While new players might not be familiar with the ins and outs of blackjack strategy and blackjack rules, many will recognise the card game as one that they used to play as a child, when it was usually referred to as pontoon or 21. Of course, while there are certain rule variations that separate pontoon from blackjack, intrinsically the games are similar and this is important to bear in mind when understanding how to play blackjack.
The rules of basic blackjack, or as it’s commonly called in most casinos, ‘classic’ blackjack are relatively simple to understand. Essentially, when you begin playing blackjack you should bear one thing in mind; whoever gets closest to 21 wins and whoever goes over this amount is bust. Of course, there is a lot more to blackjack than just this, but the 21 rule provides the basic framework for all your online blackjack games. So much more in fact, a film was even made about blackjack. ’21’ was the real-life story about 5 MIT students who took playing blackjack to new levels and rinsed some of Las Vegas’s biggest casinos for millions of dollars by ‘card-counting’.
When you begin playing blackjack for real money at an online casino and gamble for the first time, usually you’ll be playing against an electronic croupier, who deals the cards to you. This croupier is your only competition in the game and it’s against them that you’re playing. Unlike ‘real’ casinos, you can’t gather any emotional hints about the way the game will swing from a croupier in an online casino, so you really have to have your wits about you and completely understand the rules of blackjack for a shot at winning.
There are several variations of blackjack available in online casinos, so when you begin to learn blackjack, try to find out which variation is best for you. As discussed earlier, ‘classic’ blackjack is probably the best variation for beginners, but if you want to start winning at blackjack, it helps to know of other styles.
Two of the most popular online casino variations of blackjack are Vegas blackjack and Atlantic City blackjack. In turn, there are two types of Vegas blackjack; Las Vegas strip blackjack and downtown Las Vegas blackjack. Vegas strip blackjack offers the best bets and rule variations for players, so we will focus on this casino game variation.
Vegas strip blackjack rules can be aptly described as the following; the dealer (or croupier) will hit on all cards up to the value of 16; however, the dealer will not hit on cards to the value of 17-21. Players are also allowed to double down on any initial hand and also split.
While this may sound like a lot of casino jargon for newcomers, these blackjack rules are integral to understanding the game, so it is necessary to explain them in more detail. The fact that the dealer does not hit on cards over the value of 16, this means players shave off around 0.20% of the house edge. The house edge is how likely it is the casino will take your bet, so any reductions are incredibly useful for players.
Double down is just as it sounds and allows players to literally double their bet, which is a great extra if you’re feeling confident with your card hand. Finally, splitting is when you literally split two cards in blackjack, if they are of the same value, to form two hands; for example, if you had two 7’s, you could split this to create two hands.
Atlantic City blackjack is another variation which is fantastic for new players to learn. The main variation on blackjack rules in Atlantic City is that dealers must draw on all hands to the value of 16, but cannot hit on card hands valued at 17-21. Much like Vegas strip blackjack, Atlantic City reduces the house edge by around 0.20%, which is good news for players who aren’t familiar with more advanced blackjack strategies but still want to have a shot at winning blackjack games.
Playing blackjack in an online casino is a great way of getting used to the game and re-familiarising yourself with the rules you learnt as a child.