Blackjack is the most recognised casino game in the world and certainly the most popular. Whether you play it online or live – it is always a favourite with New Zealand players. Never played blackjack before? No worries - this ultimate guide will bring you up to speed on all the rules and the various blackjack games available to play.
Here's a surprise for you – not only can you play blackjack with a live dealer, it is also available on a slot machine. Who knew? You can also play directly on your mobile. We all know about the strategies required to play classic table games, but what about blackjack? Yes, you can learn how to strategise blackjack games. CasinoGuide can take you on a journey of discovery in blackjack strategies. You'll be a fan of online blackjack before you know it.
Casinos with the Best Online Blackjack
Get to know Blackjack Online
The origins of Blackjack are still unclear to this day, but many believe the game is a modified version of the French game Chemin de Fer, a baccarat variant that became blackjack when it made its way to America. You may have heard it called 21, which is a name that pretty much explains the game. To win the game, the cards a player holds must add up to a total of 21, or as close to 21 as possible.
Blackjack is a game you play against the house. You compete against the dealer to see who comes closest to 21. If you go over 21, you lose your hand and your bet. Here's the catch; a player can decide how they play their hand, while the dealer must follow strict rules and cannot strategise which cards they turn over. This ability for the player to strategise has resulted in the development of many different expressions in the game. Blackjack never gets boring.
Blackjack Slot Machines
With the introduction of online casinos, online blackjack quickly became popular. The classic casino game became accessible to everyone from the comfort of their own homes. Now, even beginners can play blackjack without going to a land-based casino, and the advanced technology of online casino makes it easier than ever to learn and play at your own pace.
Blackjack is easy to find at online casinos. If it isn't under its own label of "Blackjack", look under the "Table Games" category. After selecting which type of blackjack you want to have a go at, do the following:
- At the bottom of the game table, there are different values; choose one to bet.
- Then click on "Distribute." This deals the cards out.
- The cards will be dealt face-up, and you then choose to take cards or stay (do nothing).
- If you come closest to 21 or get blackjack, you will win over the virtual dealer.
Some tables also have sounds and a voice that tells what is happening. For example, you can hear comments such as "The player wins."
Live blackjack is similar to virtual/slot machine blackjack. The difference is that you have a live dealer at the table who handles the live-streamed game at an actual blackjack table in a genuine studio. Almost all casino operators run these real-time games today, giving the players an authentic gaming experience. You will find them under the Live Casino section. Blackjack is available at every casino, making it one of the classic table games to get you going. The gameplay is the same as the blackjack pokie, but live games are much more exciting.
Blackjack uses standard card decks, also called French card decks. Each deck consists of 52 cards with Jokers discarded. Different numbers of decks are used, depending on which Blackjack table you choose to play. You can play Single Deck Blackjack right up to the maximum gameplay, which uses eight complete decks of cards.
Basic Rules of Blackjack
Remember, the blackjack winner holds the highest card value or exact value of 21 in hand at the end of the game. You play against the dealer, and it is one of the simplest classic card games to play. It's easy to learn, but the question is; is it easy to become good at it? Well, becoming a skilled blackjack player takes time.
Beat the dealer in Blackjack by:
- Getting a higher value on your cards than the dealer has, without exceeding 21.
- The dealer gets a value that exceeds 21 and "busts".
- You get 21 on your first two cards, and the dealer gets a lower value in hand.
Why did you lose your hand?
- Your hand exceeded the value of 21.
- The dealer's hand had better value than your hand in the final round of play.
Remember, the hands of other players do not affect your hand? You only play against the house/croupier in blackjack and not against other players at the same table. It is simply the dealer you are competing against when you play a game of blackjack online.
What does a Blackjack table look like?
Whether you play at a land-based casino or online, the tables look like the picture below.
The design of a blackjack table is in the shape of a semicircle or crescent. The players sit around the semicircle and can look straight at the dealer. The dealer sits in the middle and can view round the semicircle. On the table, there is always a "Shoe". The Shoe holds the decks of cards face down, and the croupier deals the cards from there by pulling one card out at a time and placing it on the table face up.
You can also see a similar design on online slots for blackjack. At the rounded side of the table where the players are sitting, you will see betting circles. This is where you, as a player, place your bet. It is the same in the online versions. On desktop, you place a bet by dragging your bet to the betting circle where you are “seated” and when playing on mobile, you simply click on your betting circle to place your bet.
Keep track of the value of the cards
You need to be careful about quickly calculating the value of your hand. There's not too much adding to do, and it's pretty simple. The card values are:
- Ace is worth either 1 point or 11 points.
- Jack, Queen, and King are all worth 10 points each.
- Other cards 2-9 are worth what the card shows (e.g. 5 clubs = 5 points)
What do we mean the Ace can be 1 or 11 points? Well, that depends on the hand you have.
- If you have a hand with high value, for example, 2 Queens and an Ace, you count the Ace as 1 and have 21 - blackjack. If you count the Ace as 10, you would have 32 and be bust.
- If you have a hand with 4 of Hearts, 6 of Spades and an Ace, you count the Ace as 11, and you have won by getting blackjack with 21 in value.
- If you have a hand with 3 of Diamonds, 2 of Hearts and an Ace, you may choose to call the Ace as 1 and get another deal if the croupier's hand is a high value. Now we're getting strategic…
Get started and play blackjack!
So far, we have covered the table layout, the value of each playing card and how you can win against the dealer. Guess what? You are ready to start playing online Blackjack.
Don't worry. We are not just going to drop you in the deep end. By following our step-by-step guide below, you will learn how to play classic Blackjack. Keep in mind that each casino can set its own playing rules, so make sure you check them before starting. The real bonus is that most casinos offer online Blackjack games in free mode, so you can familiarise yourself with the game and practice for as long as you like.
1. Select the amount you want to play for
When you open the game, you will see chips (tokens) at the bottom of the table, each with a different color and value. These are the bets you can choose to play. You must always choose a bet before the cards are dealt on the table. Keep in mind that colors and values can vary depending on which Blackjack table you are playing. When you play at New Zealand casinos, a value of 5 means that you are betting with $5, unless otherwise stated.
2. The cards are dealt by the dealer
Now it's time to start the game by handing out the cards. The dealer issues an open (face up) card to each player and a hidden card to themself. This is followed by another open card dealt to each player, and in online games, the dealer also receives an open card. So, now you can see two cards in front of you and every other player. There are two cards in front of the dealer, but only one is visible or open.
Now the game begins. It is crucial to look at your card's value and decide your game play. If your cards add up to a fairly low value, you might consider taking another card. We'll tell you more about this later in the article. In a real casino, hand signs are used to show the dealer what you want. A slight wave of your hand indicates that you are stopping there. Of course, this is much easier online. Below the table, you will see three icons you can choose from:
- Take card (green text) – You will receive one more open card
- Stay (red text) – You receive no more cards
- Double (blue text) – You will receive two more open cards
Click on the option that suits your two cards and their combined value.
Now it's time for the dealer, who, according to the rules, must draw new cards until the value of his hand is at least 17. If the dealer busts, you have won your hand if it is below 21. If you had selected one or two more cards and busted, you lose to the dealer.
Once you have played the card you selected and either won or lost against the dealer, you can play a new round. You will note that the text on the buttons has changed slightly:
- Bet again
- Bet on and share
- Bet 2x and split – here you double your bet.
What happens if you get the same value on the hand as the dealer? Simple – no one wins, but you get your stake back.
Let's go back one step and look at your game options
We will now go into a little more detail on the playing strategies in Blackjack. We have explained the fundamentals and how to play basic Blackjack above. In addition to taking a new card or stopping and holding your hand, there are more options available to you when playing Blackjack.
When you play, you can also choose additional options such as splitting, doubling, and taking out insurance. Now you're thinking, "whoah, it's starting to get complicated". Don't panic - it's pretty straightforward. We'll go through each step and explain the options you can choose to make Blackjack an exciting game full of strategy.
If you have played Blackjack before, you may have seen the option to split. Splitting is when you create two playing hands from one. Simply put, a split means that you place the two cards you have in your hand into two different hands. You can only choose a split when you get a pair on the hand, i.e. two cards of the same value. For example, it could be a five of spades and five of hearts worth ten or two aces. If you choose split, the cards are split into two different hands. You can now choose a new card for each new hand you have. Now the same applies as before. You get as close to 21 as possible without busting. You are playing the two hands entirely independently of each other.
You are dealt two Queens. You know the total value is 20. You would hold here and hope the dealer goes bust or draws a total card value of less than 20
Split – You now have two hands, each with a value of 10.
On some Blackjack tables, you have the opportunity to split more than once on the same hand. A common rule for splitting two aces is that you can only draw one new card per hand. This rule can vary depending on the casino and the table.
At some point, you will play a game where the dealer’s first card (the open card) is an Ace. We know that the dealer could get Blackjack with another Ace, a dressed card or a 10, meaning you lose. When faced with this situation, you can insure your bet by buying insurance.
The insurance fee can vary but is usually half of your bet. If you have insured your hand and the dealer gets Blackjack, you lose your original bet (since you lost your hand), but you win on the insurance, which pays 2 to 1. In other words, you have effectively broken even. If the dealer does not get Blackjack, the money you put down for insurance goes to the dealer because it is a side bet that you lost
Sound complicated? Here’s an example
Your bet is $10, and the dealer draws an ace. You insure your hand for half your bet – $
Outcome 1: The dealer does not get Blackjack – you lose your $5 insurance money, and your original bet of $10 remains on your hand as the game continues
Outcome 2: The dealer does get Blackjack – you lose your original bet of $10, but when your insurance side bet of $5 is paid out at 2 to 1, you get $10, effectively breaking even.
Tip: Statistically and generally, it is a bad idea to insure your cards. However, advanced card counters successfully use insurance in their strategy, as they have better control of the probability of the dealer getting Blackjack.
Double or Double down
Another play option that spices up the game is when you decide to double. You can only choose to double once your cards are dealt. At this point, you can play as usual by taking a new card or choose to double. When you double, you are doubling the amount of the bet you have placed on the table. Once you call to double, you can only receive one more card from the dealer. If you feel that you have good chance of winning with the cards in your hand, it is time to try doubles. You can double any starting hand at some casinos, while other sites only allow you to double at 9, 10, or 11 points.
Betting tips: if you have a hard hand*, it is wise to double if the value of your cards is ten or eleven. When it comes to doubles, you will also come across the phrase ” doubling for less”. Doubling for less means you can increase the bet by a lower amount than your original bet.
* Definition of soft and hard hands used at most live Blackjack tables.
- A hard hand does not contain an ace, or it contains an ace counted as a value of one.
- A soft hand contains an ace that counts for its highest value 11.
- If you split a soft hand but decide on another card – your hand often changes to a hard hand. The ace is counted after the new card as value one.
The English term Surrender is not very common, but it can appear in some Blackjack games. Sometimes you can get a bad hand that has no chance of winning. If the Surrender function is available, you simply fold up and put your hand down. If you choose to surrender, you only lose half your bet. Surrender can only be activated once you have received your first two cards and requested a new one or to double. If the dealer has Blackjack on hand with two cards, you cannot choose surrender. Remember to check the rules at each table before playing to see if this option is available.
More about the dealer's options
We have focused on your opportunities as a player at the table above. Now let's take a closer to the dealer's alternatives when playing. The dealer does not have the same opportunities as you at the Blackjack table. When it's time for the dealer to play his last card, he must, according to the rules, hold if the hand has a value of 17 or higher. On the other hand, if the dealer has a value of 16 or less, he must take more cards. The dealer can only continue taking one card at a time from the deck. Drawing a card from the deck is called a Hit. The dealer cannot choose to split, double, or give up his hand. The playing strategy rests entirely with you. You have an advantage over the dealer because you have more play options available. The dealer at the table has to play their cards according to the above rules, which are often written on the Blackjack table.
Special Situations that may arise in Blackjack
We have covered the standard gaming rules at all Blackjack tables. Whether you are playing online, live, or in an actual casino, there are other scenarios you may encounter. Let's familiarise you with some of these different terms and gameplays.
Say you have Blackjack on hand and the dealer's visible card is an ace. In these cases, the dealer (live Blackjack) can ask if you want Even Money. If you accept Even Money, you get 1 to 1 paid out on your game round before the dealer checks his hand for a potential Blackjack. You could say that Even Money works much like insurance. However, according to experts, only players who count the cards ( card counter ) have what it takes to take advantage of this side bet.
The dealer's hand may also contain Blackjack without allowing you to take out insurance or Even Money. This situation can arise if the dealer's first hand has a value of ten. The dealer then checks his holding card before you have the opportunity to play your hand. If the holding card is an ace, the dealer has Blackjack, and the winnings go to the house unless a player also has Blackjack on hand. When the dealer and a player have Blackjack, it is called a tie or 'push'. No money is lost or paid.
What are side bets and dead hands?
Let's start with the slightly strange expression dead hand or dead man's hand, a term you may be familiar with from poker. In Blackjack, this can occur if all players at the table have busted after playing their hands. This is often called a "dead hand," and the dealer then shows his holding card to the camera (live casino). The dealer has won and collects the cards (done automatically online), ending the round.
On regular Blackjack tables, in most cases, only "Declaration" is offered as a Side Bet. At regular land-based casinos, there are a lot of different side bets. Of course, these can also occur when you play online; it depends on the variant of Blackjack you have chosen. Below are some examples of Side Bet you may come across.
- Bet on getting a pair on your first two cards.
- Bet that the dealer's card has the same value as your hand.
- Bet that the dealer will bust and lose.
Blackjack rules for winning
There are a couple of scenarios when it comes to how remaining hands (hands still in play) should be compared to the dealer's hand:
- The dealer's hand exceeds 21 points. All players who have one hand still on the table get paid, regardless of the value of your hand.
- The dealer's hand is not over 21 points but still in play. You will take home the winnings if your hand values above the dealer's hand.
Example: The dealer's hand has a value of 19. All hands worth 18 points or less, lose. All hands worth 20 points or more get paid. The rules for what happens to hands worth 19 points depends on the table rules. Generally, a hand that equals the dealer's is called a draw or "push", and players get their bet back.
Always remember to check the table rules. Some tables will rule that a draw only applies to hands worth 20 points, while others rule a draw as a win for the dealer.
A winning hand typically pays 1: 1, unless it is a blackjack (ace + a card worth 10 points) which pays 3: 2.
Example: You can stake $10 and win with Queen + nine. You can keep your bet and be rewarded with an additional $10.
If you win with a Blackjack you get $3 for every $2 you bet. You keep your bet and win an additional $15
Variants of regular Blackjack
Card games have always been popular in the U.S., and Blackjack is no exception, especially at land-based casinos. Professional players play strategically by counting cards to try to beat the dealer. This strategy has led to the creation of a few Blackjack variations. They have significantly more rules. Because they are more complicated, we give you a brief description, and you can investigate further as you get the hang of Blackjack.
Blackjack Switch is one of the best-known variants of Blackjack. The goal is the same as regular Blackjack; get as close to 21 as possible without going over. You play against the dealer, and whoever comes closest to 21 or gets Blackjack wins. In Switch, you play with two hands simultaneously, and here is the big difference – getting Blackjack is not allowed. Switch gives the casino a slight advantage over the player. The edge can vary between 20% and 58%. Does it sound complicated or just interesting? You can play Blackjack Switch at Betfair, but unfortunately, there are no free game options; you have to bet with money.
Super Fun 21
The blackjack table Super Fun 21 is a product of Microgaming. Sure, it looks like Blackjack, but it feels like the rules have been soaked overnight to soften them up a bit. A lot of the usual Blackjack rules are relaxed in favour of the player. Lower payout odds offset the rule advantages given to players. You only get paid even money for a win unless you draw Blackjack in diamonds or get 21 with 5 cards. These two hands pay at 2:1. As the name says, it is a fun way to play online Blackjack. If it sounds interesting, you will find the game at casinos that host the gaming giant Microgaming.
Free Bet Blackjack variants
Free Bet Blackjack is played just like regular online Blackjack. The difference is when you double or split your hand. In traditional Blackjack, you pay the fee for these options yourself. As the name suggests, the side bet is free when you split or double in Free Bet Blackjack. If you win, your payout is the same as if you had paid for the side bet.
Where’s the catch? There is a downside to this generous rule. If the dealer gets a hand of 22, all winnings disappear, even if you had a hand of 21. You should avoid playing this variant because the dealer has better odds of winning with the 22 value hand added to the rules. Evolution is behind the live online variant, so you can find the game at the casinos that offer Evolution Live, such as Dreamz.
CasinoGuide has compared different Blackjack tables
As a comparison site, we have taken a closer look at some popular online blackjack games. We have compared similarities, differences and deck numbers. Not all Blackjack sites have the same rules; which ones are complicated, simple and more enjoyable? If you want to test play without a gaming account, you will typically only find the basic variants available in Demoversion. We warmly invite you to become a casino member on one of the casinos in the toplist above so you can log in and test a game first.
Blackjack Neo from Realistic
A great table for beginners, Neo is a classic blackjack game with bets divided into five different denominations. The value starts at $1, $5, up to $500 as a starting bet. Neo is an excellent table trial play at some casinos, such as Mr Green. You start by choosing a bet and clicking on the table to place the bet. You immediately get up to three options; undo and change your bet, split cards or double the bet with 2x. Once you play your hand and either win or lose, the buttons look a little different.
- Bet on (green text)
- Bet on & Share (turquoise text)
- Bet on 2x & Share (red text)
If you want to play for the same bet, select the option in the middle: "Bet again and split". Your hand is dealt directly, and you can decide how to play the hand. For this Blackjack variant, 4 decks of cards is used, each with 52 cards. The dealer must take another card as long as the total of their cards is 16 in value or lower and must stay at 17 or a higher value. Payout blackjack pays 3 to 2. Additionally, the dealer gets to take a sneak peek at their holding card (also called American style). On this live game, you do not have the opportunity to give up (surrender). You will find complete rules and conditions by clicking on the gear and rules icon when playing this game.
European Blackjack from Play'n Go
Here we have another variant that comes from the popular Play'n Go. This game of Blackjack is a common variant in Europe. With the sound feature on, you can follow the dealer's instructions and listen to announcements made by the dealer. The game has detailed graphics, appearance, and design, making for a great gaming experience. Blackjack gives 3 to 2, and if you take the insurance, you pay 2 to 1. The return to player (RTP) has a value of 99.34 %. When talking about the game's feel, this one is slightly better than the two previous variants. It looks as if the cards are dealt for real, and there is greater speed in the game.
European Blackjack plays with 6 standard cards and no wilds. If you were to get an ace and ten on a split hand, it counts as value 21 and not as Blackjack. In this game, you can also double after splitting, with the exception of aces. If the pace is a little slow for your liking, you can choose to play fast for a different tempo. You can find examples of this Blackjack table at NoAccountCasino , which also has a large selection of live Blackjack.
Blackjack Classic from NetEnt
Here we have another popular Blackjack table that is both exciting and fun to play. The game is played with 6 decks of 52 cards each, without a joker. In this game, you have the opportunity to take a new card, double, split or stay depending on your cards. Here you also get another chance to split, depending on your and the dealer's hand. The dealer must have at least 17 in value or draw new cards up to a value of 16. Should there be a draw between you and the dealer, you will get your bet back. Like the game above from Realistic, blackjack pays out at 3:2 and always beats Blackjack hands with a value of 21. What is a Blackjack? You have Blackjack if you get a card with denomination 10 or king, queen or jack and ace.
When playing a game on this NetEnt table, you choose the usual bet. Note that the value may be displayed in euros and not in dollars. Deal the cards by clicking on the card icon that flashes above your bet. Here, the icons for your options look a little different. If you want to hold on to split cards, click on the small hand in the red circle. If you want to take another card, click on the plus sign in the green circle. You can also double here by clicking on the icon that shows x2. If we are to compare these two games, they are relatively similar in terms of gameplay. However, we get the best gaming experience from NetEnt and their classic Blackjack. It is slightly nicer and better illustrated, which makes the game more realistic.
Multihand Blackjack from Play’n Go
We have also reviewed the game called Multihand. This table comes from the game manufacturer Blackjack MH, with an RTP of 99.54 %. In terms of appearance, the table looks similar to what we described above. Blackjack odds are 3:2, and you can double on any 2 cards. You can also double here when you split, except on aces. The dealer also uses 6 decks of cards here, which is relatively common at land-based casinos and online.
The unique thing about this variant is the ability to play with more hands. Select your bet and click on the table to choose up to three hands. Now you have the opportunity to win on more than one hand, but of course, you can also lose more than one hand in a round. When you play with multi hands, you will see a small arrow next to the cards requiring a decision. Play that hand and move on to the next. Give it a go – it's fun to play and easy to learn as you go. This version also works well for trial play online.
Bonus on Blackjack – How it Works
Taking advantage of and using bonuses is always nice when you become a member of a new casino. However, in many cases, the sites only offer a bonus for use on pokies. Is it possible to use these bonuses for online Blackjack? In most cases, the answer is no; you cannot use them on any table games. The fine print in the rules for a bonus campaign will often exlude the table games Blackjack and Roulette from the promotion.
Is there a special bonus for those who like Blackjack? There is an opportunity to get a bonus primarily for a Blackjack game. One casino, Leo Vegas, is a popular online casino that has created a separate bonus for live casino games. Their promotion only applies to table games and live casino games. The wagering requirement is slightly higher than normal requiring you to play on the live casino games 40 times within 60 days. Your wager is deducted 100% on both live and table games such as live Blackjack. If you would like to play Blackjack with a bonus, visit our live casino page, where you will find more detailed information. It is important to check the conditions before you start playing. Several of the major sites in New Zealand offer bonus specials for live casinos and Blackjack.
Play at exclusive Blackjack VIP tables
Blackjack is a favourite around the world. Even the famous Spanish author Cervantes was a player.
Blackjack is a sophisticated table game where there are good opportunities to win. Where can you find high-stakes Blackjack games? It is probably easiest to find Blackjack tables for high rollers in a live casino. There is always a variant here called a VIP table or similar. On these tables, we find players who are willing to bet a penny and know how to play Blackjack inside and out.
Another way to find these tables is to look at the betting limits. When you are in the gaming lobby of an online live casino, check out the minimum and maximum betting limits before sitting at a table. It will save you a bit of time when tracking which tables to play. It is also worth mentioning that there are some online Blackjack games with a high RTP. In theory, the higher the percentage, the higher your return. It is not impossible to find Blackjack tables with an RTP of over 99%. In our examples of Blackjack above, we mentioned Multihand from PlayNGo, which has an RTP of high 99.54 %.
Blackjack Online Summary
Now we have come to the end of our online Blackjack guide. The question then is whether Blackjack is a game for everyone? We answer a solid YES to that question. It is easy to adapt the game to your own skill level. Start practicing on classic tables that don't have too many cumbersome extra rules. If you play for real money, play with a low stake until you get the hang of it and your confidence increases. In this step-by-step guide, you have learned the most commonly used terms and the aim of the game. We have gone through the different cards' values and some basic strategies to start you off. People often refer to table games like Blackjack as "skills games." It takes knowledge and practice to play successfully. Sure, it's good to have a little prior knowledge, but practice is what develops skills. You don't have to be a professional to enjoy playing Blackjack. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy your playing time.
Remember, you do not compete against other players, only the dealer. We hope you beat the dealer next time at the online Blackjack tables.