Blackjack is one of the most familiar and popular table games played in modern casinos and has translated well to play online. It’s a classic card game played between the player and the dealer, the object of which is to obtain the highest value hand without exceeding twenty-one. When counting the value of a hand the picture cards (i.e. Kings, Queens and Jacks) have the same value of ten, while Aces can be used as a value of either one or eleven. The value assigned to an Ace is naturally the one that helps achieve the best hand!
The cards in a game of Blackjack are dealt from a casino contraption called a shoe, which can contain anything from one standard fifty-two card deck to eight such decks depending on the rules of the casino you’re playing.
You begin a hand of Blackjack by placing an initial bet, which must be at least the casino’s advertised minimum for that table, after which you are dealt two cards face up. The dealer always receives one card face up and (commonly) a second card face down. Once these initial cards are dealt you can make a decision about what you want to do next. The options are:
Hit – a further card is dealt to you from the shoe. You can ‘hit’ as many times as you like, but if the value of the cards in your hand ends up exceeding twenty-one, you’re ‘bust’ and lose the game.
Stand – you decide to stick with the cards you’re holding and their value is judged against the dealer’s hand.
Split – if your two cards are of the same value (e.g. two fours or two picture cards) you can choose to split the hand and duplicate your bet to play each of them separately.
Double Down – If the combined value of your first two cards is nine, ten or eleven you can choose to double your bet and receive one further card after which you then ‘stand’.
Insurance – If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace you can take out an additional side bet, typically half your original wager, to insure against him achieving Blackjack (i.e. his second card has a value of ten, giving a hand of twenty-one with just two cards).
Once you have concluded your turn without busting, the dealer then plays their hand. At the conclusion of the dealer’s turn the hands are compared and the strongest wins. In the event that the final hands are equal in value there is a ‘Push’ with the dealer and you get your original bet back.
The Online Game
We’d always recommend reading the game guides at the online casino you’ve chosen to play with to familiarise yourself with the specifics of its software and any variations in its Blackjack games. However, in general, you can expect to play at a virtual simulation of a classic Blackjack table with a console of clearly marked buttons that you click to make your playing decisions. A set of virtual chips of different denominations will also be displayed, from which you can select the bet you wish to make before requesting a hand from the dealer. Any wins or losses are automatically credited to or debited from your player account as appropriate.
You may also be offered ‘multi-hand’ and/or ‘multi-player’ Blackjack at your chosen online casino which are popular variations of the basic games as follows:
Multi-player Blackjack – More than one player can play against the dealer at a single table. All players are still only competing with the dealer, and not with each other, but the opportunity to interact with the other online players using text messages can make the playing experience more sociable and akin to playing Blackjack in a real-world casino.
Multi-hand Blackjack – This is a way to play up to five hands at once against the dealer. You play each of your hands in turn to create the strongest one you can, giving you more opportunities to try and beat the dealer’s hand in that game.