Outside of poker, Blackjack is considered to be one of the best table games where, while using certain strategies, you can increase your chances of winning a hand.
Not only popular online, but Blackjack is also an excellent choice for gamblers who are looking for something more challenging than electronic games and pokies.
While land-based casinos require cash buy-ins to play, it is possible to practice and learn strategies by playing demo games online. While beginners and more serious gamers will try both simple and complex strategies, almost every strategy has a basis in fairly standard math.
What is the best online blackjack strategy?
Once you’ve grasped the basic rules of blackjack, figuring out your optimal moves when it comes to securing a win comes next.
For a game that has been around for centuries, players, mathematicians, computer scientists and more have attempted countless theories and strategies to increase the edge towards the player.
While some have made a marked difference, others have been less successful. The rule of thumb when it comes to games of chance is that the house always wins. Even if that win only comes in the end.
The most frowned upon strategy found in blackjack is card counting. While this system generally works in land-based casinos (albeit, illegally), it has zero effect when playing the game online. In theory, it may work in a live casino environment as long as only 1 or 2 decks are used.
While casinos initially banned the practice, players kept tweaking and optimizing their strategies and now, as casinos mainly use multiple decks, the practice isn’t nearly as easy as it used to be.
Is there a basic blackjack strategy I need to know?
Devised using statistical probabilities to calculate the best possible move in any particular circumstance according to your cards and the dealer’s starting card, the basic strategy requires that you play many hands to win.
Not only should you try to win as often as possible, but also to maximise your winnings through:
- Double-down: to reduce the chances of busting
- To minimise your expected losses
- Surrender to cut your losses and try another hand instead
As with any casino game, including blackjack under standard rules, the house will always have a slight edge, however, following this basic strategy will significantly reduce this edge.
The strategy doesn’t take into consideration any other cards which may have been seen in previous hands or other players’ cards which would have a slight significance on subsequent cards – which is the basis of card counting.
As online blackjack games use newly shuffled decks, and usually deal from a 6-deck pack, keeping an eye out for cards that show up often is negligible.
Strategy Bottom Line
- Always hit or double down where possible when your hand is below 11
- Always stand on 17 and above (unless it’s a soft hand which includes an Ace)
The more often you play, the more comfortable you will get with choosing whether to hit or stand. Keep an eye on how often borderline hands are dealt.
While you may choose to stand on 17 while the dealer has 6, and the dealer takes a new card, the odds of the dealer getting closer to 21 is quite high. But the same rule applies should you take another card with a hand of 17, you may get a low-value card but there are no guarantees.
Learn these blackjack strategy guidelines
As not all blackjack games are created equally, simply painting each blackjack game with the same brush will also not yield the best results.
Even the smallest detail affects the way the game plays and what the house edge will be so, make sure to check out the help section of each game before you start.
Look out for the following:
- How much does a blackjack pay?
- How many decks are in the shoe?
- Can you double on any two cards?
- When can you split your hand and up to how many times?
- Are you allowed to double after splitting a hand?
- Are you allowed to hit split aces?
- Do you have the option to surrender?
- Does the dealer hit a soft seventeen?
Remember, even if a game bears the same name, it doesn’t necessarily follow the same rules. Classic Blackjack by NetENT has a 0.12% difference in the house edge than Microgaming’s version.
Interesting and exciting strategies for blackjack
Given what we’ve learned about Blackjack so far, it is clear to see that each variant of the game will require a slightly different strategy. While Google can guide you to strategies that have already been tried and tested for the specific game you’re playing, it is possible to create your own using some basic math and the strategy calculators you will find on the internet.
To Side Bet, Or Not To Side Bet
While you’re still learning to play Blackjack, placing side bets, while it may increase the entertainment value of the game, won’t always pay off in your favour. Until you have found a strategy that works for the variant you enjoy, it is best to stay away.
Top strategies to optimize your bankroll
Here are a few options available to you while playing Blackjack that can increase your chances of a positive result:
- Doubling down: This involves doubling your stake after the initial two cards are dealt for a single third card. This becomes the last card you’re allowed to draw, regardless of the card value, but it may help you get to 21.
- Splitting: Should you receive 2 cards of the same value, regardless of suit (e.g. jack of hearts and jack of clubs, or two of clubs and two of diamonds) the cards can be ‘split’.
The two cards of equal value are separated in order, effectively giving you two unique hands from each card, by doubling your initial bet.
- Insurance: If the dealer draws an Ace, some casinos offer players the option to make a side bet (insurance) of up to half your initial bet, to offer you some protection should the dealer reach 21.
- Even Money: An alternative to insurance, some casinos offer ‘even money’ where, if you get blackjack and the dealer draws an Ace, the dealer will offer to pay you double the initial bet (i.e. a standard win) instead of 1.5 times the bet regardless of the dealer’s hand.
- Surrender: Or Fold is when you void your hand after the 2 cards are drawn to them and it is clear nothing good can come from it.
When used well, these guidelines can help to ensure a more positive blackjack experience. Arming yourself with information goes a long way in making sure you know which options are available to you.
Know when to use the right tools
- Use insurance when you have a winning hand like natural Blackjack or any other form of 21. This is to ‘insure’ a profit (not a push) on a natural blackjack hand, or to cover your losses if the dealer also gets Blackjack or the player just has 21.
- Even Money should always be taken. A win is a win whether it’s a 1-to-1 payout or 1.5-to-1 payout, so use it at every opportunity.
- Surrender can also be helpful if used correctly. Many specific basic strategy tables include this, but most of the time it’s not favored unless things are not looking good (e.g. players 16 against the dealers 10) or you surrender on 14, 15 and 16 when the dealer holds an 8, 9, 10 or Ace.
Perfect Pairs could work, however, you may find your wallet feels the pinch first.
Take Note: While the above-mentioned rules are universal rules for blackjack, each online casino or game provider decides which options are made available for each game. Not all options are available at all times.
New to blackjack? Here’s what to expect
Now that you have these tools in your toolbelt, it’s time to give them a try. If you are completely new to the Blackjack scene, here is what to expect when you start.
- Blackjack players place their bets
- A dealer issues 2 cards to each player, from left to right.
- Depending on the game variant, the dealer will either put their second card face down or draw it at the end of the ‘hit or stand’ phase.
- You must decide whether to ‘stand’ (stay with the summed value of the 2 cards) or ‘hit’ (receive a single other card).
- Each player can decide whether to ‘Double down’ or ‘Split’ at this point.
- The dealer will turn over the card and subsequently ‘hit’ until the value of the cards is over 17.
- The dealer must, for example, hit at 16 and stick at 17 or over
- The dealer cannot choose to ‘stand’ or ‘hit’ based at a whim
- The dealer then pays out the winners and takes the chips from the losers.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your math skills and how well you make your decisions. The cards are dealt completely randomly and shuffled after each hand, so it is the luck of the draw as to whether you will end up with a winning hand.
What are the basics of finding a good online casino?
- Pick a reputable casino: Online casinos who are not licensed or audited may be running software that has not been verified to play fairly! Reputable casinos enlist the help of award-winning casino game developers like Microgaming, NetENT, Evolution Gaming and more to offer casino games that have an official return to player on each game.
- How do you know if the casino is reputable? Look out licensing details near the bottom of the casino website. While you’re down there, check if the online casino has been verified and audited by an agency like the e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA).
- Take advantage of casino bonuses: Online casinos are always on the hunt for new players and are often willing to match your first deposit with some bonus credits. Using and winning on bonus credit is always better than risking your own money, so it’s a win-win situation.
- Do your research and pick a game variant with the best house edge. Some of the most popular blackjack variants include:
- BLACKJACK SWITCH – 0.17%
- PONTOON BY PLAYTECH – 0.36%
- BLACKJACK SURRENDER – 0.38%
- BLACKJACK UK – 0.39%
- PERFECT BLACKJACK – 0.42%
While most slot games have a house edge of around 4%-6%, the ideal is for the Blackjack game to have a house edge of less than 1%. Some online blackjack games have a house edge over 1% and even over 2%, which you should steer clear of.
With these handy tips and tricks, you’ll soon be playing online blackjack like a pro!
Top online blackjack FAQs
Can I play Blackjack for free?
Yes, many online casinos offer you the option of playing blackjack for free virtual credit. As you are not using real money, no winnings will get paid out to you, however, it is a great way to “try before you buy” and hone your skills.
How old do I need to be to play casino games in Australia?
Players need to be 18 years or older to play at online and land-based casinos.
Is it possible to win money while playing Blackjack?
Yes, this skills-based game of chance is easy to learn and, with a bit of practice, you can win.
Can I play Blackjack on my phone?
Yes, many casinos have fully mobile responsive websites and, if they offer blackjack, you would be able to play the game using your Android or IOS smartphone or tablet.