Those learning to play online blackjack might be at a loss in terms of choosing between all the options available on the internet. Luckily, there are ways you can sift through all of these games and choose the ones that are best for you. With that in mind, we’re here to show you how to choose the best online blackjack games.
With all of the time everyone is spending at home these days, there’s a good chance that a lot of people are trying online gambling for the first time as a source of entertainment. If you’re one of those people and your game of choice is online blackjack, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed as to all the options in front of you.
Just about all major online gambling sites offer blackjack. In fact, it’s possible that they might offer different versions of the game. When you consider the sheer number of gambling sites competing for your business, you’ll start to realize how many different variations on basic online blackjack there are.
Take Your Time
You might be temped to just jump right in and start playing the first online blackjack game that you find. And you can certainly get away with that if you’re planning on just being a casual player. By casual, we mean the type who only plays every once in a while and only puts a few dollars on the line here and there.
But if you really want to be serious about your online blackjack play, you have to learn to tell one game from another. First of all, there are slight rules changes that might be adopted by certain online blackjack games that can affect your odds. If they nudge the odds in the direction of the house, your potential payback will be lessened.
On the other hand, you have to be aware of the benefits of choosing online blackjack by website. There might be certain sites that seem to be offering beneficial rules to the game which would conceivably help your payback. But if the site itself is unreliable, these benefits will be negated and even outweighed, once again putting you at a disadvantage.
It’s important to know how to choose the right online blackjack game if you really want to be serious about it. If you know how to do it right, online blackjack actually is one of the rare casino-style games that gives you the chance at making a long-term profit. That can only happen if you choose correctly.
With that in mind, we’re here to explain to you how to choose the best online blackjack games. We’ll start by going through all of the factors that can affect your payback for good or bad based on the game’s rules. And we’ll also explain how you can choose a website that’s right for you as well.
Understanding Online Blackjack Game Play
Before we can get into what it takes to choose the right online blackjack game, it’s important that you have a solid understanding of how the game works. If you already understand the basic game play of blackjack, you can skip ahead to where we talk about the different rules that affect payback.
Object of Blackjack
Don’t be fooled by those who tell you that the object of blackjack is to get as close to 21 without going over. Your goal is to beat the dealer. Here are the three ways to win a hand:
Form 21 with two cards (also known as a blackjack) on a hand when the dealer does not do the same
End up with a value of 21 or less in your hand while having a value higher than what the dealer possesses at the end of the hand
End up with a value of 21 or less in your hand while the dealer goes over 21 (or “busts”)
You can also tie, or “push”, the hand. This happens when you and the dealer both get blackjack or you end up with the same value with neither going over 21. Meanwhile, you lose the hand when the dealer has blackjack and you don’t, you bust, or the dealer has a higher value than you without busting.
The cards that you receive each have a specific value. Those values are:
2 through 9: Face value (in other words, 2 = 2, 3 =3, etc.)
10s, jacks, queens, kings: 10
Aces: either 1 or 11, depending on what helps your hand the most
A blackjack hand begins with you (and any other players at the online table) receiving two cards face up. Meanwhile, the dealer also receives two cards, but just one is face-up. The other remains hidden.
When you receive your two cards, you’ll add up their value to see where you stand. For example, if you received a jack and a 3, you’d have 13 (10 + 3).
You’ll then have a series of actions which you can take in order to help you win the hand. Not all of these actions will be open to you on every deal, depending on what you have in your hand.
Here are your choices of what to do:
Hit: If you hit, you’re asking for another card, one whose value will be added to yours to make a new value. For example, if you had a 13 and received a 6, your new value is 19. You can continue to hit until you’re happy with the value of your hand or until you bust, which would cause you to automatically lose the hand regardless of what the dealer has.
Stand: When you stand, you are essentially saying that you’re happy with your hand as it is. The idea behind standing is that you think that you are either going to beat the dealer or that they are going to bust.
Split: You can split when you receive two cards of the same value, like a pair of 3s, or a 10 and a jack. When you split, you have to double your bet so that you can split the cards into two separate hands. At that point, you’ll receive another card in each of the two new hands and, most times, can proceed from there with any of the actions mentioned here.
Double: Doubling also requires doubling your initial bet. But in the case of a double, you’ll receive one more card on top of the two you were dealt and that will be the end of your actions. The idea behind doubling is that you feel like you can end up with a value close to 21 with one more card, usually also in situations where the dealer’s card is weak.
Insurance: Insurance only comes into play on hands where the dealer has an ace showing. At that point, you can place an insurance bet of up to half your original bet at odds of 2 to 1, and you’ll win that bet if the dealer checks his hidden card and reveals blackjack. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, you lose the insurance bet and play out the rest of the hand.
Surrender: You have an option of surrendering right after the deal. By surrendering, you concede the hand without receiving any more cards, but you would lose only half of your original bet, with the other half being returned to you. Surrendering is an option if you have a less-than-advantageous total after the deal while the dealer appears to be sitting pretty.
Online Blackjack Rules That Affect Payback
Now that you know the actions at your disposal during a game of online real money blackjack, you’re ready to take a look at the way websites adjust the rules somewhat. These adjustments will have an effect on payback. Let’s walk through these various rules changes to help you identify them when you’re trying to choose the online blackjack games that are right for you.
The standard payback for online blackjack payback is 3 to 2. In other words, for every two coins that you bet, you’ll receive three in return. In monetary terms, a blackjack on a $10 wager would return you $15.
Some online sites, however, will offer you only 6 to 5 odds on a blackjack. This will damage your potential payback and should be avoided if possible. And you should definitely stay away from any game that drops blackjack payback even lower than that.
Number of Decks Used
The more decks that are being used, the more the House Edge rises. Simply put, more decks mean less chances at a player getting blackjack. Since blackjacks are so valuable, this is obviously not a good thing for you, the gambler.
Most online blackjack games settle at six decks. But some will go higher than that to eight decks, which will lower your expected payback. If you can find an online blackjack game using less than six decks, go for it, but beware that such games often come with a much higher minimum wager in place.
Dealer on Soft 17
A soft 17 is one where a dealer has a value of 17 with an ace involved that is being valued at 11 (for example, ace and 6). Dealers usually have to stop hitting once they reach 17, even in this scenario. That is beneficial for the player.
But there are online blackjack games where the dealer is allowed to keep hitting with a soft 17. That actually increases the dealer’s chances of winning the hand. And it will negatively affect your chances of winning the hand, thereby negatively affecting your overall payback.
Ideally, you should be able to double on any hand where the dealer doesn’t have blackjack. The common doubling hands are ones where are player has 9, 10 or 11. But there are times when doubling on other values can be advantageous to you, especially if the dealer has a weak starting card like a 6.
You will find that some online games restrict your ability to double. Some only allow it on 9, 10 or 11, while some are even stricter, only allowing you to double on 10 or 11. The less freedom you have to double, the worse it is for your payback.
There are many different ways that an online blackjack game can restrict your ability to split. In some cases, they might put a lower limit on the number of times you can split if you keep getting cards of the same value after splitting the first time. The standard is four times, but some online blackjack games go lower than that, which hurts your payback.
You should also be able to double after splitting. Some sites will put a clamp down on this as well. As is the case with most imposed restrictions, it will damage your payback.
Finally, there is the case of splitting aces. This is one case where differences will actually help you. The standard in online blackjack tends to be that players are not allowed to split on a deal of a pair of aces.
But this is one of the most rules with the greatest amount of variance. You’ll find many online blackjack games that do indeed allow you to split aces, which is good. It’s even better if you can find a game where you can split aces more than once.
We listed surrender above in the list of actions that a player can take because it is allowed in most online blackjack games. But if you run into a game where it Is not allowed, you’ll be at a disadvantage.
Many novice players don’t like to surrender because they don’t like the idea of giving up the hand. But there are occasions where it is the best strategic play. And not having it in your arsenal is a negative that you should try to avoid.
Live Dealer Versus Automatic Dealer
Most online blackjack games feature an automatic dealer. This means that the cards are spit out by a random number generator and the decks are reshuffled after every hand.
But you will find online blackjack games were a live dealer presides over the action. They are on camera and they deal the cards as if you were in a casino. You then signal what you want to do with your hand as the hand proceeds.
Why does it matter? Well, it doesn’t, unless you’re adept at the expert blackjack strategy of card counting. Card counting can only be helpful with a live dealer.
With an automatic dealer reshuffling after every hand, there is no advantage to counting cards. But if a live dealer goes through several decks, you can benefit by knowing which cards have already been played, which also lets you know which are left.
Card counters can tell when the cards remaining are in their favor or in the dealer’s favor. And they can then adjust their bets accordingly.
Keep in mind that, even with a live dealer, card counting is not as effective in online blackjack as it is in the casino format. But, if you are able to do it and can find a live-dealer online game where the deck isn’t reshuffled often, you can possibly get a small boost in payback from it.
Adding It All Up
Now that you know all of these different rules and what you should be seeking, how can you utilize that information? Well, keep in mind that the difference that any one of these rules makes in your expected payback is minimal. But when you add a bunch of these small variances up, it can start to make an impact on your play.
Ideally, you’ll be able to find an online blackjack game where every one of the aspects listed above work in your favor. If you do, your expected payback percentage, assuming that you’re using solid basic blackjack strategy, should be very near 100 percent. That means close to breaking even, which is ideal in the gambling world.
But if you end up with an online game where all of these factors are working against you, suddenly that payback percentage can dip under 99 percent or lower. And that means that you’ll find a harder time succeeding in the long haul.
Choosing Your Gambling Website
We’ve talked all about the factors that affect your online blackjack percentage. One thing we haven’t mentioned is how important it is to choose one of the top gambling websites, regardless of all this.
Even the most advantageous online blackjack rules won’t matter much to you if you’re at a site that isn’t on the up and up. Often, these unsavory sites will lure you in with conditions on their games that seem to be favoring you. But when you dig deeper, you’ll find that there are major problems lurking underneath.
With that in mind, you should always be looking for the following qualities from the website offering your online blackjack game:
Top-notch customer service
Mobile game capability
Reliable deposit and withdrawal procedures
Excellent variety of betting options
Multiple ways to fund your betting account
Competitive bonuses offered
That last characteristic is an important one when it comes to your online blackjack play. As we said above, the best online blackjack games can offer payback in the area of 99 to just shy of 100 percent.
If you can find an online website offering deposit bonuses or betting rewards for frequent play, you can actually push that percentage over 100. And that’s when you can start hoping to make a long-term profit playing online blackjack, which should be the goal for serious players.
We hope this article gives you an idea about how to proceed with choosing an online blackjack game that’s right for. When you’ve found the right game, you’ll find that everything else tends to fall into place.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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