cards to use it.
In reality, you just need to have to understand when a blackjack deck contains low value cards and when it contains higher value cards.
This information will tell you when to hit and stand, and also give you an idea of whether you should be betting higher amounts or sticking to lower ones.
Although there are several different options from which to choose, one of the most popular and easier card counting strategies is the Hi-Lo system.
For this method, you need to:
- Use +1 for cards with a value between 2 and 6.
- Use -1 for face cards, ace cards, and the number 10 cards.
- Use 0 for cards with a value between 7 and 9.
Using this information, you should know that all cards with a +1 rating are considered low value cards. This means that -1 cards are high value cards, and 0 value cards are middle value cards.
Surrendering in blackjack is used when you think your chance of winning is extremely poor, as a way of avoiding losing your entire bet.
In most online casinos you will lose half your bet, but websites are completely within their right to charge more or less than this.
When it comes to using this strategy, the most common option available to you is late surrender.
This is where you surrender your hand after the dealer has looked at their hole card to determine if they have a blackjack, before the fact of whether they do or not is revealed.
This might sound complicated, but it’s actually a quite straightforward method to use. Here are some examples of how you can calculate whether a late surrender is a good idea:
If you are playing a single deck game with a hard 17 where you hold 16, and the dealer’s upwards facing card is 10, for example, you should surrender.
Equally, if you have a six-deck game with a soft 17 and you’re holding 16 while your dealer’s upwards facing card is 9, you should surrender.
If you use this method correctly, it will reduce the house edge by 0.07 percent.
If the online casino follows the European or Asian rules, you may also be able to use this strategy in something known as early surrender.
When this method is chosen, you have the option to surrender your hand before the dealer has checked to determine whether or not they have a blackjack.
As we said, this method isn’t particularly popular, with most online blackjack websites sticking to the mainstream methods for the sake of unity.
You’re Ready To Play
Now that you understand the basics of playing online blackjack, including how to play and strategies you can use once you become comfortable with how everything works, you are ready to go and play your first game. Whether you jump straight in and play for money or try a few free online games first, we wish you the best of luck with your endeavors.