Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world, and for good reason. The game is easy to learn, fast paced and fun! And while there are different variations in terms of rules and types of bets, it all boils down to essentially the same thing – getting as close to 21 as possible without going over.
Fortunately for online casino gamblers, the game easily transitions to computer and mobile screens, making it an extremely popular choice online as well as live. In this guide we’ll show you how to play Blackjack, explain where it’s legal and show you what the requirements are for you to get into the action.
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What US States Offer Legal Online Blackjack
Unfortunately, not all states have legalized online gambling, which means you’ll only be able to play Blackjack for real money if you are in a state which has regulated online casinos.
For example, if you register with a New Jersey online casino, you must be physically inside of the Garden State in order to play. You do not need to be an NJ resident, however, and you can register, deposit and withdraw from anywhere. But the bottom line is that you must be physically located in a legal state to place real money wagers.
List of States with Regulated Online Blackjack
|State||Online Blackjack||Market Launch|
|New Jersey||Nov. 2013|
|West Virginia||July 2020|
With more legislators exploring the advantages of legalizing online casinos, we expect that online Blackjack will be available in even more states in the future.
How to Play Online Blackjack at Legal US Casinos
Playing Blackjack online is essentially the same as playing the game in real-life. The main difference being that you are doing it via your computer or mobile device where the bets are placed virtually, rather than sitting at a table surrounded by other players and facing a dealer.
Players first place their bets while the automated dealer shuffles the cards. Each player is then dealt a card which is placed on the table face up. The dealer’s first card is also positioned face up. The dealer’s second card is placed face down, while players are dealt both of their initial two cards face up. Players are then given the option to “hit” or “stand”, with an additional card being dealt when a player chooses to “hit”, and where they choose to receive no further cards by choosing to “stand.”
Face cards are equal to 10, while aces can be either a 1 or an 11 – your choice. Numbered cards retain their stated value.
There are a few other options which we detail below, but in general, the player will either take more cards in order to improve their hand or stand pat and hope their hand is good enough to beat the dealer’s. The dealer will turn over their own second card and either stand or take more cards based on the required rules of the game.
Whoever is closer to 21 (without going over) wins, unless the dealer or player is dealt 21 from the start. If the dealer is dealt 21, the hand is over and all players lose (unless a player has 21 as well, in which case the hand will be a “push” and the player will get their money back.) If the player is dealt 21, that is considered Blackjack and will be instantly paid out, typically at a rate of 3:2.
Blackjack Terms You’ll Need to Know
Learn the following terms to get acquainted with the general vocabulary associated with Blackjack. This will allow you to conquer a variety of variations easily, no matter which rules have been added or which options are restricted. This goes for both online and offline situations. Here’s a list of the most relevant terms:
- Hit: This means that you are requesting another card. If your score is lower than 11, you should ask for a hit. If it is 12, there is a great chance of going overboard (over 21).
- Stand: This action means that you are not requesting any more cards so the dealer can play their hand.
- Split: If you are dealt two of the same card, you can split them into two separate hands. The bet is the same except that you are simply doubling your bet with two hands.
- Double down: This means that the player is doubling the amount of the bet and will receive one extra card and then have to stand.
- Bust: When your card total is over 21 and you can not win the hand. Also refers to when the dealer goes over 21.
- Surrender: This can only be done after the player receives their two cards. If the player decides to surrender, they forfeit half of the bet and keep the other half. The dealer also stops the hand for that player.
- Push: This is essentially a draw, a situation where both the player and the dealer have the same total. In this case, you simply keep your bet.
- Insurance: If the dealer has an ace showing on the first card, a side bet can be offered, usually at 2-1.
Although universally referred to as Blackjack, there are several variations of the game offered by online and retail casinos. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Spanish 21: Instead of playing the game with a standard deck of 52 cards, Spanish 21 is played with a 48-Spanish card deck, where four ten-value cards are removed.
- Blackjack Switch: In this case, a player can play two hands with the same bets per round. You have the choice of either keeping your hand or switching the second hand.
- Free Bet Blackjack: This version has additional variations but the most standard version of it is a six-deck variant that resplits into four hands. Aces are included, there is no surrender and Blackjack pays 3-2. There are also free doubles and free splits added.
- Super Fun 21: This variation of Blackjack was invented by a card counter named Howard Grossman. It includes certain liberal rule changes that make the game more fun. Some of them include being able to split the hand up to four times and winning automatically with a hand of six or more cards that total 20 (even when the dealer has 21). However, casinos usually neutralize most of the added rule changes by paying only even money.
- Stadium Blackjack: This is a modern take on the traditional game format where players are seated in a stadium of electronic terminals at a live casino. Each player places a wager on their own terminal and the live dealer determines the results with the help of community cards.
Blackjack Side Bets
Besides variations, we also have side bets that have been added to encourage and attract more players to try the game. These wagers are usually not advantageous for players and serve mostly to improve the house’s margins.
Here are some types of Blackjack Side Bets that players should be aware of:
- Royal Match: This one is offered at single-deck and multi-deck tables. At a multi-deck game, this type of bet can come with a payoff of 5 to 2 and a Royal Match of 25 to 1. In a single-deck game, the Easy Match is 3 to 1 while a Royal Match is 10 to 1.
- Over/Under 13: Players wager on the amount of their first two cards going over or under 13. A total of 13 is a loser while an counts as 1.
- Super Sevens: Basically, the more sevens you get, the better. If your first card is a seven, it pays 3 to 1. If the first two cards are sevens the payoff is 100 to 1 for suited and 50 to 1 for unsuited. The third seven grants a payoff of 500 to 1 suited, and 5,000 to 1 unsuited.
- Lucky Ladies: In this case, players hope for a total of 20 after their first two cards are dealt. Preferably, two queens. The payoff in the case of two Queen of Hearts is 1,000 to 1.
- Pair Square: Players win by drawing cards of the same rank, or getting a pair. An unmatched pair pays 10 to 1, while a matched pair pays 15 to 1.
These are just a few examples of popular sidebet options. Typically any other sidebets would be similar as they pay at various odds for different combinations of cards from the original deal.
Popular US Online Blackjack Software Providers
With a popular game like Blackjack, there are going to be multiple providers offering their services, especially in the US market. Some of the most prevalent providers include:
Once you start playing, you’ll be surprised at the wide offering of variations. What’s more, you always have the option to play the demo version of your game of interest first before you put in real money. With the amount of variations that exist today, it can’t hurt to give a few a try for free in order to find the game you like most.
Live Dealer Blackjack
The Live Dealer version of Blackjack is the closest thing that one can get to the experience at a brick and mortar casino. By playing a regular online Blackjack game, you don’t really see a real person nor are you able to feel the atmosphere of a real casino. But with Live Dealer, you can get as close to the real deal as possible.
Luckily, the technology that we possess today allows us to take online gambling to a higher level. Live dealers are a great example of that, which provide live internet streams that offer a more immersive casino experience to patrons.
As you enter the game, you’ll find a real dealer dealing the cards live on a video stream. These dealers are connected to the online casino and stream the game from a studio, usually based inside a retail casino. You’ll have all the same options that you do online, and can easily change your bet size, hit, stand, surrender and double down, all of which will be displayed to you on your screen as all bets are done digitally.
Its also important to note that the video stream is made available by a regulated third-party provider, so the entire process is safe and secure. The two most prominent providers of Live Dealer games in the US market are Ezugi and Evolution.
While at a live casino, you are sometimes boxed out by full tables, but Live Dealer providers have solved that issue with options like the Bet Behind feature, which allows an unlimited number of players to bet alongside specific players at the table.
Clearing Bonuses with Blackjack
Online casinos offer new customer bonuses as a marketing ploy to get people to come try out their site, some of which can be very lucrative. These bonuses do come with some wagering strings attached, however. These usually require players to wager the amount of the bonus a specified number of times. That can range from 1x all the way up to 40x the bonus amount.
Take note of the terms and conditions, because depending on the site, blackjack may or may not qualify towards the wagering requirements, and some will count blackjack at a lower rate. This is because Blackjack provides players a very high return to player percentage, so the casino could end up losing a lot of money depending on what type of bonus they are offering.
For example a site may have 10x wagering requirement, but blackjack only counts 50%. This would mean for a $100 bonus, you would need to wager $1000 on slots, but since blackjack only counts 50%, you would need to wager $2000 on blackjack. Be sure to check the terms for the wagering requirements before committing to a deposit.
Pros and Cons of Blackjack Online
Playing Blackjack at a casino versus online is different. Even though the game is essentially the same, there are certain points that give online play an advantage. However, playing online does come with certain downsides as well.
- You don’t have to dress up to go to a casino when you can play from the comfort of your home or on the go.
- With Bet Behind, you don’t need to worry about tables being full.
- Online casinos offer lucrative welcome promotions for new and current players.
- It might take longer to get your winnings, instead of getting chips back immediately at a casino.
- The usual atmosphere and comradery familiar to casino players is missing.
- If a table is full and you must use Bet Behind, you are at the mercy of that player’s decisions
Online Blackjack FAQ
Yes! Most online casinos in the US offer mobile apps where you can play online blackjack.
Absolutely! Online casinos in the US get the same government oversite as retail casinos. In order to go live, all aspects of the banking services must be thoroughly tested and approved.
Some sites allow you to play blackjack to clear new player bonuses, but some may add restrictions based on the fact that the game has a high RTP. Be sure to check out our online casino reviews in order to determine if the site you chose allows this.