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Online Blackjack

If you've ever been into a UK casino or played pontoon as a child, you'll know all about blackjack. It's a simple card game played against the house where players have to draw cards until they get to - or as close to - a total of 21 without going bust.

In terms of house edge, blackjack is the best game for gamblers. And while a land-based casino may only offer one or two variants of blackjack with minimum stakes of £5 or higher, the story is different online.

At most decent Internet casinos, you'll find a dozen exciting blackjack variants with bets available from as little as 25p. Games can be played with download or instant-play software via the browser, and winnings are paid out instantly. Best of all, you can try out all the games for free before you commit your bankroll.

Play the best Blackjack games online for free:

  • Lots of blackjack variants at a wide range of stakes and limits
  • The best software for download and instant-play gamblers
  • Top welcome bonuses with good wagering requirements for blackjack players
 
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How to Play Blackjack Online

The most common form of blackjack found in UK casinos and online is European Blackjack. As the player you are playing directly against the dealer, or the house. There's no jostling for a chair at the table like in a land-based casino. All you have to do is load a table and make your bets.

Aim of the Game: To get as close to a total of 21 without going over ('bust') or beating the dealer's total. Alternatively, if the dealer goes bust, the player wins if he hasn't already gone bust.

Placing Bets: Making bets is simple: just drag the chips you want to bet into the on-screen spaces where the cards are to be dealt to. Most casino sites let you try out games for free first before you commit any GBP.

Once you're ready to go, hit the 'Deal' button. The cards will be dealt, and - if a blackjack is dealt straight away - players will be paid out automatically. If a blackjack hasn't been dealt, the player continues to receive cards ('hit') until they want to stop ('stand'). A blackjack is a hand containing an ace and a 10-value card to make a natural 21.

Players: Two cards are dealt face up. They must make decisions to hit or stand. Aces are worth 1 or 11 and picture cards are worth 10.

Dealer: The dealer is dealt one card face-up and one card face-down. After the player has made their play, the dealer will continue to draw cards to add to his total. How he acts depends on the variant but in European the dealer must draw to 16. He must also stand on all 17s (made with a soft ace for 11 or not).

Payouts: A player's blackjack pays 3/2. Beating the dealer pays even-money, or 1/1. The house edge of regular blackjack is around 0.30%, making it one of the most favourable games for UK online casino players. This only applies if the player is making the best plays possible.

Double Down: After being dealt their two cards, players may add an additional bet ('double down') and receive one more card - and one more ONLY. The Double Down button will be clearly displayed on the game screen. This can be a good tactic if you get dealt a 10 or 11 and you want to hit a 20 or 21.

Split/Resplit: If you get dealt a pair, you can 'split' the cards to form two new hands. It's a good tactic if you get eights or nines that have a good chance of hitting to make 18/19 and beating the dealer. In some games, 'resplits' allow the player to split the split cards again.

Insurance: If the dealer has an ace as his up-card, the player can make an additional 'Insurance' bet in case his other card is a 10 or picture. If he does have blackjack, the player gets paid 2/1 his money. If not, the player loses his Insurance bet.

Popular Online Blackjack Variants

European Blackjack , Developer: Various

A popular blackjack version found at most UK and European online casinos, European Blackjack is played just like in your local casino. Players are dealt two cards face up and the dealer one up-one down. Players can split cards or double down on 9, 10 or 11.

Double Attack Blackjack , Developer: Playtech

Playtech's blackjack variant might be a few years old now, but it still remains one of the most popular. The game features eight decks of cards without tens in them.

What sets the game apart is the 'Bust It' side bets. If the dealer busts holding various cards you'll pick up a nice side bet. For example, if he/she busts with a face card you win 3/1 your money. Busting with a nine pays 6/1, and busting with a six pays 15/1.

Spanish 21 , Developer: Microgaming

Played with up to eight decks with the ten cards left out, Spanish 21 allows players to split and re-split their hands. There are also special payouts for hitting certain hands (e.g. 3/2 paid for a 5-card hand, 2/1 paid for a 6-card hand, and 3/1 for hitting a 21 containing three sevens).

Perfect Pairs , Developer: Realistic Games

A popular variant of blackjack already available in London and Melbourne casinos, Perfect Pairs made its online transition in 2015.

It's played like regular blackjack but players are able to make a side bet before the hand is dealt. They win if the first cards dealt are a pair. Identical cards pay 25/1, while two identical cards of different suits pays out 12/1.

21+3 , Developer: Realistic Games

21+3 is a strange mix of poker and blackjack. Another Realistic Games offering, 21+3 features a side bet that pays 9/1 if poker 'hands' like flushes, straights or straight flushes are made with the dealer's and player's cards.

Multi-Hand Blackjack , Developer: Microgaming

Multi-Hand Blackjack lets you gambling on up to six hands at the same time. Typically played in European Blackjack style, doubling down and splitting are permitted on each of your hands.

Live Blackjack , Developer: Evolution Gaming

The new generation of online blackjack lets you play with real cards against a real croupier. The action is handled from a studio or live casino setting by a human dealer and beamed via live stream to the player's computer. The cards have special microchips fitted which are picked up by the computer. This means you can place bets online and watch the action as real-life cards are shuffled and dealt out. You can even chat in real time to the croupier or ask for advice.

Progressive Blackjack , Developer: Playtech

This six-deck blackjack format features a jackpot that is linked across multiple online casinos. Players make a special side bet prior to playing. Hit four aces of the same suit and the jackpot is yours.

Online Blackjack Top Tips

1 - Split At the Right Time

Splitting your pairs can double your chances of bagging a nice win. But splitting isn't about blindly separating the cards; you need to be aware of the dealer's cards too. Printing out a 'cheat sheet' for blackjack will help you work out what to split and what to hold. Keeping a printout by your monitor is a good tip when gambling online.

2 - Ignore the Insurance Bet

Safeguarding yourself against a dealer's blackjack seems sensible, right? Wrong. While the 2/1 payout in the event of a blackjack seems OK it's actually way off what the ACTUAL odds of the dealer hitting blackjack are.

3 - Double Down With 11

Most blackjack variants let you double down with 11 in your hand. Take it - true, you'll double your stake, but with so many 10-value cards in the shoe to come the odds are in your favour to make 21. Be careful of the dealer's up card. If he shows an ace it might not be the right move to double down as a dealer hitting 10 too will result in a push.

History of Online Blackjack

Like many classic gambling games, blackjack has its origins in France. The game of 'Vingt-et-Un' ('21') is attributed to the modern form of the game but the Spanish 'One and Thirty' required players to hit 31 with three cards or more.

French settlers took their version of 21 over to America (along with poker and roulette) and the game took off. As casinos and riverboats took up the game, an addition was made: the black jack (jack of spades or jack of clubs) would pay 10/1 if it formed 21 with an ace.

Although the side bet has largely vanished, the name stuck.

Blackjack became synonymous with card counting after Edward Thorp published his 'Beat the Dealer' book in the 1960s. Card-counting teams subsequently took casinos to the cleaners, including legions of MIT students who steamrollered Vegas and Atlantic City blackjack games during the 1970s and '80s.

It wasn't until the late 1990s that gamblers at home could give blackjack a try, with Microgaming launching the first casino blackjack software.

As online and mobile technology has improved, so have the variants on offer. The first 'Live Blackjack' games appeared in the mid-2000s which allowed players at home to gamble on blackjack being dealt by a human dealer hundreds of miles away.

In 2015, Evolution Gaming launched Blackjack Party, an online variant with a 'Bet Behind' option. This feature lets you bet on other players at the tables, just like in a real casino.

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