Blackjack is among one of the oldest casino games in the world, and just like everything else in the modern world, it has found its way to the internet platform. Although it is among the top contenders in terms of strategy complexity among casino games, it is among the most popular casino games due to the almost even odds of winning between the casino and the players. What does this mean? Simple! If you adopt a good strategy that has been tested and proven to work at the blackjack tables and you are consistent, you can make some money from the tables.
With the introduction of Blackjack to the only platform, many variants of the game are now popular among online casino players, but in almost all of them the basic rules of the game remain; get a score of 21 or the highest score closest to 21 as possible ahead of the house dealer.
The history of Blackjack
Blackjack has questionable origins because it has been present on casino tables for such a long time. However, common consensus would have us believe that this popular live casino game first appeared in casinos at the end of the 17th century in France and was known as Vingt-et-Un, loosely translated it means 21. The game then crossed the oceans during the era of colonies and like all other gambling games stories; it found the new world home of gambling in 1931 when the state of Nevada legalized gambling.
To attract more people to the blackjack tables, casinos started offering high odds (10-1)for the hands that have an ace and either of the jacks, usually that of spades and clubs. This is no longer practiced but is among the pioneers that have seen Blackjack evolve so fast and is where the name of the game evolved from ‘21’ to Blackjack.
Online Blackjack can be traced to the late 20th century with the dot.com boom. Classic Blackjack was the first to be introduced to the internet and then in an attempt to keep the player interest growing, other variations of the game developed. Come the early 21st century, and specifically, 2006 and the thrill of brick and mortar blackjack table found its way online with the introduction of online live Blackjack. This is at present so sophisticated that rendering is in real time and High definition to the extent that it feels as though a player is in a real casino.
Blackjack Rules: How to Play
Like mentioned earlier, Blackjack, whether classic or online Blackjack, is one of the most sophisticated casino games to play, in terms of strategies for winning. Unlike other table games, Blackjack nowadays is played with multiple card decks in an attempt to thwart card counting and even out the odds between the house and the players.
The overriding or cardinal rule of Blackjack is quite simple; get a higher score than the house dealer, and this score should be either 21 or a score close to 21. Anytime the house dealer has a higher score than the player, it is a loss. Anytime that the score is more than 21, it is an instant loss. This is pretty simple stuff. The goal of playing at a casino is to have fun while making some money. The making money part is what makes this game complex. For a player to make money at Blackjack, they should understand that at its core, this is a game of continuous decision making. A player makes their decision based on the handheld by the house dealer as well as the already dealt cards. Every decision made either improves the odds for a player or increases their risk of losing a wager.
In Blackjack, the number on the card face is equivalent to its value while all picture cards are valued at 10. The Ace card is dynamic: its value is dependent on the hand held; it can either be a 1 or 11. This dynamism gave rise to the classification of blackjack hands as either soft or hard; a hand with an ace is soft while one without is said to have been dealt a hard hand.
The collective decisions that players have to contend with when playing any online blackjack variant are:
- Hit: requesting an additional card if the hand dealt has too low a value. Advisable if the total of the hand held is less than 12
- Split: splitting a pair into individual hands at an extra wager. Both hands are played separately against the dealer’s hand.
- Surrender: Available in some variants and allows a punter to give up on a hand and lose half their wager.
- Stand: not taking additional cards if one feels confident of the value of their card being the highest. At this point, a player should declare their total point score for that particular round.
- Double: a double on your current wager for an extra card, but after this, a player has to stand. Is ideal as a long term playing strategy. Rules on doubling down vary from casino to casino.
- Insurance: involves taking insurance on your bet usually half the wager placed. Common where a dealer has an ace as their face-up card. If the dealer wins, you get your half wager insurance back. Ideal for count counting because there is no guarantee that if a dealer has an Ace, they will get their next card as a 10 and hence a ‘natural blackjack.’
For every hand dealt in Blackjack, a player has to make either of the above decisions to take them closer to a win.
A Caveat, all the decisions to be made in Blackjack are accompanied by varying rules from one casino to another. Players should familiarize themselves with a particular casino’s laws to ensure they are not banned from the tables for contravening casino rules.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
This is the mother of all blackjack strategies; the strategy used as a basis for coming up with all other blackjack strategies. Blackjack basic strategy refers to a set of rules that detail the optimal play to be made by a player with limited information; their hand and the up-card of the house dealer.
Basic blackjack strategy was mathematically developed and tested to help players play with the odds because, at its core, Blackjack is a game of probabilities. This strategy assists players by giving them the play by play decisions that they should make quickly during a blackjack game with the limited information available to them. This is done with the aid of a blackjack strategy guide.
The Caveat, the basic blackjack strategy is not the holy grail of gambling. Players should understand that every casino game has an edge skewed towards the house, and it is no different when it comes to Blackjack. Theoretically, playing using the basic strategy reduces the house edge to 0.5% in a blackjack game by assisting players in playing with the odds.
Blackjack Strategy Chart
This is a chart that helps players to make a decision given a particular blackjack situation quickly. They are usually in tabular form with a left vertical axis having the player’s hand while the top horizontal axis contains the dealer’s exposed card. The charts are color coded for each action to be taken for easy identification by players. To find the step to take given a particular game situation, correspond your hand value to the dealer’s exposed hand at the top and the point of intersection will have the optimal course of action that should be taken.
Card counting in blackjack
This is another blackjack strategy that can be used to win substantially at Blackjack though it is ideal with minimal card decks. It was very prevalent in the 1960s and in an attempt to limit the number of big winnings at the blackjack tables, casinos introduced the multi-deck cards in Blackjack. The idea as that the more the number of decks, the harder it is for players to keep track of their counts. This, however, is not true because with practice and combined with the basic blackjack strategy, it can be a powerful tool for winning at online Blackjack.
However, there is a stigma that is coupled to card counting! Note that card counting is not illegal under any law. Casinos frown on this practice because excellent card counting negates the house edge to very marginal percentages and in most cases result in a player beating the house consistently.
The best card counting strategy involves assigning values to a series of cards;
- +1 for cards values 2-6,
- 0 for cards values 7-9,
- -1 for card values 10 and ace.
As the dealer deals the cards, you add one, do nothing, or subtract one depending on the card drawn.
The act of adding the assigned card values is known as a running count. When using multi-deck cards, pro players divide the running count with the remaining card decks to get a true count; the number of 10 value cards remaining in the decks.
Live Blackjack online is merely playing at a real blackjack table with real card decks shuffled by a real dealer without being physically present at a brick and mortar casino. Thanks to the technological advancement in online casino software, it is now possible to render quality videos in real time of action taking place in a brick and mortar casino, and through the online game interface, take part in the action. Live online blackjack enables a player to chat with other game participants, see cards being drawn and count them, place wagers, and chat with the dealer, all at the relaxed pace associated with brick and mortar casinos.
Online Blackjack Variations
There are a lot of fun ways that Blackjack can at present be played since its introduction to the internet. Online blackjack variations are primarily on two fronts; the number of card decks used, and, the innovative adaption and amendment of the classic blackjack rules. The most common blackjack rules are; super-fun 21, Spanish Blackjack, Perfect pairs blackjack, blackjack switch, Vegas strip blackjack, Double Exposure Blackjack, Triple 7s Blackjack, and, Double Blackjack.
This is an online blackjack variant that is very popular. A player gets dealt two hands and the second card dealt on each hand can be switched between the two hands to strengthen either of the hands. Players place equal wagers for both hands dealt. All the other blackjack rules apply except for the payout of 1:1.
To offset this advantage to players, the house dealers blackjack always beats the players’ Blackjack and, dealer 22 ties with players 21 or lower unless the player has a blackjack.
Is a very radical blackjack variation whose rules are aimed at generating excitement for the players’. It is also played with only one deck of cards. The payout is the ratio 1:1 but to offset this, players can double down after a split.
Vegas Strip Blackjack
Uses the classic blackjack rules, but the house edge is very low, making it very popular among the online blackjack community.
Perfect Pairs Blackjack
This is a side-bet made in addition to the first blackjack bet. Players bet on being dealt a pair of matching cards in their hands; either the suits match or the value matches. It is highly improbable that a player will be dealt with matching pairs and as such, the payout for this wagers are quite high.
This is a variation of the Spanish 21 variant. Players here can surrender at will, and they can double their wagers immediately the dealer is dealt their second card. It is played with eight card decks with the 10s excluded.
Double Exposure Blackjack
Here the dealer’s cards, both of them, are dealt face-up. Blackjack here pays even money because of the considerable advantage the players have. Both dealer cards face-up mean that a player makes more informed decisions during the game.
The rules for this game are tailored to favor the player because the 10s in the eight card decks used for this online blackjack variant are excluded from play. It is a prevalent variant for blackjack side bets due to the high payout ratios.
Triple 7s Blackjack
This is exclusively a side bet placed alongside the main blackjack bet. It is among the most popular online blackjack side bets globally. The game is also played with five decks of card and is very popular in cases where casinos are running progressive online blackjack jackpots. The huge payouts are determined by the player card combination as well as the hand totals.
Blackjack is a strategically complex game to play but because it is a game of skill rather than rooted in luck, with concentrated efforts towards learning the proved strategies one can beat the house and win huge at Blackjack.
Why should you be part of the online Blackjack playing community? With one of the lowest house edges in a casino and proven strategies that ensure winning, why not? There is absolutely no reason why you should not play or learn to play this game. Just by going through this guide, you already have a basic understanding of online Blackjack so sit at home, get online, and play Blackjack.