Blackjack is a big part of the online table games experience. Many US online casinos have enough blackjack variants that they list blackjack as a separate menu item from the other table games. Slight rules changes allow game designers to create dozens of versions of blackjack, though players should be warned this also alters the return-to-player (RTP) and makes it harder to find an accurate blackjack strategy chart.
For that reason, it’s best to read a guide to online blackjack before playing for real money. Read the article below to learn about the most common versions of online blackjack that you’ll find. Learn about the most popular side bets, and learn why it might be best to avoid the side bets altogether. Once you’re finished this page, you’ll be able to play real money blackjack online with the best odds possible.
Pros and Cons of Blackjack Online
Online blackjack has so many versions, you should be able to find a version you like. That being said, online blackjack games can never mimic land-based based casino blackjack for some. If you fall into that category, read our list of pros and cons before spending money on blackjack online.
|Online Blackjack Pros||
Online Blackjack Cons
|More versions of blackjack than land-based casinos.||Harder to find accurate blackjack strategy charts.|
|Cool blackjack side bets, including progressive bets.||Lower return-to-player for the side bets.|
|Live dealer blackjack offers social gaming.||Players miss talking to players and dealers in online blackjack.|
|Money saved on trips to land-based casinos.||Blackjack contributes less to wagering requirements.|
|Play on the go with mobile blackjack games.||Harder to learn exact odds for online and mobile blackjack.|
Most Popular Versions of Online Blackjack
One of the great things about blackjack at the best online casinos is the huge range of blackjack variants. Although the following list does not encompass every blackjack variant available, it includes the majority of real-money online blackjack games that players are likely to encounter.
- Classic Blackjack: A version of the game found in many US online casinos. Played with 1 deck on most sites, it dealer hits on soft 16 and stands on soft 17. The rules allow only one split hand, and only one additional card after a split after split aces. All other cards receive can have multiple hits. After doubling, you get one additional card and stand.
- European Blackjack: European Blackjack, predominantly played in European casinos, shares similarities with traditional blackjack while incorporating minor differences. In this variant, the dealer must stand on a soft 17, and players can only double down on hard totals of 9, 10, or 11.
- Vegas Strip Blackjack: Among the most popular variants played in Las Vegas casinos, Vegas Strip Blackjack closely resembles traditional blackjack while incorporating minor variations. The dealer must stand on a soft 17, and players can split their hands up to four times.
- Downtown Vegas Blackjack: Primarily played in downtown Las Vegas casinos, Downtown Vegas Blackjack requires the dealer to hit on a soft 17, and players have the freedom to double down on any two cards.
- Atlantic City Blackjack: This variant permits players to double down on any two cards, as well as after splitting. Additionally, the dealer must stand on a soft 17. Although it is commonly played in Atlantic City casinos, some online casinos also offer this variation.
- Pontoon: A popular variant primarily played in the UK, Pontoon shares similarities with traditional blackjack while introducing a few notable distinctions. In Pontoon, the dealer’s cards are dealt face down, and players must hit until they reach a minimum total of 15. Moreover, a “pontoon” (a natural 21) pays out at a rate of 2:1 instead of the standard 3:2.
- Australian Pontoon: This variant, popular in Australia and Asia, is quite similar to Spanish 21. In Australian Pontoon, the dealer must hit on a soft 17, and a five-card trick (a hand totaling 21 or less with five cards) pays out at a rate of 2:1.
- Double Exposure: Double Exposure provides players with an advantage by dealing both dealer cards face up, granting them more information for decision-making. However, the dealer wins all ties except for natural blackjacks, which pay out at a rate of 1:1 instead of the standard 3:2.
- Perfect Pairs: Perfect Pairs allows players to place a side bet on whether their initial two cards will form a pair (such as two 6s or two jacks). Payouts for perfect pairs can vary among different casinos, typically ranging from 5:1 to 30:1.
- Blackjack Switch: This variant deals players two hands, granting them the opportunity to switch the second card of each hand to improve their chances. However, a natural blackjack pays out only at a rate of 1:1, deviating from the standard 3:2 payout.
- Super Fun 21: In Super Fun 21, players enjoy the freedom to split any two cards of the same value and can double down on any number of cards. Additionally, a player’s blackjack always triumphs over the dealer’s, and a hand totaling six cards or more without going bust automatically secures victory.
- Zappit Blackjack: Introduced by RealTime Gaming, Zappit is a newer blackjack variant that allows players to “zap” or discard their original hand if the total falls between 15 and 17, receiving a new hand in return.
- Live Dealer Blackjack: The best online casinos offer Live Blackjack now. Depending on the site of the studio, you’ll be playing either Classic Blackjack or European Blackjack with live dealers.
Best Online Blackjack Side Bets
Many online blackjack games offer side bets. These give players added excitement while giving the casino a higher house edge. Whether you’re playing at an online casino or enjoying live dealer blackjack, you’ll encounter a range of cool side bets. These are the most popular blackjack side bets of the moment.
- 21+3 Side Bet: This side bet combines the player’s initial two cards with the dealer’s upcard to create a three-card poker hand. The strength of the hand determines the payout, with a flush typically offering a 5:1 reward, a straight granting 10:1, three-of-a-kind delivering 30:1, and a straight flush resulting in a payout of 40:1 or higher.
- Rummy Side Bet: The Rummy side bet revolves around the player’s initial two cards and the dealer’s upcard. The objective is to form a three-card rummy hand, such as a run or a set. Payouts are determined by the hand’s strength, with a run offering a 9:1 payout, a flush granting 4:1, and a set rewarding 1:1.
- Perfect Pairs Side Bet: In this side bet, players can wager on whether their initial two cards will form a pair, such as two 8s or two kings. Payouts vary depending on the type of pair, with a perfect pair (two identical cards) generally providing the highest reward, often reaching 30:1 or higher.
- Progressive Side Bet: For those seeking the chance at a life-altering win, the progressive side bet offers an exciting opportunity. Players can place a wager on the possibility of winning a progressive jackpot. To secure the jackpot, players must obtain a specific hand, such as a natural blackjack or a 7-card straight flush. Payouts for progressive side bets can be astonishingly large, with some jackpots reaching millions of dollars.
How to Play a Hand of Online Blackjack
Playing online blackjack gives players a wider range of variants, resembling the thrill of playing the game in a physical casino but with more options. If you prefer a social gaming experience, Live Blackjack provides an immersive experience with social interaction. Below, you will find a step-by-step guide to playing some of the most popular versions of online blackjack.
- Place Your Blackjack Bet: To commence a new hand, begin by placing your desired bet. Utilize the virtual table to select a chip denomination and position the chip accordingly. The layout of the betting options mirrors that of a land-based roulette table.
- Receive Your Cards: Once your bet is placed, you will be dealt two face-up cards. Simultaneously, the dealer will also receive two cards—one face up and the other face down.
- Hit or Stand: The objective of blackjack is to obtain a hand with a total value closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, without exceeding 21. At this point, you have the options to Hit (request an additional card) or Stand (retain your current hand).
- Double Down or Split: In certain situations, you may have additional strategic choices available. If suitable, you can opt to Double Down, which entails doubling your initial bet and receiving one more card. Alternatively, if your initial hand consists of a pair, you can Split your cards into two separate hands. It is advisable to consult blackjack strategy charts to determine the appropriate times to employ these moves.
- Dealer Reveals Its Hole Card: Once all players have completed their turns, the dealer will reveal the face-down card. The dealer will continue drawing cards until they reach a hand value of at least 17 or go over 21 (bust).
- Compare Hands: After the dealer’s turn, it is time to compare hands. If your hand total is closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand without exceeding 21, you win the round. In the event of a tie, known as a push, your bet will be returned.
- Collect Winnings: Victorious players receive a payout typically at a 1:1 ratio, meaning they receive their original bet plus an equal amount. However, if you obtain a natural blackjack (an Ace and a 10 or a face card), you will be rewarded with a higher payout at a ratio of 3:2.
Start a New Hand: Once the round concludes, a new hand begins, and the process restarts from step 1.