The origin of Blackjack is unknown, but according to some written references, the game was played since the 17th century or even earlier. Miguel de Cervantes, widely regarded as the greatest Spanish writer thanks to his novel Don Quixote mentioned in one of his stories written between 1601 and 1602 “veintiuna” which is the Spanish word for twenty-one. When twenty-one arrived at the US casinos, players were offered bonus payouts which made the game look more attractive. One of the bonuses was a ten-to-one payout delivered when the player’s hand contained the ace of spades and one of the black jacks. This is how the game got the name we know today since such a hand was called a “blackjack”.
Blackjack involves logic and math and over the decades, experts tried to develop an optimal Blackjack strategy. Some of them were Harvard University students and ex-students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology who were dedicated to devising counting techniques and more sophisticated science-based strategies to beat casinos. Other teams were formed worldwide with the same goal.
How to Play Blackjack online
The game starts with placing a bet. The player is then dealt two cards which may be face up or down which depends on the variation of the game played. The cards from 2 through 10 are worth the number indicated on them while all face cards are worth ten. When it comes to Aces, they can be worth 1 or 11. After you are dealt two cards, you can draw additional cards to make your hand come closer to 21. The dealer’s turn comes after all the players have completed their hands, but if players have busted or got blackjacks, the dealer’s hand stays uncompleted.
You got a blackjack if you are dealt 21 from the start while the dealer hits until their cards are worth 17 or more. To beat the dealer, you must not bust or have a hand of a higher value than the dealer’s hand. In most cases, a blackjack pays 3:2, while some single or double deck games pay 6:5. A “push” is a situation in which both the player and dealer have the hands of the same value, which means that the player does not win or lose money.
The Blackjack Basic Strategy
To play Blackjack, you have to acquire the basic strategy. It basically means that you should know what decision you should make to beat the dealer. These decisions may include hitting, standing, splitting or doubling down your hand. By applying the basic strategy, you decrease the house edge to 0.5%. There are a few simple rules you should stick to such as standing when your hand is between 12 and 16 and the dealers are between 2 and 6. When you have a hand worth between 12 and 16 and the dealer has 7 and Ace, you should hit. You should always split Aces and 8s and double 11 when the dealer’s hand consists of 2 and 10. When you have Aces and 6s, you should hit or double down.
More advanced Blackjack strategies include applying betting systems or the combination of the betting systems, card counting and paying attention to the odds of winning and losing. Some games also offer the option to surrender when the dealer gets a blackjack. If you opt for this move, the house will take a half of your bet while the other half of the bet will be returned to you. When the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, you can take insurance before the dealer checks the face-down card. It is a side bet which pays 2:1.
Online Blackjack Variations
Blackjack games come with different rules, especially at online casinos where you can choose from dozens of variants. They are all based on reaching 21, but some of them offer side bets which can add more excitement to the gameplay and pay higher prizes. You can also play Blackjack at live dealer tables, which will provide you with an immersive gaming experience as if you play at a land-based gaming hall. Keep in mind that Live Blackjack tables have higher minimum bets than virtual ones.
Here are some of the most popular Blackjack variations.
This variant is played with two decks of cards. In this variant of the game, the dealer does not check for a blackjack until the player has completed their hand. That practically means that you can lose more money by doubling or splitting. Other rules include that the dealer stands on soft 17 hand, which includes an Ace and other cards with a value totaling six points, while players can double down when they have a total of 9, 10 or 11 and after splitting. No resplitting is allowed. A blackjack pays 3:2 and if both the dealer and the player get a blackjack, it results in a push. The house advantage is 0.39%.
Double Exposure Blackjack
In this variation, both dealer’s cards are dealt face up which can help the player make their decision. The game is also known as Face Up 21 or Dealer Disclosure and it has a bit different rules which my not be that player-favorable. First of all, if both the dealer and player get a blackjack, it results in a loss. Insurance and surrender are not available in this Blackjack variant. A BJ pays even money while the house edge is 0.69%.
Spanish 21 is a highly popular variant which comes with a set of liberal rules. These rules should compensate for a higher house edge which is the result of the removing of all 10s from the deck. While playing Spanish 21, players are allowed to double down any number of cards, can win bonuses when they get a hand of five or more cards totaling 21 or when they have blackjack hands consisting of 6–7–8 or three 7s. What’s more, the player’s blackjacks always win. You can find this game under the name Pontoon too. This one comes with a house edge varying from 0.38% to 0.78%.
In this variation, the player is dealt two hands and can trade the second card of each hand. However, the game comes with two rules which decrease your advantage over the house: the dealer’s hand of 22 results in a push and a blackjack pays even money. Resplitting is allowed as well as doubling on any total, while the dealer checks for a blackjack before you make a decision. The variation of the game comes with the house edge of 0.16% up to 0.58%.
Perfect Pairs Blackjack
Perfect Pairs Blackjack offers a side bet at the beginning of each hand. You can bet that your first two cards will be of the same value and win up to 30:1. If you get a mixed pair of any two cards of the same rank, you win 5:1, a colored pair or any two cards of the same rank and same color pay 10:1 while a perfect pair or any two cards of the same rank and suit earns you the top prize of 30:1. Splitting is allowed and players are allowed to double down once. In this variant, players can play up to 5 hands at a time and a blackjack pays 3:2. The house edge is 0.42%.
Online Blackjack Tips and Tricks
Before you start playing, make sure to find a reputable online casino you will play at. Here is the list of tips and tricks you will find useful while playing the game. By implementing them you can improve your odds of winning and beat the casino.
- Play the game in free play mode until you learn the ropes.
- Use the basic strategy and rely on logic instead of intuition.
- Set your budget along with the win and loss limits and stick to them.
- Quit playing if you are on a losing streak.
- When on a winning streak, you can increase your wager a bit.
- Avoid playing insurance bets.
- Don’t increase the loss limit or your wager while on a losing streak.
- Find a casino that offers good bonuses with acceptable wagering requirements for Blackjack players.
Written by Shane Pickrell
Shane Pickrell is a seasoned expert in the world of online gambling, with a profound passion for enhancing the gaming experience through his deep knowledge of online live dealer games. With over a decade of involvement in the industry, Shane has established himself as a respected authority on the intricacies of live dealer gaming and its dynamic impact on the gambling landscape.
Shane’s journey into the realm of online gambling was paved with a solid educational foundation. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from a prestigious university in the United States. His academic pursuits not only honed his analytical skills but also provided him with a well-rounded understanding of the business and technological aspects of the online gaming industry.