Online Blackjack: Play for Free or Real Money

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games in the world. Online blackjack has made the game even more popular. Additionally, it’s allowed the game to attract a wider audience. There’s no doubt that it will continue to be a popular game. With so many free online blackjack games, it’s easy for new players to learn the ropes.

Blackjack has been around for a long time. In fact, the earliest records of the game date back all the way to the 1500s. Presently, it is still essentially the same game as it was back then. However, online blackjack games have allowed for some new twists on the classic formula.

Blackjack is popular because it’s simple. Consequently, it’s easy for almost anyone to learn in a short time. The concept of a blackjack game is straightforward. Overall, blackjack players are just looking to beat the dealer’s hand. In order to do that, a player’s cards need to equal close to but not over 21. The player’s hand must be closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over. When someone goes over 21, it’s known as a “bust” which results in an automatic loss.

This game has lots of strategy as well. Advanced players have perfected a system to maximize their odds. Some blackjack players try to take things even farther by counting cards. Keep in mind, card counting will get you banned from any casino if you’re caught.

What is it all about online blackjack

Here we’ll go into detail on the fundamentals of blackjack. We will discuss the basics of a blackjack game and the rules. Additionally, we’ll take a look at all the online blackjack games that are available today. Players can find free online blackjack in most US states. Online blackjack for real money is also available in many states. We’ll cover all of this below.

Playing Blackjack Online at US Casinos For Real Money

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Play Online Blackjack USA

Online gambling is slowly growing in the USA. Presently, two states have active and regulated casinos with online blackjack games. Additionally, at least three more states are launching legal online casinos soon.

States with Legal Blackjack Casino Games

  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Michigan (launching in 2021)
  • West Virginia (launching in 2021)
  • Colorado (launching in 2021)

New Jersey and Pennsylvania have the largest online gambling markets in the entire USA. Both states have legal and licensed online casinos. In order to play, you need to be over the age of 21 and located inside either state.

In NJ and PA, laws require that online casinos partner with land-based casinos in each state. That means the online casinos you’ll find are reputable and backed by a strong support network. There are tons of blackjack online gambling options in both states.

If you’re located outside of the states listed above, you still have options for playing online blackjack games. Sweepstakes casinos are legal in almost every US state. These casinos offer all the same classic casino games as other casinos. You can easily play blackjack for free at a sweepstakes casino. Additionally, you can win cash prizes! The games all work the same as they do at licensed casinos. However, the payout and prize system is different.

Blackjack Basics: How a Typical Hand Works

Let’s get into the basics of how blackjack actually works. Don’t worry, it’s an easy game to understand.

At land-based casinos, blackjack is played at large felt tables. A single dealer controls the game and deals cards. Up to seven players can sit at one blackjack table. However, players don’t compete with each other. Instead, every player is trying to beat the dealer’s hand.

Different Ways to Beat the Dealer

There are a few ways to beat the dealer in blackjack:

  • Have a card total closer to 21 than the dealer at the end of the hand
  • Receive a perfect deal of 21 at the beginning of the hand (as long as the dealer doesn’t get 21)
  • Have an active hand when the dealer “busts” by getting a total of 22 or higher

Unlike other casino table games like poker, blackjack only has a few ways to win. There are no special hands or card combinations. The only card combinations that matter are the ones that get you closest to 21 without going over.

The Action of a Typical Hand

Here’s how a typical hand works in the most common (USA) version of blackjack:

  • First, players place their bets. This is done before cards are dealt.
  • Next, the dealer deals two cards face-up to every player.
  • The dealer deals two cards to him/herself. One card is placed face-up, the other face-down.
  • If the dealer’s face-up card is a 10 or an ace, the dealer will ask players for “insurance” bets. These are side bets on whether or not the dealer’s second card will result in a “blackjack” or perfect 21.
  • The dealer then looks at their face-down card. If it’s the right number for a “blackjack” then the hand ends. Players who don’t also have a blackjack lose their bets.
  • If the dealer does not have a perfect “blackjack” the game continues. Players chose how they want to proceed. A player can stand, or take no more cards. A player can hit, or receive another card. You can double down or double your bet, and you can also get another card. A player can also split their cards into two hands if they are the same exact value.

Other Actions of a Typical Hand

  • As players chose to hit, stand, split, etc. their card totals increase. If any player busts by going over 21, they lose their bet.
  • The round continues until every player stands or busts.
  • Finally, the dealer turns over their face-down card. Every casino has different house rules. These rules dictate when the dealer hits or stands.
  • If the dealer busts, then any players with active hands win a portion of the pot.
  • If the dealer does no bust, their hand is compared to other active hands. It’s easy to decide the winner. Whoever has a card total closer to 21 without going over wins.
  • If a player and the dealer have the exact same total, it’s called a push. In this case, neither the dealer nor the player win the hand. It’s basically a stalemate. Consequently, the player’s bet is carried over to the next round.

Overall, players are just trying to get cards which total close to 21 without going over. Keep in mind that aces can count as either 1 or 11. An ace will always receive a value that makes the best hand without going over 21.

There are some house rules at every casino. These dictate exactly how the dealer plays the game. One common case is known as a “soft 17”. This means the dealer has an ace and a 6. At some casinos, the dealer will stand on a soft 17. However, at others the dealer will hit. If the dealer hits and gets a 4, the ace is counted as an 11. When the dealer hits and gets 5 or more, the ace is counted as 1. If the dealer hits and gets a 10, this is known as a “hard 17”.

Blackjack Basics: When to Stand, Hit, Double, or Split

Blackjack is all about the numbers. Consequently, it’s possible to determine the best odds for any card combination. There is a strategy to this game. Advanced players know exactly when to hit or stand based on the total combined value of their cards. These players are not playing by feeling, they know the exact probabilities.

However, don’t think that blackjack strategy is only for advanced players with deep mathematical knowledge. Any player can learn basic strategy. This will help even casual players maximize their odds of winning blackjack hands.

Players can find blackjack strategy tables online which explain all of this. These tables show the best options (hit, stand, etc.) for every possible combination of cards. This is a great reference when playing online. You can keep the table open in your browser as you play.

The Most Basic Blackjack Strategy

Here are the basics of blackjack strategy:

  • When to Hit: Players should hit whenever the dealer has a good chance at getting a total between 17 and 21. However, you should only hit in this case if you have 16 or less. If your hand is between 17 and 21, don’t risk busting. If the dealer shows a face card (king, jack, queen), an ace, or a two, players should hit. However, if the dealer shows a 3, 4, 5, or 6, then they are morel likely to bust. You should only hit in this case if you have a low card total.
  • When to Stand: If you receive a hard 17 (ace, 6, and 10) the safest choice is to stand. Things are a bit more tricky when the dealer’s face-up card is from the middle of the deck. If the dealer has a 5 or 6 and you have between 12 and 16, it’s safest to stand. However, it depends on your card combination. Occasionally, you will want to hit in this case. If you get a soft 17 at the start of the hand (ace and 6) play it safe and stand.

Other Basics of Online Blackjack Strategy

  • When to Double: Doubling down on a hand means placing an extra wager. Usually, this wager is equal to your initial bet (hence the doubling). When you double down, you also get a card. The best case to do this is when your total is 9, 10 or 11 and the dealer shows a middle card.
  • When to Split: If you receive two identical cards on the initial deal, you can split them. However, you don’t have to split in this case. You can also stand or hit. When you split, you actually play blackjack with two hands in a single round. You will need to place an additional bet on the split hand. For that round, you ‘re playing every hand as your own. You stand or hit for each on separately. The best time to split is when you have 2 high cards and the dealer shows a middle card. However, if you get two 10s, your best option is to stand.
  • When to Surrender: This option is available in some games. It depends on the casino’s house rules. When a player surrenders, they basically fold for the hand. However, in this case the player only loses half their initial bet. You might want to do this if you have a low card total and the dealer shows a face card.

Backjack Basics: Blackjack Versions & Variations

In the world of online blackjack games, there are lots of twists on the original game formula. However, players can always find the classic core versions of the game.

Most Popular Versions of Blackjack

These are the two most popular versions of blackjack:

  • US blackjack: This is the game we described above. Check the section How a Typical Hand Works for details on this version. The dealer gets two card to start the round. One is face-up, and the other is face-down.
  • European blackjack: The European version of the game is exactly the same as the US version except for one big detail. The dealer will only get one card at the beginning of the round. Once all players bust or stand, the dealer then takes a second card. The big difference here is that players won’t know if the dealer has a blackjack until the round ends.

These versions of blackjack are what you’ll find at land-based casinos. They are also common for online blackjack betting. Almost every online casino will have these basic versions of the game. However, online casinos also usually have some other variations too.

Other Versions of Blackjack

You might find these blackjack versions at land-based and online casinos:

  • Double Desk / Single Deck: Usually, blackjack is played with 6 or 8 decks shuffled together. In this version, the game is played with just one or two decks. This is almost always a high-stakes game when it’s offered.
  • Spanish 21: In this version of the game, all the 10s are removed from the deck. However, face cards (king, queen, jack) remain in the deck. This means every deck has only 48 cards instead of 52.
  • Free Bet Blackjack: In this version, players get one free bet. It can be used to double or split. However, this has some restrictions. For example, if the dealer goes over 21, then the player’s hand is considered a push.
  • Blackjack Switch: In this variant, players are dealt two separate hands in each round. That means every player gets four cards instead of two. Players can move cards between their hands in order to get the best total.
  • Pontoon: This version of blackjack is basically the same as the standard game. It was first played in the UK. All the rules are the same. However, game terms like hit and stand are different.

Online Blackjack Side Bets

Another reason that casual gamblers like blackjack is because it’s a low-risk game. Usually, it is played with small bets. Consequently, some casinos give players the option to place side bets. These bets are totally optional. They can be drastically different from the player’s main bet.

A common blackjack side bet is Perfect Pairs. For this bet, you wager on whether or not you get a pair as your “hole cards”. Hole cards are the cards you’re dealt at the start of the round. Another side bet is Blazing 777s. In this bet, you can get extra prizes if you’re dealt three 7s as your first three cards.

Live Dealer Blackjack Online

Many online casinos offer live dealer table games. Live dealer blackjack games use actual live human dealers. The dealers are based in a remote location. Live dealer video is streamed over the internet. Online blackjack live dealer games are popular. They are offered at almost every live online casino.

The great thing about live dealer games is the interactivity. Players can chat with the dealer or other players. Conversely, players can choose to disable chat. Overall, players will like that everything is streamed live in real-time. Players can instantly see cards as the dealer turns them.

You can always find room at live blackjack online casino games. Tables rarely fill up because online games can take more players at a table. Turns are timed so games keep moving. Make sure to pay attention and don’t walk away from the computer!

Blackjack House Edge

Another reason that blackjack is so popular is that it gives players great odds. Usually, the house edge is just 1% or less. Games that use fewer decks have better player odds. Additionally, house rules where the dealer hits on a soft 17 give players better chances.

That said, a typical game has a 2-3% house edge. These odds assume that players are playing with perfect strategy.

Players can win extra cash when they get a perfect blackjack. The common payout used to be 3:2, meaning the player got $3 for every $2 wagered. Today, a more common payout on a perfect blackjack is 6:5. In this case, the player gets $6 for every $5 wagered. The 6:5 payout actually gives the player lower odds. This can increase the house edge by up to 2%.

Real Money Online Blackjack Apps

Online casinos offer mobile apps for use on smart devices. Players in the right US states can win real money when they play real blackjack online.

Online casino mobile apps give players the best playing experience. They are streamlined for mobile play. Each one has an intuitive user interface. Additionally, playing blackjack is exactly like other online casino play. In states with licensed online casinos, gamblers can play online blackjack real money games using mobile apps. Use our guide on this page to find the best blackjack app for you.

Blackjack Online Card Counting

Card counting has become a well-known blackjack term thanks to Hollywood. The practice itself is actually not illegal. However, casinos will ban any players caught using this technique.

Here’s how card counting works in theory. If a deck has proportionally more high value cards, this favors the player. If the deck is stacked with high cards, the player’s advantage can get quite high. Card counters seek to keep track of the cards already dealt. This lets them estimate which cards are left and calculate their best odds. If a count is positive, meaning more high cards in the deck, counters will increase their bets.

Counting cards is difficult. It’s also a well-known blackjack strategy. That means casinos are well aware of how it works. It can be a major red flag if a player bets $5 every hand then suddenly increases their bet to $500. Casino pit bosses are always watching for these signs.

However, in online blackjack, it’s a bit easier for players to get away with this. That said, online casinos use other methods to disrupt card counting. Most online games use only half the cards in a shoe with eight total decks. Getting a true card count playing online blackjack is extremely difficult.

Online Blackjack Casino Revenue

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games. Consequently, it also generates some of the highest revenue for casinos. This has increased even further as online blackjack real money games have become more popular.

The Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) keeps track of all this data. In Nevada casinos, the typical annual house winnings from blackjack games is around $1.1 billion. Data recorded since the year 2000 confirms that the game is consistently profitable.

However, in the last ten years there’s been a major spike in the revenue generated from baccarat in Vegas. This game is popular with high-stakes players. It has effectively put blackjack in the number 2 position in terms of revenue since 2009.

Keep in mind, this data is only from Nevada casinos. Baccarat revenue beat out blackjack revenue by more than $100 million in 2015 in Nevada casinos. However, blackjack is still a big revenue source. In 2015, it generated $1.09 billion in revenue in Nevada. For some perspective, Nevada’s revenue from craps in that year was just $383 million.

Blackjack in the United States

Have we mentioned that blackjack is popular? You will find this common table game at every US casino. However, you can’t say that about other table games like craps or roulette.

Blackjack in Florida

Florida has a growing casino scene. The state’s Native American tribes control all casino gambling. At Florida tribal casinos, you will find lots of games. The Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood is one of the state’s most popular casinos. There, players will find hundreds of table games including numerous blackjack options.

Blackjack in California

California has some strange gambling regulations. Blackjack was first allowed back in the 1980s. The game was legalized in licensed cardrooms as part of an expansion of table game offerings. However, it’s now only allowed with parimutuel wagering.

Part of California’s system requires that players wager against each other in all blackjack games. Players cannot bet against the house directly. Instead, players win a piece of the pot after winning rounds. The cardrooms make money by taking a cut of the pot.

This is how blackjack in California gets around state laws. The game is “banked” by the players, not by the house. It can also be banked by third-party corporations working with casinos or cardrooms. Some California blackjack games also have an ante required for every round.

Blackjack in Oklahoma

Oklahoma blackjack is somewhat similar to California’s version of the game. In the state’s tribal casinos, players must ante in each round. This comes out to about 50 cents from each player in each round. The Winstar World Resort in Thackerville, OK is one of the state’s biggest casinos. Players can find lots of blackjack options there.

Other US Blackjack Venues

In the USA, gambling laws are different from state to state. Some states like Nevada and New Jersey allow casino gambling. Blackjack tables are common at casinos in those states. New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania also offer legal online blackjack. Other states like Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana offer blackjack via riverboat casinos or tribal casinos. We also offer you the recommended international online casinos that are accessible in all states to play online blackjack. These are the so-called US-friendly casinos.

Online Blackjack FAQ

What is the best online casino for blackjack?

There are so many online casino websites out there today! Almost every one offers at least one version of blackjack. It’s impossible to pick just one that is the best online blackjack site. However, we have put together a great list of our best online blackjack sites. This list includes a bunch of our favorite sites from around the web. Check it out – you’re guaranteed to find a top blackjack website.

How Do I Practice Online Blackjack?

It’s actually pretty easy to practice blackjack online if you use our guide. There are a lot of blackjack sites out there which let you play blackjack online free. These are the best sites for practicing your skills. You can play a free blackjack card game without any risk or any real money involved. We have listed some of our top free blackjack sites on this page. With enough free blackjack practice, you’ll be an expert in no time.

How Do I Play Blackjack Like a Pro?

We could write a novel to answer just this one question. That’s because playing blackjack like a professional takes years of practice, training, and refined strategy. There is absolutely strategy involved in the game, and the pros know just how to work the game to their advantage. For example, what is the best move if the dealer shows a soft 17? This is the kind of thing the pros know by heart. To get started, try playing free blackjack games and practicing basic strategies.

Is Online Blackjack Safe?

Well, that depends on which online casino you’re playing at. As long as the casino site is licensed out of a reputable jurisdiction then you should be safe. The only sites we recommend are fully licensed, safe, and reputable. These sites have the best online blackjack real money games.

How Do I Win Online Blackjack?

The basics of winning blackjack card games online are the same online as they are in physical games. Your main goal is to get a card total that is as close to 21 as possible without going over. You can also win a hand by forcing the dealer to draw cards and “go bust” – AKA get a total that’s higher than 21.

Are There Any Real Money Blackjack Apps?

Yes there are! This is a convenient way to play blackjack online for real money. Most real money online casinos offer mobile gaming. Many of these sites let you play mobile games for real money right on the casino website. All you need to do is access the site from your mobile device’s web browser. However, there are plenty of online casinos with real money mobile apps too. If you prefer real money blackjack apps, there are plenty of them out there today. Use our list on this page to find the best real money blackjack app.

Where Can I Play Free Online Blackjack?

In reality, most online casino websites offer free online blackjack games that you can play without any real money. These games let you play blackjack online for fun. You can even find a free blackjack app on some sites. These are perfect for learning about the game and practicing your strategy. We have a list of sites on this page that let you play online blackjack for free.

Can I Play Real Money Blackjack Online?

Of course you can! In fact, most of the sites we recommend on this page have real money blackjack games. Just be aware that not every online casino is available in every country or region. Some sites will only accept players from specific locations. If one of our recommended sites won’t accept players from your region, then we suggest you try another one. We only recommend reputable and licensed online blackjack casino sites. You should always verify that a casino is licensed before playing there. You can typically find the license details in the casino website footer.