Guide to Online Blackjack
Online blackjack has played a crucial role in the development of online casinos ever since their inception. Blackjack online tends to follow the same simple rules that made the in-person version famous, but can come in many different variations.
If you're a first-time player of online blackjack, or you'd just like to know more about this popular card game, then this guide is for you.
Read on to find out about the game's origin and rules, how internet versions work, and the different types you can find.
Contents of the article
A brief history of blackjack
The modern version of blackjack comes from a game called Vingt-Un, French for twenty-one, but its first written reference appears in Spanish. The famous author Miguel de Cervantes wrote about a game called Veintiuna in the early 1600s, where the object was to reach 21 points without exceeding it, and where the ace card is valued at 1 or 11. In other words, the game has a long (though debated) history of origin.
Vingt-Un had made its way to the United States by the early 1800s via French immigrants, where it took on the name 'blackjack'. Blackjack, as we'll look at later, is the game's holy grail of an Ace card and a 'picture' card or number 10, but back then, it referred specifically to an ace of spades and a 'black jack' (jack of clubs or spades). The name stuck.
Blackjack continued to grow in popularity during the 20th century, becoming a big part of the Las Vegas scene. It was here that card counting gained worldwide fame: the practice of memorising cards and working out the probability of a win.
While card counting has largely disappeared today thanks to tight casino security, it still exists in some places. The rise of online blackjack has also contributed to its demise, as it's impossible to do online.
Today, you'll find many blackjack online casinos offering various versions of the game, and live-dealer casinos with blackjack on offer are also on the rise. Players love the mix of home comfort and the 'live experience' of taking part. As technology improves, we're also starting to see the first examples of VR blackjack and other innovative versions that are changing the card game landscape online.
How online blackjack works
We're now going to get right to the nitty-gritty. First of all, here's the basic rule of blackjack:
You must get two cards that are closer to the total of 21 than the dealer's cards, without exceeding 21.
Knowing this alone, you can at least play and have an idea of what's going on. The total is counted from the value of each card combined. Cards numbered 2-10 have their numerical value, all picture cards are worth 10, and an Ace can be either 1 or 11 depending on the hand.
The closer you get to 21, while still below it, the better. Any total over 21 is known as a bust and you lose.
You also have the option of receiving a third card if you draw two low original cards, known as a hit. To reject this extra card is known as a stand.
Let's look at three examples.
1. Player wins
- You get an Ace and a 6. A total of 17 is good, but you decide to risk another card.
- You get a 3, making a total of 20 (11+6+3).
- The dealer has a ten and a 9 (19). You win!
2. Dealer wins
- You get a King and a 9 and decide to 'stay' with a total of 19.
- The dealer has two tens, or 20.
- The dealer wins. Unlucky!
- You get a ten and a 3 and decide to 'hit'.
- You get an 8, making blackjack.
- The dealer has two wins, or 20. You win!
There are just three examples of many, so it's important to consider all possible scenarios when playing.
The next section deals with different blackjack bets you can make to help you handle these scenarios.
Types of blackjack bets
Blackjack players often make special and side bets that they believe may improve their chances of winning. While they're certainly no 'get-rich-quick' scheme, they can improve your chances of success.
While these originated in traditional casinos, many online versions offer them as added features to the main game.
A quick note before we dive in: Always be aware of whether the dealer's cards are either both facing up, or 'one up and one down' as this can affect the bet you place. In most games, you'll only see one of the dealer's two cards, meaning you won't know what you are competing against.
You can trigger this bet when you land two cards of the same value. By 'splitting', you divide your hand into two and get two extra cards to complete each hand.
For example, let's say you get two 9s. You 'split' your hand and receive a 7 and an Ace. One of your hands will then result in a 9 with the Ace, making a total of 20.
This is a good bet to use when you see that the dealer has a great 'face-up card', especially an Ace.
Because you know that they are likely to total close to 21, you can 'surrender' your hand and get half of your stake back.
- Insurance bet
An alternative to surrendering, if you see the dealer has a dangerous 'face-up' card you can take out insurance by betting that they get blackjack. Then, if they do, you at least get some money back.
However, watch out. The dealer may not have blackjack but still beat your total (say, with a 20) in which case you lose both bets!
- Double down
Got a good opening hand? You might want to double down.
This is when you double your bet before you get a third card. If you beat the dealer, you then win double. If you lose, then, of course, you lose double.
Play blackjack responsibly
The bets described above can be a way of making a game more interesting, but beware: some of them, such as 'double down', increase the chances of you losing money. Be sure to gamble responsibly and always keep your wits about you.
If you would like to test some different game variants and strategies, we recommend you to check out our selection of free blackjack games. Here you can play without the risk of losing any funds, and learn the rules before gambling for real.
Is it worth using a blackjack strategy?
Like with the bets mentioned above, it is possible to use blackjack strategies to alter the volatility of a game.
However, we must stress that these are not a way to make money. Anyone who claims that they are is lying and is probably after your money.
Whether you use a strategy or not, remember to always follow safe gambling principles, which is the best strategy of all.
Can I use my online casino bonus in blackjack?
Possibly, but it will come down to what's in the bonus's terms and conditions.
Sometimes casinos exclude blackjack games from certain bonuses, or they might reduce their impact on the bonus's wagering requirements (WR).
To find the bonuses which you can use in online blackjack games, just go to our list of casino bonuses and search for 'blackjack' in the 'Game Type' section.
Does card counting still exist?
Yes, but it's rare nowadays. In fact, it's impossible to do online and extremely complicated to do in a live-dealer game.
We would say that modern casino security has evolved to the point that it's not worth trying anymore, unless you want to be publicly evicted or possibly even prosecuted.
Still, if you'd like to give it a go, there are card-counting tutorials available online.
Is it easy to make a profit from online blackjack?
'Easy' isn't the correct word here. We prefer to say 'possible'.
Like all online casino games, blackjack comes with a built-in house edge which ensures that the casino makes a profit. This means that the longer you play, the more likely you are to lose money.
That's not to say that you can't make a profit, of course. Reading this guide, along with other educational material, will help. Just don't expect to walk away with winnings when you play.