A Basic Introduction to Blackjack Card Games
Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world and has evolved over time to become a staple in both land-based casinos and online casinos globally. The game is an exciting mix of both luck and strategy, making it an appealing game for both beginners and experienced players alike.
When you play Blackjack, you’re playing a one-to-one game that is purely between you and the dealer. Although you may well see other people at the table depending on the type of Blackjack you’re playing, they’ll all be playing and placing bets between themselves and the Blackjack dealer, just like yourself. This applies regardless of whether you’re playing Blackjack online with other online casino players around the world or at a physical table in a land-based casino where you can see the other players in the flesh.
Blackjack is a simple game to play and one that you can pick up easily within just a few minutes of starting off. However, when it comes to understanding the rules in detail, it’s worth studying them further as you’ll be at a serious advantage and in a much stronger position to beat the house if you do! On top of that, there are quite a few variations of the game so you can read up on all of them and see which one suits you best! No matter which version you choose, once you fully grasp the ins and outs of the game, you’ll be a Blackjack master in no time!
A Guide On How to Play Blackjack Online for Free
The goal of Blackjack is simple and can be summed up in one sentence: Players do their best to get a hand with a value that is either exactly 21 or closer to 21 than the hand of the dealer. Of course, how this is accomplished in practice requires more than a few stages depending on one’s familiarity with Blackjack rules and the cards that are dealt. Because of this, you are encouraged to try a classic online Blackjack game in play-for-fun mode to familiarise yourself with how it works. To play for free, select any online Blackjack game that you are interested in trying and click or tap the 'Demo Play' button.
Basic Online Blackjack Gameplay
Here are the general steps any Blackjack player will go through in a standard Blackjack game whether it is an online casino game or offline in a land-based casino:
- As with any other casino game, the first step is to place your bet. (Depending on the type of Blackjack you are playing, more than one bet can be placed.)
- At the beginning of a round, you will be dealt two cards face up while the dealer will have one card face up and another face down.
- In Blackjack, the numbers on each number card match their respective value, the face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are counted as 10 and the Ace is counted as either an 11 or a 1 depending on which value benefits the player more.
- Based on the cards you can see (your own and the dealer’s face up card), you generally have two options which are:
- Hit: You request for another card to be added to your hand (Every new card requested is called a ‘hit’ and you can choose to have as many cards as you want to be dealt to you until you either stop, get a total card value of 21 or have your total card value exceed 21. When your total card value exceeds 21, it is called 'going bust'; in this instance, you will immediately lose the round and said round will come to an end.)
- Stand: You are satisfied with your current hand and would like to stick with it
- Once your last card has been dealt, the dealer will deal cards for their own hand according to rules that revolve around your hand.
- If your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s at the end of the dealer’s turn, you will win double your bet amount.
If the first two cards that you were dealt already equal 21 (for instance, you get an Ace and a King or an Ace and a Jack), you not only automatically win but also get an additional 50% of your bet as part of your winnings. This hand is called ‘Blackjack’ and as you can guess, the round ends there without you having to choose whether to ‘hit’ or ‘stand’. Additionally, the dealer will not bother to deal any cards for their own hand and it will not matter even if they have a Blackjack hand of their own.
Rules Regarding the Dealer’s Hand in Blackjack
When a player is satisfied with their hand regardless of whether they’ve requested for extra cards or not, it is the dealer’s turn to act. Unlike the player, however, all of the dealer's actions are automatic and based on specific Blackjack rules. Things begin when the dealer turns their face-down card up to reveal the total value of their hand:
- If the total is 17 or more, they must ‘stand’.
- If the total is less than 17, they must ‘hit’ until the total is 17 or more at which point they must ‘stand’.
- If one of the dealer’s cards is an Ace and counting it as 11 instead of 1 would push the total to 17 or more but not over 21, the Ace must be counted as 11 and they must ‘stand’.
Additional Betting Options in Online Blackjack
Depending on the type of online Blackjack game being played, players will find that they have an extra choice or two they can make at various stages of any particular round. These include:
- Double Down: Under certain circumstances such as if your hand’s total value is between 9 and 11, you can choose to double your bet. When you double down, you will only be dealt one additional card and no more for the round; in other words, you will have to 'stand' after that. Some games will allow players to increase their bet by less than double; this option is called 'double for less'.
- Split: If you have a pair of any card, you can choose to split them and create two separate hands. This will require placing another bet on the new hand; once you do, the two hands will be dealt one card each so they both have two cards like any normal starting Blackjack hand. The two hands are played independently from each other and you are able to win or lose on each hand independently.
- Re-Split: In some games, you will be allowed to 're-split' if the cards have the same value after you have already split your hand. If you do so, you will have to place another bet on the new hand, the two same-value cards will be split and a new card will be dealt to each hand. Depending on the game, you may be allowed to make an unlimited number of re-splits or there may be a limit of a certain number of hands.
- Multi-Hand: In some online Blackjack games, you can immediately start playing a round of Blackjack with as many as five hands at once from the very beginning without first having to get a pair of cards.
- Insurance: If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, you have the option to place a special bet called ‘insurance’. This bet will pay out if the dealer’s hand is revealed to be a ‘Blackjack’.
- Side Bets: Available in certain online Blackjack games, this option is, as its name suggests, a way for you to make additional bets unrelated to the hands that have been dealt. These include betting on whether your initial hand’s total is more or less than 13 and the 21+3 side bet which involves a bit of poker knowledge.
- Surrender: This option which is only available in specific variations of online Blackjack allows you to give up and get half your bet back if your hand looks unfavourable to you.
Discover the Different Variations of Online Blackjack
Unsurprisingly, different versions of Blackjack have been invented over the years and are now played by fans of the classic card game all over the world. Below are some of the most popular variations and how they differ from one another:
- American Blackjack: American Blackjack typically uses six to eight decks of cards. The dealer’s hand is dealt first, and if the face-up card is an Ace the player can make an insurance bet before the dealer peeks at the face-down card. If that card results in a Blackjack, the round ends immediately with the player’s loss but the player will receive a payout on their insurance bet if they made one.
- European Blackjack: European Blackjack is one of the most widely played variants of Blackjack. In it, the dealer’s face-up card is dealt first followed by the player’s two cards. This variation allows for doubling down and splitting under specific rules, and it is only after the player has settled on their final hand that the dealer’s second card is dealt.
- Pontoon: This British version of Blackjack uses different terms and players must ‘twist’ (the Pontoon equivalent of ‘hit’) if their hand’s total value is less than 15. Pontoon stands out from its Blackjack counterparts by having both of the dealer's cards face down at the start. If both hands have the same value, the dealer wins even if the player has a Pontoon (in other words, Blackjack).
- Multi-Hand Blackjack: This is the variation of Blackjack which has the option to play several hands simultaneously as its main selling point.
- 21 Burn Blackjack: This is a unique version of Blackjack that allows players to 'burn' their second card and replace it with a random new card by placing a Burn bet that is half their original wager.
Play Blackjack Online with Live Dealers
A large number of online Blackjack games are completely digital down to the ‘person’ dealing the cards, leaving some Blackjack fans feeling as if there is something missing from their favourite card game. Thankfully, the advancement of technology has enabled online casino players to play this classic table game with a live dealer regardless of where they are in the world.
These live dealers handle real cards while standing at real tables and operate in shifts, ensuring that a live Blackjack game is always available no matter the hour in whichever country the player is from. It gives players the opportunity to enjoy a real life Blackjack experience from the comfort of their own homes or through their mobile devices. If this concept appeals to you, feel free to start a round of online Blackjack with live Blackjack dealers today.
Claim Online Blackjack Promotions and Bonuses
Players who love Blackjack will be pleased to know that EmuCasino has a special Live Casino Welcome Bonus that they can use on our live Blackjack games. This special promotion is also applicable to all of our other live casino games and those interested in similar bonuses can keep an eye out for future promotions that cater to our online Blackjack games.
Learn Some Basic Blackjack Strategy
While there is no perfect strategy for playing Blackjack as part of the fun of the game comes from the element of luck and chance that comes with one being dealt random cards, there are some tips that could prove useful for you to keep in mind before you dive into the game.
The Types of Hands in Blackjack
Firstly, there are two types of hands in Blackjack: soft and hard. If there is an Ace in your hand, then it is considered a 'soft' hand as the Ace can be counted as either an 11 or a 1. If there are no Aces in your hand, then it is a 'hard' hand as the values are fixed to the stated value of the cards you have and cannot change. Having a hard or soft hand is important as it can affect whether you choose to 'hit' or 'stand'.
When Should You Hit or Stand?
At the start of a round, one of the dealer's cards will be face up; this gives the player some additional information that can be used to help them choose their next actions accordingly. A good tip is to always assume that one of the dealer's cards is worth a 10 as it will allow you to make prudent decisions for your turn.
In general, it is advised to stand if you have a hard 17 or higher no matter what card the dealer has face-up. This is because there are much fewer cards that could benefit your hand and you could easily go bust if you choose to take the risk by hitting.
If the game allows it, double down on a hard 11 to maximise and take advantage of this powerful starting hand as there is a good chance of being dealt a card with a value of 6 or higher. Doing so will put the player in a strong position against the dealer.
Another basic Blackjack strategy is to never split a pair of 10s as having a total of 20 will give you a very high chance of winning that round.
Nowadays, it is quite easy to find more in-depth Blackjack strategies online which will show all the recommended actions that a player should take based on their own hand and the dealer's face up card. Some of these guides even come complete with Blackjack strategy charts that outline what should be done in the event of nearly every possibility down to the specific value of the face-up card in the dealer’s hand. However, it should be stressed that these basic strategies are not a guarantee for winning but rather a way to reduce the house’s edge.
Learn the Mysterious History of Blackjack
Online Blackjack is sometimes regarded as one of the easiest and most enjoyable online casino games to get into but the history of the game is not 100% clear. It is believed that Blackjack and its precursor which is simply called ‘twenty-one’ originated from France around the 1700’s.
However, the first written reference to the game under the name 'veintiuna' which is Spanish for twenty-one is in a short story by the famous Spanish author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra written sometime between 1601 and 1602. It follows the comedic adventures of two petty criminals who manage to cheat unsuspecting victims in games of veintiuna. Beyond that, some state that its origins go even further back than that with variations of the game having been played as early as the days of the Roman Empire.
A popular myth states that when 'vingt-un' (twenty-one) was brought to the United States (either in the early 1800s or 1900s, depending on the source), bonus payouts were offered by gambling houses to drum up interest in the game. One of these special bonuses was a ten-to-one payout if the player had a hand with an Ace of Spades and a black Jack – a combination that is supposedly the root of the game’s name that is now known and beloved by all: Blackjack. Although the bonus no longer exists in modern Blackjack, the catchy name has stuck and is clearly here to stay.
Unfortunately, this myth has since been debunked by French card historian Thierry Depaulis who has theorised that the game got its name during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s. According to his theory, the prospectors of that era played an American version of vingt-un and applied the nickname of the mineral zincblende – today referred to as sphalerite – which was commonly associated with precious metal deposits to the bonus hand with the highest value. That nickname, of course, was none other than blackjack.
Regardless of its true origins, Blackjack has evolved throughout the years and has now grown into what is undeniably a worldwide phenomenon. In fact, few casinos across the globe today do not have at least one Blackjack table housed within its four walls, and many casino goers play it to the exclusion of all other available casino games.
The staying power of Blackjack as a casino game favourite remains even in the modern age thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of online gambling and internet Blackjack which has made playing Blackjack online not just easier than ever but also possible in a live casino setting.
Frequently Asked Questions about Online Blackjack
Is Blackjack the same as 21?
Yes, blackjack is also known by the name 21 as the goal of the game is to have a higher hand total than the dealer without exceeding 21.
What is a house edge in Blackjack?
The house edge is the mathematical advantage that a casino has over players over a long period of time. Blackjack has one of the lowest house edges in live casinos, making it an incredibly accessible game for players who would prefer to keep any potential losses to a minimum.
Can I play Blackjack on mobile?
Yes, you can play online Blackjack and live Blackjack on mobile here at EmuCasino. Our responsive website means that you can play your favourite games on your chosen mobile device directly through your web browser without having to download a separate app to enjoy your favourite games.
Can I play Blackjack for free?
You can play any of our online Blackjack games for free on EmuCasino. All you have to do is select the game you would like to play while logged out of your EmuCasino account then click 'Demo Play'. After that, you will be able to play for free for as long as you like!
However, there is no demo play for any of our live casino games at this moment and that includes live Blackjack.
What is the strongest hand in Blackjack?
The best hand in Blackjack is a 10 value card (such as a 10 or one of the face cards) paired with an Ace, which will give the players an instant Blackjack and an instant win. In general, it is advised to stand if your hand is a 17 or higher as hitting will potentially cause you to go bust.