An Introduction to Blackjack Online: Rules & The Best Blackjack Casino
Blackjack is the most widely played casino game in the world. Often referred to as ‘twenty-one’, blackjack has captured the imagination of gamblers since the 17th century. The fascination with the game lies in its flexibility. Like poker, online blackjack requires a blend of both skill and luck to beat the house. But unlike other popular casino games such as roulette, blackjack players have a lot of control over post-betting action. This article reveals the best blackjack casino in the UK. It will also detail the best blackjack variants and winning strategies.
These online casinos are especially well-suited for blackjack players due to favourable table limits, a wide selection of interesting variants and reliable software. For new players, these casinos offer the best welcome bonuses with wagering requirements suited to online blackjack.
The Best Online Blackjack Games in the UK
The transition from land-based casinos to online has brought with it several advantages to players. Perhaps the biggest difference, in terms of blackjack sites online, is variety. Online casinos today offer lots of variations on the classic blackjack formula that traditional casinos simply cannot match. These new games come with different rules and can change the way dealers draw cards, as well as increasing potential player actions and betting opportunities. Let’s look at some of the more interesting blackjack games in the UK today. To see how the game has developed throughout history to its current forms, read up on blackjack history.
Play 21 Duel Blackjack
In this blackjack casino game, players can combine one or two cards from their dealt hand with one or two of the community cards dealt for all players. Think of it like a cross between Texas Hold’em poker and blackjack. The dealer also uses the community cards to create the best possible hand, and qualifies with 13 or better. When choosing the communal card, the dealer must create the best possible hand according to a predetermined rank of hands. For example, if the communal cards are 2 and 10 and the dealer’s card is an 8, then the dealer will choose the 2 from communal cards as the hand 8-2 has a higher rank than 8-10. Check the hand composition list before you play. If the dealer’s hand is worth less than 13, the dealer doesn’t qualify and you win the round, even if your point total is lower than the dealer’s. Most 21 Duel Blackjack games allow side bets for three-of-a-kind and pairs. This popular take on the classic 21 formula can be found at many Playtech-powered caisnos in the UK.
Play Blackjack Switch
Switch is played using two hands, with a separate wager for each. Double-handed play is common in blackjack, but what’s unique here is the ability to switch cards between the two hands to create a more favourable pairing. If you decide to switch, you need to do so before starting to play your first hand. After opting to hit, split, double or take insurance, you can no longer switch. The dealer must hit on soft 17, further swinging the balance in favour of the player. Super Match odds are also included paying increased odds on pairs, three-of-a-kind and four-of-a-kind. Side bets such as Super Match are optional and require an extra stake to play. The super bet wins if your four initial cards contain two or more cards of the same value, two 6s for example, in any order. Switch is one of the very few games where the house edge is actually a positive figure in favour of the player. When played with eight decks Blackjack Switch can provide an edge of 0.02% against the house.
Play Spanish 21
Spanish Blackjack is played with eight decks of 48 cards, with the four 10s removed. The variation in this unique deck alters the blackjack strategy required to beat it. The dealer hits on soft 17 in Spanish 21, and most operators will offer bonus payouts for this game. The main rule difference between classic blackjack and Spanish 21 is that a player’s 21 always beats a dealer’s 21. A late surrender rule also allows the option of surrendering and forfeiting half of an original bet if a player is dealt two unfavourable cards in the hole. It’s also possible to surrender after doubling down. This extra safety net is known as Double Down Rescue. In Spanish 21, a five-card 21 pays 3 to 2, a six-card 21 pays 2 to 1, a seven or more card 21 pays 3 to 1. There also extra bonus payouts of up to 50 to 1 for mini poker hands such as 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 with some operators. Mixed suits tend to pay 3 to 2 but matching suits pay 2 to 1. Spanish 21 is a classic blackjack gameplay experience with vastly different odds and strategy.
Play Double Attack Blackjack
Played with the same 48-card deck as Spanish 21, Double Attack Blackjack adds more ways to take on the dealer. After the dealer receives an initial card face up, the option is available to attack the house with a separate bet up to the value of the original stake. Players that place a Double Attack bet against a face card or ace will only lose the initial bet if the dealer has blackjack. The option to surrender after the dealer checks for blackjack adds another layer to the decision making for the player. Bust It side bets are an independent wager you can make on top of the regular game bet. You can bet that the dealer busts with exactly three cards. Odds start at 3 to 1 for the dealer going bust whilst holding a face card, and rise to 200 to 1 for a bust with three suited 8s. The game can be found in around half of the casinos in Atlantic City, and remains popular today in the best online casinos in the UK. Keen to play? Try it for free in our guide!
Play Double Exposure Blackjack
Double Exposure Blackjack is a variation where both the dealer’s cards are dealt face up. The game was invented by American game theorist, Richard Arnold Epstein, author of several popular books and consultant to casinos in Macao. The ability to see both the dealer’s hole cards affects play dramatically. Knowing when to hit and stand becomes easier for the player. The trade-off is the dealer wins all ties except for tied blackjack. Tied blackjacks either push or go to the player. Player blackjack also pays evens, instead of 3 to 2. Players can also only split a single time in Double Exposure blackjack. There are also rules that vary depending on the operator. Whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17, for example. The house edge for Double Exposure is slightly higher than classic blackjack, but the additional information available to players allows for a more efficient strategy to be employed. If you’re a good card player, you’ll take all the extra information you can get and use it to your advantage.
These variations add an extra layer of strategy to the play and the typical house edge tends to be lower than in classic blackjack games. With RTP rates as high as 99%, it’s possible to enjoy blackjack for longer periods whilst still holding off the house. Master one of these variations, and the potential for large returns is entirely possible.
Play Live Blackjack
The most contemporary and immersive way to enjoy playing blackjack online is at one of the ever-growing number of live tables. Live blackjack sites stream directly from a real land-based casino or studio and are dealt by a human dealer. Online players interact with the play using virtual chips, as if sitting at the blackjack casino table. Interaction with others at the table, as well as with the dealer, is done via an integrated chat system. This is as close to going to a casino in your pyjamas as you can get.
The quality of HD live streams is now at an excellent stage. Look for anything operated by Evolution Gaming. The live specialists have raised the bar for this kind of gaming experience in recent years, and have even added variations such as party blackjack to the mix to further fuel the atmosphere. If you’re looking for a completely transparent and authentic blackjack experience, don’t accept less than live.
The Advantages of Online Blackjack
Blackjack online is very different from blackjack in a land-based casino. In fact, there are several significant advantages to playing online that cannot be gained down at your local dice joint. Such as the following:
- No time limits – you can take your time to think about your options
- Lots of variation – for example multi-hand for experienced players, and double exposure games
- It’s 24/7 – and can be played for real money anytime with flexible table limits
- It’s Accessible – and easier for beginners to get started online since you can learn how to play and practice for free
- Mobile blackjack allows for play everywhere – most casino apps offer at least one blackjack game
Whilst the selection of mobile blackjack games is still fairly limited, the market is improving all the time. For more information on playing blackjack and other casino games on the go, visit my mobile casino page.
The Rules of Blackjack
The goal of blackjack is very simple: each player faces the dealer in a head-to-head duel. Closest to 21 with two or more cards wins. Players receive two cards face up. The dealer also receives two hole cards. Players then have several options. Standing means sticking with what you’ve got. Hitting means taking another card from the deck. The option to separate a pair of matching cards into two hands mid-round is called splitting. The player is responsible for matching the stake on the second hand. Players may also ‘double-down’, which involves increasing the original bet by 100% in exchange for only receiving one more card. Though there are many more blackjack terms to keep up with, standing, hitting, doubling and splitting are ones you’re bound to see each time. Winning bets are paid at evens. If players are dealt a hand worth 21 points in the hole, blackjack is announced and an instant win is called. Blackjack pays out higher odds than regular wins, usually at 3 to 2.
Numbered cards are valued as presented, with all pictures cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) counting as ten each. Aces are counted at either one or ten, depending on which is best for the player in any given situation. Aces can change their value mid-round if beneficial to the player. Remember, what the dealer is holding is JUST as important as what the player is holding in blackjack. If the dealer’s hand is 16 or less, the dealer must hit. If the dealer’s hand is 17 or higher, the dealer must stand. These rules may vary depending on the game variation, and some games – such as Blackjack Surrender – include an option to quit the hand mid-way through, saving part of your stake.
Your Chances of Winning Side Bets
Like every other casino game, online blackjack is designed to give the house a slight edge. When playing with eight decks, the house edge is 0.65%. However, this advantage varies from game to game. When playing with a single deck, the advantage drops to 0.17%. With good strategy, this edge can be even lower. Compared to other casino games, your chances of winning at blackjack are remarkably high.
In addition to the regular stake, blackjack tables offer side bets. These bets predict the outcome of various events that are not strictly limited to the chasing of twenty-one. In Perfect Pairs blackjack, for example, players can bet on the possibility of being dealt a pair in the hole. Mixed pairs are paid out 7 to 1, and cards of matching value and suit are paid at 30 to 1. Progressive jackpots, much like you see in the slots market, can also be added to blackjack online games for added value.
The typical RTP rate for these side bets in blackjack is somewhere between 95 – 98%. Compared to slots or roulette, this is still a very good rate. However, compared to a one-deck game of blackjack played well, it’s poor. My advice regarding side bets would be, think about why you are playing. If you’re into blackjack for the thrills and the chance of winning big, go for the side bets, they’re great fun. If you are the type of player who is looking to grind out a profit and wants the best RTP rate possible, avoiding the side bets is best.
The Best Blackjack Strategies
Blackjack is a game of both good fortune and skill. Therefore, blackjack can be played well or badly, and strategy plays a huge role in your chances of success. Perfect blackjack strategy relies on mathematical probability. Blackjack strategy charts can be used to maximize wins, and minimize losses when playing blackjack over longer periods. Don’t be swayed too easily by what you might have seen in some blackjack movies – breaking the bank takes a lot more than that.
Card Counting is another strategy used in blackjack to further swing the odds in the player’s favour. By keeping a running count of what cards have been dealt, and are therefore dead, card-counters can bet big when the chances of catching valuable cards are high. Card counting is not strictly illegal, but land-based casinos employ several counter measures to prevent it. Check out the best online casino in the UK for using these strategies.