Blackjack is probably the game that is most synonymous with casinos and gambling. It’s been featured in tons of gambling movies and TV shows, and almost everyone knows the aim of the game (get 21) even if they’ve never seen a blackjack table in their lives.
There’s no wonder it’s consistently one of the most popular games, and easily the most popular card game, at live and online casinos all around the world. It’s one of the casino games with the lowest house edge, and as most people know that edge can even be lowered and overcome with various strategies and techniques such as counting cards.
Our table below attempts to rank the best UK online casinos purely based on their blackjack offering. But your preference could be vastly different from ours, so we’ve listed some bullet points on each site so you can determine the best online casino for blackjack from your own point of view.
Best online casinos for Blackjack
Table last verified correct on November 17, 2016
Where to play blackjack is actually a very important question for the discerning player. While blackjack is a very simple card game, there are subtle rule variations from casino to casino.
The odds can be impacted in a pretty significant way by these small rule changes, which means that even if you have your perfect blackjack strategy totally nailed down, it might not be the best option for you at one online casino versus another.
There are a ton of rule variations in blackjack, but these are the most significant ones that you should be aware of and know about:
Blackjack pays 6:5
This is probably the biggest change that has been made to blackjack tables over the past decade. Most people don’t notice the change, or if they do they disregard it as it seems so small. Trust us, it isn’t.
In most casinos, being dealt blackjack (a perfect two-card 21) pays out at 3:2 as opposed to a regular win that pays even money. Changing this to 6:5 actually affects your chances so badly that we recommend never playing at any casino that does not pay 3:2 for blackjack. When you’re deciding on an online casino at which to play blackjack, never accept less than 3:2.
Some blackjack games offer players the chance to forfeit half their bet and surrender their hand, taking no further part in the action until the next deal. It’s something a lot of people hate to do because it’s giving up a chance to win.
In fact, surrendering can be a great strategy despite taking an automatic loss. It’s obviously only advisable when you’re dealt terrible cards and the dealer looks strong, but in the long term losing only half your bet in these situations is actually a much better option.
You should definitely look for blackjack tables that allow surrendering, as it reduces the house edge slightly if you implement the strategy correctly.
Doubling down is a massive part of blackjack, so much so that the phrase “to double down” as entered the popular lexicon as a way of saying “to really commit to something”. It’s a big deal in blackjack, because it’s a way to really gain an edge over the casino.
You can choose to double your wager in exchange for seeing one more card, so it’s a perfect strategy when you have a hand with a lot of potential to improve but the dealer has been dealt a poor card.
The typical number to double down on is 11, but it is often advisable to double down on 8, 9, 10 and even some aces. Some casinos only let you double down on 9, 10 and 11 or even just 11. Avoid these places and get the full range of strategic options you deserve.
Splitting, like doubling down, is another great tactic to get an edge over the casino as it allows you to put in extra money after seeing your cards.
It is also one of the blackjack strategies with the most differing rule variations, especially when combined with doubling rules. To sum up, the best rules for the player are those that allow being able to split any pair; allow being able to re-split if the same pair is dealt; being able to blackjack if you split aces; being able to double after splitting; being allowed to split aces.
If an online casino follows most (or better still, all) of those rules, it’s a great place to play blackjack.
Keep in mind that where you choose to play blackjack will affect the casino’s rules over the long run because if you don’t give them action when they are offering you a bad game, they will be forced to give you better rules in the long run.
How to play Blackjack
Splitting and doubling and sticking and surrendering? If you’re still confused, don’t worry: blackjack is extremely simple so you can start here.
Blackjack is a game in which players attempt to get closest to 21, beating the dealer’s score and being sure to not go over. Cards are worth their face value, with face cards being worth 10 and aces being worth 1 or 11.
A starting hand totaling 21 using two cards (an ace and a face card, i.e. 10+11) is the eponymous blackjack and pays extra money.
It’s a super-simple game and nearly every casino in the world offers it, because it has a reputation for being beatable and a game in which the player can defeat the house. This isn’t usually true, but it remains the most popular card game in Europe and North America regardless.
Playing a hand of blackjack
The basics of blackjack are very easy.
The player places a bet, then the dealer and player each receive two cards. The player sees both of their cards and one of the dealer’s; they then have the option of taking another card (as many times as they like), known as hitting. They can also elect to standif they are happy with their hand.
The dealer then reveals their second card and continues to hit until the rules say they can’t; usually this is if they reach 17 or higher. If either the player or dealer go over 21, they are bust and the other side wins. If both player and dealer bust, the player loses their betregardless.
There are a few other things the player can do to reduce the house edge. They can double down, which lets them double their bet in exchange for one further card; they can also split, separating a pair of identically-ranked cards into two separate hands by matching their initial wager.
Many casinos have a lot of small rule variations depending on which version of blackjack you are playing. It’s really important to learn the different blackjack rule variations for the online casino you’re playing at.
Blackjack betting strategies
The reason it’s important to know the precise rules of the game variants is because blackjack is one of the few games at a casino that has a serious strategic input for the player. There’s not much art to this, though, which is unfortunate for the savvy gambler looking to maximize their edge. The best decision for each potential hand of blackjack is solved, and you can find many charts online for the specific game you’re playing.
In fact, most online casinos will have such charts available and dealers at live blackjack tables will be happy to advise you on the correct decision. It’s definitely helpful to familiarise yourself with the basic strategy regardless.
The most important thing to realize when you decide to play blackjack is that cards don’t have memory and even the best way of counting cards only affects your chances of winning by a few percentage points. Blackjack is a very high variance game and the best way to break almost even playing it is simply following the best basic strategy play every time the exact same way. The worst thing you can do is deviate from the basic strategy, because this drastically increases the house edge against you.
Another important thing is to realize that blackjack is close to a 50/50 proposition on each individual hand and as such, bets on blackjack can generally be larger than in other games you might play at the casino. But the swings can be huge and people often tend to increase their bets both when on a hot streak or a cold streak, so we would advise you to be careful about using more than a certain percentage of your gambling bankroll on any individual hand.
For those who just want to play a very simple strategy with their friends and not have to memorize anything, here are the very basic notes for how to play blackjack. All of these rules will likely have exceptions in some scenarios, but if you don’t want to learn all of them then these rules will make sure you are not a huge loser:
- If the dealer is showing a 7 or higher, hit unless you have 17 or higher.
- If the dealer is showing a 2 through 6, hit unless you have 12 or higher, then stand.
- If you get dealt 11, double. If you get dealt a 10 against anything other than an ace or a ten, double.
- If you get dealt a pair of aces or a pair of 8s, split.
Seems like such an easy casino game, doesn’t it? Good luck if you give it a try!
Online blackjack FAQs
If you have any questions about how to play blackjack online then hopefully we can answer them for you below, if you haven’t found what you’re looking for on this page already!
What is insurance in blackjack?
In blackjack, if the dealer’s first card is an ace, then there is a stronger-than-average chance they have blackjack, which means that you will lose.
Many casinos will offer insurance to the players. This is an optional, additional wager that is usually 50% of your original stake. If the dealer does in fact have blackjack, your insurance bet will be paid at 2/1.
It may seem tempting, but it’s actually better value to decline insurance whenever you’re asked and risk losing to blackjack.
Is a soft 17 better than a hard 17?
A hard 17 is a hand that is only 17, for example a 9-8. A soft 17 is a hand containing an ace, that could be valued at either 17 or 7, e.g. A-6. Some blackjack games require dealers to stand on a soft 17, others to hit.
Generally, it is better for the player if the dealer must stand on a soft 17. Should they hit then the dealer does bust more often, which is good, but also makes a high hand more often as well! In general, the house edge in blackjack increases by 0.2% or so if the dealer hits on soft 17.
What is the house edge in online blackjack?
The house edge in blackjack depends on the exact rule variation being played, for example whether or not surrendering is allowed; whether the dealer hits on a soft 17; whether the player can double after a split and so on.
However, as a general rule, the Return to Player percentage in blackjack is going to be right around the 99.6% mark.
What are blackjack side bets?
Many blackjack games will offer an additional wager on top of your regular play. This often comes in the shape of a 21+3 game or a Perfect Pairs game.
This varies from casino to casino, but you will often make a wager on your hole cards and the dealer’s up-card. You’ll receive a payout if you make three of a kind, or a straight flush with these three cards; the exact payouts depend on the game and casino.
What is card counting in blackjack?
Card counting is a method developed in the late 1960s in order to negate and overcome the house edge in blackjack. It involves assigning points values to cards that have been dealt, and using these values to predict the number of high and low cards remaining in the deck.
It has been used successfully by many gamblers, famously the MIT Blackjack Team, but is now an unfeasible technique as most casinos use too many decks for card counting to be useful. Naturally, it is not possible to count cards online.