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Blackjack: the MVP of casino card games

Online Baccarat
Baccarat: Card game of the high rollers
Online Baccarat
Baccarat: Card game of the high rollers

Card games at casinos have one MVP: blackjack. You will find the most players playing blackjack at tables both online and in brick and mortar casinos. It leads that pack in terms of popularity with slot machines, with slot machines just slightly ahead.

If you play online blackjack you are in good company. Where slots are games of pure luck, online blackjack is a balance between skills, concentration and a little luck. Although it is very easy to learn how to play blackjack for money it will take you a bit longer to learn how to become a great player. When gambling online you can however first practice your online blackjack skills.

Through the rest of this page we will try to give you an in depth understanding of all aspects of blackjack. We will use online blackjack as an example very often as it is the easiest place to learn for free. There are two other pages however where we look at blackjack strategy (mainly card counting) and the blackjack basic strategy in far more detail.

There are some very basic strategies you can use when playing, which will ensure you some very good paydays. However it gets very interesting when you head into the world of real money online blackjack tournaments. Online blackjack allows you to step into a casino for either a game of blackjack on your own (including a few variations) or you can play some of the thrilling online blackjack tournaments. All you need to do is read up on how to play, chose a casino and play.

Here is the shortened version of our blackjack strategy document

  • Blackjack – trying to catch up to the house edge
  • There will be various parts through cover through our blackjack section. It covers the very basics of the game as well as the commonly used basic strategy. Then we move on to a few more intricate bits when we get into the blackjack strategy more seriously. There is also loads to read up on about the top blackjack pro’s out there.

    How does online blackjack for money work?

    During an online blackjack game cards are dealt from a deck of cards called a shoe. A shoe may contain one standard 52-card deck or up to 6 such decks. When you play an online blackjack game at online casinos for money the cards are shuffled after each hand.

    In a blackjack game the object of the game is to obtain a hand with the highest possible value without exceeding 21. All face cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks) have a value of ten and the Aces can have a value of either one or eleven. The rest of the cards in a blackjack game carry the value as it shows up on the card.

    To start of an online blackjack game the dealer will deal you two cards and if the total does not exceed 21 then you may request additional cards. You may then continue requesting more cards until such time as you reach 21 or exceed it (in which case you bust and the dealer then wins).

    online blackjack
    The main differences between playing online and offline is that you can play more hands per hour online and it is always easily accessible online.
    When you are playing an online blackjack game and decide not to take any further cards you stand. The dealer will then deal a single card to himself and continue to do so until his total exceeds 16. A Blackjack dealer as a rule needs to keep requesting cards if he has a value total of 16 or less and he has to stand once he reaches a total of 17.

    If you bust the online blackjack game is over and the dealer wins. If the dealer busts the Blackjack game is also over and you win. If you reach 21 or choose to stand the Blackjack dealer will continue to request cards until he has 17 or more.

    Online Blackjack related information (did you know you can play for free?)

    Online blackjack is definitely one of the most popular of the casino games you will find. If you are new to online blackjack there might however be some blackjack terms that doesn’t make much sense. As you are gambling online you can then hone your skills by first playing for free.

    There are also loads of online blackjack systems on the internet and they are sadly all flawed. The most popular misconception is that you can count the cards. This used to be an option at some land based casinos. The card counters were however stopped a number of years ago and you will not get away with this anywhere anymore. Nothing changes in terms of how the game is played when gambling online.

    The blackjack basic strategy is the cornerstone of blackjack strategy. It works for both online blackjack and blackjack at a regular casino. It wouldn’t give you an advantage over the casino, but it would cut down the house edge to the maximum.

    There are however a number of different blackjack strategies out there that can help improve your edge over the house. We are not advocating for or against any of them, but many of them come with some success stories.

    On the blackjack strategy page we tried to look at a number of different strategies that are commonly used. It ranges from just the blackjack basic strategy, through to more controversial card counting strategies. The two actually work in great harmony if used correctly.

    On the one side you will find that the blackjack basic strategy ensures that you play a tight game tactically and you will cut the house edge to the bone. On the other side the card counting strategies will allow you to work on determining the edge you have or don’t have and bet accordingly to maximize your profits and minimize your losses.

    It is definitely a great read and we have put in quite a bit of work to try and make it as comprehensive as possible. A great test bed for many of these strategies is to play online blackjack in any of the online casinos we have scattered all over gamblingcastle.com.

    Some of the strategies are more geared towards blackjack games using multiple decks while others are aimed at playing single or double deck games only. The online casinos offer the widest possible choice under one virtual roof. It is just so much quicker and convenient as an option.

    One thing to remember however about the respective blackjack strategies is that they all require a lot of practice. If you don’t put in the time, you are bound to get your fingers burnt. However if you put in some decent hours of practice…

    Currently online blackjack is the king of the table games in all online casinos. There are many countless hours that people enjoy playing it and for good reason.

    The tables are always available… unlike at a local casino where you sometimes need to sometimes wait for the seats. The whole outing is also a much more affordable one, because you can just sit back and relax when you get home or after dinner and play a few hands.

    We get into more detail about the different aspects of online blackjack in the following pages. It is by no means an exhaustive list of information, but will give you a great idea of how it is played, where to play it and how to ensure that you play it with the best possible odds.

    online blackjack
    The king of the table games on the net: Online Blackjack

    Blackjack Terms: everything you could possibly want to known

    It is sometimes a bit confusing when people start throwing the jargon related to playing blackjack around. To play blackjack you need to know a bit about the terminology, as this would help you in understanding the whole game much better.
    One of the easiest ways for you to learn how to play blackjack for money would be for you to download the software of one of the casinos mentioned on this site and register a guest account. By doing this you would not be spending a cent learning how to play the game and you would be able to follow the game very easily. So let’s start at the beginning.

    The Deal:

    Each round of blackjack begins when the dealer delivers the initial cards (two each) to the players and himself. Cards are dealt methodically, beginning with the player at the dealer’s left, moving clockwise around the table.
    After each player receives his one card, the dealer usually receives his first card, which is kept facedown. Players will not see this card (called the hole card) until the end of the hand. A second card is dealt to each player and, finally, to the dealer.
    Depending on the game, the player’s cards may be placed face-up or face down in front of each player. In virtually all games, one of the dealer’s cards is placed face-up (up-card) and the other facedown (hole card). In this way, players will not know the total value of the dealer’s hand, but can make an informed guess based on the value of the card that is exposed.

    blackjack terms
    It is crucial to get a handle on all of the blackjack terms first before starting to play

    Drawing Blackjack:

    When you get blackjack it is an initial hand of two cards that total 21: an ace and a ten-value card. It is an instant winner for any player, or for the dealer (against all players). If the dealer’s up card is an ace, players are offered the option of making an insurance bet before the dealer reveals his hole card. Players opting to take insurance make a separate wager, half the amount of their original bet. If the dealer has blackjack, the player who elects to buy insurance loses nothing (neither the insurance bet nor the original wager), otherwise, the insurance bet is lost, but the original wager remains in play.

    If any player has blackjack, he will be offered the option of taking even money a one-for-one payoff of his original bet at the same time the others are offered insurance. A player who takes even money is paid immediately, regardless of what the dealer’s hand turns out to be, and his original wager is out of play.

    If the dealer’s hole card is a ten, completing a blackjack, the card will be turned and the game will be finished. All players’ bets will be claimed by the dealer unless they made an insurance wager or opted to take even money. If a player has blackjack, but did not opt to take even money, this will tie (push against) the dealer’s blackjack and the player will keep his original wager.

    If the dealer’s up card is a ten, neither insurance nor even money is offered. The dealer will check his hole card. If it turns out to be an ace, completing his blackjack, he will overturn it, and the hand is ended. All players lose their wagers unless they also have blackjack, in which case they tie and keep their original wager.

    After checking the dealer’s hand for blackjack (if necessary), any player who has blackjack is paid immediately a three-to-two payoff of the original wager, and his hand is taken out of play. If the dealer does not have blackjack, play will continue. Each player will take his turn in the order in which the hands were dealt, starting at the dealer’s left, and moving clockwise around the table.

    Initial Options:

    In addition to playing their hand in the typical fashion, players may be able to exercise these options immediately after the cards are dealt.

    Surrender:

    A player may choose to surrender immediately and forfeit half his wager (but retain the other half). If a player elects to surrender, the dealer claims half of the wager and collects the player’s hand. The round is over for that player.

    Doubling:

    A player may elect to increase his wager, typically (though not necessarily) to double the amount of his original bet. The player will receive only one additional card. If this card brings the total value of the player’s hand to over twenty-one, he loses. The dealer immediately collects the cards and the player’s wager (including the increase) and the round is over for that player. Otherwise, the player is forced to stand, and the dealer moves on to the next player. Doubling is an irrevocable decision the player can’t take additional hits or retrieve the additional wager afterward.

    Originally, the additional card was placed facedown (it is still often called doubling down) and was not exposed until the end of the round. This remains a common practice in hand-dealt games, but the card is usually dealt face-up in multiple-deck games dealt form a shoe.

    Splitting:

    If a player gets two matching cards (two sevens, two kings, two aces), he may opt to split them into two separate independent hands. An additional wager is placed, typically equal to (though it may be less than) the original wager and the cards are moved apart.

    There are a few conventional rules regarding splitting hands:

  • If the second card is also the same value, the player may re-split them, creating a third hand, then a fourth. In most cases, four is the maximum.
  • If the original split cards were aces, the player receives only one additional card (total of two) and may not play the hands further.
  • If an ace is dealt to a ten-value card that has been split, or if a ten is dealt to an ace that has been split, it is not treated as a blackjack (paid immediately at 3:2), but is merely twenty-one. It will remain until the end of the round and will be paid at 1:1.
  • Generally, players may exercise the option to surrender or double a split hand.

    If none of these rules or options comes into effect, the hand is played normally, as follows:

    Playing a Hand:

    Unless the player has opted to surrender or double, he will play the hand (or each of two or more split hands) by deciding to hit or stand. When the player opts to hit, one additional card is dealt to it, and its total increases by the value of that card. If the total value of the hand exceeds twenty-one with an ace counted as eleven (a soft hand) the ace reverts to a value of one.

    If the total value of a hand that does not contain an ace, or in which all aces have reverted to a value of one (hard hand) exceeds twenty-one; the player has busted and lost. The dealer will collect the cards and their corresponding wager, and the round is over for that hand.

    If the total value is less than twenty-one, the player may opt to take additional hits, one at a time, until he is satisfied with the value, at which point he opts to stand and take no more cards. Standing is an irrevocable decision.
    When a player elects to stand, the cards and wager remain where they are until the end of the game. He must wait until all other players, as well as the dealer, have played their hands before knowing whether he has won or lost.

    The Dealer’s Hand:

    Unless the dealer has drawn blackjack, his hand will be played last, after all other players have completed their hands. The dealer does not have the option to split, double, or surrender, but must play his hand normally.
    Further, the dealer must play the hand according to the established rules. Typically, he must continue to take hits until the hand totals 17 or more, though some games will require the dealer to hit a soft 17.

    If the dealer exceeds 21, he busts and loses to all remaining hands. Players are paid even money (one-to-one) for wagers that remain on the table, and the round has ended. One very important point: any player who has busted is already out of the game, and does not receive any compensation for his loss, even if the dealer busts. This is what gives the house its edge in the game.

    End of the game:

    If the dealer has busted, all that remains is to pay off all players who have remained in the game, regardless of the value of their hands.

    If the dealer successfully completes his hand without busting, the round has been played out and hands are evaluated (typically in reverse-order, from the dealer’s right, counter-clockwise). Wagers are taken or paid as the hands are evaluated, and the cards are collected at the very end.

    The evaluation of each player’s hand has one of three results:

  • A player’s hand that is higher in value than the dealer’s has won, and the player is paid even money for his wager on that hand.
  • A player’s hand that is lower in value than the dealer’s has lost, and the wager on that hand will be collected.
  • A player’s hand that is equal in value to the dealer’s hand has tied, or pushed. The wager will remain on the table, and the player may opt to leave it there for the next round or collect it and leave the game.
  • Repeat:

    After clearing the table, another round will be dealt if there are sufficient cards remaining in the deck (or unless the cut card has shown. Otherwise, the dealer will shuffle before play continues.

    One word of advice for novice players: the game of blackjack should be regarded as a sequence of hands with some winning, some losing. Since there is no reliable (and permissible) way to ensure victory in every hand, the objective of playing the game is to win more than you lose over the course of a session in which many hands are played. A Repeat is not an option however when it comes to an online casino as the deck or decks of cards are shuffled after each hand.

    Blackjack terms more commonly used when counting cards

    Card values: the card values are not simply the values as you seem them dealt in front of you. Each of the respective card counting strategies has their own set of values you assign to a card. So, for example a 3 can have a count of -1 and a 10 a count of +1.

    Card counting: card counting is done by using these values as mentioned above. You will use these to count the card values and see if you have a positive of negative count and bet accordingly. If you have a positive count you will bet more. If you have a negative count you will bet the minimum.

    Positive count: If you have counted the cards and have seen more cards adding to your count rather than subtracting from it. This count is more in the player’s favour.

    Negative count: This happens when you have a sequence of cards that all subtract from your count. If the count goes into the negative, it means that the house has a higher edge.

    Running count: A running count is the way you count from right after the cards have been shuffled. Each time the cards are shuffled you start your count again. With a running count, you will count every card according to the card counting strategy you are employing to see if it yields a positive or negative count.

    True count: A true count is used to increase the accuracy of a card counting strategy. This is done by taking a running count that has been established and dividing it by the number of decks that are still to be played. It helps players avoid placing bets when the positive count is not as strong as they might think.