For more than four centuries and counting, real money blackjack has been played continuously in the same fashion.
Wherever gamblers have convened around a deck of cards – in dusty gambling halls and glittering casino resorts – the battle between player and a dealer, both attempting to land a 21 total without going over, has raged on. And while minor tweaks to the payout system, player actions, and dealer mandates have defined blackjack’s evolution, this classic casino table game remains true to its roots.
For that reason, the rise of real money online blackjack represents a significant shift. Blackjack enthusiasts today have more options at their disposal than ever before, all thanks to the top-rated online casinos which have turned 21 into the centerpiece of their table games menu.
Ever wish you could swap out poor cards from a pair of hands to create powerhouse blackjack holdings? Well, you’re in luck, because online casinos using the Playtech software platform spread Blackjack Switch – an innovative variant that allows players to do just that.
Sick of those strict house rules that seem to handcuff savvy players? Look no further than Spanish 21, a fun-filled online blackjack alternative that permits all manner of creative play in exchange for removing the four 10s from the deck.
And thanks to online blackjack bonuses, grinders can easily subsidize a losing session using virtual “comps” that offer much more value than a cheap buffet dinner.
All things considered, the online blackjack revolution has breathed new life into a game your grandparents – and their grandparents before them – largely played using the same old gameplay structure.
Playing Online Blackjack for Money vs. Live Casino Blackjack
The first thing you’ll notice when making the shift from live casino blackjack to the online arena is the efficiency.
Simply put, online table games remove all of the unnecessary clutter from the equation, freeing players to enjoy a blackjack experience seemingly built for their specific needs.
For example, when you sit down at a live table in a brick and mortar casino, you’ll be surrounded by up to six other players – all of whom must be served by the dealer and floor staff. Furnishing their Player’s Club cards, purchasing chips, and even inquiring about the house rules, these players’ presence naturally cuts into the number of hands you’ll get to play.
And speaking of playing hands, all it takes is a tourist lacking basic strategy knowledge to take the “third base” seat to put everybody else at the table at a disadvantage. The first time you watch the table drunk loudly demand a hit on their 14 against a 6 up, only to take the 10 that would’ve been the dealer’s bust card, you’ll know right away why live blackjack definitely has its drawbacks.
On the other hand, playing blackjack online streamlines the experience in every way.
Depending on your table preferences, you can play one-on-one against the dealer with no interlopers getting in the way. This solitary form of online blackjack distills the game to its essence, leaving you to your own devices without anybody else’s actions to worry about.
Of course, the beauty of online casinos is their flexibility, so you can always dial up a Live Dealer table to play alongside a full table of peers if that suits your tastes.
On a more aesthetic level, the best online blackjack games out there today utilize cutting-edge software. Playing card graphics that boast fine details, multi-colored chips with clearly labeled denominations, and seamless animations that recreate the sweat all combine to make the experience as visually pleasing as possible.
Pros & Cons of Playing Real Money Blackjack Online
The best reason to bring your blackjack game online is convenience.
Unlike the Las Vegas resorts where players have little choice but to accept slow dealers, strict house rules, and inferior 6 to 5 payouts on natural blackjacks, their online counterparts are highly configurable. In other words, if you don’t like how one site spreads their blackjack offerings, you’re never more than a few clicks away from finding a site to your liking.
Maybe you’re looking for a table where the dealer must stand on soft 17, which reduces the house edge by 0.22 percent. Naturally, the corporate casinos on the Las Vegas Strip largely opt for the opposite approach, inflating their inherent advantage by forcing their dealers to hit soft 17s.
Rather than brave the 100-degree heat walking from casino to casino, searching in vain for a stand-on-soft-17 table, online blackjack gives you the freedom to find your perfect setup on demand. This freedom extends to all of the major rule variations too, so you can shop for six-deck shoes instead of the eight-deck variety to shave a few percentage points off the house edge.
Even better, the best online casinos make sure to offer single-deck blackjack tables, player-friendly games which are practically extinct in live casinos.
Playing blackjack online is also beneficial for budget-minded gamblers looking to save a buck – or four bucks per hand to be precise. Live casinos almost always require a minimum bet of $5 to get in the game, but that threshold is lowered to $1 at the most popular online casinos.
And if you’re a basic strategy master who applies a perfectly skilled approach on every hand, the online tables’ rapid pace of play lets you exploit that edge to the maximum degree. No more waiting around on deck changes, new dealers starting their down, or “random” inspections from an intimidating pit boss – just a steady stream of hands without delay.
With that said, a sped-up pace does have its cons, especially during a downswing when the cards just refuse to cooperate. Fortunately, online casinos don’t require you to play in exchange for your seat, so you can always take a breather without worrying about your chips being “picked up.”
The most oft-cited con associated with online blackjack, and online table games in general, is the sterilized dynamic of screen-based gambling. Much of the thrill involved in a live blackjack game is based on the “sweat,” or the anticipation that builds before key moments.
Doubling down on 11 in a live game creates a little three-act drama of sorts, with an audience on hand to boot. You slide out the second stack of chips, everybody looks your way to watch the action, and the dealer delivers your fate with a flourish, slowly flipping your third and final card face up on the felt.
Like it or not, pixelated graphics and animations just can’t hold a candle to that age-old gambling ritual.
And that’s where Live Dealer online blackjack games come into play. Using live streaming technology to connect your screen directly to a genuine table, staffed by a trained dealer, Live Dealer blackjack allows online players to savor the sweat just like they would on the casino floor.
Real Money Blackjack Games with the Best Odds
The online blackjack house edge varies based on the rules in play. You should read the rules for any internet blackjack variation before playing it.
At a minimum, online blackjack players should always be on the lookout for games which award the correct 3 to 2 payout for landing a natural 21.
Finding a 3 to 2 table automatically cuts 1.39 percent off the house edge – when compared to the watered down 6 to 5 rate – which is a massive difference in your favor from a statistical standpoint.
The dealer standing on soft 17 is always a nice bonus too, as are the rare single-deck games that give count-minded players a 0.48 percent house edge reduction.
Here are the rules that increase your odds of winning:
- 3:2 natural blackjack payouts.
- Single deck blackjack (or at least double deck).
- Dealer standing on a soft 17.
- Being able to double down on any two-card total.
- Splitting until you reach four total hands.
- Re-splitting aces.
- Late surrender.
Some online blackjack games offer up to 99.69% RTP. Most variations feature at least 99% payback or higher. The key is to find game providers that provide the best blackjack rules/variations and play at casinos where their software is found.
You must also use perfect strategy to achieve the highest RTP in any available variation. Therefore, it pays to look for blackjack strategy resources, including charts and trainers.
Blackjack strategy charts show what decisions you should make based on your current score and the dealer’s up card. Blackjack trainers are free online programs that point out when you make strategic mistakes while playing.
Real Money Online Blackjack Bonuses
Perhaps the most important selling point differentiating top online casinos from their lesser competitors is the blackjack bonus.
Online gambling bonuses come in many forms, beginning with the Welcome Bonus which typically multiplies your first deposit after signing up with a new site. You might score a 100 percent match on a $200 deposit to start your session off with a $400 real money blackjack bankroll.
Reload bonuses are attached to subsequent deposits, so your $100 reload can turn into $150 with a 50 percent match arrangement.
And don’t forget about No Deposit Bonuses, which are essentially free gifts passed out to regular players to reward various benchmarks – playing 1,000 hands perhaps, or wagering $5,000 in a month.
In each case, however, the bonus funds are usually “locked” to start out, meaning you can only use the money to play with and not for withdrawal. Don’t worry though, the bonus funds are only locked until you meet “playthrough” or “rollover” requirements, so after you put in a lengthy session or two, your accumulated wagers will unlock the bonus.
Unfortunately, many online casinos realize that blackjack – along with other skill-based games with a low house edge like video poker and craps – makes hitting the playthrough/rollover mark rather easy. To remedy this, the casino operator attaches a “wagering contribution” percentage to blackjack bonuses, so only a portion of every dollar you bet actually goes towards the playthrough/rollover requirement.
For this reason, the most successful blackjack bonus hunters never sign up with a site or deposit without checking the Terms and Conditions page closely. The fine print should reveal exactly how a site’s blackjack bonuses really work, and if that information isn’t readily available, you should view this oversight as a red flag.
All in all, blackjack bonuses are one of the best ways to boost your bankroll, either by minimizing the impact of losses or maximizing the windfall from winning sessions.
Real Money Blackjack FAQ
Are the cards really shuffled after every hand when I play blackjack online?
They most definitely are, as every reputable online casino utilizes a random number generator (RNG) to provide the virtual equivalent of a shuffle. Sites that sport a license from longstanding regulators will regularly test their RNGs, ensuring that everything is on the up and up at all times. But that also means that it’s impossible to use card counting to beat online blackjack.
Remember, the online casinos hold an edge on every game they spread, so it’s simply not in their best interest to rig the deck or resort to other unscrupulous activities. All it takes is one report posted to the online casino forums to ruin a reputation forever, so high-quality operators rigorously test their RNGs to verify fair play.
Why do I keep seeing online blackjack games with labels like Las Vegas Strip, Atlantic City, or European?
Aside from the emotional pull of attaching real-world gambling landmarks to their online offerings, operators use terms like Las Vegas Strip, Atlantic City, and European to describe particular house rules.
Las Vegas Strip Blackjack is played with a four-deck shoe, for example, while Atlantic City and European tables use eight and six decks, respectively. To learn more about these regional variations, just pull up the Rules page for each version and closely compare caveats about dealer actions, double down parameters, splitting and re-splitting options, and the Surrender and/or Insurance plays.
Can I play for free to practice before firing up a real money online blackjack game?
Of course, you can, and that’s just one of the many benefits of playing blackjack online versus in a land-based casino. Ask a Las Vegas dealer for a few practice hands before buying in and you’ll be laughed off the floor. But any good online casino will let you access a “Free-Play” or “Practice” mode to test the proverbial waters.
Once you feel comfortable with the house rules and interface, you can easily toggle out of Practice mode to play your favorite blackjack games with real money on the line.
Where did blackjack originate?
Most of us know the 16th-century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes from his masterpiece “Don Quixote” (1605), but did you know he also wrote about blackjack?
Cervantes was known as a gambling man in his day, so it’s no surprise to learn that he was well-acquainted with veintiuna – which means “twenty-one” in Spanish. Way back in 1601, Cervantes penned a short story titled “Rinconete y Cortadillo,” which told the tale of two table game cheats who terrorized the veintiuna games in Seville.
Set in 1569, “Rinconete y Cortadillo” described veintiuna as a card game in which players take two cards to start, then draw or stand pat in hopes of reaching 21 points without going over. Aces in the game were worth either 1 or 11 points depending on the player’s need, while face cards held a value of 10, and all other cards counted for their numerical rank.
If that sounds familiar, it should, because veintiuna was modern blackjack’s original ancestor.
Other cultures throughout Europe developed their own equivalents to veintiuna, with the French devising vingt-et-un (also translating to “twenty-one), and the Italians specializing in sette e mezzo.
And when European immigrants began arriving in the New World in the 17th century and beyond, they brought their various blackjack precursors across the Atlantic.
By the time riverboat casinos and saloon card games across the United States started spreading twenty-one, the house began tinkering with the rules in classic American fashion.
One particularly clever wrinkle offered a premium payout of 10 to 1 whenever the player landed the Ace of spades along with any black Jack (spades or clubs). That payout was eventually reduced to 3 to 2 on your money for any Ace + 10 “natural,” but as you know by the now, the blackjack label stuck for good.