How to Play Online Blackjack
In Blackjack playing, cards adding up to 21, or at least closer to 21 than the dealer, will get you your win. Anyone who goes over 21 loses.
What does “Blackjack” mean?
If the first two cards dealt to you or the dealer is a 10 or face card, plus an Ace, that’s called a blackjack. That blessed event, of course, is where the game gets its name. Not only is blackjack an instant winner, but unlike other outcomes, it pays you 1.5 to one. So if you bet 2, you’d get 3 back after a blackjack.
In the unlikely event that you and the dealer both draw a blackjack, it’s called a push. In that case, no one wins the hand and your initial bet is returned. The same holds true for any “tie” outcome.
Card Counting and Deck Shuffling
Online blackjack is played with multiple 52-card decks. It some places a fresh deck is dealt for each hand. The reason is to prevent any chance players can “count cards”. Smart players once learned that by counting how many 10-point cards have been dealt, you can estimate how likely 10-point cards will be dealt from the deck. That can help you decide whether to take an additional card or to stand pat.
Card counting ability is a gift for a player, but it is a danger to the casino’s profit margin. In Hollywood movies like Rainman and 21, we see how seriously casinos take this threat to their profits. Online, however, card-counting is practically non-existent. Frequent shuffles or 6-to-8 deck shoes are sufficiently strong casino counter-measures. Counting online? Forget it.
Blackjack Card Values
- In blackjack, each card is worth its numerical value.
- Face cards – jacks, queens and kings – are worth the same as the 10 card.
- Aces can be valued either at 11 or 1: each player can decide at any moment which of these two options most helps the current hand.
Standing and Busting
- If the dealer’s hand total is less than 17, the dealer must draw an additional card.
- Unlike the dealer, you can opt to ‘stand’ (not take any additional cards) on a relatively low card total of 15 or 16. Why? Instead of risking a bust yourself, you can hope or pray that the dealer will go over 21. However, if the dealer does not go bust, and your number is lower than the dealer’s, you lose.
Online Blackjack Terms
It’s not hard to be baffled by blackjack terms if you’re new to the game. Here are some key terms every player should know:
- Hit – Ask for another card.
- Stand – Stop receiving cards.
- Bust – Your card total went over 21. You lost.
- Insurance – If the dealer has an Ace face-up, a player may be given the option to make a side bet that the dealer gets Blackjack, thus turning a loss into a win.
- Push – When a player and the dealer both have the same total card values, your bet is returned and no money is lost.
- Soft – A hand with an Ace. Such hands are flexible, because Aces can count as 1 or 11.
- Split – The option to split a pair of dealt cards in two hands. Each hand will get a second card to join the split pair.
- Double Down – The option to double your bet and get dealt exactly one more card.
- Surrender– If you don’t feel you hold a winning hand, based on the first two cards dealt, you may get an option to lose half of his bet and the round.
5 Online Blackjack Tips
Blackjack is a blend of skill and luck, with strategy playing a greater role than most other casino games. Strategies and knowledge of the odds can increase your chances of winning. Here are five tips to help you on your way:
- Memorise blackjack hit tables. Math-loving poker players love crunching numbers. They have created tables about when to stand pat, when to take a hit, when to double down, and when to split. Knowing that table can improve your game big-time.
- Split a pair of 8s or Aces. Not all dealt pairs should be split, but a pair of aces and a pair of 8s are no-brainers. Two 8s sum up to 16, a miserable hand. But splitting them gives you a good chance to get a reasonable 18 or even 19 with an ace. A pair of Aces is even more attractive. Instead of totaling 2 or 12, you get a decent shot at two Blackjacks.
- Never take insurance. From a mathematical viewpoint, insurance is a sucker’s side bet. The cost of insurance is not justified by the potential win.
- Let the dealer go bust. If the dealer’s up-card is a 4, 5, or 6, be careful taking cards that might cause you to go over 21. If you have a soft hand, however, you are protected from busting and can take one or possibly two hits before standing and hoping the dealer will exceed 21.
- Try a live dealer blackjack casino. Top online casinos stream real-time feeds of blackjack tables from multiple cameras in HD video. There are live dealers, often distractingly attractive (that’s probably the idea). It’s an amazing experience you will want to check out for yourself.
Online Blackjack Strategy
If you want to go even more into the strategic dimension, we’ve put together an in-depth guide to blackjack strategy. As usual, we advise you to practice on the free to play version of the game. It’s usually a no-download, instant play game, so learning the game is painless. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to play for Rand, check out our recommended casinos.
Blackjack Bottom Line
It’s no surprise that online blackjack has become a player favourite, across the world and in South Africa too. It’s a casino game where skill and strategy play a large role. A player who learns the ins and outs of the game can cut the house edge to a bare minimum. Online blackjack comes in a wide range of variations. Experiment on free play practice games before you go for real money games at a recommended blackjack casino. Whatever you do, when you’re ready, be sure to try out some live dealer versions of the game. You won’t regret it.