Your complete guide to playing online Blackjack for real money
The winning tips and strategy advice you need to get the most out of your online Blackjack experience
We absolutely love real money Blackjack. We've been playing the game live for well over three decades, and over the last dozen years or so, we've been playing a lot online. And while our goal is to win some real cash, our focus is on offering our expertise to a world of casino players.
After rating and reviewing literally thousands of online Blackjack sites to help players find a home that's safe and reputable, we've discovered that there are huge advantages to playing online Blackjack for real money over the live version:
- It's just you and the dealer - there's no one else at the table
- You can get way more hands in - the cards hit the table fast, and shuffling takes virtually no time
- You can bet as little as $1 per hand - you won't find that in live casinos
And that's just the start. Keep reading our real money Blackjack guide for tips, card counting guidance, strategy advice, and everything you need to know win at online Blackjack.
- 1Always split Aces and eights
- 2Never bet more than half of what you've brought to the table on a single bet - you might need to double down
- 3Never split two face cards - unless you're card counting
Unlike many other card games we play today, the actual true origins of Blackjack are vague and unsubstantiated. There are a lot of theories around - many of which are hotly disputed by scholars - about when and where this game first appeared. However, there has still been no clear-cut and widely accepted evidence produced by researchers to identify Blackjack's starting point.
While playing cards were believed to be in use as early as the 7th Century in China, it’s not from that part of the world that Blackjack is thought to have originated. In fact, the earliest mentions of Blackjack surface a lot later than that and are found in Europe.
Vingt-Un" or "Twenty-One" was thus a forerunner of what we today know as the modern game of Blackjack. However, while they shared similarities, this game did have some differences to the game we play today. For example, the old form saw a betting round between each card being dealt and the dealer was the only person allowed to double down. However, other than that the rules would be easily recognised by any modern day casino player.
When the game crossed the Atlantic to America it was still called 21. The change in name occurred when new casinos in Nevada, which became the first US state to legalise gambling in 1931, began promoting a special bet that offered 10 to 1 odds. You could collect if your winning hand included the Ace of Spades and a Jack of either Clubs or Spades (i.e. a black Jack). Soon the game gained the name of Blackjack and has stuck with us ever since.
Today you don’t need to go out of your way to visit a casino to play Blackjack. You can play in a virtual environment online for cash without even leaving your home. Almost every online casino offers Blackjack as a table games and many offer some custom variations as well - although these can vary widely in the house edge they give to the casinos.
We may not have a definitive answer on where Blackjack came from or who devised the game, but one thing we know for sure is that it isn’t going away. The popularity of the internet and mobile devices has opened up a lot of new interest in online gambling and especially in card games like poker and Blackjack. A whole new generation are playing the game today and, with online casinos offering tournament play and the chance to win big cash prizes, we’re sure Blackjack will remain a popular game for future generations to enjoy.
Ever wonder why the Blackjack tables at casinos are always so jam-packed? It's because Blackjack is ridiculously easy to play. The goal is simple - to get as close to 21 without going over, and to have a higher hand than the dealer. If the dealer goes over 21, he busts. The same goes for you.
Sound relatively easy? It is. But there are still a few rules you need to know about before you play for real cash. Let's walk through a typical game so you know how it all works:
- Every player receives two cards face-up.
- The dealer deals himself two cards - one of them face-up, the other facedown.
- With your two cards displayed, you need to decide whether to hit, stand, split, or double down.
Here's what it all means:
Hit = ask the dealer for another card
Stand = ask the dealer to move on to the next player and deal you no more cards
Split = turn your hand of two into two separate hands
Double down = just like hitting, only you'll receive just one card and you won't have the option to take another
- You'll remain in the game if your hand is valued at 21 or anything less.
- After all players at the table have made their decisions, the dealer will reveal his facedown card.
- The dealer will stand at 17 and hit on anything below.
There are dozens and dozens of popular blackjack variations, played at both live casinos and online. Each variation of blackjack has slightly or greatly differing rules from the next, making blackjack one of the most versatile and classic casino games at the same time. Check out the casinos above for great real cash blackjack gaming options in online casinos. We specifically look for online casinos that offer the most variations of games, as well as the best graphics so that playing online blackjack for real money is just as fulfilling and fun as at a brick and mortar casino.
One of the most significant differences of playing online blackjack is that you don’t have to deal with the crowds, and tables full of players. When you play online blackjack it is the dealer and you. There is no one else to keep track of, wait for, or to distract you from your game.
Get started now and enjoy the great fun of blackjack for real cash. Look for free games at one of our above casinos so that you can get involved without risk while you try out the game and decide on the best methods and styles that work best for you. Then dive in and place your bets so you can reap the great rewards and feeling of euphoria that accompanies winning at blackjack online.
While there might be other players at the same table to you, you're not playing against them. It's just you vs. the dealer, and there are several ways to win at online blackjack:
- If the dealer goes over 21, he busts and you win - assuming you're still in the hand.
- If the dealer remains in the hand with a 17, 18, 19, or 20, but your hand is higher, you win.
- If you're dealt an Ace and a 10, Jack, Queen, or King right off the bat, that's called hitting a Blackjack. And that's an automatic win, assuming the dealer isn't showing an Ace and doesn't also have Blackjack. Hitting Blackjack plays 3:2 at most online casinos while a regular win pays 1:1.
- If he ties with your hand, your bet isn't lost, but you don't win any money. That's called a push. If his hand is higher than yours, you lose.
Now that you know how to play the game, there are few a more things you should know. One important thing is card values:
- Cards valued at 2 through 10 are pretty simple and don't require any explanation.
- Face cards - that's a Jack, Queen, and King - are valued at 10.
- The Ace is valued at either one or 11 - whichever is more beneficial to the player (or if the dealer is receiving the cards, whichever is more beneficial to him). For example, if you've been dealt a 10 and 3, and then you hit and receive an Ace, the Ace would be valued at one because valuing it at 11 would force you to bust (10+3+11 = 24).
We told you that you'll have to make a decision with every hand you're dealt. Do you hit? Stand? Double down? Or split?
Figuring it all out can be a bit tough, but there's good news. We actually have a Blackjack strategy cheat sheet that tells you exactly what to do. Download your PDF version of the our Blackjack Strategy Chart.
Now before you print this out, you should know that most land-based casinos won't welcome this cheat sheet to the table.
It's not against the rules to know this information, but casinos don't really like players bringing this kind of helpful information to the table.
But at online Blackjack casinos? No one will know that you're using a Blackjack strategy guide, so go right ahead.
You've probably heard that counting cards in Blackjack is illegal. Well, you've heard wrong. It's actually not against the law to count cards in Blackjack, as long as the only thing you use to count is your brain.
If you use a computer or any type of electronic device, that's called cheating - and that could get you tossed out of a casino and taken to a back alley (thankfully, you don't have to worry about that when you play online blackjack for real money).
Never heard of counting cards? In a nutshell, you're using fast math to figure out whether you should bet more on a hand or keep your bets low. There are tons of different card counting methods, but here's how a basic strategy known as Hi-Lo works.
- Every card in the Blackjack card has a value. We're not talking about the face value, like the 6 on a 6 of diamonds. We're talking about three numbers here that you'll use to count cards. The numbers are -1, 0, and +1, and here's how the cards in the deck are valued:
- With a brand new deck, start your count at 0. As a card hits the felt, change your count based on the value of the cards. So if a 3 hits, you'd add one to your count. If a 6 hits, you'd add one again. If it 10 hits, you'd subtract one.
- While you're counting cards, pay attention to how many cards hit the table. This is important if you're playing in a casino at a table with a multi-deck shoe (it's not really relevant online, but the information is good to know). There are 52 cards in a deck, so after 52 cards hit the felt, reset your count. To do this, you take your current count (the number you arrived at by adding and subtracting ones and zeros) and divide it by the number of decks left in the shoe. Do this every 52 cards.
- That's pretty much all there is to this basic card counting Blackjack strategy. A higher count means you're more likely to hit a Blackjack or be dealt a face card. A lower count means you're likely to get unfavorable cards. Use this information to win big at the tables. Just don't get caught.
We've already covered the basic Blackjack rules you need to know about. To recap:
- Regular wins pay 1:1
- Blackjack wins pay 3:2
- Dealer must hit on any hand valued at 16 and below
- Players always have the choice whether to hit, stand, or double down
But there are a few more rules to know about if you're thinking about playing blackjack online or live:
- Double down -> While it's not necessarily your best move to double down on anything other than a 10 or and 11, some casinos will let you double down regardless of what you're holding. However, some online casinos limit the option.
- Insurance -> If the dealer shows an Ace as his face-up card, he'll invite players to take insurance. This protects you in case the dealer has a card valued at 10.
- Surrendering -> In some online casinos, you can surrender half your bet if you don't like your hand. Again, the option varies from casino to casino
- Soft 17 -> A soft hand is a hand that has an Ace in it. It's called soft because the hand has two values - either one plus the other cards or 11 plus the other cards. Some online blackjack casinos require the dealer to hit on a soft 17 while others require that they stand. Make sure you check the rules before you play.
- Taking even money -> If you hit a blackjack but the dealer is showing an Ace, you'll push (tie) if he also happens to have a Blackjack. If you don't want to risk not winning, you can choose to take even money. Instead of getting paid 3:2, you'll get paid 1:1.
From 17th century card rooms to modern online casinos, blackjack has a long history and it has picked up a few quirks and variants along the way. To help guide you through complexities of this fun online casinos game, our real cash blackjack experts have developed this detailed FAQ in simple, easy to understand language that explains blackjack terminology and addresses the most common issues that you may have. Good luck at the tables!
The first place to look is on the pages of our website. We thoroughly research each online blackjack casino to be sure it has the best graphics, highest payouts, great bonuses and is safe and secure for your protection. Don't rest your fate upon the outcome of a simple Google search.
You get each online casino’s blackjack software at that casino. They are not interchangeable so if you want to play at a different blackjack casino, you have to download the new casino’s software too. You can also play at no download online casinos but you still have to complete a player registration form first. Don't worry though, the registration process if free and it only takes a couple of minutes.
Yes, most online casinos with blackjack for real money also offer free games so you can get used to the game, develop your strategy and have fun without risk. However, even though these games look, sound, and feel just like the real thing, you cannot keep any of the winnings that pile up.
For the sake of brevity, most of the table rules are abbreviated. Knowing what is allowed and not allowed will make the game easier for you. Some of the abbreviations used can seem like foreign languages until you get used to them. The most common ones are:
- BSE: Basic Strategy Edge meaning you can get better odds using your basic strategy
- DOA: Double Down on any of your initial cards
- D10/11: You can only double down on 10s and 11s
- DAS: Double down is only allowed when you split a pair.
- ESR: Early surrender allowed. You won’t find this often, but when you do you can surrender your initial hand when the dealer has a natural blackjack (21).
- H17: This means that when the dealer has 17 (as soft hit) he must hit.
- LSR: Late surrender. You can surrender your hand, only losing half of your bet when the dealer gets a non-natural blackjack (21).
- O/U: You can bet over and under thirteen
- RSA: You can re-split Aces
- S17: The dealer must stand on 17 (stick on 17).
If the total of your cards exceed 21 then you are said to have “bust” and your hand is folded and your bet is lost. The dealer can also bust under the same circumstances, which is a great thing for you.
Whenever you draw a new card to add to your hand you are said to “hit”.
Insurance is a side bet, of up to half your original bet and can be made when the dealer's "upcard" is an ace. If the dealer has a natural 21 your insurance bet pays out at 2:1.
A push is a tied hand that causes your original bet to be returned to you.
Surrendering is when you “fold.” Some tables allow surrender and some do not. This might sound negative, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. When early surrender is allowed, you can surrender your hand if the dealer gets blackjack on the first deal, and only lose half your bet instead of all of it.
If you surrender early you only lose half your bet, so in the long run it seems to make a lot of sense to get out if your cards are bad. However, it is always a risk because even what seem to be really bad hands can end up winning if played right, and the dealer busts. There are no sure things on the casino floor.
In general, online casinos use the same rules as live casinos when it comes to blackjack (hence, the same strategy works). Having said that, bonuses and loyalty programs offer you chances to make up for the house's built-in edge. Just because lots of players will lose in the long run, doesn't mean you have to!
No. The online casinos are heavily regulated by all countries that allow them. Do yourself a favor and use our reviews to find your next blackjack casino and avoid the less scrupulous alternatives
Yes, but it is just as hard, and actually impossible at an online blackjack casino because of the speed that the computer plays. Your edge against multi-deck games is generally less than 1%, not to mention the fact that online casinos automatically re-shuffle the deck (digitally of course) between every hand.
There are many good strategies for playing blackjack, both online and off. You can and should use any of the common blackjack strategies at online blackjack casinos. You won't gain an edge over the house, but you'll reduce their edge to the point where the game is nearly perfectly fair.
- Bankroll – The sum of all money that you have access to for gambling purposes. Keep this separate from the college fund!
- Burn Card - This is the first card drawn from the top of the deck. Named because it is “burned” (removed from the deck) to disrupt the order of the cards and foil attempts at cheating.
- Bust – A hand that is worth more than 21. This automatically results in a loss of your bet and can only be achieved after “hitting”. A bust is always your fault since your starting two cards can never be worth more than 21.
- Card Counting – A potentially effective system of tracking the cards that remain in a blackjack deck to determine the likelihood of the dealer “busting”. Card counting is never effective online.
- Deck Penetration - – The percentage of cards that have been in play since the previous shuffle. Important information for card counters.
- Double Down – The choice to double your original bet (typically with a strong hand) with the limitation that you must accept exactly one more card. This cannot be performed on a hand that contains more than two cards.
- Face Cards – These are the Kings, Queens, and Jacks in a deck.
- Flat Betting – Betting the same for each hand. No variation in bet size. Typically considered a bad strategy, though it makes sense if you aren't counting cards.
- Griffin Book – A listing of known card counters (referred to as a black book) which circulates among casino security workers in brick and mortar casinos. It is named after Griffin Investigations: the company that is responsible for publishing and circulating this document.
- Hard Hand – A hand that can only have one value – either without any aces, or a hand with a high enough value that any aces can only be worth 1.
- Heads Up – When there is only one player playing at the blackjack table. Most online games are played heads-up.
- HitRequesting an additional card from the dealer in hopes of improving ones blackjack hand.
- House Edge – The house’s statistical advantage. With all other things being equal, a lower house edge is better from the player’s perspective. In blackjack, your ability determines the house edge.
- Natural – A hand that does not require any action to be worth 21. Only contains two cards. This hand cannot lose.
- Paint – A slang term used by blackjack players to refer to face cards.
- Push – Tying with the dealer with a non-busted hand; this results in neither a win nor a loss.
- Soft Hand – Any hand that contains one or more aces that can be worth either 1 or 11. Since this hand has a degree of flexibility, it protects you from busting after a hit.
- Surrender – The decision to forfeit a blackjack hand and have half of your wager returned to you. This cannot be performed after any other action (e.g. hitting, doubling down, etc). It's just based on receiving an unfortunate hand at the start.
- Up Card – The dealer’s card which faces up. It provides valuable information for any player attempting to follow basic strategy or count cards because it clues you into the house's prospects.