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Introduction to blackjack
Blackjack is one of the best known casino games in the world. While it’s difficult to pin an exact date on it, historians believe that blackjack was invented some time in the 1700s in France. And went by the name ‘Vingt-et-Un’, which means 21.
Easy to learn and fun to play, blackjack has been a firm favourite with casino-goers for centuries. And for good reason! It’s a great, lively game with the highest return to player (RTP) of any casino game.
So, how do you play blackjack? And where can you find a great blackjack casino? Well, sit back and relax. As we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about this popular casino game in our extensive guide to blackjack.
One of the best things about blackjack is that it’s super easy to play. The aim of the game is to reach a value of 21, without going over. And an important thing to remember is that you’re playing against the dealer. Not other players.
The game starts with you placing your bet. And then you receive 2 cards, face up. The value of each card is as follows:
- Number cards equal their face value. E.g. 3 = 3, 4 = 4, 5 = 5 etc.
- Picture cards (also known as face cards) equal 10
- Ace equals either 1 or 11. It’s your choice which value you want to use
- Jokers are not included in the game
Your aim is to get to 21 (blackjack!) or as close as possible, without going over. This is also the dealer’s goal. And, as you’re playing against them, you can still win with a lower total amount, as long as it’s higher than the dealer’s hand.
Let’s look at an example:
- Your 2 cards are a 9 and a 10. This makes 19.
- The dealer’s cards are a 9 and a 6. This makes 15
- You win!
So, although you didn’t reach 21, you still beat the dealer’s hand, as your cards have a higher value.
But, of course, it isn’t always that easy! And there’s lots more to the game than just the initial 2 cards you’re dealt.
Stand or hit?
So, we know you want to make 21. And you have your first 2 cards in front of you. But you have a 3 and a 5. This equals 8. So what now? In blackjack, you have some different moves you can make. Let’s take a look:
- Stand: you want to stick with the cards that you have. This ends your turn
- Hit: you request another card from the dealer. You can do this as often as you want
In the example above, you wouldn’t choose to stand. Because you only have 8, the chances of the dealer having a greater value is much higher, so you would lose. In this case, you would choose to hit and receive another card.
The general rule of thumb is to stand on a value of 16 or higher, and to hit on 15 or under. However, it’s completely up to you what you want to do!
And this is where the ace comes in very useful. If you’re at a high number and you turn over an ace, use it as a 1 in order to add it to your score, without going over 21.
Other blackjack moves
Apart from deciding whether you want to hit or stand, there are some other moves you can make during the game. Let’s take a look:
- Split: if you have 2 cards of the same value, you can split them into 2 hands. Effectively, this means you’re playing 2 games at the same time
- Double: also known as ‘double down’. This is when you double your bet before getting another card. This can usually only be done on your first 2 cards. Not after you’ve hit
- Surrender: this is where you fold (admit defeat!) and only lose half your stake. This is not common in online casinos, so check the rules before you play
- Insurance: when you bet half your stake, to insure yourself against the dealer getting 21. In essence, you’re now betting on the dealer getting blackjack. This is only an option when the dealer’s visible card is an ace
With all these options available, you have lots of chances to beat the dealer. Or get out early in the game, if you don’t think you’ve got a winning hand. These are just some of the elements that make blackjack an exciting, skill-based game.
Different blackjack game variations
Like most casino games, there are lots of different variations of blackjack. They’re all based on the same principals of the original game, but have their own rules. Therefore, it’s important to read up on how to play each version before sitting down to a hand.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular variations of blackjack that you can play today:
- Pontoon: similar to the original, but brings in the five-card trick. This makes it a more versatile game
- Spanish 21: also known as Australian Pontoon. Eliminates the 10 from the game, as well as limiting some of the dealer’s moves
- Switch: as the name suggests, players can switch cards over 2 hands in the same game. Lots of fun, but a test of skill and concentration
- Multi-hand: another fun variation involving multiple hands in the same game. You need some serious skill to master this variation!
Blackjack rtp (return to player)
In simple terms, return to player (RTP) refers to the amount of money a casino expects a player to get back over a period of playing one game. Some games, like slots, have an RTP of between 75 and 85%, and roulette has an RTP of up to 97.3%. The great news about blackjack is that the RTP is usually around 99.5%. This makes it the best RTP game to play at a casino!
How we review and select blackjack sites
Here at Gamble.xyz we’re dedicated to bringing you the very best that the casino industry has to offer. And our experts carefully vet every casino that we review, using a strict set of criteria. So that you know you’re getting the most up-to-date info about the top blackjack sites in the UK.
So, let’s take a closer look at how we review and select our top blackjack casino sites:
✅ Specific blackjack casino bonuses
We know that bonuses are what make playing at a casino super fun! And some casinos will offer specific bonuses to their blackjack players.
Our experts look at every bonus a casino has to offer, to both new and existing players, and bring you all the info you need. This includes which casinos offer bonuses for playing blackjack, as well as other casino games.
Like with any bonus, make sure you read the T&Cs, as every casino will have different wagering requirements.
✅ Varied selection of live blackjack games
As we’ve seen, there are lots of different variations of blackjack that you can play. And a great casino will offer you plenty of different games. Pontoon, Spanish 21 and Switch are a fun twist on the classic.
Our experts look at each casino’s game selection. So always check our lists of trusted and reviewed casino sites to see where is offering the best selection of blackjack games.
✅ Professional Live Dealers
With the invention of live casinos, you can now feel like you’re right there on the casino floor. Speak with your real-life dealer directly, and size up your competition!
Blackjack is one of the most popular live casino games. And at the best blackjack online sites you’ll find lots of variations of the game, as well as live dealers to play against.
We update our lists of trusted casinos regularly. So we tell you which casinos are bringing you the best live blackjack games at the moment.
Things to think about when selecting an online blackjack casino
So now you know what our experts look for when reviewing a blackjack casino. But what should you be looking for?
Let’s take a peek at some of the things you should think about when choosing your next best online blackjack site:
Offers several variations of blackjack
A great casino will offer their customers a fantastic selection of games. And that goes for blackjack too! Look for a site that has lots of variations, from Pontoon to Multi-hand blackjack. So that you can enjoy everything you love about the classic game over many different varieties.
Offers live blackjack
Live blackjack is super fun, and a great casino site will offer you many different versions of blackjack that you can play with a live dealer.
Make sure the casino you’re playing on offers live blackjack. That way you can feel like you’re right there at the table in the casino. And enable the chat function to speak with the dealer directly. You can’t get any closer to the action than that!
Have specially tailored blackjack/live casino bonuses
As we’ve said, our experts look into all the bonuses a casino offers. And we’ll bring you the latest info on where’s offering specific bonuses for playing certain games.
If you want to get a bonus for playing blackjack, check our lists of reviewed sites. Or go to the casino directly and check out their bonus offers. Some casinos will reward you for playing blackjack. So you could have even more chances to win big.
Ways to play blackjack online
Finding out how to play blackjack UK at an online casino is easy. Simply look at the ‘table games’ section of the website and select blackjack. Or, on some casinos, you can use the search bar at the top of the screen.
There are plenty of variations of blackjack, and you will find them all in the same section of a casino’s website. Choose from traditional online casino blackjack to live blackjack online, where you can play against a real dealer.
If you’re new to blackjack, and don’t have the confidence to face up to a real-life dealer straight away, video blackjack is a great way to get started.
A blackjack online casino will have video blackjack as an option. And the best thing about this is that you can play with a smaller bank roll than at a live casino table. The other great advantage is that you can play without the watchful eyes of the dealer putting pressure on you. Great, if you’re new to the game and want to build up your confidence.
Free blackjack vs real money blackjack
If you’re a newbie, and don’t want to play with real money, then why not try free blackjack? It’s a great way to practise your skills, and build your confidence. Or, if you want to spice things up a bit, you can play with real money. It is a casino after all! But let’s take a look at the two versions in a little more detail:
Free blackjack – Demo Play
There are lots of free blackjack sites available, where you can play for nothing. And a lot of casinos offer something called ‘demo play’. This is exactly how it sounds, and you can try your hand at blackjack with no obligation to spend any of your own money.
Demo play and free blackjack sites are a great way to practise, before deciding if you want to play for real money or not.
Online blackjack with real money
Once you’ve mastered the game, it’s time to get serious! Of course, you can continue to play blackjack for free as long as you want. But if you want to up the ante, you can opt to play blackjack for real money.
Always check our lists of trusted and reviewed sites. As we’ll tell you where is offering the best selection of blackjack games. As well as what bonuses you can snatch up by playing real money blackjack. Good luck!
Blackjack bonuses explained
There are loads of great bonuses up for grabs when playing online blackjack UK. Getting extra bang for your buck is always a welcome treat, so let’s see what’s on offer:
Free Blackjack no deposit
A no deposit bonus is the easiest way to boost your balance without spending a penny. It’s not the most frequent bonus that you’ll find, but when you see it, you’ll want to grab it with both hands!
The idea is simple. When you register at an online casino with a no deposit bonus offer, you will be given a fixed amount of money to play with. You don’t have to spend any of your own cash. You just start playing.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there are usually some rules attached to this gift. The most common is that it must be wagered a certain number of times. For example, if a £10 no deposit bonus has a 30x wagering rule, then you must gamble that £10 a full 30 times. If you are lucky enough to have some winnings left at the end of it, then you can collect the money.
The lower the wagering amount, the better. You want to get hold of the winnings as soon as possible, so keep an eye out for the terms and conditions.
Sign up blackjack bonus
Signup or welcome bonuses are available pretty much across the board. With the exception of a few casinos, you can expect some kind of bonus for joining.
The size of the bonus will differ from site to site but can be anywhere from 100% to a massive 650%. The enormous bonuses are normally found offshore; however, you need to bear in mind that it’s not free money.
For a standard signup bonus, you’ll need to make a deposit of your own cash first. The casino will then match this amount up to a certain figure. Let’s say you see a bonus of 100% up to £100, for example. You’ll have to deposit £100 into your account to get the full £100 bonus.
So if you’re tempted by an offer of 650% up to £5000, keep in mind that these extravagant offers usually come with pretty harsh terms – you’ll probably have a 50x wagering requirement.
It is sometimes better to check out the more realistic bonuses with less wagering. You’re more likely to see some of the winnings at the end of the day.
Reload blackjack bonus
The reload bonus is another great way to get some cash into your casino bonus for doing very little in return.
Think of it as a loyalty gift. It’s usually a bonus that’s given to players who show up regularly —the online casino’s answer to free drinks.
When you’ve been a customer for a while, you may get an offer from the casino to match any future deposits that you make. Again, they usually restrict it to a fixed amount and it will probably have wagering rules. You may also want to check what games you are allowed to play while spending the bonus cash. Game weighting is commonly used to ensure specific games process the bonus offers.
Blackjack progressive jackpot
In a similar way to how a slot machine can build up a collective jackpot, so too can blackjack. It’s not as common as the slots but there are a fair few available.
How it works is that a small % of each player’s stake will go into the kitty. Anyone playing that specific blackjack game will be contributing. There could be thousands of people adding to the pile over the course of days or even weeks. This means that a huge amount can eventually add up.
One lucky winner will win the pot at a specific time —usually upon hitting a blackjack. The program that runs the game will determine the win cycle and nobody else knows when it might happen.
Blackjack game providers
Live blackjack UK is available at some of the most popular casino sites across the UK. There’s a great buzz and something special about having a live dealer there in front of you. However, it’s not always an option so the next best thing is the regular blackjack versions which comes pretty close to its live counterpart.
Some of the biggest names in gambling software create games for the best blackjack sites. It’s not just the slots that they’re famous for.
Evolution is one of the software companies that are better known for live dealer blackjack games. They have studios around the world where they are able to film and stream all your favourite blackjack, baccarat and other live dealer games. If you’ve ever played any live casino games online, then the chances are Evolution had a hand in making it.
In June 2020 they announced a public offering of 19bn SEK to acquire competing software provider NetEnt, a deal that went ahead in October 2020.
Some of the biggest slots have come out of the NetEnt studios. They are responsible for some of the massive hits such as Gonzo’s Quest and Starburst, for example.
However, not only do they make slots, but they’re also big in the classic table games market too. Their state-of-the-art tech drives some of the most popular blackjack games around as well. They have been there since the inception of internet gaming and are now part of the Evolution group of companies.
Another one of the original gaming software providers is Microgaming. Gamblers around the world know them for producing some of the best-loved blackjack games online.
They created the basic platform for online gambling back in the mid-90s, and thanks to them the industry has gone from strength to strength. A few years later, they remodelled their software and made mobile gaming a reality as well. They provide some of the best blackjack games for various casinos across the globe.
For over 20 years Playtech has been one of the biggest names in online gaming. They produce classic card games and live dealer systems for some of the best-known brands in the industry. Over the years they have acquired many smaller design studios making them a powerhouse in online casinos. Playtech’s Blackjack software and live Blackjack games are widely regarded as some of the best in the business.
Extreme Live Gaming
Another one of the greats in live blackjack solutions. It may not have been around as long as some of the others, but they have a fantastic reputation and work with some of the big brands that we all know and love. They have created some of the crispest graphics and smoothest blackjack gameplay around today.
A selection of our most frequently asked questions.
How can I play blackjack online for real money?
How can I play blackjack without paying real money?
Are online blackjack games rigged?
Is it legal to play blackjack online?