Are you a blackjack player? Interested to play online blackjack? Take a read on our blackjack guide and learn about its history, the blackjack rules and the most popular variations in blackjack. Not lastly, check on our blackjack strategy and tips and learn to master the game! And just in case you're familiar with the game already, choose one of the online casinos listed on the right and pick up a blackjack bonus. It can boost your bankroll a lot and help you win more when you play blackjack for real money!
The History of Blackjack
Origins of Blackjack
The murky origins of blackjack remain a rather hotly contested topic. However, based on research done by blackjack historians Arnold Snyder and Rodger Baldwin the oldest game bearing close similarities to modern day Blackjack appears to be a Spanish game “Trente-un” or Thirty-one, with its oldest reference by a priest in 1440. In addition, the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes also mentioned the name “Trente-un” in one of his texts written during 1570, although at least three other games, discussed below, bearing similarities could have had an influence in blackjack’s evolution.
The three most likely contributors
Historically, blackjack originated from Spain and France, specifically from a game popular in France that swept across most of Europe, called “Ving-et-un” or “Vingt-un”, which translates to 21. But even so, it was quite possibly predated by “Quinze” a French game that translates to 15, and “Sette e Mezzo”, an Italian game that translates to 7 ½. This group of referenced games remain the oldest and most likely origins of the card game that eventually was to become blackjack. Each and every one of these games had a goal where the player and dealer had to draw cards close to a specific value. In contrast to games of mere luck, the game’s popularity is likely due to it being one of a very limited number of gambling activities that offer the facade of requiring player skill, which in turn provides players with a sense of being in control.
Wherever the game of 21 may have originated, it migrated across to the North American continent with French immigrants from as early as 1789 in the wake of the French Revolution. Hereafter it continued to evolve through an endless number of varieties and presentations until somewhere around World War I, dealers started offering particularly attractive payouts for hands showing the ace of spades and a blackjack. This was the origins of the name Blackjack, which caught on eventually to replace “Ving-et-un” or 21 as the most popular vernacular to identify the game. After being played for hundreds of years in Europe and over 140 years of play in the Americas, the game finally achieved legalised status for the first time in the state of Nevada in 1931.
The online origins and influence
1994 saw the birth of the first online casino, with online blackjack included as one of the first forms of online gaming. Classic table games such as blackjack and poker that require minimal explanations became part and parcel of opening offerings in online casinos. This also marked the beginnings of the tug-of-war between online and land-based casinos for the attention of the gaming enthusiasts worldwide. Online blackjack had already proved itself extremely popular in the past decade gained such popularity that a number of online casinos offering specialising purely in blackjack and all of its myriad of variations already caters for the mass of enthusiasts this game has gathered under its wings.
Anyone wanting to beat the casinos at a game of their own will need to know how to play blackjack. The purpose of this article is to provide you with a basic understanding regarding online blackjack rules.
The goal of the Game
There are many definitions of the objectives of this game, but when you get right down to it, in its simplest definition; you only need to beat the dealer. Players achieve this by drawing hand values higher than that of the dealer, but equal to or lower than 21 or forcing the dealer to draw a hand value exceeding 21. If either you or the dealer exceeds 21, they lose automatically.
With the above understood, players intent on winning will be required to repeat the process for as long as they remain in play. As an important side note, other player hands at your table have no bearing or impact on your own game. In contrast to the experience in Poker games, in blackjack online only the player is matched against the dealer.
Online Blackjack Card Values
The game employs a standard deck of playing cards, and suits have no bearing on the game in blackjack. All the numbered cards from 2 to 10 retain their face value and all face cards Jack, Queen, King receives a value of 10. Aces are wild cards that receive one of two values either a 1 or 11, with the value purely dependent on which will offer the greatest value towards compiling a winning hand.
Blackjack Table Layout
In a near-universal standard, the game utilises a semicircular table that may accommodate anywhere from five 5 to 12 players, with the most common table arrangement accommodating seven players. Players sit in front of the table, with the table between themselves and the dealer that stands behind his table, with the chip rack either in front of or next to him.
Basic Playing Rules
Despite the great many game varieties and their accompanying rule variations, the most commonly dealt blackjack game utilises either six or eight decks placed in a card-dispensing container known as a “shoe”. A great number of single and double-deck games will always remain popular; however, casinos more commonly employ shoe dispensers to contain the most commonly played blackjack game employing six decks of standard playing cards.
An overview of a basic blackjack round goes as follows: the player purchases chips, places his wager, cards are dealt with the players by the dealer, the player decides on a hand strategy and actions his strategy, the dealer plays his hand, followed by winning payouts ending each round.
Player & Dealer Game Signals & Actions
One of the first rules to remember when playing blackjack, dealers respond to absolutely no verbal instructions or requests from players, all forms of instructions are communicated via signals as described below.
Purchasing Chips - Placing cash on the felt signals the dealer to count a matching value of chip denominations and push it to the player.
Placing Wagers – To place a wager a player places the chips he wants to bet within his own betting circle on the felt.
Standing – Players satisfied with their dealt hands will signal the dealer they wish to stand by simply waving their hand or placing an open palm over their dealt cards.
Hitting – Players requiring additional cards to improve their hands will signal the dealer for a hit to deal cards by tapping the felt with their finger.
Doubling Down – Players wanting to Double Down will signal the dealer by placing an additional wager equal to their initial wager to the left of chips of their original wager
Splitting – Players wanting to Split their cards after receiving a pair of equal value cards will place an additional wager equal to their initial wager to lift the chips of the original wager. Then signal the dealer a “peace sign” with two fingers, signifying your intention to Split instead of doubling down.
Surrendering – Players wanting to Surrender will draw a line across the felt behind their bet, dealers may mistake this for a hit signal, to be safe always verbalise “surrender” to the dealer.
Blackjack Strategy & Tips
Knowing the basic blackjack strategy offers players the first element in reducing any casino’s odds and will allow players to start winning at blackjack. Initially, players will need to learn a few basic terms like insurance, hard and soft hands, and split aces & eights. Without perfectly retained knowledge of basic blackjack strategy, uneducated blackjack players may expect to lose ten times as often as players that fully acquainted themselves with basic blackjack strategy.
Reducing the Edge
Knowing the basic strategies assist players in eliminating any house edge casino benefit from in blackjack. The only advantage the house has other players is when a player breaks before the dealer. The house initially starts off with an edge of around 8%. Due to the fact that the blackjack payment ratio set at 3:2, it already decreases the house’s edge to around 5.7%. Players knowing when to stand or hit further decreases the house’s edge to around 2.5%. Players can further trim this edge to 1% by knowing the correct strategy behind doubling down decisions. The final near equalising strategy that reduces the house’s edge to around 0.5% is knowing at which moments to split pairs.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
This is a rule set guiding players in playing card hands within the boundaries set by a certain set of conditions (e.g. the number of card decks utilised & is surrendering allowed). This rule set was the end-result of a computer simulation involving tens of millions of simulated hands.
It is an absolute must that any player knows and confirms underwear drawers blackjack is played at the casino of their choice. Wise players will choose a casino offering the most favourable conditions, before adopting any form of strategy. One of the first considerations is the number of card decks the casino utilises. Players need to remember it is always much easier to beat a game utilising a single deck than a game employing eight decks of cards. Also, games offering the ability to surrender or doubling after splitting improves player odds even further. Additionally, avoid casinos offering rules that deteriorate player odds such as dealer hits on soft 17s.
Improving Player's Odds
The following offers players a number of ways to identify casinos that provides blackjack games with the most favourable house edge. To establish a baseline in selecting your most favourable casino, use the following figures:
Games employing a single deck of cards = 0.01%, two decks = -0.32%, four decks = -0.49%, six decks = -0.54%, and finally eight decks = -0.57%.
Next subtract or add the below percentages to the number established by the above information:
Dealer hits on soft 17s = -0.2%, allowing doubling down after splitting = 0.14%, doubling down on tens and elevens only = -0.17%, doubling down only on nines, tens, and elevens = -0.08%, allowing the re-splitting of aces = 0.08% (value counts only on four or more decks), allowing late surrenders = 0.08%, allowing early surrenders = 0.6%, losing all splits or doubles against dealer blackjacks = -0.11%.
Upon completion of these calculations, the highest positive value indicates the casino offering the most favourable player conditions.
Online blackjack arrived soon after the advent of the first internet casino in 1994. So the game has seen a multitude of changes in the way casinos operate and affecting it by bringing about changes in order to make the game more user-friendly and realistic.
Due to the enormous popularity, it usually becomes one of the first entertainment products provided by online casinos offering any of the table game formats. The dynamic nature consistent with internet entertainment and specifically referring to the dynamism and predilection for change, that comes as part and parcel of operating an online casino, counts to the benefit and improvement of their player members.
Online blackjack has seen a multitude of improvements over the years, the most important step in the process was the advent of live dealer blackjack. However, live dealer blackjack required one major improvement that mostly pertained to providing instant response times between players and the game studio.
This improvement became possible by instituting low latency video feeds to provide instant service to live dealer casino blackjack offerings. These newly incorporated live dealer blackjack games were the final step in the process of bringing blackjack into the 21st-century.
Location & Language
A few live dealer offerings transmit their broadcasts via low latency video feeds from studios situated in land-based casinos, but most employ specialised broadcast studios that were established in the US, Central America, the Far East, Malta, and Eastern Europe.
These specialised studios were established and maintained by a number of the largest leading online casino developers, software and system providers that includes luminary iGaming entities Microgaming, NetEnt, Playtech, Amaya, and a number of other brands. With these leading brands operating their own live dealer online table games, it translates to numerous further benefits.
Which studio each player would log on remains dependent on their personal language preferences, with the studios employing staff from the area where they are located. This is done in order to meet player language preferences in their own dialect.
This final step provided players with all the glory and atmosphere they could only experience in the best brick-and-mortar casinos, from anywhere they choose on mobile devices, without the need to engage in a tedious and time-wasting journey to the nearest casino. As a further benefit, players are now free to, at a moment’s notice, opt to play blackjack at any casino of their choice.
Players can now enjoy their favourite game of blackjack anytime of the day or night, wherever they may find themselves in the world at that moment.
Popular Variations of Blackjack
As with any card gaming activity, blackjack has due to its popularity spawned numerous variations that still follow the basic rules just with a few kinks thrown in the mix. Some have reached such incredible levels of popularity that even turn into fully fledged casino games of their own. The eight variants discussed below are just some of the more popular twists and turns on the basic rule set.
Possibly offers one of the easiest to understand to anyone familiar with the standard game since it follows exactly the same rules depending on the same basic strategies that make the standard game profitable. This variant utilises two decks of cards and offers a unique bonus structure inherent to the game, which in turn encourages larger bets.
Represents one of the newer variants, patented in 2009 by Geoff Hall. It already gained a massive following, which quickly made it available in numerous casinos both on and off-line. It fulfils the demands of those favouring video poker style plays. However, this variant offers a considerably higher house edge than the standard game.
Became popular primarily in Asia and follows the same basic ruleset as its Americanised cousin, with the main differences being its utilisation of just two decks and the switching of dealers as needed. Furthermore, an ace’s value remains dependent on the number of cards the player accepts and contains a five-card trick comparable to Pontoon. This variant arose to address the difficulties of playing according to casino rules when played between friends and families.
More commonly recognized by the name Double Attack Blackjack, is another relatively new variant, mostly made available in land-based casinos since 2010 around Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The rule set follows that of Spanish 21 but offers additional side bets.
Double Exposure Blackjack
The game derives its name from the rules that determine both the dealer cards must remain visible to all players around the table. This rule provides the player with a decided advantage. However, other rule designs are in place to once again level the playing field.
A design purely created to make a professional card counter’s job more difficult. Here, dealers may not take a peek at their hidden card and in addition, most splitting is allowed on fours, fives, or tens and the eight decks are reshuffled between each round.
Remains popular around casinos in Las Vegas, it offers a knock out style play where players do not play against the dealer but instead are required to knock each other out to become “the last man standing” at the table. It can be considered hybrid between Texas hold ‘em poker and blackjack and has become a favourite with professional gamblers wanting to test their skills in a contest against others.
Free Bet Blackjack
Another creation of Geoff Hall, who amongst other achievements have become famous for his creation of interesting blackjack variations, with Blackjack Switch being another one of his designs. It offers free doubling down and free splits.