One of the most popular casino games in the world, blackjack dates back to the 17th century, when it was played in Spain and France. The format of the game has changed very little over the centuries, which has contributed to its popularity.
Nowadays, online blackjack has become prevalent, and the game is well-liked among the gaming communities mostly because the player has to make several decisions that affect the outcome of the game. As the game requires more skills than other casino games that solely rely on luck, learning more about blackjack strategy can be of help to beginner players.
The basic rules of blackjack
As a blackjack player, you are required to make multiple decisions during a hand, so understanding the basic rules of the game is essential. The purpose of blackjack is to get as close as possible to 21 points without going beyond this number. The points are equal to the numbers on the cards. The jack, queen and king are each worth 10 points, and the ace can count as either 1 or 11, according to the wish and needs of the player. Different types of blackjack games exist but, for the most part, the basic rules are just about the same. The game is played with a 52-card deck. Jokers are not used.
The overall purpose of the game is to get a hand greater than that of the dealer. The strongest hand you can get when playing blackjack online is 21, which you can acquire from any combination of an ace and a card worth 10 (jack, queen, king, and 10). Having this hand is a guaranteed win unless the dealer has one too.
The game starts with two cards for the player, who needs to decide whether to “hit” to receive more cards in order to get closer to 21, or “stand”, which means the player is content with the sum of the cards. The dealer plays their hand after the player has made the decision. In most variations of online blackjack in UK, the dealer needs to stand on 17. This means that if the dealer has a hand that totals 16, they cannot try to beat the player by drawing another card. Exceeding the score of 21 when hitting is equivalent to losing in online blackjack, both for the player and the dealer.
Blackjack odds and auto play
Whether you play blackjack games in an online casino in a browser or in a blackjack download application, the odds are the same. An even money payout of 1:1 is offered for any winning hand, except for blackjack. If you win an insurance bet, the payout is 2:1, whereas having a blackjack increases the payout to 3:2. This happens because the odds of hitting a blackjack are lower than all other winning hands.
Just like with any other type of casino game, there are more chances of hitting a combination with a lower payout. If you are an experienced player who knows the blackjack game inside out, you may take advantage of some of the blackjack odds calculators available online, which allow you to see the best return you can get for a hand.
Some online casinos have an autoplay feature for their blackjack games. Turning this feature on will mean that the software plays automatically for you. This is a handy feature for those who are not good at making a quick decision or those not very familiar with the game. Those who already know how to get the most of the hand they are dealt may not find this feature useful.
Side rules of online blackjack
Besides the basic rules of online blackjack, players should also be familiar with several side rules that allow for more complex betting strategies. Most online casinos have multiple options available for players to make a decision immediately after the deal, instead of taking any more cards. The most common of them are “surrender”, “insurance”, “doubling down” and “splitting”.
Surrender is a good option for those moments when you have a bad hand compared to that of the dealer. By surrendering, you can reclaim half of your bet while giving up the hand. For a surrender to be profitable, the hand should be a really bad one, such as a 17 when the dealer is showing 10. The rules for surrendering may differ from one online casino to another. For example, at some online casinos you cannot surrender if the dealer has a blackjack. Unless you also have a blackjack, you lose your entire bet instantly.
Insurance is a handy rule for those situations in which the dealer’s face up is an ace. By taking insurance, you actually bet on whether the dealer has a blackjack or not. The purpose of insurance is to cancel out the probability of winning the bet. The amount of insurance is equal to the original bet, so a winning insurance bet has the odds of 2:1. This means that you lose the original bet and break even on that particular hand. Most online blackjack strategy guides mention that taking insurance is to be avoided, as it is never profitable for the player, even if in some cases it may reduce the losses.
Doubling down is a strategy that works well in those situations you are fairly sure your hand is better than the dealer’s. As the name suggests, doubling down means that you can double your original bet before getting one more card from the dealer. Not all online casinos have the same rules for doubling down, with some of them requiring an opening hand of a certain amount, such as 11 or 10. Most casinos allow players to double down the amount of the original bet, no matter how high it might be.
Finally, splitting is a strategy suitable for when your starting cards have the same value. By splitting the hand in two, you place another bet equal to the one you originally placed, and play with two hands at the same time. If you have two 10-point cards, you can split them even if they are not actually forming a pair. For example, you can split a 10 and a king. When you split, you get an additional card for each hand. Some casinos allow you to split again if you get a pair again, while others don’t. You can decide to hit for one pair and stand for the other, hit for both, or stand for both. When you split aces, you are dealt another card for each of the hands, but you are not allowed to hit for another card.
Types of blackjack in UK online casinos
Various online casinos that allow you to play blackjack offer multiple versions of the game. Some of the most popular variations for online blackjack in the UK are 21 Duel Blackjack, Blackjack Surrender, Pontoon, Progressive Blackjack and Lucky Blackjack. All variations follow the same basic rules and are played with a deck of 52 cards without the jokers, just like the original version of the game. They are a good option for more experienced players who are looking for a little variation of their favourite game.
21 duel blackjack
A six-deck game, 21 Duel Blackjack follows the usual rules, but the player gets a 2 Up side bet that is completely separate from the dealt hand, and the dealer has to qualify to play. The 2 Up side bet is not compulsory, and its value varies from one casino to another. For example, some UK online casinos have a 2 Up side bet limit of one-fifth of the bet maximum. By making a 2 Up side bet, you actually bet on the possibility that your face up card and the community cards will make a pair or a three of a kind. Typically, a pair pays out at 3:1 and a three of a kind pays 20:1, though the actual odds may vary from one casino to another.
Blackjack surrender follows the same basic rules of regular blackjack games, with the difference that you can swap the cards you are dealt and try an entirely different hand instead. The game also includes a seven-card Charlie, which allows you to win automatically over the hand of the dealer, except if you go bust.
To win at Pontoon, you need to hit a five-card hand that does not get you bust, meaning you cannot go over 21. If you manage this, you win the hand automatically. However, if your hand ties with the dealer’s one, it results in a push, which means you get your bet back.
Progressive blackjack allows you to play blackjack in the original form of the game, but with a jackpot side bet. This means that you have the option to place an additional bet that gives you a chance to hit a jackpot. If you choose to place a bet for the jackpot, you can win the entire jackpot or part of it if you get the right result, which is a random one.
Guessing the value of the dealer’s hand is the purpose of Lucky Blackjack. You do not get dealt any cards in this blackjack game, but you have to place a bet on the final outcome of the dealer’s hand. Possible outcomes to bet on include blackjack, bus, 21 points, 20 points, 19 points, 18 points and 17 points.
Tips for playing blackjack online
Even though every player has a preferred strategy when it comes to playing blackjack online, there are some basic strategies to try, especially for beginners. These allow you to make the best decision in a given situation and reduce the dealer’s advantage. If you have a hand that is equal to 11 or lower, you must hit. If you have a total of 18, you should stand. If the total of the cards in your hand is higher than the dealer’s face-up card, you can double up. Never take insurance, as this is only a good option for situations in which you can count the cards, something you cannot do when playing online blackjack.
If you have a hand with an ace, you have several options. If you have 17, you should stand, but if you have a hand that totals between 12 to 16, you should hit if the dealer’s face card is equal to 7 or greater. These strategies do not guarantee a win, but they reduce the dealer’s advantage considerably and reduce your chance of a loss. Practice make perfect, so playing for free until you master the game is always a good idea.
Numerous online casinos offer you the possibility to download blackjack software to play the game instead of playing a flash game. The advantage of downloading blackjack software is that you can practice until you feel confident enough to play for real money. You do not have to be online to play the game, which is installed on your computer. In most cases, downloading blackjack software gives you access to numerous other games available from that particular casino. You will also be eligible to get customer support and play for bonuses if you choose to go for real money playing.
Blackjack is an exciting game that blends elements of chance and skill masterfully. The low odds of the game make it highly entertaining and suitable for beginners and casino enthusiasts alike. Playing blackjack online from the comfort of your home is easy thanks to the multitude of UK casinos that offer this game. Find the perfect casino to try your hand at blackjack by signing up for a free initial bonus or play at your already favourite online casino and take advantage of any bonuses they may offer for each deposit. The best way to get good at blackjack games is to practice, so choose your casino and get started.