Blackjack is the most popular casino game worldwide and played with one or more standard 52-card decks. The game is fun because of the ease at which the game can be learned, the house only has a very small margin to win meaning that with a little experience and strategy this game can have large payouts.
Online Blackjack is also great for beginners, as you are automatically told when your turn comes around, and making mistakes is embarrassment-free. This is a great way to learn the ropes and work on your strategy.
In many ways, online Blackjack increasingly resembles live games, with simulated dealers and the ability to talk directly to the “dealer”.
How to Play BlackJack
The game is fairly simple and usually played at an arc-shaped table with 2-6 players on the outside, and the dealer on the inside. Each player is initially dealt 2 cards. If the player wishes, he/she can ask for another by saying “hit me” to the dealer. If you don’t want another, you “stand”.
The point of Blackjack is to beat the dealer’s card total by reaching a total card value either equal to or closest to 21, without exceeding it. This can be done in several ways.
The player can get 21 points on his/her first two cards (this is called a Blackjack) if the dealer does not also have Blackjack. The player can also attain a final score higher than the dealer without exceeding 21. Finally, the player can let the dealer keep drawing cards until his/her hand exceeds 21.
If the player’s card total exceeds 21, he/she is “bust” and forfeits the bet.
Kings, Queens, and Jacks are each worth 10 points. Numbered cards (2-10) keep their face value. Aces are great advantages to players, as they can either number 1 point or 11 points depending on which suits the player’s hand.
Payouts are generally given at 1:1; in other words, if the player beats the dealer with a higher number, and he bet R20, he will receive an additional R20. Hitting Blackjack results in a 3:2 payout, i.e betting R10 will win the player another R15.
There are several strategies players can use to narrow the odds in Blackjack. Players should always consistently play according to strategy and mathematical odds, not gut instinct or impulse. This will keep the odds in the casino’s favour as low as possible.
If a player holds a card total of 17 points it is always wise to stand. Chances of busting on this number is high.
It is also favourable to give the dealer chance to bust. If the dealer’s upcard (visible card) is a 4, 5 or 6, the player should not “hit” unless they possess a “soft” hand (a hand that is unlikely to bust on the addition of another card).
Doubling down – a player can double his/her original bet after the first 2 cards have been dealt. Once the 3rd card has been dealt, he/she has to stand.
Splitting – if the first 2 cards the player is dealt are of the same value (i.e the player receives 2 Queens), he/she can split them into 2 separate playing hands. These then become 2 separate bets. The dealer will hit with another card on each of the splits.
Surrendering – a player can surrender when the dealer’s upcard is an ace or a 10 value. The player forfeits half his/her bet if choosing to surrender. This will also end a round and initiate the next.
Insurance – If the dealer’s upcard is an ace, a player can take insurance against the chance that the dealer has Blackjack. Usually, insurance is limited to half the original bet, and is paid out in a 2:1 ratio. It is never recommended to take insurance, as this always raises the casino’s advantage.
Casinos may offer slightly varied rules at their blackjack tables. These are extensive and can include changes in splitting rules, payout ratios, doubling down and sidebets. For example, some casinos may restrict players to one split per round.
Sidebets tend to vary from casino to casino, as can payout ratios. The rules are usually laid out on or next to the table, so be sure to check them before placing bets and initiating a round.
Online vs Live:
Online Blackjack is played via a casino download software, where the dealt cards are determined by the same device that runs slot machines – a Random Number Generator. This makes it impossible to count cards and reduces cheating.
Since the competition for players is fiercer, you’ll find better discounts and deals online than you would in standard live Blackjack. There are also more game variations in online poker than in most casinos, making it a more comprehensive gaming experience.
Online playing also allows better record keeping of wins and losses, meaning players may have more control of their betting.
Blackjack offers some of the best odds in the house when played according to strategy and avoiding gut plays. Having a strategy chart when playing online can help to increase your odds and minimise losses. Gamers who miss the interaction with dealers need not worry; increasingly simulated and filmed dealers are being added to the online gaming experience, allowing interaction and conversation.