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Blackjack Guide

Blackjack is a game that's simple in its structure, but there is a strategy you can learn that will help you win. Some strategies are proven to give you better statistical odds of winning, while other "strategies" are popular, but actually not helpful. 

Our strategy guide provides you with proven winning strategies to help you play your best blackjack game. The aim of the guide is to show you why you should make certain decisions, instead of just following statistics blindly.



How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack online offers players a very unique experience. There are so many versions of online blackjack nowadays, sometimes the online version can be considerably different from the version of blackjack that one would play at a land-based casino.

Once you get the hang of the game, it is important to understand the different types of online blackjack that are offered to you. Some versions of blackjack online have a much higher house edge than others. Different versions of the game have different rules, therefore some may appeal to you more than others. 

Let's start with the basics: your main goal, rules, and beginning strategy.

Rule Number One: Beat the House

The basic rules of blackjack are quite easy: beat the dealer. Your goal is quite simply not to lose. You can win with a hand with a value of 11 if the dealer busts. A win is a win. 

Getting blackjack is great. It pays out more than your other wins. But losing your money because you're making bad moves in the hope of a blackjack...that stinks. Regardless of how big your win is, if you beat the house, you get paid. Don't overshoot that going for blackjack.

Blackjack Rules

There are some basic guidelines to help you understand blackjack:

  • Cards with a number of 2-9 are valued at that number (i.e., a 9 is worth 9 points)
  • 10, Jack, Queen, and King are worth 10 points
  • An ace is worth 1 or 11 points. 
  • At any time you may "hit" (i.e., take another card) or "stay" with what you have. 
  • You have additional secondary options: double down, split, surrender, or take an insurance bet. These will be discussed below.

Those are the basic rules of blackjack. Of course this does not yet touch on strategy, but the guidelines above are the foundation for playing blackjack. 

Strategy for Online vs Land-based Blackjack

Repeat this until you believe it: online blackjack is very different from blackjack in the casino.

If you play like you're playing in a casino, you will not make money. The reason is that the software "shuffles" after every hand. This means you cannot count cards. You can get distracted by trying to count cards though and frustrated by the fact that your tricks aren't working. But that is a certain way to 1) lose money and 2) throw a dark cloud over your gaming experience.

You can win real money on free blackjack, but you need to know what game you're playing. And the key is this: each hand is as random for the dealer as it is for you. Although it's a game, the dealers "know" as little about their hand as you, which evens the field a bit. 

Online blackjack casinos may try to "un-even" the field by offering you many options, bells, and whistles that seem like they're catering to you, but end up just taking your focus off the game. They may give you options for more hands than you can actually play well, or innumerable double bet options.

If you're looking to win at online blackjack, stick to the game you're playing. Once you're comfortable there and making money, you can start looking at options to increase your winnings. 

Our Online Blackjack Tips

While you'll need to do some playing based on your preferences, we're going to give you a head start with some winning recommendations:

1. Greatest likelihood of winning: Sidebet blackjack. Odds are nearly in your favor but expect smaller winnings. You can find this at Pala and Betfair.

2. Smallest deck: Single deck Blackjack. While most online blackjack games thrive on randomness and multi-deck games, both Virgin and Tropicana casinos offer you single deck blackjack. Card counters, head on over.

3. Biggest win: High Stakes Blackjack. Check your favorite casino, as most offer a high stakes table.

Blackjack Terminology

When you're playing blackjack or reading strategy, you'll see lots of words that may not make sense. These are the major terms that you'll see. Learn these and you'll 

Blackjack: having an ace and 10-valued card (10, J, Q, or K). While the value of blackjack is 21, it still wins out over a hand whose value is 21 (e.g., 10, 8, and 3). Blackjack pays double on your bet for most online games. Land-based casinos are increasingly offering 5-to-6 payouts, which are significantly lower and decrease your edge. 

Bust: if you take a card and go over 21, that's going bust or busting. This means you lose your wager, regardless of the dealer's hand. 

A soft value: a soft 17 means that you have cards valued at 6 (e.g., either a 6 or a 2 and 4) and an ace. So the value could be 17 (if we count the ace as 11) or 7 (if ace is considered 1). It's a soft number because it can be altered, so to speak. 

A hard value: on the other hand, a hard 17 would be, for example, a 10 and 7. There's no other value this could have, so it's a hard number.

Hit: to request another card.

Stay: to decline taking more cards.

Upcard: these are the cards that are facing up. All players' cards up cards. The dealer will generally have one upcard and one card facing down, or...

Hole card or downcard: this is the dealer's card that is facing down. The players cannot know what the hole card is until they've finished betting. 

Double down: after you receive your two upcards, you can "double down" your bet. This means you bet twice as much as your original bet and you will receive one (and only one) more card. There are times when it's wise to double down. See the strategy section below.

Insurance: if the dealer's upcard is an ace, they'll ask players if they want to buy insurance. If the dealer does get blackjack, it pays out 2:1. Still, insurance is generally not a good bet. 

Split: if you are dealt two cards of equal value, you can split. (Note, the cards can be, for example, a Jack and a Queen as they are both worth 10.) Some tables or softwares allow you to split again if you are dealt another card of the same value. 

Types of Blackjack Online

You'll find many different types of blackjack online. The variations differ depending on the site and the software providers who designed them. Many times players will find multiple versions of the exact same blackjack variation on different online gambling sites. 

The basic rules don't change: get as close as you can to 21 as you can without going over. Variations come along based on:

  • When you can and can't bet
  • When you or the dealer can hit
  • How many hands you can have 
  • How many decks are used

All of the major variations in blackjack are based on those criteria. 

With online blackjack, we can take one off the table for you: how many decks are used. Online apps usually "shuffle" the deck after every hand, so each hand is random. That means no card counting.

Live blackjack played online uses a machine that you can see on your screen. It will usually have 6-8 decks.

Classic Blackjack

Classic blackjack online is just about as close as you can get to the real deal, the standard version of blackjack one would find in a typical casino. Classic blackjack usually uses 2-4 decks of cards but can sometimes use up to 8. The dealer hits soft 17. Classic blackjack rules allow both doubling and splitting. Players can resplit up to 2 times. The dealer always checks for blackjack. 

European Blackjack

European blackjack is usually played with two decks of cards and the dealer stands on soft 17. In this version, the dealer does not check for a blackjack. There is a push if the dealer and player both have blackjack. Players can only double after splitting and can double down on a 9, 10, or 11. 

Atlantic City Blackjack

Atlantic City Blackjack is played with 8 decks and players can resplit up to 3 hands. The dealer may peak at their hole card - the card which is faced down. The dealer can stand on soft 17. There are insurance options available in this game and late surrender is allowed. 

Multihand Blackjack

In multi-hand blackjack, players can play multiple hands at once. This is the most popular version of blackjack in NJ online casinos. In Multihand blackjack, the dealer does not check for blackjack and stands on soft 17. Players can only split once and double on totals of 9, 10, and 11. 

Spanish 21

Spanish 21, also known as Pontoon, is exciting because both of the dealer’s hole cards are faced down. The deck does not contain any 10s. Players can only stand in this version when their cards total 15 or more. The dealer wins all ties in this game. In some versions the dealer stands on soft 17 and in others, the dealer hits on soft 17. Players can double after splitting and then resplit even further if they wish. Players can also surrender after doubling. 

Face Up 21

In Face up 21, the dealer will present his/her cards face up. This gives the players an advantage. The players can double after splitting and a double is only allowed on totals like 9, 10, and 11. If the dealer has blackjack against a player's blackjack, it results in a loss. The dealer hits on soft 17. 

Match Play 21

Match Play 21 is quite an alternative form of blackjack. The deck does not include any 10s, while certain hands will earn you bonus payouts. Players can split and double. The dealer hits on soft 17. 

Perfect Pairs blackjack

Perfect pairs blackjack is similar to classic blackjack however there is an extra side bet on the chance of the first two cards having the same value. In this version, players can play up to 5 hands in a round, while doubling down and splitting are both allowed. The dealer hits on soft 17. 

Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack Strategy Overview

There is a fundamental guideline to advanced blackjack strategy: you are more likely to get a 10-valued card than any other card. There are 4 10s, Js, Qs, and Ks in a 52 card deck. This means there are 16 out of the 52 card deck, or 4 out of every 13 cards, will be valued at 10.

There are also four aces and four 9s, which also give you strong hands when coupled with a 10-valued card. So this gives you a total of 24 cards, nearly half the deck, that put you in a strong position to win. This is why blackjack has the lowest house edge of all the casino table games. Low house edge means good news for you!

When to Hit in Blackjack

The most important question - really, the fundamental question in blackjack - is whether to hit or stay. In short, you want to hit whenever you think you'll need to edge closer to 21 in order to beat the dealer. If you think your hand is strong against what the dealer will reveal, then you'll want to stay with what you have.

This means you have to be aware of two things: your hand and the dealer's hand. The dealer is playing with the same deck and applying the same strategy that you are. They're trying to beat you, but not go bust. 

You should always take a hit if your total from your first dealing totals 3-11 (although sometimes it's best to double down as well, but we'll get into that in a moment). You can imagine that it would be quite easy for a dealer to beat even 11 without going bust. Moreover, even if you draw a 10-valued card, that will only take you to 21, so no harm in taking a hit. 

How to Use Blackjack Strategy Cards

For the remainder of the decisions to make, you'll need to follow the advice on the strategy cards. There are numerous sites where you can find these cards, and the material is identical. These numbers don't change. 

Dealer Stands on Soft 17

Generally in online blackjack, the dealer will have to stand on a soft 17. This means that the dealer is "stuck," so to speak, at 17. Now 17 is not a bad hand (just 4 away from 21), and you don't want to hit if you have a hard 17. You'd always want to hit or double down on a soft 17 (which can also be a 7), but the dealer doesn't get that choice.

Be sure you're playing a game where the dealer has to stand on a soft 17. The casinos we recommend have blackjack games that hit on a soft 17.

This means that as you're learning the strategy, you really only need to focus on "stands on soft 17" statistics.

Your 17+ Cards

Any time you have a hand valued at a hard 17 or over, you'll want to stick with that hand. You have a very low chance of drawing a card and not going bust, and you have a very good chance of beating the dealer, so you'll want to stay put.

If you have a soft 18, you'll stand if the dealer is holding 8 or below. There's a good chance the dealer will bust trying to beat you.

If you have a soft 19 or more, just stand. All but those four 2 cards will make you bust trying to get to 21. 

When to Split in Blackjack

Splitting is another important blackjack strategy. Because the only thing better than beating the dealer is beating the dealer twice!

As you begin your splitting strategy, let's look at always and never advice.

Always split when you have a pair of 8s or aces. The reason is this: if you're holding a pair of 8s, you're statistically most likely to get a 17-21 (given the likelihood of getting a 9-11 valued card). Any of these would be great hands. You're also well placed to get a strong hand that the dealer will go bust trying to beat. 

You want to split aces because they're so versatile. If you get one of those 12 face cards, you've got blackjack (at least once!). If you get 10, you have 21. The remaining cards will either be very strong against whatever the dealer is holding, or you can take an additional card if you want to value your ace at 1. 

You never want to split a pair of 10s, which flies in the face of what you might think intuitively? If we split aces, valued at 11, why not 10s? There are two great reasons not to split 10s. First, you're already holding 20, which is nearly unbeatable. You're looking at a win, so take it. Second, you split aces because a hand of 2 or 22 would be useless, but splitting aces gives you two hands of 1 or 11.

When to Double Down in Blackjack

The next question in blackjack is, When should I double down? Doubling down at the right time is important because, in order to beat the house, you want to be sure that you're winning as big as you can when you do win.

There are 2 hands that you nearly always want to double down with: a 10 and an 11. If you think back to the fundamental principle given above, the reason for this is clear: you are statistically most likely to get a 10-valued card, so why not win big?

The only time you don't double down when you're holding 11 is if the dealer is showing an ace. Even if you both get a 10-valued card, adding that 10 to an ace is blackjack, which would beat your 11 and a 10.

If you have a 10, don't double down if the dealer is holding a 10 or ace for the same reason as above. 

How to Beat the House in Online Blackjack

Playing blackjack is fun and stimulating, but we're playing to win, right? While following the strategy outlined above will increase your odds enormously, winning in blackjack is difficult. Blackjack has a built in advantage for the house because of that hole card. The dealers know what you have, but you don't know what they have. 

But you can start out ahead of the house! And that is by playing with free money. Find the casino on the list below that is offering the best deal, and take advantage. If you win on those $20 bonus dollars,  you're beating the house twice!



How to Play Live Blackjack Online

Live dealer casino games took off recently in NJ online casinos, with Golden Nugget Online Casino being the first to offer live dealer options. Other online casinos in New Jersey followed suit, paving the way for the newfound popularity of live dealer online casino games. Other online gambling sites in New Jersey offering live dealer games include FanDuel Casino, 888 Casino NJ, PartyCasino NJ, Borgata, and playMGM.

In a live dealer setting, players watch the real action which takes place onscreen, filmed in Golden Nugget Atlantic City’s live dealer studio. They can interact with the dealer and participate as if they were there in person; the main difference being that they are in the comfort of their own home. 

Golden Nugget’s live dealer studio is over 24/7 and offers a bevy of live dealer casino games to choose from. Players can choose from live dealer roulette and baccarat to video blackjack online!

Live Dealer Blackjack on Mobile Apps

Want the live casino feel, but don't feel like braving the traffic to get down to Atlantic City? No problem, because you have Atlantic City in your back pocket. 

Live blackjack apps provide you with live-action, a real dealer, and often a chat feature if you want to banter with other players. You can expect much of the same experience with a live blackjack app that you would have in the live casino setting, with one important exception:

No one is watching you.

This means you can use as many strategy cards, notes, and blackjack software as you're able within the allotted playtime. 

On the other hand, live online blackjack games also shuffle cards more frequently than you'll find in the physical casinos. Again, do your homework here to find the rate of shuffles. If it is very high, you're looking at the same odds as a non-live blackjack app, so adjust your strategy.

Best Online Blackjack Sites

With the burgeoning popularity of online casino games, there are more and more places now to play online blackjack. The competition is becoming greater and the choices are seemingly limitless. 

Our experts have reviewed the online casinos in New Jersey to see what they have to offer and which sites have the most comprehensive assortments of online casino games. When it comes to playing blackjack online, some sites have more options than others. The game titles available to players at different online casinos depends on many factors including the game developers contributing those blackjack titles. Through dedicated research by our experts, we have come up with a few NJ online casinos offering well-rounded selections of online blackjack titles. 

Golden Nugget Online Blackjack

Golden Nugget offers eight variations of online blackjack. Blackjack (IGT) is offered along with Blackjack Pro, Vegas Blackjack, Blackjack European, two versions of Blackjack Micro Limit, and live blackjack. 

$ 1,000 bonus.

Caesars Online Blackjack

Caesars Casino online offers a nice assortment of blackjack titles including seven variations of the game, all contributed by top-of-the-line developers. There are three variations of Blackjack Microlimit, along with European Blackjack, Vegas Blackjack, Blackjack Side Bet, and Blackjack Pro. 

$ 300 bonus.

Borgata Online Blackjack

Borgata offers 7 very different, well designed online blackjack titles, including Blackjack (IGT), two versions of Blackjack Micro Limit, SP Vegas Blackjack, Side Bet Blackjack, Multihand Blackjack, and Blackjack Multihand Pro. 

$ 20 signup bonus + $ 600 bonus.

Pala Casino Online Blackjack

Pala Casino offers many well-designed variations of online blackjack including Classic blackjack, Micro Limit Blackjack, European Blackjack, Lucky 7, Perfect Pairs, Side Bet Blackjack, Single Deck Blackjack, and Vegas Blackjack. 

$ 25 signup bonus + $ 500 bonus.

There are many different titles to choose from in the Garden State, now that the number of NJ online casinos has topped 20. If online blackjack is one of your favorite casino games, you will never get bored in New Jersey’s online casinos. Once you start collecting no deposit bonus codes and playing online casino games for free, you will start to get the hang of different games and learn which ones are best suited for you. Here is a list of the most popular online blackjack titles offered by online casinos in New Jersey.

  • Single-Deck Blackjack
  • Atlantic City Single-Hand Blackjack Pro
  • SideBet Blackjack
  • Single Player Blackjack
  • Single-Deck Blackjack
  • Vegas Blackjack
  • Vegas Downtown Blackjack
  • Vegas Strip Blackjack
  • High Stakes Blackjack
  • Pro Blackjack
  • Live Dealer Blackjack

Why Play Blackjack Online

There are many reasons why playing online casino games is an excitement worthy of your time. Online blackjack is one of those reasons. Blackjack is a very fun casino game once you get the hang of it and can be enjoyed at any level. When you play blackjack online, you can develop your blackjack strategy and skill without the pressure of more skilled players around you. This is a benefit that can be appreciated by blackjack players of all skill levels. 

Finding an Online Blackjack App

It may seem that there are infinite choices for online blackjack apps, but that's actually not true. We strongly recommend against illegal casinos. Illegal means not legal, and there are only a dozen or so legal online casinos in New Jersey.

If you're putting your money with an illegal casino, you're banking on a belief that they're going to deceive the federal government, but be honest with you. 

When you decide on a legal online casino where you're able to play, the field is more selective. You should decide based upon special offers and variety.

Free Online Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most loved casino games. It calls out to beginners because of the ease of learnings its basics. But it is also that minimal structure that keeps long-time players at the blackjack table. Not surprisingly, online BlackJack is one of the most popular casino gaming apps. Whereas slots games go for maximal zing and graphics, blackjack players love how the simplicity of the game finds its way into the apps as well.

What do you need to consider when beginning an online blackjack? What are some features you need in an app, and what should you avoid? Is it possible to make real money off of free blackjack promotions? 

Read below for the lowdown on blackjack, and to find out our recommendations. 

Free Online Blackjack and Bonus Offers

There are a number of ways to try before you buy and also improve before you put money down. We have some recommendations for free online blackjack and advice regarding free bonuses for registering.

Free Online Blackjack

The first thing we recommend is that you play a free version of the game...a lot. Get comfortable with the layout and the rules of that particular game. You do not want to be asking yourself about specifics of the rules or searching for buttons when you're playing for money. Get that sorted for free!

Registration Bonuses

The second thing you want to look for is a good deal for when you register. All legal online casinos offer some amount of free money to start with, usually between $10-$30. They also usually offer a matching deposit bonus for your first deposit.

But do check the terms and conditions. These bonus offers have a wagering requirement, which means the amount of your own money you have to wager before you can withdraw any winnings. Obviously, if casinos gave $30 for free to everyone who registered with no further commitments, they'd have a short business. Wager requirements guarantee that you'll give casinos some business following their gift.

Wagering requirements can be very low. Sometimes you will find as low as a 1x wagering requirement. This means, for example, they give you $20, you bet $20, and keep all the winnings. $40 of betting for $20 = good. 

Wagering requirements can also be very high, or only count a percentage of the game you're playing. Check your terms and conditions, and read the reviews here, where we'll tell you what's a deal and what to avoid.

We also do some of the research for you. Check out our recommendations below!

Winning Real Money with Free Blackjack

So, we see how it is possible to win real money with free blackjack. From the above, you'll see we recommend trying some free blackjack games at different casinos, practicing with the one you like, and finding the best bonus deal for how you play.

Once you do find a good deal, you can keep your winnings after you satisfy the wagering requirement. 

A Short History of Blackjack

Blackjack has been around for as long as there have been cards and people who could count slightly past 21...so, for quite a while. While there's some evidence that the Romans played, probably under the name of XXI, documentation of blackjack goes back to the 16th century. Before he was covering fights between windmills and knights, Don Quixote's author, Miguel de Cervantes, gives us our first evidence of blackjack. He writes in a story called "Rinconete and Cortadillo" of groups playing blackjack in 1569 in Seville.

In the 18th century, French salons were abuzz with playing Vingt-et-Un (that is, 21). It is via French settlers that 21 came to the U.S., propped up in Nevada, and became the Blackjack we all know and love. 

Conclusion

As you can see, blackjack starts with the lowest house edge of any casino table game, but you have to know your strategy to get that low edge. Combining smart play with free money from the casino can help you beat the house (and cushion for your bad moves). 

Taking advantage of a bonus offer is the smart way to start out ahead of the casino. After that, stick to your strategy and bet with your head!

FAQ

What other names is Blackjack known as?

Blackjack is also commonly called 21. However, casinos use the name blackjack, even if they're offering a "version" of blackjack with rules quite different from the original game: e.g., Chinese blackjack. 

Does live online blackjack have the same rules as software apps?

Generally, yes. However, software programs will give you more options. 


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