Online blackjack has the smallest house edge of any casino game when using proper strategy.
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As more states legalize online casino gambling, players are learning that online blackjack can offer several advantages over the land-based game in brick and mortar casinos, most notably convenience, but also a wider selection of blackjack games to choose from, lower minimum bets and a faster pace of play.
Online blackjack technology has even made it possible to interact with an actual dealer. In live dealer games, hands are dealt by a real person and streamed to your computer or mobile device, allowing for online chats with the dealer and other players at your table.
At Gambling.com, we’ve spent years evaluating online casino and blackjack sites around the world and have applied that same critical eye to our reviews of U.S. blackjack sites. These are among the key factors we consider:
Safety and support: We never recommend offshore-based sites that are unregulated and provide unnecessary risk. We only recommend regulated sites that are licensed in their respective states, ensuring your account is secure and the games are fair. We also check responsiveness of online support staffs.
Bonus offers: Promotions and bonuses are offered to all new players but vary considerably in size and wagering requirements. We read the conditions and fine print.
Mobile experience: Our reviewers sign up for accounts, wager and test the software. The best online blackjack sites will have responsive apps for both Android and iOS mobile devices.
Game variety: Brick and mortar casinos have limited floor space and generally offer only traditional blackjack games. The best online blackjack sites offer several blackjack variants with low minimum bets.
Easy payments: When playing online blackjack for real money, players should have multiple options to make deposits and withdrawals, including Play+, e-wallets such as PayPal, bank transfers and credit, debit and prepaid cards such as Mastercard or Visa.
The rules of blackjack are simple. Playing perfect basic blackjack strategy is more difficult. All hands are player vs. dealer. Blackjack players do not compete vs. other players at the table.
After you have registered at an online casino and funded your bankroll, go to the game lobby and select blackjack, whether it be live dealer or purely online.
Each player makes a bet to start the game. The dealer (random number generator in online blackjack) then deals two cards to each player and two to himself (one dealer card is exposed, the other is face down). Players then choose whether to stand pat or take more cards (hit), with the goal to reach as close to 21 as possible without going over (bust, an automatic loss).
The dealer acts last and must hit on hands of 16 or less and stand pat on 17 through 21. Closest hand to 21 without going over wins.
Cards 2-through-10 count as their numerical value. All picture cards count as 10, and aces count as 1 or 11. Each player’s hand is the sum total of the card values in the hand. A hand with Jack-9 is 19; a hand with Ace-2-3-5-6 is 17. A hand with Ace-7 is 8 or 18.
A player has a blackjack when dealt an ace with a 10 or picture card and is usually paid at 3-2 odds (unless the dealer has a blackjack, too, which results in a push).
The most strategic element in online blackjack is determining when to stand or hit based on the dealer’s upcard. In addition, players must choose when to double down (double their bet with the addition of a single card), split pairs (creating two hands when dealt two of the same numerical cards), or if available, surrender (drop out of the hand and lose just half your bet).
Among the most common bonuses offered to new online blackjack players:
No-deposit bonus: A cash bonus after registering for an account, with no deposit required.
Welcome bonus/first-deposit match: For new players who create an account and make a deposit. Often comes in the form of a bonus match in which the online casino operator will match that amount up to 100 percent.
Note that all of these bonuses are offered with specific terms and conditions and include some form of wagering requirement. Most bonuses cannot be redeemed until a specified number of blackjack hands are played with the bonus money, and usually within a certain timeframe.
Also, be aware that the terms can different from casino to casino, meaning the Golden Nugget could have easier requirement to meet than, say, Pala Casino. Among the differences could be the playthrough requirement or what percentage of your bets apply to satisfying the bonus requirement. Slots, for instance, typically count 100 percent but table games can be as low as 10-20 percent.
Most U.S. online casinos work with several blackjack software providers, which adds to the variety of blackjack games and increases availability on mobile devices. Some software providers specialize in live dealer blackjack games. In live dealer, the hands are dealt by an actual dealer and then streamed to a player’s computer for mobile device, providing a more social experience. Among the more popular blackjack software providers:
NetEnt: One of the first software providers to work with online casinos, offers a wide selection of online and live dealer blackjack games.
Evolution Gaming: The biggest supplier of live dealer casino games, with several variants of blackjack offered.
Microgaming: Company’s blackjack software is among the most popular worldwide, offering both single and multihand games, along with Double Exposure, a game in which all of the dealer’s cards are exposed.
Betsoft: Well-known for its 3D video slot games, but also offers blackjack and other online table games.
You can play online blackjack for free, on desktop or mobile device, with no sign-up required. In fact, online casinos allow customers to play nearly all their games for free. While Gambling.com is the leading source for online blackjack for real money, we encourage players to initially play for free. That allows players to become familiar with the software and improve their skills before risking their own money.
There are benefits and reasons for both, with the player’s skillset the most important factor.
The advantages of playing free blackjack:
The advantages of playing blackjack for real money:
The most important step to help win at blackjack is learning basic strategy.
That means knowing when to hit, stand, double down or split pairs against the dealer’s upcard on every hand, based on mathematical analysis.
That sounds like a lot to memorize, and the good news is you don’t have to. Simply find a correct basic strategy chart, which you can consult on every hand. The more hands you play, the more the decisions will come naturally. Playing correct basic strategy on every hand keeps the house edge as low as possible.
Make sure the game you are playing offers the most favorable odds. For example, being dealt a blackjack should pay 3–to-2. Some online casino games may pay 6-to-5. Compare a $20 bet: 3-to-2 pays you $30; 6-5 pays only $24.
Play online blackjack games that allow doubling down on any two cards and doubling after splitting pairs. Games that restrict these options significantly increase the house’s edge.
Practice by playing for free. This will help hone your game until ready to play for real money.
Counting cards is not illegal in online blackjack. It’s just not practical or realistic.
Card counting can be an effective strategy at land-based blackjack games if enough cards are played before the deck is shuffled, giving some players a better idea of what cards remain in the deck. But in online blackjack, a random number generator is used to ensure fairness, making card counting unrealistic.
Card counting might be considered more viable in live dealer blackjack games (dealt by a person, not a machine). But many of these games also utilize continuous shufflers, and in games dealt out of a shoe, cards are sometimes shuffled when only half the deck or less has been played.
In addition to traditional blackjack, online casinos offer several variants with slightly different rules. Among the most popular:
Blackjack Surrender: A player can surrender the hand before it’s over and lose half of the amount wagered.
European Blackjack: The dealer is not dealt a hole card until all of the players’ hands are complete.
Spanish 21: The four tens are removed from the deck, which increases the house edge. But other rules favor the player, including a hand of 21 always beats a dealer’s 21.
Blackjack Switch: A player makes two bets of equal size, is dealt two separate hands, and has the option of switching the second card dealt to each hand. To offset that player edge, blackjack only pays even money and a dealer hand of 22 is a push against any non-blackjack hand for the player.
Double Exposure: Both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face up, so players always know what they’re up against. Blackjack pays even money and dealer wins all ties (except blackjack, which is a push).
Stand: When you have a set of cards you feel is strong enough to beat the dealer, you “stand.’’ The dealer will then move on to the next player or his own hand.
Hit: Players are initially dealt two cards. You ask for a ‘’hit’’ when you want to add another card to your hand. The objective is to get as close to 21 in total face value without going over.
Split: If your first two cards are of equal value (for example, two eights), you may “split” your hand into two separate hands and place a bet on each hand. You then continue to play both hands until you stand or bust.
Double: After your first two cards are dealt, you can double your bet if your hand is strong and/or the dealer’s upcard is weak. You will receive only one card. Doubling is sometimes offered on split hands as well.
Blackjack: The name for the best hand in the game, which includes an ace and a card with a face value of 10.
Even Money: A type of insurance specific to blackjack. If a player has a blackjack and the dealer is showing an ace, the player can ask for even money and automatically receive a payout of 1-to-1, instead of 3-to-2.
First Base: The player at the seat to the dealer’s immediate left is at first base. This player receives their cards first and is first to act in the game.
Hole Card: The card that is dealt face down. Once players have decided how they wish to act on their hands, the hole card can be revealed.
Surrender: If a player believes a hand is likely lost, he can choose to surrender. By doing so, they fold their hand and receive half of their bet back.
Upcard: The card belonging to the dealer which is dealt face up.
For the sake of brevity, many table rules are abbreviated. The most common ones:
BSE: Basic Strategy Edge, meaning you can get better odds using basic strategy.
DOA: Double down on any of your initial two cards.
D10/11: Double down is only permitted on 10 and 11.
DAS: Double down is allowed after splitting a pair.
ESR: Early surrender allowed. Not often available, but when it is, you can surrender your initial hand before the dealer checks for blackjack. By doing so, the player loses half the original wager.
LSR: Late surrender allowed. You can surrender your hand after the dealer checks for blackjack and lose half the original wager.
H17: The dealer must hit on soft 17.
S17: The dealer must stand on soft 17.
O/U: A sidebet in which a player can wager his initial two cards will be over or under a total of 13.
RSA: Re-splitting aces is allowed.
What does it mean when I bust?
If the total of your cards exceeds 21, you are said to have bust and your bet is lost. The dealer can also bust under the same circumstances.
What does it mean to hit?
When you draw an additional card to your hand, you have taken a hit.
What is insurance?
A sidebet of up to half of your original bet, available when a dealer’s upcard is an ace. If the dealer has blackjack, the insurance bet pays 2-1. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the insurance bet is lost.
What is a push?
The hand ends in a tie and your original bet is returned.
What does it mean to surrender?
Some blackjack games offer surrender, in which the player can fold the hand before completion and lose half their wager.
Check out all the factors that matter most to you, such as:
Game variations: If you want to play beyond traditional blackjack, determine which sites offer the most blackjack choices and player-friendly odds.
Live dealer: If you prefer a more social experience, consider the sites that offer live dealer blackjack, in which players can live chat with the dealer and other players.
Betting limits: Each blackjack site and table has its own betting limits. Many players prefer small minimum bets. More experienced players may want games with higher maximum bets.
Comfort level: Find sites that offer software that is easy to use both on your computer and mobile devices. Find games that offer a pace of play that is comfortable for you.
If you are playing blackjack at a licensed and regulated online casino, the games are fair and the funds in your account are secure. We do not recommend playing blackjack at offshore-based online casinos, which are unregulated and offer players little or no recourse if a problem arises.
Yes. In fact, the house advantage in blackjack, when played with correct basic strategy, is the smallest of any online table game, giving players a realistic chance to win real money.
Players have a variety of deposit and withdrawal options for their online blackjack accounts. The most popular are Play+ prepaid cards; e-wallets such as PayPal, Neteller or Skrill; bank and wire transfers; PayNearMe at local convenience stores; and credit/debit cards. In addition, players can visit the cashier cage at the land-based casino that is partnered with their online casino.
Yes. You can use your Android or Apple mobile device to play a wide variety of blackjack games for real money. The apps can be downloaded at the App Store or Google Play Store.
Not very effectively. Online blackjack games are played with a random number generator (akin to a continuous shuffle machine), making it virtually impossible to accurately determine which cards remain to be played.
Yes. If you are playing at a licensed site in a state in which online gambling is legal, your account is safe. If you have an issue or complaint with your online blackjack operator, you can bring it to the attention of the regulatory agency in your state, which has the power to investigate. Offshore casinos offer no such protection.
The difference between high and low stakes games is the amount of money that players are willing to bet. High rollers can find high stakes games at both online and land-based casinos. Players who prefer low stakes will find far more games available online, some of which allow minimum bets of $1 or less.
Yes. You can play multiplayer blackjack at most online casinos. Or you can find a live dealer blackjack game, which will include other players at your table.
A computer or mobile device with an internet connection. You also must be of legal age, set up an account in a state that allows online casino wagering, and be physically located within that state when placing a bet.
You can find online blackjack software and games at the App Store or Google Play Store.
When a player receives a blackjack, the payoff odds are 3-to-2. Most other bets are paid off at even money. Doubling down and pair splitting allows players to double the size of their original bet. Variants of blackjack games offer sidebets, which are additional wagers that pay out at higher odds. For example, a flush of three cards (player’s first two cards and dealer’s upcard) offer odds of 5-1. Three of a kind offers a 30-1 payout.
Online blackjack uses the same rules and odds as land-based casino blackjack. Online casinos offer more variations of blackjack, some of which may slightly lower the house edge, and others that offer sidebets that may significantly raise the house advantage.
"More than 30 years working in online gaming and sports journalism. I hope to explain the growing US online casino market to help those new to internet gambling have a better understanding."