Online blackjack combines chance with skills. With many variations, players will never grow tired of this card game. From Live Casino blackjack, where the game is streamed live and dealt by real dealers, to free blackjack games, where you have the opportunity to refine your game without having to spend any money.
Click on the links below to find the best online blackjack UK sites, and the different versions of the game you can play.
Rules of Online Blackjack
There is little or no difference between how the game is played in an online casino and how it might be played at a land-based site.
You are dealt one card at a time, face up, with the ultimate aim being to create a hand that is worth 21 or less and is better than the hand the dealer holds. Winning hands pay out at 1-1, expect for Blackjack (when you hit 21 exactly in two cards), which pays at 1½ -1 (unless the dealer hits Blackjack too, when it is a ‘push’ or stalemate – no win and no loss).
When a hand begins, each player receives a face up card, and then another. The dealer receives one card face down and then a second, face up, when all players have received their second card.
Once a player’s two initial cards have been dealt, their options are as follows: they can ‘stick’ (receive no more cards) or ‘hit’ (receive another card). Players can continue to hit either until they choose to stick (when they are still at 21 or under) or until they ‘bust’ (go over 21), in which case their hand is over and they lose their bet.
As well as these choices, players have other options during the course of a hand. If they receive two cards of equal value, these can be ‘split’ (i.e., each card becomes the basis of a new, separate hand, manning they now have two hands in play), or they can ‘double’, which means to double the size of the bet already on the table, but they can then only receive one further card (doubling, however, can only be done under certain conditions – each variation of the game has its own rules regarding this).
Cards in online blackjack have the same values as in other versions of the game, with Aces worth either 1 or 10, picture cards worth 10, with the remaining cards being worth their face value. In online versions, the order in which cards are dealt is determined by a random number generator (RNG) and this is not affected by the cards that have been dealt in previous hands. In effect, this means that every hand of online blackjack is played with a full deck.
To understand the odds in online blackjack, you need to understand the House Edge. This is the advantage that the casino has, through the laws of probability, over the player. In the online casinos that we recommend, the House Edge in most varieties is between 0.25% – 1%.
This puts blackjack amongst the online casino games with the lowest House Edge, with the exception of some video poker games, some craps bets, and the gamble feature when you’re playing slots.
Although blackjack is a game of chance, and players can have no way of knowing or affecting what card is to be dealt next, the game is far from devoid of strategy. By understanding probability, it is possible to make decisions on whether to stick or twist, double or split, based on the most likely outcome in any given situation during the game.
This is known as Basic Strategy and knowing how it works and being able successfully to implement is crucial if you hope to have any long-term success playing blackjack online. A Basic Strategy chart is used to determine what course of action a player should take based not only on their cards, but on the dealer’s face up card as well, as this plays as big a part in decision making as the cards the player themselves hold.
Click here to learn more about Basic Strategy and how it can be used at online blackjack UK sites.
Our Top 5 Tips
- Learn to play the game with free online blackjack.Take advantage of the fact that the casinos we recommend all have free blackjack games you can play without having to dip into your bankroll, or in some cases without even registering for an account. Playing for free gives you the chance to get to grips with Basic Strategy and to put into place an approach to wagering that gives you the maximum amount of enjoyment fir the least outlay, Sampling the game for free means that when you come to play for real money, you’ll have far more confidence in how it’s played and your own decision making.
- Choose a stake size that is right for you.Playing blackjack or any casino game online is about maximising your enjoyment, and knowing how much to play for (and when to stop playing) are central to this. To understand what an appropriate stake is, work on the basis playing a minimum of twenty hands e.g., if you set yourself a net loss limit of £100 for a playing session, then you shouldn’t play at a table where the minimum stake is any more than £5. And when you have set your net loss limit, walk away if you reach it. You can always come back and enjoy the game again another day.
- Doubling and splitting – the basics.There are particular situations in a game when it is always the right move to split, and others when it definitely isn’t. The same applies to doubling. Therefore, understanding these two crucial elements of Basic Strategy can go a long way to improving both the quality of your play and your enjoyment of the game.
You should always split when:
– you have 6-6, 7-7 and 9-9 when the dealer shows 6 or lower
– you have either A-A or 8-8
You should always double when:
– you show Ace with a 4, 5 or 6 and the dealer has 6 or lower
– you show 10 and the dealer shows less
– you show 5-5 and the dealer shows less than 10
- Don’t take insurance and don’t surrenderIf the dealer is showing Ace, players have the option to take Insurance against their hitting Blackjack. Insurance is a side bet that pays 2-1 and offers some compensation if you lose out. However, the probability of the dealer hitting Blackjack means this a bet that’s not worth it.
Some games give you the option to ‘surrender’, which means to fold a hand when you show 16 and the dealer has A, 10 or 9 i.e., it seems highly unlikely that you will win; if you do surrender, you get half your stake back. Once again, however, analysis over an extended period of time shows this to be a bet that isn’t good value and so should be avoided.
- Strategies to avoid
When you first start to play or get interested in blackjack, you will no doubt come across a lot of strategies that some people swear never fail. However, these are all less effective in both the short- and long-term than understanding and using Basic Strategy.Two of the most popular strategies that you might read or hear about, but which should be avoided, are ‘Mimic the Dealer’ where, like the House, you never split or double. Another is ‘Assume 10 in the Hole’ where you play every hand on the basis that the dealer’s face down card is a 10.
The Different Versions
Although there are many different varieties of online blackjack games that you can enjoy at our recommended casinos, the basic principles are almost always the same; the game revolves around trying to hit 21 or get as close to it as possible with a better hand than the dealer.
Classic, American, Atlantic City and European are probably the most common online versions of the game. These are all largely the same, although there are some variations in when you’re able to double and split.
Some of the other varieties of the game that are less common but can nevertheless be played at our online casinos include Surrender, Spanish, HiLo 13, and pontoon. You can also play most versions of the game in our Live Casinos, all streamed either from studios or casino floors, and dealt by real dealers.
Blackjack is the ideal game to be played online, in that you can play for free to learn Basic Strategy, the cards you receive are not influenced by the decisions of other players, you can play at your own pace, and you can choose from a number of different versions of the game. You can also have the best of both worlds when you play the game in one of our Live Casinos.
You can find the best UK online casinos for blackjack and the different versions of the game they offer on our UK casino review pages.