Real Money Online Blackjack
Your Guide To The Best Real Money Blackjack Casinos And Free Games
We absolutely love real money Blackjack (and free games too!). 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 too. While our goal is to win some real cash, our focus is on offering our expertise to a world of casino players.
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1. How to Play Blackjack like a Pro
It is easy to burn through your money at an online blackjack table if you don’t play smart, but follow our advice and you’ll be playing blackjack like a professional. The game offers some of the best value in the casino to the player, but only if you use the correct strategy and play with your head and not your heart. It's well worth trying online blackjack for free first, so you get a feel for the game.
Here are a few tips which everyone should take into consideration before approaching the virtual blackjack tables:
Quick Blackjack Tips
- Don’t bet money you can’t afford. Never throw good money after bad. Set a budget for yourself before you come to the table, and stick with it.
- Memorize a basic strategy. As you begin to play make sure to keep your basic strategy guide open on a separate window so you can refer to it quickly.
- Never bet more than half your stack on a single bet. This is reckless play, and no one wants to see half their pot disappear in one go. Always bet responsibly.
- Hold your nerve. Sometimes the cards just don’t seem to be with you, and it can be tempting to give up on your strategy. In the long run, following strategy is the only way to make consistent profits.
2. How Blackjack Works
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, which is why we recommend playing for fun first. 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.
- 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.
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.
Types of Blackjack
Apart from the original version of Blackjack, many casinos offer variations on the game, with the following being among the most popular:
This version of the game is played out in the same way as the original version, except with Blackjack Surrender the player has the option to surrender after the first two cards are dealt. If this option is taken the player will recover half of his/her stake.
Blackjack Switch is an interesting option with some quite novel twists on the basic game. In this game the player plays two hands at the same time, and after the first four cards are dealt has the option to switch the top card from each hands to try and improve the chances of winning. There is also a Super Match side bet which pays out if the first four cards dealt to the player contain a pair, two pairs, or three of a kind.
This variation on the game of real money blackjack allows players to make a side bet on whether either they or the dealer (or both) will be dealt two of the same cards. If the first two cards are a ‘perfect’ pair – meaning that they are a pair in the exact same suit – then the payout can be as much as 25 to 1.
3. How To Choose a Blackjack Casino
Once you have decided that blackjack is your game of choice, the next step is to find the best online blackjack casino for your needs. We cover some of the factors to take into account below, so make sure that your chosen casino ticks the right boxes before you make your first real cash investment.
Many online casinos entice players by offering huge welcome bonuses for signing up with their site. Most of the larger bonus offers you will see involve the casino matching some or all of your initial deposits, sometimes up to as many as your first five deposits to the site. As you can imagine, this can lead to some pretty hefty bonus packages, although it does rely on the player making equally large deposits to get the maximum out of the offer. Of course it is also possible to find online casinos which offer no deposit bonuses when you sign up, although these offers are usually in the range of $10 or $20 rather than the $1,000+ offers related to your deposits.
Not all casinos pay out the same
Calculate the best bonuses available online.
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Get the Best Bonus Possible
Most casinos will offer you some kind of sign-up bonus, usually a % of your first deposit.
You can use this bonus to build your bankroll, giving you more spins and more chances to win.
Almost all casinos payout these bonuses over time based on how much you wager, so it's a good idea to check these "Wagering Requirements" before signing up.
Tip: Look for casinos with big sign-up bonuses and low wagering requirements to maximize the amount of real money you have available to play.
When you come to play blackjack online, it is very important that you are playing at a trustworthy casino. There is not much point in winning big at the blackjack tables to find that the casino is reluctant to pay out, for example. Any reputable online casino will be licensed and regulated to ensure that the games are fair and that the casino must act in a fair and honorable manner to its clients. Check the bottom of the page to see where a casino is regulated, and also check to see whether it is eCOGRA approved, as this means that the games on the site have been independently tested to ensure fairness. All the sites recommended on these pages are credible and trustworthy casinos, so you can rest assured that we only ever direct our readers to the most reliable of online betting sites.
The bigger online casinos will usually have a selection of different blackjack games on offer, so real fans of the game will be on the lookout for casinos offering options such as Surrender, Perfect Blackjack, Pontoon, Switch, and Multi-hand games. The original form of blackjack offers plenty of excitement on its own, but variations on the game allow players to profit from different side bet options, as well as offering alternative gameplay features such as the ones mentioned on this page.
Blackjack is a game with one of the lowest house edges of all online casino games, which is why it remains a favorite with canny gamblers. By using the correct strategy players can reduce the casino edge to almost zero. It is important to be wary of some of the side bets on offer though, as these may not provide the same value as the original game. It is quite possible to find blackjack games with a house edge of just 0.05% if you use the correct basic strategy, and by taking advantage of our advanced tips below you can swing the odds even further in your favor.
4. How to Win
Understand the Rules
You should never even consider sitting down at a virtual blackjack table until you are absolutely certain about how the game works. If you don’t completely understand the rules of blackjack then you may as well just flush your money away, as this is not a game of chance like roulette. A good knowledge of the mechanics of the game is an absolute must. Remember that different varieties of the game will have different rules which will greatly impact on your chances for success, so it’s best to check out the rules of any variation of the game and try a few practice hands before playing for real money. Playing for fun initially will help you in the long run.
Understand Card Values
Most of the card values in blackjack are self-explanatory, but there are a few cards which can trip up newbies when it comes to their value. In blackjack, 10,J,Q and K all have exactly the same value of 10 points, the pictures on the face cards don’t have any impact on their worth. Aces are the cards which have a unique value in blackjack, as they can be worth either 1 or 11 depending on which is liable to benefit you in a given situation. A starting hand of A5 will have a value of 6 or 16. If the next card drawn is a 9 then the Ace becomes a 1 for a total value of 15. If you draw a 3 instead, then the Ace will be used as an 11 to make a strong hand of 19. A starting hand featuring an Ace is usually known as a ‘soft’ 19 to indicate that it features the Ace.
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?
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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 if you're unsure.
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 like players bringing this kind of helpful information to the table. However, that is not a problem when you are playing 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, 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 and we have them all detailed on our Card Counting page. But if you’re looking specifically for Hi-Lo, here's a basic strategy 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 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.
In order to help you out along the way, we have developed a great game to help you count cards like a pro. Below, you can practice keeping count and learn as you go along.
5. The Quick History of Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world, enjoyed by huge numbers of people every day, both in land-based and online casinos. The history of blackjack is a long and complex one though, as well as one steeped in myth and folklore. Therefore, it is tough to pin down the exact moment when blackjack - or any of its potential predecessors - was conceived.
What is known is this though: the first ever reference to a game similar to blackjack came in a tale called Rinconete y Cortadillo which was written in the 17th century by famous Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes - a man known to often frequent gambling tables during his time. This game, which was called ventiuna, wasn’t an exact replica of today’s blackjack, but still had many similarities - including the key similarity of needing to reach 21 without ever going over. There are others though who think that the game dates back even further, possibly even back to the time of the ancient Egyptians.
There are other theories as to the origins of blackjack though. One of the most widely supported is that it originated in France in the 18th century, with a game known as Vingt-Un. This game saw betting rounds between each card being dealt, as well as the dealer being the only person allowed to double down, but the basic object of the game was still essentially the same as the blackjack played in casinos today. References to this game can be found in the book Round Games with Cards, which was written by Baxter Wray in 1891, and in this book he describes the game as a popular one.
Even Wray fails to pin down the exact origins of the game though, once again suggesting that Vingt-Un had predecessors. He says in the book "Its name would seem to imply that it is of French origin; but in reference to this, as well as in regard to the date of its introduction into the country, we have no definite details."
Regardless of where the original form of blackjack originated though, it can then be shown that the game gradually spread around both France and Spain. It would then migrate to the casinos of the United States, where it was referred to as twenty-one - a name still commonly used to refer to the game today.
6. Online Blackjack FAQs
Blackjack is one of the classic casino favorites that you're bound to find at every site, but sometimes you'll discover a new aspect that you're not certain about. For that reason, we've collated this list of frequently asked questions so that you can focus on enjoying your game and leave any queries you have behind.
How can I find a reputable blackjack casino online?
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. Also look for a site that offers both real cash and free play - free blackjack games allow you to 'test drive' the casino before taking the plunge with a real bankroll.
What do I need to have in order to play online blackjack?
A computer or mobile internet device and an internet connection are all you need to begin. You will have to download the casino's software, or for Mac and iPhone users, play at online blackjack casinos that offer web-based, no download software platforms.
Where do I get blackjack software for my computer?
You get each online casino's blackjack software at that casino. They are not interchangeable so if you want to play at a different real money 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.
Can I play blackjack online for free?
Yes, most online casinos with real money games also offer free online blackjack 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 while playing for fun.
What are the abbreviations I see at online blackjack casinos?
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).
What does it mean when I “bust”?
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.
What does it mean to “hit”?
Whenever you draw a new card to add to your hand you are said to “hit”.
What is “insurance”?
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.
What is a “push”?
A push is a tied hand that causes your original bet to be returned to you.
What does it mean to “surrender”?
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 is showing an Ace and only lose half your bet instead of all of it.
Is it better to surrender early if I don’t have good cards?
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.
Are the odds at winning at online blackjack the same as those playing land-based casino blackjack?
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!
Are blackjack games rigged?
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 real money blackjack casino and avoid the less scrupulous alternatives
Can I count cards playing online blackjack?
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.
How Do You Count Cards?
You assign a value to types of cards in the deck with a positive or negative value. Then you keep a running value as cards are dealt out giving you a more accurate reading of what types of cards are left in the deck. Check out our blackjack card counting guide and trainer for more.
Is blackjack purely luck, or can you use strategy to improve the odds of winning online?
There are many good strategies for playing blackjack, both online and off. You can and should use any of the common strategies at online blackjack casinos, whether you're playing for free or for real money. 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.
7. Blackjack Glossary
The sum of all money that you have access to for gambling purposes. Keep this separate from the college fund!
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.
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.
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.
The percentage of cards that have been in play since the previous shuffle. Important information for card counters.
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.
These are the Kings, Queens, and Jacks in a deck.
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.
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.
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.
When there is only one player playing at the blackjack table. Most online games are played heads-up.
Requesting an additional card from the dealer in hopes of improving ones blackjack hand.
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.
A hand that does not require any action to be worth 21. Only contains two cards. This hand cannot lose.
A slang term used by blackjack players to refer to face cards.
Tying with the dealer with a non-busted hand; this results in neither a win nor a loss.
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.
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.
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.