Online blackjack is one of the most popular games in online casinos. Much of its popularity owes to the title’s low house edge. However, that house edge is only possible if you follow a basic blackjack strategy.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about online blackjack. The number of decks, the card values, and how to apply blackjack strategy and win. Each topic has its section, so you can quickly go back and consult it if you need to.
THE BASICS OF BLACKJACK
Depending on the table you are playing on, the number of decks used to play blackjack varies. Most online blackjack games feature eight. However, some releases offer six decks, and some even offer a single deck! In the latter case, the developer will also tweak a few rules to remove the possibility of card counting.
The goal of blackjack is to get as close to twenty-one without going over. Landing exactly twenty-one is a blackjack win and is almost always a guaranteed win for the side that draws it. Both player and dealer draw cards in hopes of landing as close to twenty-one as possible. The dealer’s total needs to be lower than yours to win the round. Alternatively, if the dealer goes over twenty-one, they will bust. That means you automatically win the match.
Casino members can have a soft hand or a hard hand. If one of your two cards is an ace, you have a soft hand. That is because an ace can be both a one and an eleven, depending on your other cards. Meanwhile, hard hands do not have an ace. That makes their score more rigid and less likely to change.
HOW TO PLAY BLACKJACK
Each round of blackjack starts with the betting period. Players place their wagers first. The game then draws two cards for the player and two for the dealer. Casino members can see their two cards and one dealer card. The other card is face down and will not be revealed until the round ends.
After the game deals the cards, casino members can decide how to proceed in the next round. They can choose one of four options.
- Hit draws an extra card
- Stand means you will no longer draw any cards
- Double draws one more card and doubles your existing wager
- Split splits your current hand into two hands. One more card is drawn for each hand. Players can then hit or stand on these new hands.
After your turn finishes, the dealer reveals their second card. If needed, the game will draw additional cards for the host. Dealers keep drawing up to sixteen on most blackjack tables. The game compares the total of both hands. The side closest to twenty-one without going over wins the round. Meanwhile, winning with twenty-one total grants an increased payout.
On almost all blackjack tables, a regular win pays a 1:1 reward. Winning with a perfect twenty-one bumps up the payout to 3:2. Some tables offer a 6:5 reward for a blackjack win instead of a 3:2 payout. We recommend skipping those tables, as they lower the theoretical RTP of online blackjack.
Another mechanic present in many online blackjack games is the insurance bet. The game offers insurance if the dealer’s visible card is an ace. The wager pays 2:1 if it turns out the host’s second card is a ten. However, blackjack insurance is widely considered a bad bet to play. The odds of the dealer getting the right card are 9 to 4. As you cannot count cards in online blackjack, the insurance wager is rarely worth going for.
BASIC BLACKJACK STRATEGY
Unlike many online casino games, blackjack has a set strategy you can follow. By using this basic blackjack strategy, you can improve your odds of winning.
We are going to break down the strategy into several parts. We recommend memorizing them in groups and practicing by playing blackjack. A strategy chart may also be helpful while you are learning the rules. Keep in mind different types of blackjack have different rules. As such, you need to find the correct strategy chart for the table you are playing on.
- Always split aces and 8’s.
- Never split 10’s.
- Split 9’s if the dealer has anywhere between 2 and 9, except for 7. Stand otherwise.
- Split 7’s if the dealer has 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
- Split 6’s if the host has 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- A pair of 5’s is doubled instead of split. You double if the host has anything between 2 and 9. Otherwise, you hit.
- Split 4’s if the dealer has a five or six, otherwise hit.
- If the dealer has 2 through 7, you split 2’s and 3’s. Hit otherwise.
- If your hand total is 17 or more, always stand.
- Number 8 always hits.
- Number 11 always doubles.
- Numbers 13 through 16 stand if the dealer has 2 through 6. If the dealer has other cards, you hit.
- You stand on 12 if the dealer has 4, 5, or 6 and hit otherwise.
- Double on 10 if the dealer has between 2 and 9, otherwise hit.
- Double on 9 if the dealer has 3 through 6, and hit otherwise.
- Soft 20 always stands.
- Soft 19 doubles against a dealer’s 6, otherwise stand.
- Soft 18 doubles against a dealer’s 2 through 6 and hits against 9 through ace. For all other numbers, soft 18 stands.
- Soft 17 doubles against a dealer’s 3 through 6, and hits otherwise.
- Soft 16 and 15 doubles if the dealer has between 4 and 6, otherwise hit.
- Soft 14 and 13 double against a dealer’s 5 through 6, otherwise hit.
The basic blackjack strategy is derived from a computer simulation. The computer found the most optimal moves to lose the least money through trial and error. No matter what anyone else tells you, basic blackjack strategy cannot beat the in-built house edge. That is only possible through card counting, which you cannot do in online blackjack. For more about hitting and splitting, read our guide here.