Online Blackjack - How & Where to Play
Blackjack has been thrilling punters for centuries. It’s very rare to find a quality online casino that doesn’t offer at least a few versions of the game. So, what’s all the fuss about? What makes players keep coming back for another game.
One of the most attractive things about Blackjack is the house edge, it’s small enough to give you the feeling that if you play the perfect game, you’ll have a good chance of winning big.
The History of Blackjack
Although there is no definitive agreement on the origins of Blackjack, there are quite a few theories that have come to be accepted over the years.
Some believe it goes as far back as ancient Rome. But the most popular theory is that it was originally introduced in the French Casinos of the 18th century, as a game called Vingt-et-Un. Even when the game arrived in the new world, it was still referred to as 21 (the English translation) and only changed its name to Blackjack during the 20th century.
How do you play Blackjack online?
Blackjack can be played with one to eight decks; it all depends on the variety of the Blackjack and the casino where it is being played. Most physical casinos won’t offer one deck Blackjack as it makes it to easy for players to count cards. But you will find one deck Blackjack at online casinos.
Aces are worth either one or eleven points. Twos to Nines are worth their face value and ten and the remaining face cards are all worth ten.
The object of the game is to beat the dealer. To do this you’ll to get a score higher than the dealer, but not over 21. Before you are dealt your cards, you must place a bet. Each player is dealt two cards face up. The croupier deals one face up and one face down card to themselves. If you receive a card with a value of ten and an ace, you have been dealt a natural Blackjack. If the dealer does not have a natural Blackjack themselves, the player will immediately be paid out one and a half times their initial bet.
If a dealer’s face up card is revealed to be an Ace, you’ll have the option of buying insurance. This will be a side bet in half the value of your initial bet. Almost all experts in Blackjack strategy advice against taking insurance unless you are very certain there are a disproportionate number of tens and face cards left in the deck.
Next up you need to decide if you would like to “stand” (not take any more cards) or “hit” take another card. You can continue hitting until you decide to stand, or if you hit 21, or if you bust by getting more than 21.
There are also two more options. You can choose to “double” before choosing to “hit”. If you do, you’ll need to double your bet and will only receive one more card.
If you receive two cards representing the same value you can double your bet and split your cards to represent individual hands. You then play each of these hands as you would play a single hand.
There are several ways to make your decision on how to play this and we’ll discuss Blackjack strategy shortly, for now just understand these are your basic moves at this point.
Certainly, you’ve heard that a casino always holds the house edge. But what does this actually mean? Simply put, it means the house (or casino) always wins. That’s not to say that you can never win money in a casino, it just means that over thousands of games the dealers, croupier or casino will win more often than the player. In fact, the less games you play, the less the house edge will actually affect you and the more it will come down to that magical aspect known as luck.
Take away the likelihood of a player winning from the casino winning and you’ll get the house edge.
The easiest way to understand this is by looking at a simple bet on a game of Roulette. If you place a bet on red or black, you’ll almost have a 50/50 chance of winning, but not quite. Why? Because Roulette has a third colour – green.
Let’s take European Roulette as an example, there are 37 spots a ball can land on. 18 are red, 18 are black, and 1 is green. So, although it seems most likely that the ball will land on red or black, there is the possibility it could land on green. That’s the house edge. According to the rules of chance there is a 1 in 37 statistical likelihood of landing on green, or a 2.7% house edge.
House edge in Blackjack
For Blackjack the house edge is a little more complex. The House edge in Blackjack tends to be significantly lower other casino games. Generally, the house edge in Blackjack is 0.5% but is by no means a fixed statistic.
The basics of the house edge in Blackjack are down to the fact that while all the players at a table’s initial two cards are dealt face up, the dealers card is only revealed after players have made their first play.
The reason the house edge is tricky to nail down in Blackjack is down to a number of factors including the number of decks in play. Most importantly, what makes the house edge so inconsistent is down to an individual player’s strategy. Most players couldn’t be bothered to learn basic strategy and just go for a gut feel. If more players used proper blackjack strategy the official house edge would be much lower.
Although the rules of online Blackjack tend to stay pretty much the same regardless of what game you are playing. There are a few subtle differences to keep things interesting. Not every game is created the same, and different games might offer slightly different house edges or features. Variety is the spice of life. Get bored of one form of Blackjack? There is probably a new variant out there to claim your attention.
Although the initial game of 21 had its start in Europe, the game only hit it stride and became Blackjack when it hit the new world. The basic game that we described in our “how to play Blackjack” section above have become known as American Blackjack. This is the most likely version of the game you will find at brick and mortar casinos worldwide. It’s also the Blackjack game you are likely to find in the table game lobby of an online casino.
European Blackjack is played with eight decks, this makes it virtually impossible to count cards, the variants are too much for even a computer to work out for you. The unique feature of this game is that with the added cards, players are allowed to play two hands. That may not seem significant until you realise that you are also allowed to swop the top cards of each hand to form two new, better hands.
Similar to both American and European Blackjack but paying out 2/3 and granting the use of special splits and rules when a player buys insurance or chooses to surrender.
Based on European Blackjack. Blackjack Switch may not be played with as many cards, but it still gives players the chance to play two hands at the same time. Players can switch the top two cards of their two hands forming two completely new hands.
Pontoon is still somewhat classical, but it embraces the side bet. On top of that not all hands are rewarded exactly the same in Pontoon. Certain hands and combinations payout more than others. In terms of Pontoon, it’s a good idea to checkout and understand the paytable before placing your first real money bet.
This is a good one to look out for if you know what you are doing and have gotten a hang of proper Blackjack strategy. Generally speaking, Spanish 21 offers the lowest house edge out of any Blackjack game. The reason? The game is played with ten fewer cards per deck.
We’ve already mentioned that a few games will allow for you to play more than one hand at a time. Multi-Hand Blackjack takes that a step further. In this game you can usually play up to six hands at once. This may seem a little risky, but it can also be the most fruitful. Time wise you can spread your bets and hit wins much quicker. Probably the best one to go for if you are feeling lucky.
Double Attack is another Blackjack game designed for players who like a side bet. There are a variety of different options as well as insurance that can help you meet your excitement quota. Perhaps not ideal for new players, but definitely a bit of extra fun for a seasoned Blackjack player.
Super Fun 21
Another version of Blackjack offering payments not typical in the game. For example, you may benefit from extra rewards for a late surrender. The games aren’t set in this game. If you understand the game, and manage to find a one deck version of this game, we highly recommend it.
This game comes with a significantly lower house edge than other versions of Blackjack? Why? In Double Exposure both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face up.
Live Casino Blackjack
If you really want to embrace a casino like they do in the movies, you’ll want to enter a Live Casino. You may think that you have to leave your couch to do so, but truth be told. Many popular online casinos actually give you the opportunity to get the real feel and pace of a brick and mortar casino.
Many online casinos offer a Live Dealer option. Although you almost always need to play for real money in this section of a casino, it is generally well worth it.
And no game is more popular in a Live Casino than Blackjack. Some casinos might only offer one or two Live Dealer variants, while others strive to provide every option possible.
Free online Blackjack vs Real Money Blackjack
While you’d struggle to find a physical casino anywhere in the world that will allow you to play blackjack for free. Most online casinos give you the chance to play the majority of their table games (including Blackjack), completely for free.
You might need to sign up for an account, but if this isn’t your scene, it’s easy enough to find free blackjack games online. That said, if you want to stand the chance to win real money you’ll need to make a deposit and place real money bet.
There are plenty of chances to play for free online blackjack. That even includes table games like Blackjack. Once you have signed up for a casino, you’ll usually have the option to play for fun or for real money. If you play for fun, there is no need to make a deposit. You’ll also have the chance to get a feel for a game, decide if it’s the right game for you and hone your skills before taking the risk of playing for real money.
When you are ready to play Blackjack online for real money at a casino, the first thing you’ll need to do is make a deposit. Remember that many casinos will offer you a reload bonus when making deposits at certain times.
Playing for real money gives you the opportunity to win real money. Wagering on Blackjack online might also help you earn special bonuses in a casino. You’ll also have the opportunity to play more variants of Blackjack, including a few that might not be available to play for free.
Some people spend years learning Blackjack strategy. Some will find complex wagering strategies or go by a gut feeling. But the truth is due to the low house edge, it really doesn’t need to be so complicated.
Basic strategy in Blackjack is relatively simple to follow. It’s all focused on trying to beat the dealer. Based on probability you should take certain steps based on the combination of both yours and the dealer’s cards.
Except in the case where you might be trying to count cards (which is only really possible with a low deck count), there is really not purpose in paying too much attention to anyone else’s cards. Remember, you are trying to beat the dealer.
Here are the basics:
- Most experts don’t advise on taking insurance, the benefit is rarely worth the cost
- If your cards add up to twelve or less you should hit, regardless of the dealer’s open card
- If your cards add up to between 12 and 16 and the dealer’s open card is between 2 and 6 you should stand
- If your cards add up to between 12 and 16 and the dealer’s open card is between 7 and Ace, you should hit
- If your cards add up to more than 17 you should stay, regardless of the dealer’s open card
- Split 8s and Aces
- If you have eleven verses the dealer’s 2 to 10 it’s advised you double
- If you receive an Ace and a six you should double or hit it
There are whole books written on strategy. But this should be enough to get you started. Obviously, nothing is guaranteed, but at least you won’t be playing blind.
Most casinos don’t actually create their own games. They buy games from one of the many game developers and studios out there. There are a number of casinos who specialise in a single type of game (for example slots), and plenty more that dabble in all sorts of games. These are a few of our favourites that all provide Blackjack to online casinos.
NetEnt is one of the biggest providers of online games in the world. The games they provide are diverse, and Blackjack is no exception, providing multiple variations. Generally speaking Blackjack at NetEnt is played with four decks, dealers will always stand on 17. The payout for Blackjack is 3:2.
Although Betsoft is best known for their 3D Video Slots, they have also created a few decent games of Blackjack. Fortunately, they bring the same brilliant graphics to Blackjack that they use on their slot games. Betsoft has created versions of the following games: American Blackjack, European Blackjack, 21 Burn Blackjack, Single Deck Blackjack, Pirate 21, Super 7 Blackjack and Pontoon.
Playtech’s Blackjack Switch offers some of the best odds of any online Blackjack game. If you play it with perfect strategy, you’ll benefit from an RTP of 99.86. They also offer eight more popular Blackjack variants. Some games such as Lucky Blackjack offer a special payouts based on the sum of your cards.
Cryptologic is the birth-place of online casinos. They debuted InterCasino in 1996 the first real money virtual casino. They are currently based in Canada, so you know they’ll understand Canadian customers. They offer eight variants of Blackjack, with Pontoon being the only one that truly comes with a twist on the classic.
Microgaming offers a larger array of blackjack that most providers. You can play one of 24 variants of Blackjack from Microgaming. They are known as a premium provider in the industry, offering great graphics, quick payouts and very few customer complaints.
How to choose a blackjack casino
When deciding to play Blackjack at a new casino, there are a few things you might want to take under consideration. There are thousands of online casinos to choose from in Canada. So how to choose one? We look at the following options when making our choice on the best casinos to play online Blackjack at with real money.
There are plenty of banking options available to players at online casinos. Some casinos only offer one or two options while others offer loads. You can make payments using Credit and Debit Cards, Pre-Paid Cards, eWallets and Cryptocurrencies. A few casinos even offer payments solely made by Bitcoin.
One of the biggest ways to separate the good from the bad in terms of casinos is by looking at the Casino Bonuses available. Welcome bonuses are great place to look to understand the quality of casinos. Casinos can offer any thing a simple Reload Bonus to a multi-tiered welcome bonus including several reloads and sets of Free Spins.
Not all casinos offer the same set of games. In fact, you’ll even find casinos that don’t offer any form of Blackjack. Some casinos also offer a much bigger variety of Blackjack games, so if this is your game of choice you want to be sure that the games are actually on offer before you sign up for a casino.
Generally everything at a good casino runs smoothly. But sometimes, for whatever reason something can go wrong. When it does, you’ll want to know that there is a reliable customer support team to be there to lend you a helpful hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a big difference between the varieties of Blackjack?
There can be. Although the basic rules stay the same, some game play changes, the number of decks in play and the house edge all vary depending on the type of Blackjack being played.
Are my Blackjack winning subject to taxes in Canada?
Most online casino experts say no. Generally speaking, winning a game of chance is not subject to taxation in Canada.
Are you allowed to count cards when playing Blackjack?
If you manage to learn this skill, there is no way that an online casino can stop you. When playing at a brick and mortar casino, you might be banned for a casino. But it’s hard for an online casino to prove if you are counting cards. So, use this great skill to your advantage.
Should I take insurance?
We generally advise against it. The only exception is if you are playing with one or two decks and can make an educated guess that the dealer’s card might carry a value of ten.
Can I play Live Blackjack at every Casino?
Nope. It’s expensive to provide customers with a Live Dealer section, so it is not possible to offer it at every online casino.
Often considered the casino with the best odds for a player to win. Blackjack has long been enjoyed at both physical and online casinos.