A Full Guide To Playing Blackjack
Learning how to play blackjack online is simple and straightforward. For first-timers, blackjack is probably one of the best games to get started with. The game has a small house edge, and a basic understanding of all the game’s rules is crucial for everyone seated at the table, making it a must practice game before you can play.
Okay, maybe you’ll never be Edward Thorp, but online blackjack is just one of the few casino games that you can learn fast. This beginners’ guide to playing online blackjack will explain the different variations, the rules, give you some basic tips and tricks to improve your advantage while playing online as well as taking you through the basic blackjack lingo so you that you don’t feel lost and out of place while playing the game. At the end of it, you’ll have gotten to grips with one of the most played games online.
A Quick History of Blackjack
It’s strongly believed that blackjack originated from the casinos of France in the 18th century. Back then, it was popularly referred to as ‘vingt-et-un’, which is the French word for twenty-one. Over the centuries, the game has undergone some slight modifications to give us the modern blackjack game that we play at the casinos.
In Canada, the game was introduced in the 1800s and in the United States, particularly Nevada, it didn’t quite get the attention until 1931 when it was legalized. Today, it happens to be one of the most popular casino game, both at the land-based and online casinos across the United States, Canada and Europe.
Game Rules – How To Play Blackjack Online.
At the start of this guide, we mentioned that blackjack rules are simple and straightforward. However, you need a thorough understanding of the rules before you can sit down to enjoy the game!
Your main objective while playing online blackjack is to have a hand value that’s higher than that of the dealer without exceeding 21.
For those who are learning this game, it’s crucially important that you know the value of each card.
- Kings, Queens and Jacks have a value of 10, while cards from 2 to 10 have their face values. As for suits, they have no meaning in blackjack.
- Aces are special cards in online blackjack and can be valued as 1 or 11. This depends on which value gives you the best odds of winning and you get to choose the value.
To start off the game, the dealer deals two cards to you after which he/she will also be dealt with two cards – one facing down. You’ll then have the opportunity to look at your cards and depending on the cumulative value, you can choose to do the following:
- Hit: Ask the dealer to deal you another card
- Stand: When you stand, you are holding, and no more cards will be dealt
- Split: This only happens if you have a pair of cards. Once you split, you’ll have two new hands and the dealer will deal two new cards to accompany the split pairs
- Surrender: Sometimes, you might have a really awful hand, and in such a case, you can opt to surrender, e., forfeit half your bet. However, not all Canadian casinos have this option
Once you’ve made your choice, the dealer will then reveal his cards and whoever has a hand value that’s closest to 21 wins. This is applicable to both the software-based blackjack and live blackjack. Other factors that are considered after the dealer has revealed the face-down card include:
- If you have a hand value of 21 exactly, you have a blackjack, and you are a winner irrespective of the dealer’s hand. You’ll receive a payout of 3:2
- If you have a higher hand value than that of the dealer but lower than 21, the casino pays out at odds of 1:1
- If your hand exceeds 21, you’ll have bust and lose your bet regardless of the dealer’s hand value
- If you have the same value as that of the dealer, you receive a full refund from the casino
Popular Variations of Blackjack Games
Just about every casino goer knows how to play online blackjack, after all, it’s the most popular card game online. But how well do you know this game? Did you know that there are more than ten different variations of blackjack games? In case you didn’t know, now you are in the knowhow and we have the list of the top 5 games below.
This is the classic version and one that is commonly found at the Canadian casinos. It uses a virtual six-deck shoe that has to be re-shuffled after each hand.
Double Deck Blackjack
In blackjack, the fewer the number of decks in the virtual shoe, the lower the house edge. This is what double deck blackjack has to offer – a lower house edge thanks to the two decks of cards that are shuffled after each hand.
In double deck blackjack, the dealer is expected to stand on a soft 17 (a hand that has an Ace-6 or Ace-3-3), which further lower the house edge. It’s also worth mentioning that some online casinos offer the early surrender option (see the glossary section for definition).
Single Deck Blackjack
This one is self-explanatory. The game has a single deck in the virtual shoe, which further lowers the house edge.
The classic blackjack, double and single deck blackjack variations use the American rules, where the dealer has the ‘hole’ card and checks for a blackjack before you can play. However, in European Blackjack, the rules are slightly different, and you get to make all the decisions before the dealer can peek at his hole card. Furthermore, the game uses the standard six-deck virtual shoe, and the dealer is required to stand on soft 17.
How To Play Like A Professional: Tips & Tricks
While the internet is filled with hundreds of betting charts giving precise instructions for when to stand or hit during in-play, this section focuses more on the general online blackjack tips and tricks. From knowing when you should split a pair, when you should double down to differences between a soft and a hard hand, we have you covered in this section.
- Practice on splitting your pairs: As we mentioned earlier, splitting pairs simply means you are dividing a pair of cards into two separate hands. It’s important that you practice and know the best cards to split and the ones to avoid splitting
- Only double down when the time is right: By doubling down, you’ll be doubling your existing bet and receiving an extra card as opposed to multiple cards that you can hit during normal gameplay. When used properly, doubling down can be very profitable
- Learn how to deal with a hard hand: Any hand that can bust in one hit is categorized as a hard hand. In some instances, three and four are usually categorized as hard hands, but they can’t bust in one hit. However, a hard 14 hand can easily bust with one hit. It, therefore, goes without saying that hard hands are mostly riskier to have
- Learn how to play a soft hand: Any hand that contains an Ace is considered as a soft hand. For instance, if you have an Ace and a one, this would translate to a soft 11. Unlike a hard hand, it’s rare for a soft hand to bust in one hit as you can choose to value the Ace as either 1 or 11 – meaning there’s more room to improve your hand.
Basic Blackjack Strategies – How to improve your chances of Winning Big
Make no mistake, just like poker, blackjack is a skill based game, and you need to have a good understanding of basic strategy if you have to play and enjoy it.
By understanding when to stand, hit, double down, or split, you can significantly improve your odds and reduce the house edge to a small margin of 0.5%. In fact, you always have added advantage over the dealer as you can choose when to hit, stand, split or double down- the dealer doesn’t have this option! Moreover, you can opt to stand when your hand value is 12 or 16, whereas the dealer is required to hit, increasing his/her chance of busting.
Always remember that before you can make your next move, you should always consider the dealer’s hand value at all times. Is the value of the dealer’s hand bad – seven through to ace – or good – two through to six? Also, know that as you play online blackjack, you’ll be competing against the value of the dealer’s hand and not the other players. It’s therefore important to work out the dealer’s odds of getting a blackjack just as is it is important to work out your own.
With all that said, if you think you are ready to jump from being a blackjack amateur to a blackjack pro, we recommend that you hold your horses until you are done going through this brief blackjack glossary. Casinobillions.com comprehensive online blackjack glossary will help you know the lingo involved in the game inside out and help you know when to stand, hit, split or double down.
Bankroll: It’s the amount of cash that you have to spend as you play real money blackjack
Blackjack: It refers to the name of the game itself, but during gameplay, it is the natural hand of 21 points across two cards, i.e., a ten value card and an Ace.
Bust: When you bust, it means that you’ve lost the game as your hand value exceeds the 21 points required
Cut: This is a term that you’ll come across more often while playing live dealer blackjack. The dealer will cut (or split) the deck of cards right after shuffling to guarantee a fair game
Deal: It’s the action of the casino game software or dealer handing you your blackjack cards
Double Down: It’s a voluntary option where you opt to double the size of your original bet while receiving an extra card. If you win, your payouts are doubled
Draw: The action of being dealt another card from the deck
Even Money Bets: These are bets that pay back the exact value as your original bet
Face Card: Any card showing a King, Queen or Jack
Hard Hand: Any hand that lacks an Ace or an Ace which can only be counted as one is a hard hand
Hit: To request a dealer to deal another card. You can hit as many times as you wish provided you don’t go bust
Hole Card: This is the dealer’s face down card
Natural: A hand is referred to as a natural when it has only 2 cards valued at exactly 21 points.
Insurance: This is a side bet where you’ll be betting on whether or not the dealer has a natural. If he has one, you’ll win back up to half your bet. Not all casinos offer this option
Push: This is an outcome while playing online blackjack and only happened when you have the same hand value as the dealer. In such a situation, you get a full refund of your stake.
Shoe: A special card case that’s been designed to hold blackjack cards
Soft Hand: Any hand where the Ace is valued at 11 instead of 1.
Stand: When you hold and turn down being dealt with another card
Surrender: When you surrender, you give up your hand and lose half your stake. In some instances, it’s referred to as folding. Just like insurance, only selected online casinos offer this option
Split: When can only split your hand when you have two cards of the same value. Once you split them, you’ll be playing them as two separate hands
Up Card: This is dealer’s card that’s facing up, next to the hole card