Blackjack, sometimes known as 21, is one of the most popular games you can find at any online casino in the world. Unlike slots or roulette, blackjack is a game that requires a strategy from you and the skill factor of the game makes the odds fall a bit more in the player’s favour.
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Another reason why blackjack is so highly-regarded among punters is its simplicity. As you will see in this guide, blackjack does not have very complicated rules.
So, what should you know before you start playing online blackjack at gambling sites? To save you precious research time, we will provide you with the ultimate guide on the game, along with some basic strategies that can help you shift the odds a bit on your side.
Where to Play Online Blackjack
Online blackjack is a game that all of the world-class online casinos active in the UK gambling market offer for players to enjoy.
However, you cannot just blindly find a casino site, leave your details and start playing the game. Instead, you need to check whether the online casino in question holds a license from the UK Gambling Commission.
The UKGC is the main regulatory body that issues licenses and oversees the entire UK online gambling market.
If the online casino you have in mind does not have a UKGC license, then you are best advised to stay away from it.
Blackjack Rules for Beginners
Let’s start with the basics here. Before you start playing blackjack online for real money, you need to learn the basic rules.
As mentioned above, games of skill do not get much simpler than blackjack. Your goal is to beat the dealer by getting as close as possible to 21 without going over. So, not only do you need to be close to 21, the dealer must have a hand that has a lower value than yours.
When you play blackjack online, the online casino’s software will shuffle the cards automatically and then you can proceed with placing a bet.
At the start of the game, all players get one face-up card. The dealer also gets a card here that is face-up. The second round of card dealing is the same for the players. However, the dealer’s second card is face-down, which is known as the hold card.
Once you get both of your cards at the start of the game, you will see your options displayed on the screen. The next few steps in online blackjack go as follows:
- Decide whether to hit or stand – depending on your hand, you can decide to hit (as the dealer for another card) or stand (ask the dealer to move on to the next player on the table). You can choose the first option when your card count is low, and you can choose the second option when you think you have a good hand.
- The dealer will reveal their hand – of course, you remain in the game if you have a hand value of 21 or less and now the dealer will reveal their face-down card.
- See who is closer to 21 – now, it’s decision time. See if your hand is close to 21 than the dealer. The dealer will issue your winnings if you have a better hand.
Up next, we can take a closer look at the payouts you can expect when playing blackjack online. So, you need to be aware of the following charts:
- Winning against the dealer – the payout for winning a hand against the dealer is 1:1, which stipulates that blackjack is an even-money card game.
- Doubling down and winning against the dealer – in blackjack, you have the chance to double down on a hand. If you win, the payout ratio is the same – 1:1, but you will get a higher return as you have doubled down on your bet.
- Landing a Blackjack – if you are lucky enough in the game and land a blackjack (an Ace and a face card), you can get two possible payouts – 3:2 or 6:5. The number of online casinos offering the latter rises, as it improves the house edge by further 1.39%.
Another aspect that you need to pay close attention to when playing online blackjack is the house edge. We can define house edge very simply – the profit the online casino will make on each iteration of blackjack.
House edge is always expressed as a percentage. So, the standard online blackjack house edge stands at around 2%.
How to Start Playing Online Blackjack for Real Money
Now that you know all the basic rules and payouts of blackjack, we can provide you with a short guide on how you can actually start playing the game.
New players may feel that there is a complicated procedure to get done when starting their online blackjack gambling adventure, but the reality is far from it. So, with all that in mind, all you need to do is follow the next few simple steps.
Find a Reputable Online Casino
The first step is the most obvious and arguably the most important one. You need to find an online casino that will guarantee you a safe gambling experience. You need to check whether the online casino holds a valid license from a trusted regulator, such as the UK Gambling Commission. You can find this information on the footer of the casino’s website.
Once you know that the online casino is a safe one, you can proceed with the next step – signing up. This is a process where you will need to provide personal information, such as name, email, address, username, password, etc. Should you provide the necessary information correctly, you can finish the registration process in a matter of minutes.
Make Your First Deposit
All online casinos will require you to top-up your account before you can start your gaming adventure. Keep in mind here that different sites may have different minimum deposit rates. So, check out the minimum deposit amount required, choose your payment method, and make your first deposit.
Claim The Welcome Bonus and Start Playing
Now, you are all ready to start your blackjack online gambling adventure. The vast majority of the sites we at bonuscasinossites reviewed offered a deposit match bonus up to a certain sum as their welcome bonus. If you are fine with the bonus you have at your disposal, claim it, and you can start playing blackjack for real money.
Blackjack Side Bets Explained
Moving on, we can now see some of the more complicated aspects of online blackjack – side bets. They are bets that you can place when you play online blackjack that goes beyond just guessing whether the punter or the dealer wins.
You can place the vast majority of side bets before the cards are dealt. So, which side bets you can use when you play online blackjack? Let’s take a closer look.
First off, we have the blackjack insurance bet that you can make. Punters usually opt for an insurance bet if the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace. With it, the dealer’s chance of landing a Blackjack increases.
The online casino where you play online blackjack will prompt the insurance bet. Keep in mind that the long-term odds are not in your favour if you decide to place insurance bets all the time.
Up next, we have 21+3 bets that will involve your two cards and the dealer’s face-up card. With a 21+3 bet, you will wager on whether these three cards will make one of the three-card poker hands below:
- Flush – the three cards on the table are of the same suit, and this wager usually has a 5:1 payout
- Straight – three cards in sequence and the suit here doesn’t matter. You can expect a payout of 10:1 with this bet in blackjack
- Three-of-a-kind – as the name suggests here, three cards need to be of the same value. The suit doesn’t matter, and this bet has a payout of 30:1
- Straight Flush – three cards in sequence and with the same suit. Here, you can get payouts of 40:1
- Suited three-of-a-kind – finally, we have three same-value and same-suit cards. As this is a more complicated combination, the payouts stand at 100:1
You can place a Perfect Pairs side bet on the outcome of your two cards. You have three options here:
- Mixed pair – your cards are of the same rank, but they don’t have the same colour. The payout here is usually 5:1
- Coloured pair – as the name itself suggests, these two cards have the same rank and the same colour. However, their suit is different, and the payout here is usually 10:1
- Perfect pair – finally, your two cards are of the same rank and suit, so the payouts here are much higher – 30:1
An Easy Match side bet is the one that stipulates your two cards are of the same suit. Usually, this is a side bet that has a payout ratio of 3:1.
If you decide to place a Royal Match side bet, then your two cards need to be King and Queen of the same suit. A Royal Match side bet has a payout of 10:1.
As the name suggests, this is a very simple side bet that you can make when playing online blackjack. With it, you need to guess whether the value of the cards in your hand has a value of over or under 13. The payout for this bet is 10:1.
Moving on, a Super Sevens side bet sees you guess how many sevens you have in your hand. Payouts in the Super Sevens side bet go as follows:
- If your first card is a seven, then the payout is usually 3:1
- If your first two cards are sevens, then the payout is 50:1
- If you have two sevens of the same suit, then the payout is 100:1
- If you decide to Hit and you get a third seven, the n the payout is 500:1
- If those three cards are of the same suit, then the payout is 5,000:1
A Lucky Ladies bet means that you need to wager on your two cards having a value of 20. The payouts for Lucky Ladies bet go as follows:
- If those two cards are of different suits, the payout is 4:1
- If they are of the same suit, then the payout is 10:1
- If they have the same suit and rank, the payout is 25:1
- If those two cards are Queen of Hearts, then the payout is 200:1
This is a side bet that you need to make in online blackjack if you think that the two cards in your hand will be a pair. There are two possible payouts for a Pair Square side bet:
- If those two cards are of different suits, the payout is 10:1
- If those cards are of the same suit, then the payout is 15:1
With a Lucky Lucky bet, you need to wager on whether your first two cards and the dealer’s face-up card have a combination as follows:
- Total value of 19 or 20 – the payout is 2:1
- Total value of 21 – the payout is 3:1
- Total value of 21, but all cards are of the same suit – 15:1
- 6, 7, and 8 in a different suit – 30:1
- Three sevens – 50:1
- 6, 7, and 8 of the same suit – 100:1
- Three sevens of the same suit – 200:1
Match the Dealer
Finally, a Match the Dealer bet sees you wager on whether the rank of at least one of your cards will match the dealer’s face-up card. There are two payouts with a Match the Dealer bet you need to know of:
- If there is a match of cards with different suits, the payout is 4:1
- If there is a match of cards with the same suit, the payout is 11:1
Overall, side bets offer you the chance to make online blackjack a much more exciting game. If you don’t want to just place a simple wager on who wins the game, then these side bets will be of much help.
If you manage to get a winning side bet, then you can potentially get much greater payouts than the usual ones with a standard winner bet.
Popular Online Blackjack Variants
As the game of blackjack progressed over the years, its popularity also saw an enormous rise. Therefore, all UK players can now find several blackjack variants at our recommended online casinos. Let’s check out the most popular ones.
Many consider American Blackjack to be the classic Blackjack game. One of the most appealing things about American Blackjack is that it has a very low house edge if you play the optimal strategy – 0.5%. You play American Blackjack with a single 52-card deck. For that reason, you have a better chance to secure more frequent wins.
Up next, we have European Blackjack, which was the first of the many Blackjack variations. Online casinos offer European Blackjack with two 52-card decks. As you can imagine, this increases the house edge.
However, there is a slight change in rules with this variant. Dealers have to stand on soft 17, which puts punters in a more favoured position.
Moreover, players can double down when their hand value is 9, 10, or 11. If you and the dealer get a Blackjack at the same time, then you will see your stake refunded. This is known as a Tie or a Push.
Perfect Pairs Blackjack
Perfect Pairs Blackjack is arguably the first blackjack variant that included side bets. It has the same rules as American Blackjack, but you have the chance to place a nice side bet. If you think your first two cards are of the same value, then you can wager on it, and the payout is 6:1.
However, if your cards are of the same value and colour, you get 12:1 as a payout. Finally, should you get two cards of the same value, colour, and suit, you get a 25:1 payout.
Free Bet Blackjack
Free Bet Blackjack comes with a big twist on other normal blackjack games – here, you don’t need to risk additional money when you decide to Split or Double Down.
However, if the dealer goes bust with a score of 22, then the result is a Push, not your win. You can use the free double-down option on hands that have a value of 9, 10, and 11. As for free splits, you get them on all paired hands, except 10-value cards.
Blackjack Switch is a game that was designed in 2009, just before Free Bet Blackjack. If you decide to play this variant, you will need to make two equal bets at the start of the game.
Once you do so, you can switch your second card to each hand if you wish. With that, you can create the best possible hand. However, once again, if the dealer goes bust with a score of 22, then the result is a Push, not a win for you.
Finally, you play Blackjack Switch in online casinos with six or eight decks, which drastically increases the house edge.
This is one of the newest blackjack variations you can find on UK gambling sites. There are plenty of similarities with other blackjack variants, but here there is one novelty – you play several hands at once.
Multi-hand blackjack is a game that is played with six decks. Dealers here have to stand on soft 17, which is a big plus for players.
As you play several hands at once, then you can spread your risks by wagering a smaller amount on some hands. You don’t need to rely only on one hand per game.
Finally, we have Spanish 21, which also offers a nice twist to the standard blackjack game. Here, all 10s are removed from the dealer’s shoe and you can resplit your hands and double down on anything.
It doesn’t matter the number of dealt cards, you can double down after resplitting. Moreover, in Spanish 21, your Blackjack will always bet the dealer’s Blackjack.
Live casino games seem to be on the rise in the UK gambling market, and it is easy to see why. Game providers stream live dealer games from real studios with real dealers. They stream these games in real-time, so you can look forward to an authentic online gambling experience.
Therefore, as you can imagine, there is a very big demand for live blackjack games in the UK online gambling market. Reputable game providers stream live blackjack variants in HD quality pictures, and you have the chance to communicate with the dealer thanks to the live chat option.
Blackjack Tips and Tricks
Even though no strategy can guarantee you win when you play online blackjack, there are some general guidelines that we at bonuscasinossites can recommend. These strategies and tips will help you shift the odds a bit more in your favour, so keep reading to find out more.
You can Stand on Hands Like 12 or 13
New punters playing online blackjack will often make the mistake of taking another card if their starting hand was 12 or 13. This is something that we recommend you avoid, as we see it as a beginner’s mistake.
You don’t need to risk going bust when the dealer might as well do that. Of course, this is not always the case, but in the long term, standing on hands like 12 or 13 is a much better strategy.
Split All Pairs Except Tens
Moving on, one of the most profitable long-term blackjack strategies is to split when pairs, but not tens. Once again, beginners might make the mistake of splitting tens since they can make a Blackjack or have two high-finishing hands.
Of course, that is more than possible, but it is not very likely that it will always happen. Even if the dealer has a weak hand, never split tens. You already have a good hand, so don’t take unnecessary risks.
Double Down on 11
As mentioned above, you always have the chance to double down on your hand and proceed with taking a third card.
One scenario that works almost perfectly is when you have a starting hand of 11. We recommend you always double down if your hand is of this value unless the dealer has an ace.
Your next card will likely be valued a ten, so you will get 21, which is perfect. Even if you have a hand like 8 or 9, it might be a good option to double down.
Don’t Take Insurance Bets
We already briefly mentioned insurance bets above, and there are some scenarios where they can be helpful. If the dealer shows an Ace, you will get the chance to make an insurance bet and amortize your losses.
However, in the long term, we don’t recommend you place insurance bets. The odds of the dealer getting a blackjack do not make up for the price you have to pay to make an insurance bet.
Stick With Your Favourite Blackjack Variant
One of the most important tips that we can recommend to any punter in the UK is to learn all rules about a particular blackjack game and stick with it.
See which blackjack variant you are most comfortable with and stick with it. This way, you can develop a strategy that can help you win in the long term.
If you decide to play online blackjack for real money, then you need to take it very seriously. After all, you will wager your money, and you don’t want to end up losing it all because you were not concentrated.
So, make sure that there is nothing that can distract you when you decide to give the game of blackjack a go, whether you play from your mobile phone or desktop computer.
Control Your Bankroll
Finally, we have arguably the golden rule of gambling – always bet within your bankroll. You don’t want to develop a gambling addiction problem, so wagering within your limits is essential here.
Blackjack is a game that is very unpredictable and the natural swings of the game mean that you can end up losing money fast. Setting yourself a gambling budget and never going above it should always do the trick
Free vs Real-Money Blackjack
One of the most common questions new punters ask is whether they can play blackjack for free. Well, not only it is possible, we would even strongly recommend you try out the game for free before you wager real money.
There are several benefits you can look forward to if you decide to play blackjack for free:
- You don’t wager your own money
- You don’t need to create an account at online casinos
However, the biggest disadvantage of free blackjack is that you cannot win real money when you win a round.
In the end, it depends on how experienced in the game you are. If you are completely new, then you can always try out free blackjack and build your way up to real-money bets in the game.
Blackjack Bonuses and Promotions
Online casinos in the UK know that bonuses and ongoing promotions are an excellent way to attract new and retain already existing punters loyal.
So, when you choose to register at any of our recommended online casinos, you can expect promotions coming your way at any stage of your gambling blackjack journey. Some of the most common and popular bonus offers that you can use when playing online blackjack are the following:
- Welcome bonus – usually, UK online casinos will offer a deposit match bonus up to a certain sum and percentage. You can use this bonus to boost your deposit and with that, your potential wins in any blackjack variant.
- Bonus money – sometimes, you can only get bonus money for certain blackjack variants on the site. You cannot withdraw these funds before you use them on real-money blackjack.
- Cashback – cashback incentives are very popular among UK punters, and it is easy to see why. These offers will let you amortize your blackjack losses over a period by getting part of your wagers back.
- Reload bonuses – very similar to deposit match bonuses, reload bonus offers are offered to exiting blackjack players. They are often part of the casino’s VIP program and they serve as a good way to motivate punters to play blackjack more.
Apart from these, online casinos in the UK like to get creative when offering bonuses to their registered users. You can expect birthday bonuses, high-roller bonuses, and VIP Program benefits coming your way if you are a loyal blackjack punter.
Online Blackjack – The Verdict
Now that you are armed with all the knowledge you need before you play online blackjack, nothing stops you from trying your luck with the game.
So, we can only recommend you take a look at our UK online casino reviews and choose a site that matches your taste the best. Those sites are world-class and they offer all the blackjack variants mentioned above, so you will never be short of options.
The fact that blackjack is a game of skill, not of chance like the online slots, should motivate you even further to try it out. You need to have a strategy in place to secure a win, and that will surely make your entire gaming experience even better.
Is it safe to play online blackjack?
As long as you choose from our list of online casinos, you have nothing to worry about. All of our recommended operators hold a UKGC license and implement the latest security measures to guarantee a safe gaming experience.
Can I play online blackjack for free?
Yes, we would even recommend you try out online blackjack for free before you wager real money. This way, you can learn all the basics of the game and start placing real-money bets more prepared.
What is the best blackjack strategy?
There are several strategies that we can recommend, depending on your experience level. However, doubling down on 11, not taking insurance bets, and having control over your bankroll is always a good starting point.
Do I get blackjack bonuses at UK online casinos?
Yes, all of our recommended online casinos active in the UK gambling market offer various bonuses and promotions to blackjack punters. Welcome bonuses, cashback incentives, bonus money, and reload bonuses are just some of the offers that can come your way.