2020 Guide to Online Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most loved games in all casinos, and aficionados can tell you why. Our guide to online Blackjack will teach you all you need to know about playing online: the strategies to win, fun online-only options, and different variations of BlackJack.
Online BlackJack is a great way for experienced players to practice their advanced techniques, including card counting.
BlackJack's basic structure is very simple to understand, while strategists love the layers of complexity that it contains. If you'd like to learn about more advanced strategy, see our Winning BlackJack Strategy Guide and When to Split articles.
How to Play Online BlackJack
BlackJack's basic structure is quite easy. Your goal is to beat the dealer by getting as close as you can to 21 without going over (which is called "busting"). The cards with numbers on them each have that same point value. All of the face cards (jack, queen, and king) have a value of 10. The only tricky one is the ace, which can either count as 1 or 11. If it's counting as 11 would bring your total over 21, it is automatically counted as a 1.
You get blackjack by having an ace and a 10-point card. If you reach 21 any other way, it is not blackjack. So if you have a king and ace and the dealer has a 10, 7, your blackjack would win over the dealer's 21.
Selecting Options to Increase Your Chances of Winning
While there is some variation across software platforms, most BlackJack games have some similarities. Before you get started, select what options you'd like.
- Deck: how many decks do you want? Although it's good practice to choose a single deck, in online BlackJack it doesn't really matter how many decks you choose. Most games shuffle after ever play, meaning that you each deal is random. So you can't really count cards. You have to rely on your strategy.
- Dealer on 17: You want to be sure the dealer hits on soft 17 and stands on a hard 17. Some games are set up this way by default, but be sure to change it if it's not.
- Sound on or off? Like the sound of chips and some light music, or does it get on your nerves? Best to decide before you get playing.
- Advice: most games also give you advice for play. Why in the world would they do that? Because advice is just that: advice, not foolproof rules. These are statistically the best guidelines for a given situation, but nothing defeats the house edge completely.
- Insurance: most games will automatically give you the option for insurance. We suggest you turn it off, as insurance is a sucker-bet in our books.
Beginning Your Game
Before you play, you might not see any cards on the table. Instead, you may just see your chips. This is because you must first decide how much you want to bet before you begin. This is an important step because the game might start you off betting more than you feel comfortable with! So you click on your bet, and usually, that is the bet amount that will come up automatically for your future bets.
Next, you'll be dealt your two cards. The dealer receives their "hole" card and a face-up card. Next, you need to decide what you want to do.
Players Options in Online Blackjack
Next, you'll press the Play button to receive your cards and see what the dealer has to show.
You have two general options: deciding 1) what to do with your cards and 2) what to do with your money.
As far as your cards, you can either hit (take another card), Stand (not take any more cards), or Split. You can split when you are dealt two cards of the same value (including two 10-value cards that are different, for example, a queen and 10).
Next, you can decide whether you want to double down or not. In this case, you double your original bet and are dealt one more card. This is a good way to get double the money if you win.
These are the only decisions in BlackJack. You have to decide what your best choice is in light of what you see in front of you. You have a seeming advantage in that the dealer has to stand on 17, so if they draw 17, they can't score higher, but in truth hitting on a hard 17 is never a good move anyway.
Differences Between Online Blackjack and Casino
The first difference you'll notice between BlackJack played online versus in a casino is the speed of play. Because you're not dealing with actual cards and waiting on other players to make decisions.
Next, you can make much smaller bets with online BlackJack than in a brick and mortar casino. This is great particularly if you're learning the game. In fact, why would you ever learn at a higher stakes casino table when you can do it with smaller bets on your phone, tablet, or computer?
There are several obvious differences as well. You'll see the numbers of your and the dealer's totals displayed prominently, which is always a plus in our books.
Online Variations of BlackJack
You can find a number of different kinds of BlackJack in online casinos. Including
American BlackJack: these are the rules as explained in this article.
European BlackJack: the dealer stands on soft 17 and does not check for blackjack if they're showing a 10 or ace. Also, you can only double down on 9-11
Multihand BlackJack: many versions of BlackJack allow you to play multiple hands at the same time. If you love speed and multi-tasking, this is the game for you!
Pontoon: both of the dealer's cards are face down, and you can only stand with a hand greater than 14. You can double down at any point in the game, and you cannot have a hand of more than 5 cards
Why Play Online Blackjack
As previously mentioned, online BlackJack is a great way for beginners to learn the ropes, but it is also a great tool for advanced players. You want to have you intermediate and advanced strategy down pat so you don't need to think about the general guideline of what to do when the dealer is holding a 7 and you have a soft 16.
Intermediate and advanced casino players want to be able to simultaneously focus on their own cards and on the cards of other players and the dealer. Having put in the hours so that you don't have to think about your strategy guidelines and cards lets you take the action on the table into account better.
And what better way to practice than with some low stakes online BlackJack?
But online BlackJack also provides you with a great opportunity to see how some rare bets would pan out. For example, doubling down on a soft 13 against a dealer's 5 or 6 might seem like a bad move, but statistically, it's your smartest choice.
Card Counting in Online Blackjack
If you're a card counter or want to become one, you can practice your card counting skills in online blackjack without the fear of being thrown out of the casino. Although, as we said above, card counting is not successful in online poker due to the constant shuffling of the deck in most games, that doesn't mean you can't practice.
As any card counter will tell you, there are two obstacles to counting cards: 1) counting cards itself and 2) not getting caught.
1) and 2) are related. If you're good at card counting, you'll be less obvious while doing it. And the only way to get good at card counting is by actually counting cards. While some specialists advise you to practice with a deck of cards, we recommend that you instead practice in an actual game scenario.
Playing low stakes BlackJack while practicing your card counting gives you the opportunity to pad your wallet while you're working on your skills at home.
Once card counting is second nature to you, you're in a lot better position to take those skills to an actual casino and operate under the radar.
As you see, online BlackJack is a great game for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players. It's a great place to learn the ropes of BlackJack, learn and practice BlackJack strategy, and to practice more advanced skills, including card counting.
Of course of the best things about online BlackJack is its convenience. You don't have to get dressed (up) or deal with traffic in order to get to an online BlackJack table. You can squeeze in a few games at the airport, on a train, or in a waiting room.
Once you're familiar with the rules of BlackJack and you have a few games under your belt, you'll want to improve your playing (and winning) with some more advanced strategy.