Blackjack Guide

After slots, blackjack is the most popular casino game played online. Although it’s considered a game of chance, players can still make decisions that will affect the outcome of the game, which effectively injects an element of skill and allows players a level of control.

What is Blackjack

The aim of Blackjack is simply to get closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. Players do not have to get 21, they just have to beat the dealer’s hand. Having a hand with the same value of the dealer’s is called a ‘Push’ – which is a draw, or stalemate, and in which case your bet will be returned in full.

In a typical US land-based casino, a standard blackjack game will offer a Return to Player Percentage of around 99.5% – the 0.5% House Edge is one of the lowest profit margin games for the casino. But casinos are more than happy with this. Why? Because many players do not play to optimum strategy and in reality the House Edge is usually much higher.

Many experienced players adopt the Basic Blackjack Strategy which is a set of drawing rules based on the value of the cards showing for the player and dealer. Playing to Basic Strategy will optimise your results over the long term, but in the short term, anything can happen.

There are many variations of blackjack with some games allowing side bets that offer enhanced odds and although they may seem an attractive proposition, they offer terrible value for the player. This is due to the difference in probability of the event occurring and the odds you actually receive. For example, a popular side bet called Perfect Pairs will pay 30-1 if your first two cards are the same value and suit. The probability of this actually occurring are 1 in 59. Factoring in the additional payouts for the same suit and same value, the House Edge equates to approximately 11%.

There are two main types of online blackjack: Random Number Generated Blackjack and Live Dealer Blackjack.

Random Number Generated (RNG) Blackjack

This was the first type of blackjack game played online. Players are effectively pitting their wits against a computer game made up of graphical elements – the table, chips and cards, for example.

The cards are selected using a Random Number Generator which is a computer algorithm, or a mathematical formula, derived from a random set of variables. Each drawing of a card initiates another run of the algorithm.

Blackjack Return to Player

You can find a wide variety of RNG Blackjack games available online, some of which have even better RTPs than the best land based casino blackjack games:

  • Blackjack Classic by NetEnt (99.65% RTP)
  • Blackjack Surrender by Playtech (99.66% RTP)
  • Vegas Single Deck Blackjack by Microgaming (99.69% RTP)
  • Blackjack Switch by Playtech (99.92% RTP)

Live Dealer Casino Blackjack

Although still very popular, RNG blackjack has been superseded somewhat by the arrival of live dealer blackjack

Live Dealer Blackjack involves playing against a real dealer who deals real cards from a real blackjack shoe. Only the chips you place on the table are virtual and appear as graphics. The dealers behind the tables are being streamed from high tech studios 24/7 live casino which are mostly based around Europe.

Although the same blackjack tables are available to many casinos around the world, high profile casinos have branded tables and even complete studios, exclusively for their patrons.

Most live dealer blackjack tables offer 7 betting positions, or boxes, which any player can take a seat at. Most tables also allow playing more than one box at a time. Players may also opt to ‘play behind’ another player. In this instance, the player who places a bet at the front of the box controls the box and makes decisions for the hand, just like in a land based casino.

Most live blackjack games are dealt by English-speaking croupiers, although additional languages including German, Spanish, French, Hindi, Turkish, Romanian, Polish, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish are also available.

Beginners are advised to try out the community-based blackjack games of Free Bet, Infinite and Power Blackjack as the minimum bets are often as low as $0.50 or $1, whereas the Classic Blackjack minimums are usually $5 or $10. For those with deep pockets, the VIP tables can provide exclusive use with a minimum bet of between $1,000 and $5,000.

Live Dealer Blackjack Variations

Scan any live casino lobby and you will find dozens of blackjack tables with many variations including:

  • Free Bet Blackjack – all splits and doubles are free, but the tradeoff is that your bet will push if the dealer hits 22, whereas normally they would bust
  • Infinite Blackjack – catering for an unlimited number of players, all players receive the same two starting cards but make their own decisions on how to play their hand
  • Power Blackjack – Players can double, tripe or even quadruple their bet on any two cards
  • Lightning Blackjack – If you win the current hand, you’ll receive a win multiplier on the next hand – the bigger your winning total, the bigger your multiplier will be for the next hand
  • Blackjack Party – these party-themed tables are normally the lowest stake live dealer blackjack tables with minimum bets of just $0.50 required.

Riku is the Editor in Chief at BonusFinder and is a global expert in casino, sports betting and poker.