Basics of Online Blackjack
Blackjack is a thinking person’s casino game. There are several credible books on how you can beat the dealer in blackjack and players have translated that at the tables. It will take time and effort before you become a blackjack master, but we can get you started on this journey.
How to Play Blackjack?
The objective of blackjack is get the value of your hand as close to 21 as possible without going over (busting). The dealer’s hand is automatically played according to set rules. If neither hand has busted, the hand with the higher value wins.
You are dealt two cards to start with and the dealer also has two cards, one face up and the other face down. You can keep taking more cards or can stop anytime. Which of the two you should do at any time depends on your present hand value and the dealer’s face up card. This is the main strategy that you will need to master. If your hand value crosses 21 then you immediately lose the bet.
If you decide to stand on a hand value of 21 or less, the dealer hand is automatically played out based on a set of rules entered in the software. If the dealer busts then you win. If the dealer also stands then the hand with the higher value wins.
You have to place your wager before the cards are dealt. If you win then the payout is 1 to 1, which means that you win an amount equal to your bet and have the bet returned to you. If you lose then the casino collects your bet.
There is an enhanced payout if you are dealt a “blackjack” in your first two cards. This is a special hand that consists of an ace (11 points) and any card with 10 points (ten, jack, queen or king). If both you and the dealer have blackjack, the bet pushes, but if only you are dealt a blackjack the payout is 3 to 2.
Understanding Blackjack Moves
Blackjack is much more than merely deciding whether or not to take an extra card and that is what makes the game so interesting.
- Hit is asking the dealer for another card
- Stand is telling the dealer that you do not want any more cards
Some of the other moves are explained in more detail.
If your first two cards form a pair, which is they are of identical ranks, then you can exercise the option to Split. You will have to place another bet of the same amount because you will be playing two hands. Your pair will be split and you will be dealt a second card to each. Then you play each hand independently.
Just because you can split does not mean that you have to split. An important aspect of blackjack strategy is in knowing which pairs to split and which to play as a single hand.
After seeing your dealt two cards but before making any other move you have the option to double your bet. This benefit comes with a condition that you have to take one more card and only one more card. Doubling is beneficial only on certain combination of cards and this also forms a part of optimum blackjack strategy.
Average Return to Player
Average return to player cannot be calculated mathematically for blackjack games. Computer simulation of millions of hands under the same set of rules has been used to determine the average return. The good news is that for most blackjack variants the return would be around 99.5%. Before you get euphoric, a couple of clarifications need to be made.
- These high returns are valid only if you employ optimum blackjack strategy throughout. If you make errors in executing your moves, the average return will fall sharply.
- Though the returns are high the normal payout is only even money and the blackjack payout of 3 to 2 is marginally better. In blackjack you cannot win 100x your bet in a deal.
Common Online Blackjack Variants
Blackjack as originally played in European casinos and in American casinos had one fundamental difference. Though the impact on average return is minimal, a change in strategy is required.
In American Blackjack the dealer’s second card is dealt face down. This is known as a hole card. If the dealer’s first card is an ace, the dealer immediately peeks at the hole card. If it has a value of 10, the hole card is turned over and blackjack declared. If the hole card does not have a value of 10, then the game proceeds normally. However, you are secure in the knowledge that the dealer does not have a blackjack.
European Blackjack is played under a “no hole card” rule, which means that the hole card is not dealt upfront. If the dealer’s first card is an ace, there is a possibility of the dealer eventually getting a blackjack. This calls for a less aggressive blackjack strategy particularly in staking extra amounts through Split and Double moves.
Blackjack Games with Side Bets
Blackjack games developers like Microgaming and Playtech are aware of the low payouts in the game. They have created blackjack variants with some exciting side bets that pay out significantly higher amounts. However, you should know that these bets offer lower average returns than the main game.
- High Streak Blackjack
- Perfect Pairs Blackjack
- Suit Em Up Blackjack
Using the Blackjack Strategy Card
One way to achieve the 99.5% average returns is to master blackjack strategy. However, if you are playing blackjack at online casinos then this is not the only way. You will find strategy cards for most blackjack variants through a simple Internet search. These cards clearly specify what the correct move is for every situation you will be in. So use the blackjack strategy card and do not lose out.