Blackjack

Introduction

Blackjack is a popular gambling game at land-based, online and mobile casinos. Blackjack requires skill; luck alone will not do the trick when it comes to winning. All the top casino software providers have it in their game portfolio and some focus more on blackjack than other table or card games.

Brief History

Blackjack is thought to have originated in France in the 17th century as Vingt Et Un (which translates to 21). The name came from a unique situation in the game where a hand of a Jack and an Ace of Spades resulted in an extra payment. The game made its way to the USA after the French Revolution and quickly became popular there.

In the 19th century all forms of gambling were banned in the USA but the game continued to be popular. The resurgence came after the legalization of gambling in the State of Nevada in 1931. The birth of the online casino industry took blackjack to new heights as now anyone could play this superb game for money from the comfort of their home. That popularity is bound to rise even more with the advent of mobile casino gambling.

Top Blackjack Casinos

Please note that most online casinos do not allow blackjack play using their bonuses because of the low house edge. The casinos listed below DO allow blackjack play and we indicate the actual percentage of wagers that count towards the play through requirements of the bonus.

32Red Casino

£10 No Deposit

Mansion Casino

100% up to £500

888 Casino

100% up to £100

Betfair Casino

100% up to £100

Betfred Casino

100% up to £200

BGO Casino

100% up to £200

Casino Plex

100% up to £1000

Euro Grand Casino

100% up to £600 with 25 Free Spins

Leo Vegas Casino

200% up to £1450

Nedplay Casino

100% up to £100

Blackjack Odds and House Edge

You need skill to interpret the hands in blackjack and the best course of action to take for each of them. Knowing your strategy and odds is critical as it enables you to play smartly and minimise your losses.

The game itself is very simple, so there is not much for you to go by to figure out the odds. There are two hands - yours and the dealer's. You get to see the dealer's up card, as most games have only the second card as the hole card, i.e. dealt face down. Even though you have something as minimal as that, working out the odds is necessary to be able to plan your game strategy.

The basic assumption is that you are playing with multiple decks of cards, as that is what you find at most online casinos. Using optimal blackjack strategy, the basic house edge works out to about 0.50%, in some games it is 0.58%. In terms of money the equation is simple: for every £10 you bet you will likely lose 5p on average.

The following table lists out the house edge of some of the blackjack games from different software providers.

Software Provider Blackjack Game Number of Decks House Edge Casino
Microgaming Multi-hand Blackjack 5 0.59%

(Button and review link)

32Red Casino

Double Exposure Blackjack 8 0.79%
Atlantic City Blackjack 8 0.36%
NetEnt Blackjack Pro 4 0.40% Hello Casino
Perfect Pairs 4 0.35%
Single Deck Blackjack 1 0.48%
Playtech Double Attack Blackjack 8 0.62% Bet365 Casino
Blackjack Surrender 6 0.39%
Blackjack Switch 6 0.16%
IGT European Blackjack 6 0.30% Kerching

Blackjack Basics - Rules and Strategies

Playing blackjack is simple; the tricky part is in understanding the strategy to adopt for the different hands you are likely to get. The game is played between the player and the dealer using anywhere between 1 and 8 card decks of 52 cards, depending on the game variant.

The objective is to beat the dealer with a hand that is valued at 21 or closest to it. You lose or 'bust' if your hand value is more than 21. In some blackjack games you automatically lose if the dealer's hand is a blackjack of an Ace and any other 10-value card. The game is sent to 'push' mode if both you and the dealer have a blackjack hand. The standard blackjack pays out 3:2, except in some games.

There are values for the different cards in the deck:

  • The cards 2 to 9 are valued at face.
  • The cards 10, J, Q and K are valued at 10.
  • The Ace is valued at 1 or 11, depending on the hand.
Card Values in Blackjack
Blackjack card values.

If you want to learn more please refer to our blackjack rules and strategy articles.

Blackjack Variations

Almost every software provider has blackjack on their list of offerings. There are 3 variables that determine the number of variants in blackjack:

  • Number of card decks used
  • The presence of the face-up card in the dealer's hand
  • Whether the dealer hits or stands on 17 (Soft or Hard 17)

For more details on the role these factors play refer to our article on blackjack rules.

The following are some major variants of blackjack:

  • Single Deck Blackjack
  • European Blackjack
  • Hi-Lo Blackjack
  • Multi-hand Blackjack
Play Single Deck Blackjack at 32Red Casino £10 No Deposit
Play European Blackjack at Mr Green Casino 100% up to £100
Play Hi-Lo Blackjack at Guts Casino 125% up to £400
Play Multi-hand Blackjack at Hello Casino 100% up to £100

Apart from these variants there are many more, with extra features added to differentiate them from the rest. Some popular ones are:

  • Double Exposure Blackjack
  • Blackjack Switch
  • Side Bet Blackjack
Play Double Exposure Blackjack at Hello Casino 100% up to £100
Play Blackjack Switch at Hello Casino £400 plus 20 free spins
Play Perfect Pairs Side Bet Blackjack at Hello Casino 100% up to £100
Play Progressive Blackjack at 32Red Casino £10 No Deposit

Playing Live Dealer Blackjack

Another very exciting variant of blackjack that has emerged is live dealer blackjack. The game is shot at the live dealer studio of the software provider and streamed over Internet.

The dealer in this game is a live dealer instead of a random number generator (RNG). This is the single biggest difference between this game and other online blackjack games and has a huge impact on player experience: you get to experience the thrill of playing at a land-based casino directly from your home complete with the ability to interact with the dealer (through live chat).

There are other ways in which live dealer blackjack differs from a RNG-driven blackjack game:

  • Higher bet levels because of additional overheads like studio maintenance and staff salaries
  • Slightly slower game speeds because of a person running the game instead of a RNG, although with ever-increasing internet speeds this is becoming less of an issue, even on mobile devices.
Immerse yourself in the excitement of live dealer blackjack. See our Live Dealer section for details.

Blackjack FAQ

In this section we list out a few FAQs relating to blackjack.

What are my odds of winning a blackjack hand?

At a very simple level, the odds depend on multiple factors like the number of decks and the number of hands per player. The odds are higher in a multiple deck game compared to a single deck game. There is a lot of math involved in calculating the odds, but roughly, it is 20.7 for a single deck game and about 4.75% for a six-deck game.

Do Blackjack Systems work?

There are a number of Blackjack systems and yes, they do work most of the time. However, a betting system that guarantees big wins all the time is most likely not going to work. Like all other casino games, the house always has the edge, which means you are bound to lose some money. There are different betting systems, like the Martingale System, used by players quite effectively, and then there is card counting. You can check out our series of articles on card counting for more information.

How do I optimize the use of my blackjack bonus?

There are different ways to do this:

  • Choose the right game; a multiple-deck game will give you a higher probability of wins than a single-deck game. There are games that come with exciting side bets that you can use to win.
  • Bet the right amount at the right time. You can place bigger bets, but you must have your strategy right to be able to place them at the right time.

Why don't all casinos offer bonuses for blackjack games?

Not every online casino offers bonuses for blackjack for a very simple reason: the house edge. Unlike in slots where the house edge is slightly higher, blackjack comes with a low house edge. The ones that give blackjack bonuses have mechanisms in place to counter any potential loss: for instance only a percentage of the amount you bet counts for wagering requirements, unlike for most slots where the contribution to wagering requirements is 100%

Which software providers makes the best blackjack games online?

There are a large number of software providers offering online blackjack. However, when it comes to figuring out the best of the lot, conventional wisdom dictates that it is likely to be the ones that are at the top of the rung of casino software providers. These include companies like Playtech, Microgaming, NetEnt, Real Time Gaming, Rival Gaming, BetSoft Gaming and others.