Where you’re a massive fan of playing Blackjack, or are just interested in learning more about it, there are a few things you should know about how to play it online.
Because there are other factors that come into play when playing at an online casino – a game’s Return To Player, the software provider powering the game, and more besides – playing online is a bit of a different experience to playing it in a land-based casino.
Here’s everything you need to know to get started with playing the best online Blackjack at a variety of top rated casino sites.
Regardless of how experienced you are at playing online Blackjack, or online gaming in general, here’s a quick and easy way to quickly narrow down if a casino site’s selection is for you:
Just like free play slots, some versions of online Blackjack have free play options.
Both free play and real-money versions are the same game, just with a few restrictions on the free version. In both types, the gameplay is completely the same – depending on the variant, you need to try and make a hand of as close to 21 as possible, or you go bust.
Free games are there to give you a taste of what you can expect for when you play for real-money: they’re really great for trying out a new variant or provider you’re not sure about, but there are also some drawbacks, especially when compared to playing real money games:
|Free Blackjack||Real Money Blackjack|
|Playing||No need to sign up the casino - just start playing||You have to be a registered member of the casino to play, and have a positive casino bankroll balance|
|Winnings||If you win during the game, you won’t be able to keep your winnings||If you win, your winnings are yours to keep|
|Losses||You won't have any losses, as you aren't spending any money||Your losses will be deducted for your casino account balance|
Free play games are great for experimenting with different variants. Although there’s no need to make a deposit and the game is risk-free, if you happen to win anything during the game, you won’t be able to keep your winnings.
Other than being able to experiment with variants before committing to them, there’s another important reason why you might want to try out Blackjack for free: testing out a strategy.
Because testing out a new strategy in a real-money game can lead to a lot of heavy losses (especially if you’re not completely settled on how to do the strategy), practicing it risk-free is a great way to really hone your skills.
As with anything, it helps to have a couple of tips to get you off the ground: here are three of the best starting hands to have (a basic strategy):
For both free play Blackjack and real-money versions, card counting won’t work for online games, for one simple reason: the Random Number Generator (RNG).
Because the RNG is constantly shuffling the deck, there’s no way for you to accurately count the cards. When it comes to Live Dealer Blackjack, with a real dealer shuffling a real pack of cards, you might be able to try it. However, Live Dealer variants are usually not available as free play options, and counting cards during a real money game could also lead to heavy losses if you’re not a skilled card counter.
When you want to keep your hand as-is, and feel you have a strong enough one to beat the dealer, you freeze your hand, or ‘stand’, which means you don’t want to receive any more cards.
You’ll start each round by receiving two cards, and if you’d like to add another one to try to get closer to 21, you tell the dealer to ‘hit’ – to get another card.
When the value of your two cards goes over 21, you’re out of the game and your hand has gone ‘bust’.
If your first two cards are of equal value (for example, two 10s), you can split your hands into two separate hands, and play the round with those two hands separately. You need to continue playing each hand until you ‘stand’ or ‘bust’.
After you receive your first two cards, if you think you have a strong hand, you can double your bet – this could also be a quick way to either win or lose a lot of money, depending on which way your luck goes.
When you get the best hand possible, resulting in 21 – a face card (King, Queen, Jack) and an Ace. If you receive these two cards as your first cards, you’ve automatically won the round with a ‘Blackjack’.
Sort of like an insurance for when you have a Blackjack (see above) and the dealer has an Ace facing up – you can ask for ‘Even Money’, and get a payout of 1:1.
The first player to the left of the dealer, who receives their cards first. Even if you’re not playing in a tournament, or with any other players, this is the first person to make a move in the round.
The card left face down by the dealer. Once every player in the round has made their move, the dealer will reveal the hole card.
If the round’s not going so well and you can see you’re about to lose, you can surrender, and get half of your wager back.
The dealer’s card that faces up is an ‘upcard’.
Most online casinos (and definitely most of the ones we recommend) have both a separate Blackjack section, as well as a Live Dealer section with games on offer.
It’s really up to you which you prefer playing, but you should know that these are very different experiences: the Table Game Blackjack on offer will usually have more variants, and you’ll be playing against the computer. In the Live Dealer Blackjack variants, there may be few variants to play. Most significantly, you’ll be playing against a human dealer, and other players worldwide too.
Both are great ways to play and provide their own experiences – for an authentic casino-like experience, Live Blackjack is a great way to play. If you just want to play, and not have to interact with anyone but your device, then standard Table Game Blackjack is your best bet.
As with any online casino games, there are a few easy ways to make sure you get the best out of your playing experience. Blackjack isn’t any different, other than you can easily see your bankroll disappear within just a few rounds if you’re trying out a new strategy, or are playing at a high-limit table.
Not every online casino offers free versions of the game, although some of our recommended sites have a variety of free games for you to check out. It’s always a good idea to read a casino’s review before starting to play.
That depends. Although back in the day, some online casinos had free downloadable software to play games from, most modern casinos no longer do so, and you can play straight from the website. So the only time you’d need to download anything is if you want to play Blackjack from a casino site’s app, and then you’d have to download that from the App Store or Play Store.
It depends on whether you’re playing for real money or free games – for free games, you’re probably only going to find games that let you play against the computer, and for real money games, the Live Dealer games will let you play with both a human dealer and other players online.
You can play free Blackjack from your mobile at any online casino with free options. Otherwise your casino’s mobile site might also have some free to play games for you to check out.
Easily – just make sure that you have a casino account, and money available in your bankroll. From there, you can play any game you like. One tip – decide on a budget for playing before you start, and make sure to stick to it. In the heat of the game, whether you’re winning or losing it can be tempting to throw ‘just another fiver or tenner’ in, but this is a bad decision that will deplete your bankroll and budget quicker than you can say ‘bust’.
To keep things short and sweet, most of the table rules are abbreviated. But, if you don’t know what these mean, you might not understand the rules, which is a crucial part of playing online. The most common abbreviations are:
If you do choose early surrender, it means you only lose half of your bet. In the long run, yes, that’s a better strategy. But you should know this is always going to be a risk, as sometimes even the worst of starting hands can end up winning – the dealer might bust, and you never know what card you might get when you hit.
They’re tricky to calculate, especially when you take into account the many combinations of any game. You can still work out the odds of drawing certain cards – such as a card worth 10 (King, Queen, Jack) is 30.7%.
Online casinos usually stick to live casino rules for Blackjack games (that’s why the same strategy works at both online and land-based casinos), but the odds can be a little skewed in your favour, thanks to the range of bonuses and loyalty programs to make up for the house’s edge.
Firstly, check out our list of blacklisted online casinos, to see if the site you want to play at isn’t on there. Secondly, any reputable casino will proudly display logos from third-party auditors, meaning it’s fair (and uses a Random Number Generator to keep the games fair) and secure casino to play at. Thirdly, check our best online casino reviews for details about each casino’s commitment to safety and security, and what we think of it.
While there are a lot of effective strategies for playing both online and offline Blackjack, it still has an element of luck to it, just like other casino games. A good way to test out your strategy is by playing free games – that way, you don’t risk your bankroll if your strategy doesn’t work, or you need some time to learn it correctly!