Everything You Need to Know about Blackjack

With so many uk casino sites, choosing the best blackjack sites can seem a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. So, read on for the lowdown on everything you need to know about the world’s favourite casino card game, from how to play to how we pick the sites we recommend.

How We Choose the Best Blackjack Sites

On this page you’ll find our always-up-to-date ranking of the best places to play blackjack online in the UK. We put a lot of thought into what makes for a great blackjack site, and these are the criteria we decided were most important:

  • Range of blackjack games. The beauty of online casinos is the sheer range of game variations available compared to bricks-and-mortar casinos. As one of the most popular games around, blackjack has its fair share of spin-offs. Some of the most common include European Blackjack, Multi-Hand Blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack, and Pontoon. There should also be a variety of options when it comes to minimum bets, as well as live dealer blackjack for that real casino experience.
  • Multi-platform availability. It’s no good having dozens of exciting blackjack variations if they’re only available to play on the downloadable desktop. A great blackjack site will have the core games in its catalogue available on instant play and mobile casino (Android casinos and iOS casinos) too.
  • Blackjack-friendly bonus. You find a well-reviewed site with a seemingly great bonus and lots of blackjack games on offer but then you discover that blackjack only contributes 5% to the bonus wagering requirements. That means that if you need to play through the bonus amount 35 times to be able to withdraw it, any money wagered on blackjack would only contribute 5% of its true value to the wagering requirements. That effectively means you’d have to wager the bonus amount 700 times! Because of the skill element in blackjack and its reduced edge casinos will never give Blackjack the same % contribution as slots, but you shouldn’t have to settle with a 0 or 5% play-through contribution.

How to Play Online Blackjack

The first step in playing online blackjack is to learn how to play the game. Whatever variation of blackjack you choose, the blackjack guides in our Academy section will introduce you to the best practices and advanced concepts of this popular card game.

For now, let’s take a look at how a hand of blackjack plays out.

1. The bet. A hand of blackjack begins with the player placing a bet. Typically, this can range from £0.10 to as high as £1,000.

2. The hand is dealt.
 After the bet has been placed the dealer deals two cards to the player and one card to himself. All cards are dealt face up, although in some variations of the game the dealer will deal himself a second card face down. If the player has two cards that total 21 – “blackjack” – she wins automatically and the hand ends.

Blackjack Card Value

3. Next action. Once the cards are dealt, the player must decide on her next action. Her aim is to achieve hand totaling 21, or achieve a total closer to 21 than the dealer’s final hand. She has a few choices:

  • Stand: She decides to take no further cards. The dealer will then proceed to deal cards to himself.
  • Hit: She decides to take another card. There is no limit to how many cards she can take, as long as her hand doesn’t exceed 21.
  • Double down: She decides to double her bet, and take another card. She will not be permitted to take any more cards after that.
  • Split: The player has a pair in her hand, so she decides to split them into two separate hands. In order to do so she must place a bet on each of her hands. After that she continues to play each hand independently.

4. The dealer’s hand. The player stands (or goes bust by exceeding 21) and the dealer then deals himself his second hand. Depending on the total of his hand, the dealer will then perform one of the following:

  • Hit: If his hand is 16 or less, he takes another card. Depending on the version being played, the dealer must also take another card if he has a “soft 17” – a hand totaling 17 that contains an Ace.
  • Stand: If the dealer has a hand of 18 or higher, he cannot take any further cards. He must also stand if his hand contains a “hard 17” – a hand totaling 17 that does not contain an Ace.

So, who won? There are several possible results to a hand of blackjack:

  • If she was dealt two cards totaling 21 (blackjack), she wins and receives a 3-2 pay-out.
  • If she stood on a total that was closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, she gets a 1-1 payout.
  • She will also receive a 1-1 pay-out if the dealer bust and she stood on a total of less than 21.
  • The game can end in a tie, with bets returned, if both player and dealer stand on the same total.

Depending on the variation being played, there are other actions and bets possible, such as surrender or insurance. You can find out more in our in-depth blackjack guides.

Blackjack is that rare casino game that actually gives the player some power to follow a basic strategy and improve their chances of winning. See below our five easy-to-remember tips to help you gain the advantage.

5 Blackjack Tips to Get You Started

  • Always hit a soft 17. A soft 17 is an ace and a 6. If you get a 10 then you will still have 17 but you might get a 2, 3, or 4 and need just 1 more 10 card for a far stronger hand that will be more likely to beat the dealer.
  • Split aces and 8s. If you are dealt a pair of aces or a pair of 8s, be sure to split them and play two separate hands. In this case the ace is always a good card to start with since you might get a ten and win outright, or another high combination that will be hard for the dealer to beat. Also with the 8, if you get an ace or a ten you will have a very strong hand.
  • Double down when you’re dealt 11. When you are dealt 11 the chances of getting a ten and 21 or even a high card like an 8 or 9, are pretty good, which would then give you a strong or even a winning hand. So remember to always double down when you get 11.
  • Always stand on a hard 17 or above. In this case if you take another card the chances of going bust are far too great to justify the risk of improving your hand.
  • Remember to take breaks. It is always a good idea to get up from time to time and stretch and maybe have something to eat or drink. Don’t overdo it.

Further Reading

Unlike other casino games, blackjack is a game where skills count. Although fortune will have a bearing on your results, mathematical fundamentals can help you earn you a healthy profit. The following books will give you a solid grounding in blackjack strategy:

Basic Blackjack

When it comes to blackjack, Stanford Wong is perhaps the greatest authority there is. Real name John Ferguson, Wong got his Ph.D. from Stanford University and went on to lead some of the top blackjack teams in the world. In this book, Wong introduces you to the game’s mathematical fundamentals which you can use as a base for further reading. What’s also great about this book is that is outlines blackjack rule variations you may find in casinos around the world.

Blackbelt in Blackjack

Written by Arnold Snyder, this piece is the perfect introduction to card counting. Essentially an A to Z, Blackbelt in Blackjack takes you through the main concepts in a logical order. Although it doesn’t go too far into the practicalities of counting at the table, the book does outline how to count on a basic level. If you’re interested in the process and what it takes to establish and maintain a count, Snyder’s book is perfect.

Blackjack Blueprint

The final blackjack book you need comes courtesy of Rick Blaine. Covering a myriad of topics, from the basic to the complex, this work is great for those that want to develop their all-round game. As well as teaching you techniques such as shuffle tracking and team play, Blackjack Blueprint contains a chapter on tournaments. Although blackjack tournaments are often more for entertainment than profit, Blaine gives you some handy hints on how to get one up on the competition.

Where to Play Free Blackjack

Many casino sites let you play a demo blackjack, sometimes without even opening an account. By playing at the casino you plan to join you not only get to practice the basic aspects of blackjack strategy but you’ll also familiarize yourself with the particular software used, as well as the platform in general.

Real Money Online Blackjack

Got your basic strategy down? When you’re ready to put your skills to the test, playing blackjack for real money online is arguably the best place to start. It’s convenient, quick, and as realistic as playing in a land-based casino – whether you’re playing regular online blackjack, or live dealer blackjack for extra atmosphere.

With real cash prizes on the line, tables ranging from micro limits right up to high rollers to suit all budgets, and the chance to experience one of the most exciting casino games around from the comfort of your smartphone, tablet or laptop, online real money blackjack, at real money casinos, is the perfect option for your next casino session.

With so many online casinos out there, choosing the best blackjack sites can seem a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. We put every UK online casino under scrutiny in order to recommend the UK casino sites with the best range of games, most blackjack-friendly bonuses and a choice of platforms on which we to play. If we love a blackjack site, we’re confident you will too!