Blackjack is the most legendary casino game – and any high roller’s favorite game. It has the highest pay out percentage of all casino games (up to astonishing 99,83%). Through the years a lot of players had success beating the house and win big sums of money.
Let’s start with the most basic rules. Blackjack is a card counting game where one or more people plays against the dealer. The goal is either:
A: To get as close as possible to the card value 21.
B: To beat the dealers hand by getting a higher hand than him.
C: To make the dealer ‘go bust’ by letting him draw cards until his hand is above 21.
A player who beats the dealer receives twice his bet (1:1), unless he hits Blackjack (an ace and a card that counts for 10). This pays 3:2.
Basic blackjack rules
At the start of a blackjack round a player will get two cards. Afterwards the player has the following options:
Stand: You are satisfied with your cards and don’t want to draw more cards.
Hit: The player draws an extra card. The player can draw cards until they bust (Their hand excess 21).
Double: The player estimates his chances are good and double his bet. Afterwards the player can draw one more card.
Split: If a player has a pair or two other cards with a total value of 10 points, the player can choose to double his bet or split the cards. That way the player ends up with to hands. The dealer will automatically deal each hand one more card. Afterwards the player must choose to hit, stand or double in relation to the respective hands. In some games, double after a split is not allowed.
You’ll get surprised when you find out how many different versions of blackjack that exists. What looks like small changes in the game, can in the end make a big difference in the pay-out percent. Here is some variations:
Dealer hits on soft 17
The dealer draws cards until he hits 17 or higher. In some variations the dealer chooses to stand on 17 and in some others the dealer can choose to hit. If the dealer chooses to hit, then it impairs the pay-out percent by 0,2%.
Dealer stands on soft 17
In this case where the dealer stands on 17, statistic it’s an advantage for the player because the dealer has a higher chance to go bust.
Some tables allow the player to surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack. It’s rare but it’s an advantage for the player. Late surrender (after the dealer has checked for blackjack) is more common and it’s not an advantage for the player.
The opportunity to split a hand, which has already been split. This opportunity is offered by a lot of blackjack tables but not all. Games that offers this opportunity is better for the player
Blackjack card values
The card value in Blackjack are always the same no matter what variation of the game you play and values are as listed below:
• Card 2-10 has the value equal to their own number.
• Face cards counts as 10.
• An ace can be counted as 1 or 11.
No casino game has such big winning chances as blackjack, but only if you use the right strategy. Below you can see the best strategy for two different blackjack games: Dealer stands on soft 17 and dealer hits on soft 17.
If you don’t use the right strategy and make mistakes like accepting insurance in the game the pay-out percentage can go down to 95% which removes a lot of the magic from the game. Therefore, always follow the right strategy and play smart!
Strategy: Dealer stands on soft 17
This strategic schema is valid for blackjack where the dealer chooses to stand on soft 17 and the game are played with 4-8 playing cards and where the dealer accept double after split. Blackjack games where the dealer stand on soft 17 is generally most advantageous to the player.
Strategy: Dealer hits on soft 17
This strategic schema is valid for blackjack where the dealer chooses to hit on soft 17. This is not the most advantageous form of blackjack but can be found at many tables, both in real casinos and online.
The History of Blackjack
Card counting games related to blackjack has existed forever and in a novel from the 16th century written by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (he also wrote Don Quixote) he describes a card game where the goal is to hit 21.
Later when a version of 21 came to America it became a favourite among the experienced players because of a nice 10:1 bonus that was given for each hand that hit 21. This bonus was known as a “blackjack” because the hand that triggered the bonus consisted of either an ace of spades and jack of clubs or spades. The bonus 10:1 was removed after a while (apparently it didn’t make economically sense for the casinos) but the name blackjack still hangs on!
The Card Counting Era
In the 1960s blackjack became very popular and it became a goal for card counters and hustlers from all around the world. This was after a mathematical study proved that the game could be beaten with help from “advantage play”. Card counters had to wear disguise to visit casino sometimes! Inspired by other mathematicians a guy called Edward O. Thorpe published a book that described the ideal strategy for the game. In that way he opened the door for many high rollers, that wanted to try their luck.
One of the persons who read Thorn’s book was Ken Uston who was a part of a card counting team in the 70s. Later on, he learned how to count cards himself. In fact, Uston won so much money from casinos that he often had to wear disguise with fake beard and fake glasses to play! But the party didn’t go on forever. Soon the casinos found out that people where counting cards which changed the procedure for the game, so it wasn’t possible to count cards anymore. At least, it became a lot harder.
Interesting bonus history: After Uston and his card counting team reached over 350.000 USD him and his team moved into an expensive mansion in California and bought a “Space Invaders” arcade machine. They definitely lived the dream, right?
How Does Card Counting Works
In the good old days blackjack was either played with one set of playing cards or a collection of sets of playing cards, also known as a shoe. The fact that there was a limited number of cards in the game made it possible to count cards.
Card counting is about knowing which cards has been played over several rounds. Gradually as the cards in the deck becomes less the probability for one exact card to show up is higher. The only thing you need to do is to remember what cards have been playing. A lot of players with sharp memory has already been proving their ability to count cards.
But the card counting days are over. Casinos has now made rules about card counting, though some people still count cards its very hard to practice their art. In online blackjack it’s simply impossible to count cards.
Why is Card Counting Impossible in Online Blackjack?
The reason that card counting is impossible in online blackjack is that the simulator shuffles a complete deck every round. In live dealing versions of blackjack it is also impossible to count cards. The reason for this is:
• Live dealers use a shoe which contains 8 decks of playing cards.
• Dealer never plays all the cards in the shoe.
• Instead the shoe is changed halfway through the game.
• This makes it impossible to count cards.
• But the game still has the lowest house edge.
Online vs. Real Blackjack
What is the difference between playing blackjack on a physical casino and an online casino? – In a physical casino you can’t play from your couch. Ah, sorry I just couldn’t hold it – bad joke. However, I must admit that one of my arguments for playing online blackjack is comfort.
But let me tell you something: I don’t like blackjack simulators. They have the same winner chances as physical blackjack but the feeling of the game is totally different. Why?
Because the simulator shuffles the cards every round. In fact, you could end up with the same cards several rounds.
With live dealer blackjack the situation is different: This kind of game is very close to blackjack in the real world.
Live dealer games is fair and safe and because the dealer is real and the cards is real, you can expect that the game feel like the real deal.
Ask any old gambler; He will tell you that the live dealer games are the same as in reality!
Is it Possible to play Online Blackjack Free?
Blackjack is not hard after you have learned the rules, but you definitely want to play some games before you go all in! You need to learn the basic strategy and develop a feeling for the game otherwise you could end up loose.
Fortunately, there is a lot of blackjack simulators where you can practise. I will recommend you to use the simulators only for practise and playing for fun.
You can try to play for fun at LeoVegas. It’s free and you don’t even have to sign up. Get your strategic schema, get ready and try your luck!
Best Online Blackjack
The best place to play online blackjack? If you ask me it’s the live dealers tables at LeoVegas. Their blackjack has a high payout, the site is very user friendly and the live dealer is friendly and dedicated.
Can You Live from Playing Blackjack
Sometimes you hear stories about people that lives by playing blackjack, but I most warn you – this is not something to bet on. Gambling should never be seen as a regular income, sometimes you’re lucky and win but in the long run it’s the house who win.
The ones who have lived by playing blackjack in the past had the opportunity because they counted cards and used other advantages. But card counting isn’t an opportunity anymore and to cheat is never a durable method.
If you want to live by gambling, maybe you should consider poker instead?
I hope that you have learned a little about blackjack and that you wish to try this wonderful game! It’s pretty easy to start – but always remember to use the right strategy as written before. Use my casino list and find a nice casino bonus!