How to Play Online Blackjack

Sometimes it never hurts to go back to the basics. We get so caught up in blackjack strategy and odds and house edge that sometimes we lose perspective of what it is we are playing. So today we are going back to the basics and back to how to play online blackjack.

First let’s look at the objective as that is the one thing about blackjack that gets misconstrued the most. This game is not about getting 21. Blackjack is about beating the dealer’s hand without making your own hand go over 21. Always remember that and focus on that rather than trying to get an even 21.

Online blackjack starts with the player placing their wager. Once that is set, they click Deal. Two starting cards are dealt and so is the dealer’s up card. This is the part where strategy comes into play as strategy determines how you will play out your hand. Every hand gives you the choice to Hit or Stand. Hit means to receive another card and Stand means to not receive any more cards. Sometimes, depending on the house or variation rules, you can Double Down, Split a Pair or take Insurance.

Double Down can only happen on certain hands. It is when the player doubles their wager and only receives one more card. This is only done in highly advantageous situations. Splitting a Pair can, obviously, only happen when you have two cards worth the same amount. Players make a second wager equal to their first, the pair is split and each original card receives a new partner card. Players then play out each hand normally.

Strategy can be used to determine which play is best for each situation. Basic strategy is an online blackjack player’s best tool for strategy. It is a chart that gives the best possible statistical play for each player starting hand/dealer up card combination. You will not win each time, but you will lower the house edge to 0.5% if you play every hand according to it.

Insurance is a bit different. It is only offered when the dealer’s up card is an Ace. This is one of the two cards needed to make a natural blackjack—and it is the less common card hence insurance. Insurance has the player placing a second wager that is equal to half of their original wager. If the dealer does indeed have a natural blackjack and the player loses, he receives a payout on his insurance wager which will equal the amount of his original wager. The majority of online blackjack professionals do not recommend taking insurance.

Now that we have revisited the basics of how to play online blackjack you can move on to refocusing your game to that objective of beating the dealer with or without a natural blackjack. Good luck!

What Can Basic Strategy do for you in Online Blackjack?

Online blackjack already offers players one of the best house edges in the online casino industry. Prior to any blackjack strategy, online blackjack has a house edge of 2 to5% depending on the individual house rules. In our current climate most house edges for blackjack online sit at around 4 to 5%.

When playing blackjack in a land casino there are more strategy options available because you are playing face to face with real cards and a real dealer, not virtual cards dealt by the Random Number Generator. One of the biggest differences between land casino blackjack strategy and online blackjack strategy is card counting. In online blackjack there is no card counting because there are no discards in online blackjack; think of it as being like playing with a Continuous Shuffle Machine in a land casino.

The loss of card counting is blow to online blackjack strategy since card counting can potentially give the player the edge. But without discards there can be no card counting. So. Moving on, what do we have?

The strongest online blackjack strategy tool that players have is basic strategy. Sometimes online players become tired of hearing about basic strategy. But the reason you hear about it so much and from so many sources is because it is the strongest strategy tool. Playing every hand according to basic strategy can drop the house edge down to 0.5% over time. And that gives online blackjack the lowest house edge out of all the online casinos games. This means that it has the most stable potential to turn a profit for players and to win them real money at online blackjack.

So when you are going to set about playing online blackjack, pull up a basic strategy chart and play exactly how it tells you to. You will not win every hand but your edge will go up and that means you can make more money over time from online blackjack.

Best Times to Bet in Online Blackjack

When playing blackjack in a land casino, often times blackjack players will take their cues of when the best times to bet are from other players at the table that they perceive to be more knowledgeable about blackjack and blackjack strategy than they themselves are. I am talking about the times to double down and split pairs. In some cases this works out just dandy, and in other cases this does not work out so well.

But in online blackjack there are no other players to take cues from when it comes to betting in online blackjack to know when to double down and split pairs. It is just you and the game, and you have to determine the best time to bet. No other players to influence you. So if you are still getting your online blackjack game or betting strategy feet under yourself I do have a suggestion: basic strategy.

Basic strategy is the online blackjack player’s best tool for knowing the best times to bet. Not every hand has the best odds for doubling down and splitting. Without other players to learn from, basic strategy provides the best information to determine the best times.

A basic strategy chart is made up of the dealer up cards across the top with all player starting hands running down the left hand side. This chart will tell players when the best times to double down and split pairs are.

For example, most players know that most hard 10 and hard 11 dealer up card combinations are good to go for doubling down on. But did you know there are some hard 9s that have pretty good doubling down odds? Or did you know that there are eighteen soft hands that have good double down odds?

Granted, players cannot always double down on any hand in some online blackjack hands. But if players have that option there are soft hands that should be doubled down on. And pairs! There are eight instances where you should double down on a pair of 5s and not split.

That is the kind of information that basic strategy provides. And it provides it for free while being a perfectly legal strategy tool. Basic strategy is the online blackjack player’s best way of determining which are the best times to bet and double down or split pairs in online blackjack.

Dealing with Consecutive Blackjack Losses and Basic Strategy

Basic strategy is one of the few set-down blackjack strategies that casinos are pretty cool with allowing players to use. But there is a reason behind that. Casino staff will allow the myth to perpetuate that basic strategy guarantees wins. Then, after a few consecutive losses, they can watch as players toss aside their basic strategy cards and return to playing haphazardly without strategy.

I am going to say this: Basic strategy does not guarantee players a win every single time.

Read it. Understand it. Remember it.

Let me ask you something, what is the percentage of losing three hands in a row?

That answer is 14%. You have a 14% chance of losing three hands in a row, even when playing according to basic strategy. That is because basic strategy gives you the best statistical play for any given hand against any dealer up card.

But no hand and dealer up card combination is 100% in favor of the player, unless it is a natural blackjack but then there is no need to tell a player what to do then. And since no hand and dealer up card combination is 100% in the player’s favor, players have to expect to lose a few hands. It happens. Not even players who are skilled in card counting will win every single hand.

Even though you can expect to lose some hands when playing blackjack, it does not mean abandoning basic strategy. It is still your best blackjack took against the casino; playing it perfectly—meaning no deviation, players—can lower the house edge to 0.5%, giving it the best edge of all the casino games.

Explaining House Edge in Blackjack

House edge is often misinterpreted when it comes to casino games, including blackjack. More often than not players assume that house edge in blackjack has all to do with their chances of winning or losing a round, when really it does not.

House edge in blackjack has nothing to do with your odds of winning or losing a round. Or even how you will fair in terms of winning or losing for a playing streak. It has to do with money. And when it comes down to gambling when is it ever about anything other than money.

The house edge of a game is about the amount of a wager you can expect the house to keep. The house edge in some casino games is fixed. However it is not fixed in blackjack. Players can use strategy in blackjack to lower the house edge.

Now stop and think about that for a moment. Let’s go with the average house edge for blackjack: 5%. That means that you can expect the house to keep 5% of your wager. But using strategy can impact the house edge. Going along with our example so far, you can use basic strategy and over time lower the house edge to 0.5%. That means the house will only be keeping half a percent of your wager as opposed to 5% of your wager.

House edge is about money. Strategy in blackjack such as basic strategy is designed to increase how much you win and decrease the amount you lose. Through minimizing losses and increasing how much you win the house edge is impacted and ideally lowered. But remember that house edge is about money, not odds of winning or losing a hand.

Who Wins More Hands in Online Blackjack

There is some speculation on who wins what percentage of hands in online blackjack. Some think that there is a difference in online blackjack to the point that it impacts the percentage of who wins hands in the game.

While there are some differences in online blackjack and blackjack played in a brick and mortar casino—such as card counting, which cannot be used in online blackjack—there are some things that do not change. The house edge is one such thing that does not change.

While players can still use basic strategy in online blackjack, there are not enough differences to impact winning. The house is still going to win roughly 48% of the hands that are dealt while the player is still only going to win 44% of the time.

The reason for this is still found in the basic structure of blackjack. For one thing the player still plays first. For another the dealer does not put up any wager to play a round.

On the other hand the dealer is not allowed to double down or split pairs. Those plays do give players an advantage but they need to take advantage of them when the opportunities come along. To help guide players there is basic strategy.

Basic strategy tells players when the most opportune moments are to double down and split pairs. This allows players to make the most of these hands which contributes to increasing their odds on winning those 44% of hands. If you are only going to win 44% of the time you want to make the most money off of them and that is where knowing when to double down and split pairs since players can win more money off of those hands than on a standard hand.

Ease of Online Blackjack When You are Sick

I had something else planned to write about today and share with you, but there has been a change of plans. As I am sick today I feel more compelled to share my thanks at how easy online blackjack is to play. The ease of online blackjack makes it possible for me to do something other than stare at the TV when I am home sick.

I think this is in part to the fact that blackjack offers some very simple rules: take a card, do not take a card, double or split. Easy. Heck it is even easy to add up to 21 when sick too. And I can do all of that while wrapped up in a blanket and sitting on the couch with my laptop. All I need to do is click the write button, and the interfaces on the majority of online blackjack games is so simple that I can read it while in a cold medicine induced semi-coma.

But another plus to online blackjack is its strategy. Players—sick or not—can use basic strategy and impact their odds, brining the house edge down to around 0.5%. All you need to do is find your starting hand and the dealer’s up card on the basic strategy chart. Where the two lines intersect is the best statistical play for your starting hand when faced with that dealer’s up card. All you need to do as a player is make that play. You are not guaranteed to win, but because it is the best statistical play, it gives you the best odds for that hand possible. And you have the satisfaction of knowing you are making the best possible play and making a success of playing online blackjack when you are in the condition that the TV remote is baffling.

So as I sit here on my couch in my PJs and cow slippers, armed with my tissues and laptop and cold medicine, I am so thankful for how easy online blackjack is to play. It makes for a much better occupation than watching soap operas.

Blackjack Myth: 2 is the Dealer’s Ace

I have heard the myth said many times that a 2 to the dealer is their Ace in blackjack. Players say it and blackjack dealer say it. But I have to say that it is not true, and that it is definitely a myth. Let’s take a look shall we.

For one thing a 2 does not have the flexibility that an Ace offers. Its value can only be 2, whereas an Ace can count as 11 or as a 1 depending upon what the situation calls for.

But what makes a 2 seem like it is a special card to a dealer is because it allows them to string out multi-card hands that add up to 21. It is not the same as a natural blackjack, but it can wipe the table. And the reason the dealer can string out such a long hand is because he has to.

Say for example you have a hard 14. You can stand. And unless the dealer is showing a 7 or higher, you will stand according to basic strategy. But a dealer how has a hard 14 has to hit according to the rules of blackjack. And it is because he has to keep hitting that a 2 seems like a powerful card to the dealer. In all reality it is not anymore powerful to the dealer than it is to you. Say you have a two in your starting hand. You are likely to hit, and it just might be that you hit to a multi-card strong hand. But the dealer has more chances of stringing out a long hand than the player because of the rule to hit anything below a 17.

Another reason not to consider a 2 to be a dealer’s Ace is that is it not the card that can give the dealer a 21. In order for that to happen the dealer would have to be holding a 19, and if he was he would not be hitting based on house rules. And as a player you would not be hitting with a 19 either.

As a player you have to come to understand that a 2 just another low card. Without the flexibility that an Ace offers it cannot be thought of as the dealer’s Ace in blackjack. It only allows a dealer to hit for more cards than a player simply because the dealer has the short end of the stick, and has to keep hitting until he has a least a 17. You do not want to go giving a 2 power that it does not have in blackjack.

Jump Starting Your Blackjack Strategy

Strategy often brings to mind super hard formulas and tricks and things that will make your brain hurt. Strategy, especially for casino games where money is involved, seems particularly hard. Perhaps this is because money is on the line—money always complicates things.

But blackjack strategy does not have to be all that hard. In fact, blackjack strategy is remarkably easy. Yes, there are strategies for blackjack, such as card counting, that can take a little more mental application to learn, bring together and execute. But there is strategy for blackjack that anyone can use.

And I do mean everyone, even someone who has never played blackjack, is just in Vegas for a vacation and actually may not ever gamble again—even they can use blackjack strategy.

The key to this kind of strategy is the basic strategy chart.

All basic strategy is made up of are rows for each hand that a player could be dealt, and columns for each of the dealer up cards. Where each row and column intersects there can be found the best statistical play for that player hand and dealer up card combination. Here is the step by step for using basic strategy:

First determine what your starting hand is—do you have an Ace or is your hand a pair? If so make sure to look in the section of the chart with starting hands that have Aces (soft hands) or that show the pairs.

Next check to see what the dealer’s up card.

After you have found the row with your starting hand and the column with the dealer’s up card look to see where the row and column intersect. The play that is featured where the two meet is the best play for you to make.

Basic strategy does not mean that you will win every single hand, but because you are playing the best statistical play that you can make, you will increase your chances of winning.

And that is the easiest way to make the most of blackjack strategy—using basic strategy. All of the math and formulas and calculating has been done for you. All you need to do is make the play that is recommended.

Introducing Blackjack Strategy to New Players

After you have learned how to play blackjack and have taken some time to practice and become familiar with the feel of the game and are comfortable playing, it is time to introduce blackjack strategy into your game.

New blackjack players should be very thankful. Blackjack offers one of the easiest to use strategies that also happens to be the most effective. This is called basic strategy. And it is so basic to use that even players that are brand new to the game can use it and be successful with it.

Basic strategy’s most common form is a chart. This makes it easy for players to take it along to the casinos. And basic strategy is legal to use in casinos, so take a chart with you to play with.

What this chart gives you is the best statistical play for every single hand in the game against any dealer up card: hard hands, soft hands and pairs. All the player needs to do is look at where the row of their starting hand intersects with the column of the dealer’s up card. Where the two intersect is the best statistical play for that situation. All the player needs to do is make that play. It is that easy.

If players play every one of their hands according to basic strategy they can lower the house edge to 0.5%, which is the lowest house edge of the casino games.

So if basic strategy is that easy to use and if it lowers the house edge so much, how could it possibly be legal to use in casinos?

Basic strategy has a misplaced idea attached to it that it will beat the house and allow players to win every hand. Casinos are more than happy to allow players to believe this; in fact, there are some casinos that will give out basic strategy charts. What happens is a player will lose a few rounds and toss the chart away, going back to playing without strategy. Playing without strategy is where casinos can make their money.

Other players will only play according to basic strategy part of the time. And it is only effective if every hand is played according to it.

As a result not every player is successful with basic strategy. So in order to lower the house edge to 0.5% you must play every hand according to it. Thankfully basic strategy makes it easy for a new player to not only play an effective game and lower the house edge, but it also teaches them more about the game, especially if study the chart and think on why each play is what it is.

Basic strategy allows new players to have an impact on their odds at an early stage in their learning of blackjack. Now the only thing left is to practice using basic strategy.