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Blackjack Online: Play For Real Money Or For Free

Learn how to play blackjack online for real money or for free with blackjack strategy, and more.

Blackjack is the most popular table game in the world. The classic game of “21” is one of the easiest card games to learn at the casino and a staple of all online casinos. If you’ve never played blackjack online, we’re here to help. This page will give you all of the basics on how to play blackjack, along with some general information to help you find the best games of blackjack online.

Basic Online Blackjack Rules

Blackjack is one of the easiest games to learn, whether you're playing on desktop or at a mobile casino. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to play online blackjack, here’s your chance. The object of the game is to make a hand as close to 21 as possible without exceeding 21. If your hand beats the dealer or the dealer busts with a hand over 21 points, you win.

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Points are calculated based on the rank of each card. Here is a quick points chart:

  • • Ace - 1 or 11
  • • 2 through 9 - Face Value
  • • 10 through King - 10 Points

At the start of a round of blackjack online, you must place a bet to receive cards. Once this bet is placed, you will be dealt two cards. The dealer will also receive two cards, generally with one card face down.

After the initial deal, if your two cards are an ace and a 10-point card, this is a natural blackjack. A blackjack generally pays 3 to 2. Some tables pay 6 to 5. 

On all other point totals, you will have a decision to make. You can opt to stand or hit. If you stand, you will receive no additional cards. Otherwise, you can opt to hit and receive another card. After receiving your card, you have the same options to act.

Your action concludes once you stand, make 21 exactly, or go over 21. If you go over 21, also known as a bust, the game is over and your bet loses. For other results, your hand is compared to the dealer’s hand. If your hand is superior, you will win EVEN money on your bet. When you tie with the dealer, the bet is a PUSH, and you get your initial bet back.

There are a couple of other actions you can take depending on your hole cards:

Splitting Cards

If you are dealt a pair or two 10-point cards, you can split your cards into two hands. This is done by making a second bet. The two hole cards are split, and a second card is given to each. You will then play the hand as outlined above.

Double Down

If your hole cards total 9, 10 or 11, you can opt to double down. This means you will place a second bet and will get one additional card. Some games will allow you to double down on a soft 16, 17 or 18.

Note that certain rules of the game will vary depending on the company that created the game. For example, some games will only allow you to split pairs or double down on 11 only. Some games will require the dealer to stand on a soft 17. Make sure to look at the rules of your game before you start playing blackjack online.

Online Blackjack Glossary Of Terms

Like most casino games, online blackjack has its unique lingo. Here’s a quick glossary of blackjack terms that will help you speak the lingo in no time.

  • • Bust - When your hand totals 22 or higher. A losing bet.
  • • Double Down - A way to double your bet when you have 11, hard 9 or 10, or a soft 16, 17 or 18. When you double down, you will get one additional card only.
  • • EVEN Money - A winning bet equal to the size of your bet.
  • • Hard - A hand containing a 10-point card. For example, J-7 would be a hard 17.
  • • Hit - Any time a player takes a card in blackjack.
  • • Insurance - A side bet a player can make when the dealer shows an ace as their upcard. The bet wins if the dealer has a blackjack and pays 2 to 1.
  • • PUSH - When you tie with the dealer and get your initial bet back.
  • • Shoe - The box holding the cards to be dealt in a blackjack game. The number of decks used may change based on which version of blackjack you play.
  • • Soft - A hand containing an ace. For example, an A-6 would be a soft 17.
  • • Split - When you divide your initial two cards into two hands. Often, players will split a pair or two 10-point cards.
  • • Stand - When a player decides to play their hand without taking any additional cards.
  • • Surrender - To give up your hand after seeing your first two cards. You’ll get half of your bet back when you surrender.

Online Blackjack Vs Live Dealer Blackjack

There are two ways you can play blackjack online. The first is the standard version of online blackjack for real money, where you open a table and begin playing as you would online slots, online roulette, or any other online casino game. The other way to play blackjack online is at online casinos with live dealers.

Live dealer blackjack games are games that are live-streamed from gaming studios where a human dealer will deal each hand. All betting and payouts are done automatically like standard blackjack online, but cards are dealt by a person instead of a random number generator.

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Here are the main differences between playing blackjack online and playing live dealer blackjack:

Speed Of Play

The first thing that will become obvious is that the pace of the game is much slower when you play blackjack live. Standard blackjack online has the computer do all of the actions of dealing cards, and the cards are constantly shuffled. With live dealer blackjack online, you have to wait for the dealer to pitch cards to you and other players.

There are also delays in the action while the dealer waits for other players to act at the table. Other times, there may be slight delays as the dealer changes the shoe or does other tasks.

There Are Other Players

You're the only player when you play blackjack online in standard games. It is basically a glorified video game for money. For live dealer versions of blackjack, you're at the table with multiple players. Generally, there will be up to eight players at each digital table.

You Can Interact With The Dealer

The main reason that people play live dealer blackjack online is that they miss interacting with other people. Live dealer games allow you to interact with the dealer via live chat. Honestly, your experience with these dealers will vary. Some will be very outgoing and entertaining, while some will barely react to the chat.

Live Dealer Games Will Have Higher Stakes

If you play online blackjack for real money, you know that high-stakes games are tough to find. The upper limits are between $100 and $500 per hand. For live dealer games, you will find high-limit games offered. Depending on the provider, you may find games with limits up to $5,000 per hand. If you want to play high-stakes blackjack online, live dealer games are the way to go.

blackjack online cards on table

Free Blackjack Vs Real Money Blackjack

We’re often asked whether you can play blackjack online for free. The answer is yes, but the quality of the games you’ll play will vary greatly. When you play online blackjack for free, the games should be treated exclusively as entertainment. Depending on where you play, the quality and authenticity of the game will vary.

For example, if you play blackjack online on a free games arcade, the chances are that the games will be programmed to allow you to win more often than usual. That’s because the goal of these games is for you to have a good time or to watch ads associated with the game. The longer you play, the better it is for the site.

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If you want to play free online blackjack games that are more authentic, you want to check out demo games at Canadian online casinos. Casinos that are licensed are required to offer the same type of game engine for their free games as they do for online blackjack for real money. As such, you will get an authentic gaming experience when playing demo blackjack online at online casinos.

Online Blackjack Variants

You’ll find that any casino offering online blackjack for real money will have multiple versions of the game. There are dozens of variants of blackjack online, each offering something different from the standard game, so you can choose and play your favorite. Below is a list of some of the most common blackjack variants you’ll find at online or mobile casinos.

Blackjack Switch

This game is played two hands at a time. You’re dealt two hands of blackjack, and after the deal, you can switch the second card for both hands. For example, if you’re dealt 9-A and 10-2, you can swap to have 9-2 and a blackjack. However, blackjack only pays EVEN money in this game. Also, if the dealer makes a 22, all hands PUSH except blackjack.

Pontoon

A popular version of online blackjack with a few different rules, Pontoon pays 2 to 1 as opposed to 3 to 2. Also, the dealer wins on all ties, including Pontoons. If you’re able to make a five-card hand without busting, you automatically win 2 to 1. You can double down on any two- to four-card hand. Also, you have the option to double down after a split. There is also a Sweet 16 side bet that pays when you have an ace in your hand, a pair of aces or when your hand totals 16 to 21.

Double Exposure Blackjack

This version of blackjack will allow you to see both of the dealer’s cards from the start of each hand. As such, you can make smarter decisions. However, the tradeoff for this knowledge is that all bets, including blackjack, pay EVEN money. Also, the dealer wins on all ties.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack

This version of blackjack is popular due to the Perfect Pairs side bet. It will pay any time you are dealt a pair. Payouts range from 6 to 1 for a mixed pair to 25 to 1 for a Perfect Pair, meaning a pair of the same suit.

Blackjack Surrender

This game offers you the option to surrender your hand after you receive your cards. If you surrender your hand, you’ll get half of your bet back. There are two variants of this game. Early surrender allows you to surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack. Late surrender gives you the option after the dealer checks. The early surrender option is superior.

Mobile Blackjack

As cell phones and tablets have become increasingly popular, many online casinos have adapted to where the players are. Just like you would on a desktop computer, you can play blackjack at iPhone casinos, iPad casinos, on Android and more. Both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store also have downloadable blackjack apps that aren't connected to casinos, and while they won't let you play for real money, you can still have a lot of fun with them.

While playing at a casino on mobile does run the risk of being data-heavy, playing over a network means that you enjoy the same great blackjack action no matter where you are.

Online Blackjack Strategy And Betting Systems

Blackjack may seem like a game of luck like online baccarat, but it does have a skill element that can allow you to reduce the house edge significantly. When you play online without a blackjack strategy, the house edge is somewhere around two percent. However, if you employ a basic strategy, you can reduce the house edge to approximately 0.5 percent.

There are many places where you can download a basic blackjack strategy chart online. Download a chart and keep it handy when you play blackjack online. You can even use the chart when playing live blackjack. It is not considered cheating as the house still has a slight edge.

If you do a little research on blackjack online, you will see many references to blackjack betting strategies. You may even be tempted to use them. This is not a good idea. All betting systems will eventually lose money over the long term. Some systems, like the Martingale Betting System, can decimate your bankroll.

The best "betting system" to use when playing blackjack online is a flat betting system. That means you bet the same amount on every bet. That way, you don’t have massive swings in your bankroll that can occur when using betting systems.

Blackjack Tips

We recommend that you learn how to play at least a basic blackjack strategy if you plan to play the game regularly. However, basic strategy doesn’t cover everything you need to know to improve your odds of winning. Below are a few blackjack tips to help you win more often.

Avoid 6-5 Blackjack Tables

The average blackjack table pays 3 to 2 on a blackjack. You’ll see some tables offer payouts of 6 to 5 for a blackjack. While that sounds like a better deal, it is not. For example, if you bet $10 and hit blackjack on a 3 to 2 table, you win $15. On a 6 to 5 table, you win $12.

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Also, the house edge jumps dramatically. On average, the house edge for blackjack is around 0.5 percent. With a 6 to 5 table, that edge jumps to two percent. Over time, the lost earnings add up.

Always Refuse Insurance

If you play a game of blackjack online that offers insurance, never make the insurance bet. When you make the insurance bet, you are placing an extra bet to effectively break even. Any time the dealer does not make blackjack, the side bet loses.

The house edge explodes on insurance bets. Insurance bets have an edge of 7.69 percent. That is up to 15 times the average house edge. Online slots have a better house edge than insurance bets.

Always Stand On 20 - Never Split

If you are dealt a big pair or two 10-point cards, it is very tempting to split them and try to double your money. The problem with this is that you’re giving up a high percentage winner for a chance to double your money.

More often than not, you’re going to get two vulnerable hands, or you’ll end up busting one or both hands. When you’re dealt a 20, you’re only losing to blackjack or 21. Stick with the 20 and take your consistent wins.