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.
Which States Offer Online Blackjack
Unfortunately, not all states have legalized online casinos, 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 and make fast payout withdraws.
Where to Play Blackjack Online
|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.
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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.
- In blackjack, the main objective is to beat the dealer by collecting more points (the sum of your hand).
- Each card has a certain value; aces are counted as 1 or 11 points, 2-9 bring their face value and tens, jacks, queens and kings count as 10.
- As we described above, the sum of the cards’ value determines each player’s score. The objective is to reach the highest possible score without exceeding 21. If you pass the 21 mark, you will lose, which is referred to as a bust.
- The highest ranking card combination is 21 with 2 cards (an ace and a 10 point card), and you receive a 50% bonus to your winnings if you have it. It is called blackjack.
- The game is played with 1-8 of 52-card decks.
Blackjack Game Flow
- The player places his bet and then the dealer deals two cards to themselves and the player(s).
- One of the dealers’ cards is face up while the other is hidden, which is referred to as a hole card. If the visible one is an ace or a 10-point card, the dealer can take a peek and see if they have blackjack.
- When the visible card is an ace, the player has the option to buy insurance which will pay 2:1 if the dealer hits 21.
- If the dealer or the player don’t have 21 (a blackjack) from the first two cards, the player has eight possible options to play his hand.
- Then, the dealer reveals their hole card. If the dealer’s hand equals 16 or less, he hits another card until his score is 17+. You win if the dealer’s hand equals more than 21. When the dealer reaches a score between 17-21, his points are compared to those of each player in play. If it’s a draw, you get your stake back. If the dealer has more points than you, you lose your stake. Otherwise, you win and double your initial bet.
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 higher 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 their bet and will receive one extra card. The player must stand after receiving their next card.
- Bust: When your card total is over 21 and you lose the game. 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 their bet and keep the remaining balance.
- Push: This is essentially a draw, a situation where both the player and the dealer have the same total. In this case, you keep your bet.
- Insurance: If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, a side bet can be offered, usually at 2-1.
Blackjack Hand Signals
At a live casino, there are specific blackjack hand signals to remember. Hand signals indicate what your next action will be. When blackjack is played with one or two decks, the cards are dealt face down and you can hold them in your hands. When the decks are more, the cards are dealt face up. Depending on that, the hand signals are as follows:
Hit – If the cards are face up, just tap on the table with two fingers. This can also be done by lightly scraping your cards to the felt.
Stand – If you’re playing face up, just wave your hand horizontally. If the cards are face down and in your hand, put them on the table and under your bet (chips) to indicate that you don’t want more cards.
Double – When playing face down, leave your cards on the table face up and proceed to place an additional bet behind your initial wager. The second step applies to face up games as well. There is an exception here; if you have a pair, hold up your index finger to show that you don’t want a split, but a double.
Surrender – If you want to surrender in a face-down game, put your cards on the table, face up. Then, slide your index and middle fingers horizontally behind your wager. It’s also acceptable to say “surrender.”
Split – To indicate a split, place your cards face up on the table. Then, place your second bet next to your first one (and not behind as when you double). If you have a pair of fours or fives, you can show a V sign with your fingers to confirm that you are splitting and not doubling.
Although universally referred to as blackjack, there are several variations of the game offered by online and retail casinos. Some of the most popular blackjack games 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 splits 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 blackjack variation 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, blackjack with side bets exists 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:
- 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 a hand total under or over 13 counts as a winner. Additionally, this side bet counts aces as a one.
- 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 for 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 side bets in blackjack. Typically, any other side bets 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 multiple providers offering their services, especially in the US market. Some of the most prevalent online blackjack 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 before you put in real money. With the amount of blackjack variations that exist today, it can’t hurt to try a few for free in order to find the game you like the 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 blackjack, 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. The best live dealers casinos are a great example of that, as they provide fast, real-time 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 of 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 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 (RTP) 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 $1,000 on slots, but since blackjack only counts 50%, you would need to wager $2,000 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 can play blackjack from the comfort of your own home or wherever it’s legal.
- 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.
- The usual atmosphere and camaraderie 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 decision.
Online Blackjack FAQs
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.
While a standard blackjack game has one deck, other variations can have up to eight decks. Check the rules of the game to confirm how many decks will be used.
Yes, online blackjack is legal and regulated in the following six states: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
When it comes to card counting online, it really is not a sound strategy since the deck is shuffled after every hand using an RNG (random number generator).