Blackjack, also known as “21″ and “pontoon”, has long been among the most popular casino games in the world, topping craps, roulette, and poker in its reach. To play real money blackjack online, a unique combination of skill, guts, and luck – not to mention a bankroll-building blackjack bonus and access to blackjack codes for promos – is required. It’s precisely this combination that has inspired players all over the globe to pursue dreams of riches at the card tables.
From the frontier gamblers of the American West to the gangsters and mob bosses that founded the casinos of the Las Vegas Strip, this no-nonsense card game has been instrumental in establishing fortunes and building empires. Mathematicians and computer scientists have established unique systems for beating blackjack and created teams of card counters that have taken in millions of dollars.
How to Play Online Blackjack for Money
Real money blackjack allows for fast games and quick player decisions, a fact that makes it unique among many of its card game competitors.
Online blackjack follows a clear path and game flow proceeds quickly and without fuss. Perhaps that’s the reason so many players have fallen for it. Blackjack rules make for quick games, wherein game odds are quickly calculated small and not-so-small fortunes are won and lost within seconds.
Online blackjack is really quite simple. If you want to win Blackjack, there is one straightforward, simple objective: beat the dealer. To do this, you must hold a stronger Blackjack hand than the dealer without going over 21.
What does “without going over 21″ mean?
- Every card from 2 to 10 has the same score as its number, also known as its rank.
- All face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are valued at 10 points.
- Suits are irrelevant. A 10♥ is worth the same ten points as the 10♠.
- Aces count as either 1 point or 11, depending on the circumstances. For example, a hand with an Ace and a 6 can be scored as either 7 (1+6) or 17 (11+6, also called a “soft” 17).
At the start of each game, before any players receive any cards, all players post their bets. The dealer then distributes cards from a long box (called a “shoe”) one at a time face up to each player. He issues himself one face-down card.
The dealer repeats this process-sort of-so that each player holds two cards face up. He issues himself a second card. This one is face up (called the “upcard”).
Hit or Stand
The second aspect of Blackjack rules involves player decisions. Following the deal, a player may decide to either take another card (“hit”) or to play with his first two cards (“stand”). A player can continue to hit until he either decides to stand or his score exceeds 21. A player whose score exceeds 21 “busts” and loses his bet.
Additional Betting Options
Players have additional betting options. To learn Blackjack properly-both how to play Blackjack and how to win Blackjack-requires understanding these basic Blackjack betting strategies.
Depending on the Blackjack rules specific to the casino, these may include:
Insurance bets are placed if/when the dealer shows an Ace as his up card. Essentially, they are wagers that safeguard players against losing their entire initial bet if the dealer holds a natural (an Ace plus a 10 card). Not all, but most casinos permit this type of bet.
Players who receive a Blackjack hand (Ace plus a 10 card) when the dealer displays an Ace up, may accept even money. This betting option is undertaken before the second dealer card is revealed. It is another form of insurance; this time, against a tie between the dealer and the player. Should the dealer also hold a Blackjack hand, the game results in a push and no money is awarded to the player.
Examples of paired hands include 9♦ + 9 ♥ and 8♣ + 8♠. You may split these into two separate hands.To do this, you post another bet equal to your initial wager. For instance, if your first bet was $5, you must put down exactly $5 to split your pair. The dealer separates your hands and you take separate actions per hand.
Here, you duplicate your wager and receive one more card.To do this, place the additional bet next to your first. The dealer will issue you one more card to close the hand.
After all the players have either busted or stayed with their hands, the dealer turns over his face-down card to reveal his point total. If the dealer’s hand has a total point value of 17 or better, he must stay; if his hand has a total point value of sixteen or lower, he must hit until his score exceeds 17 points.
Wins & Losses
Part of learning how to play Blackjack means knowing which hands pay and who wins what. Here’s the breakdown:
- If the dealer busts, all active players in the hand win their bets.
- If the dealer’s score is between 17 and 20, any player with a score better than the dealer’s wins his bet.
- If the dealer scores 21, any players with scores below 21 lose and any players with a score of exactly 21 tie (or “push”); they keep their original bet but don’t win any additional bets.
The best possible starting hand is an ace with a ten-value card (ten or face card). This is called a “natural” or a “blackjack”. It pays $15 on a $10 bet in most cases.
Understanding the language used at the table is an integral part of playing Blackjack. It determines not only how much you win—you can’t split if you don’t know what splitting is—but how well you interact with your gaming comrades.
In both land-based and online casinos, whether live or on chat, players are frequently fine with, if not keen on, speaking to fellow players; hence, your first need of a not-so-basic Blackjack glossary that includes both in-game terms and the Blackjack slang used at the tough-talking, streetwise Blackjack tables.
The second need of a Blackjack glossary stems from the game itself. Playing Blackjack requires skill, of course, but before even that comes something more basic: knowing how to play the game. Understanding Blackjack bets and Blackjack game flow and the ability to distinguish between a rule specific to the dealer and a one specific to you are crucial aspects of the game.
The below Blackjack Glossary explains the various types of Blackjack bets and highlights some of the key Blackjack terms and Blackjack slang in popular use today.
Banker: the person that accepts and distributes wagers and payouts; in casino Blackjack the banker and the dealer are the same.
Bankroll: the money a player has set aside specifically for wagering.
Burn cards: cards the dealer discards from the deck after every shuffle.
Bust: the rule that dictates any hand over 21 results in an automatic loss.
Card counting: Keeping track of cards that have already been played in order to predict what remains in the deck.
Chart: a Blackjack “cheat sheet” that includes the optimal move for every possible player versus dealer’s hand.
Chips: the betting currency for casino Blackjack; all cash must be converted to chips before use at the Blackjack table.
Dealer: casino employee that distributes the cards and against whom all other Blackjack players are competing.
Deposit bonus: free cash a casino awards to eligible players; usually a code is required to redeem deposit bonuses.
Double down: doubling your original bet and requesting just one additional card; a unique player option usually only utilized with a hand total of 10 or 11.
Hand probability: the likelihood of receiving a particular hand (like a natural 21) at any given time.
Hard Ace: a hand with an Ace that can only be used as a 1.
Hit: to receive an additional card.
House edge: the casino’s set advantage over a player; in Blackjack, a perfect strategy can actually eliminate the house edge.
House rules: game rules that dictate how the dealer must play his hand.
Insurance: a side wager against the dealer holding Blackjack; this is typically half of a player’s original bet.
Limit: the minimum or maximum amount that a player can bet per hand when playing Blackjack at any specific table.
Natural: the acquisition of a 21 with your first two cards.
Push: when the dealer and the player have the same hands.
Shoe: a box or stack of cards that contains several decks; shoes have replaced single decks in Blackjack to discourage players from counting cards.
Shuffle: when the dealer remixes the cards in a deck or shoe; this is also done to discourage card counting.
Soft Ace: an Ace that may be played as either a 1 or 11.
Split: when a player’s original two-card-hand is a pair, they may double their bet and split those two cards into two separate hands; this is generally only advisable with Aces and 8s.
Stand: to accept your existing hand by refusing any additional cards.
Surrender: the option to give up your hand and keep half of your original bet; this option is not available at all casino Blackjack tables.
Pop culture depictions of successful blackjack players may have everyday players worried that the best Blackjack strategies are beyond them. The card counting in the film 21 and the MIT students who undertook it made the game look simple for geniuses and impossible for the rest of us. The truth is you don’t have to be an MIT student or a math genius to master Blackjack strategy; you just have to be committed to the game.
Blackjack strategy begins with your own cards but ultimately incorporates much more. For example, most Blackjack strategies advise that you give as much consideration to the dealer’s visible hand as your own. Some strategies-like card counting-will even have you looking at other players’ hands.
History of Blackjack: Origins from Past to Present
Like so many other games, whose histories reflect their origins and travels, Blackjack history is complex and winding. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Blackjack history begins, and even harder to predict where it will end. But that hasn’t stopped us from trying.
The CasinoBonus.org complete guide to Blackjack history recounts the long and winding road the game has tread. Here, we also pay homage to its incredible rise to the front of the casino games’ class.
First Card Games
In the strictest sense, the roots of all card games can be traced back to ancient China. This is where, in the 10th century, the first playing cards were printed.
It was in the Middle Ages that early card games traveled along Asian trading routes to the Middle East. From there, they were picked up by Crusaders who returned to Europe with a wealth of foreign concepts and products.
Most game historians agree that Hazard was the first popular European card game. It was from Hazard that other popular gambles like Poker and early forms of Blackjack sprang.
We know that most of Europe had been exposed to card games by the end of the 14th Century, but it’s widely disputed where the first game of this type was actually played.
Some Blackjack history experts point to a 17th Century Cervantes reference to a Spanish game called “Veintiuno” (Spanish for 21) as proof that Blackjack history begins in Spain.
Another vocal group of Blackjack history buffs claim that the popularity of “Vingt-Un” (French for 21) in 18th Century France is evidence that Blackjack history begins there.
Italy has both countries beat; references have been made to a game of “Trentuno” (Italian for 31) since the early 15th Century. This is the first written recorded mention of a game with an obvious numerical goal.
Regardless of which game lays claim to the origins of Blackjack, we know that it was French Blackjack rules that laid the foundation for what would become the popular modern casino version we play today. In fact, of all today’s common Blackjack rules, only the insurance and surrender options were absent from 18th Century Vingt-Un.
Vingt-Un to “21”
As with many of today’s oldest casino games, Americans were the last gamblers to discover Blackjack games. That said, they were also the most visionary, shepherding the game towards its now royal status among casino gambles.
The history of Blackjack in America doesn’t begin until the 19th Century when French immigrants brought the game to the gambling mecca of New Orleans. Though the French versions of its Blackjack rules remained largely the same, its French name was translated to English. For several decades thereafter the game continued to be known simply as “Twenty-One.”
From the Gambling Hall to the Casino
Though Twenty-One spread quickly throughout gambling halls across America, it struggled to captivate and maintain a committed audience. More Americanized games like Craps and Poker continued to dominate.
It was during this time that casino operators began adapting the game in hopes of making it more popular. Some casinos took to offering a special payout for a natural 21, a Blackjack hand consisting of an Ace and a black jack. It was from this special promotion that the game’s modern name was born.
Soon after, serious gamblers realized the profit potential of this skill-based game, and casinos no longer had to work to convince their patrons to play Blackjack.
The Online Blackjack Revolution
Blackjack history doesn’t stop at the casino. Late in the 20th Century, this simple game received another makeover, this time in the form of internet Blackjack. Fans could now play games from anywhere in the world, so long as they had a computer and an internet connection.
While most online casinos kept their internet Blackjack traditional, others experimented with the game’s format. This lead to a wide variety of play and payout options; some casinos even offered Blackjack bonuses and jackpots.
The most committed of Blackjack players now have easy access to the game, and as online gambling continues to grow and evolve, it seems like the possibilities for internet Blackjack are endless.
Is there a next frontier for Blackjack history? Like the game itself, we’ll have to wait for the deal to see what’s in the cards for Blackjack.