Introduction to Blackjack at Online Casinos
There's no question that blackjack is the most popular table game at online casinos just as it is in their brick and mortar counterparts. Almost everyone already has some idea of how to play this classic game of 21 even if they've never tried it for real money. Blackjack is simple to learn and try, especially online, yet it's hidden depth is almost certainly a factor in its ongoing popularity. And since online casinos keep coming up with new spins to put on it, that's not likely to change any time soon.
How to Play Blackjack
The main goal of blackjack is to get as close as possible to 21 without going over, while also beating the dealer's hand. All cards in blackjack have values equal to their numbers, with all face cards worth 10. Aces can be worth one or eleven depending on what would help the hand more. Players start with two cards and can take a card (or hit) or stand on their current total as they see fit. Dealers, even the virtual kind in online casinos, must follow a predetermined set of rules to determine if they hit or stand.
Going past 21 is called busting, and any busted player hand automatically loses. If the dealer busts, all players who are still in the hand win their wagers. Most winning hands pay out at a 1:1 ratio, with the exception of a blackjack, which is a two-card starting hand consisting of an ace and any ten-value card. Blackjacks usually pay out at 3:2, though some casinos have variations of the game that pay at 6:5 or other ratios instead.
Players may have additional options during a hand depending on the house rules at a specific casino. Doubling down is a common one, allowing twice as much money to be wagered on the starting hand in return for just one additional card. Some casinos allow double downs on any starting total, while others restrict it to certain hands (like 10 or 11). Another popular option is the ability to split starting hands with two identical cards. This is done by placing an additional wager for the same amount as the original, at which point both cards become separate hands that can be played in the usual way. More exotic variations of blackjack have also flourished online, though any special rules are usually clearly posted so players don't get confused.
About Counting Cards
Some people who play blackjack at physical casinos use a technique called counting cards to determine when there are more beneficial cards (tens and aces) remaining than have already been dealt. These players then place larger bets than normal, knowing they are more likely to win. Even a small mathematical edge can turn into a big advantage in this manner. However, counting cards is not possible in most online casinos since the information people need to pull if off is not available. Online blackjack tables are most similar to real tables with machines that constantly shuffle the cards, another step that makes card counting impossible.
Tips for Playing Blackjack
Using computer simulations that allow millions of hands to be dealt in very short periods of time, blackjack experts have come up with a basic strategy for playing the game that tells you the mathematically correct move in any situation. Following the strategy doesn't mean you'll win every hand, as some card totals are probable losers no matter what you do. But playing “by the book” does decrease the casino's edge in the long run, and is generally a smart choice. A simple web search should turn up plenty of free basic strategy charts that you can refer to while playing online.