Picking The Right Online Blackjack Casino
If slot machines are the most popular casino game overall then Blackjack is without a doubt the most played casino table game. There’s not much in the online casino world that can compare with the feeling of getting a Blackjack dealt.
Unless the dealer has an ace or a ten, You have already locked in a nice payout, which is most cases is 3 to 2.
That’s one of the main reasons I have written this article – so You would be able to find an online casino offering Blackjack games with the best chances of winning, but I have also added a section in this article of some blackjack questions I have received and my answer to them.
Before going any further let me just add that all casinos listed on this page and website are completely legal and licensed by the UK Gaming Commission.
Getting The Right Selection of Games
It’s of utmost importance that You select a casino site that offers Blackjack games that have favourable drawing rules for You instead of the house. What I’m referring to is a game type that allows You to surrender, double on splits and pays for a hand of BlackJack at 3 to 2.
Below are a couple of the best blackjack casinos that offer games that I described and a bit more. That’s what I’m going to be talking about in the next few paragraphs on this page, so keep on reading if You are interested in more.
Top UK Licensed BlackJack Casinos
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Live Dealer Games
This is the latest trend of the online casino world and actually has been going for years now – playing table games with live dealers. Blackjack is perhaps the most popular one here too and offered by any casino that actually spreads these kinds of games.
The obvious advantage of playing this game type is the experience. In fact, I did so myself right before writing this article. Regular online play (RNG Blackjack) is simply nothing in comparison to how awesome it is to have a real person dealing the cards. Even more, they will usually chat with You on a variety of subjects and You’ll both have some fun.
The verdict? It’s obvious – always prefer casinos offering live dealer games against those that only have computerized ones. There’s really no reason not to. Jackpot Paradise is one such site offering live games from MicroGaming and serving UK players.
Most big internet casino software providers have at least a handful of Blackjack variations in their portfolio. Having tried most of them I can make some recommendations from players perspective.
For live dealer games, I can suggest Evolution Gaming or MicroGaming. I tend to prefer the first because of the high quality gaming experience and of course, very attractive dealers from Eastern Europe. On top of that, You also get games with fairly low house edge and rules that are favourable to You as a player.
If You prefer being able to play on the go, this will be a big deal. Luckily for You, most online casinos are now mobile compatible. Users of iOS (iPhone, iPad and some iPod devices) as well as those of You using Android can play BlackJack at pretty much any casino. Refer to the toplist above for specific recommendations.
I’m finally not referring to the house edge or anything related to payout percentages of BlackJack, but rather talking about casino withdrawals. This is a MAJOR and very important aspect that can either provide You with a great or horrible playing experience.
Rule of thumb – never play at a casino that takes more than 48 hours (usually business hours) to process Your withdrawal. This is especially true to those of You using Skrill or Neteller. There is simply no reason for the casino to hold Your money and they shouldn’t.
Blackjack FAQ Section
In our blackjack FAQ section we answer some of the most confusing questions asked by blackjack newbies and for even those that have been playing for a while, bit just can’t seem to get their head around a particular concept. We really try to dumb things down just to make them as simple as possible. Expect the answers to be clear, concise and provided with example hands just so you can picture the situation.
Here is a list of some of the questions we have answered below in our Blackjack FAQ starting with our top 10 most frequently asked, then we dabble in reader questions:
- What do people mean by the term double down?
- What is the difference between a ‘soft blackjack hand and a hard blackjack hand with Aces in the hand’?
- What is the difference between a ‘soft blackjack hand and a hard blackjack hand with Aces in the hand’?
- What is a soft 17 and why on some tables does the dealer have to hit a soft 17?
- What is a soft 21 and why does it sometimes pay even odds?
- What do people mean when they say a hard double down and soft double down?
- When is the best time to use the ‘double down’ or ‘hit’ strategy with a hard hand?
- What happens if both the player and dealer have Blackjack or an equal score?
- Why do some people say Insurance is not a good bet to take? And when is the right time to take an insurance bet?
- Why do I sometimes hear the term “A stiff hand?” on the Blackjack tables?
Look out below these questions for more queries that have come from our readers. They are questions about tournament plays and all the answers come from our experienced Blackjack teams always out there on the tables learning more.
What do people mean by the term double down?
In Blackjack you can double your bet. This is known as a ‘double’. However, some players simply use the terminology ‘double down’.
This is where you bet an amount equal to your starting bet that initiated the dealer to deal to your position, so effectively you are doubling your bet. Once you do this, the dealer will only deal 1 more card to your hand, and then it will be the dealer’s turn to act.
Doubles are a great way to stop playing a straightforward strategy of trying not to go bust. This is a bad way to play Blackjack and increases the house edge. Read more below about hard ‘double downs’ whereby you can ‘double down’ even when there is a risk of going bust.
What is the difference between a ‘soft blackjack hand and a hard blackjack hand with Aces in the hand’?
Firstly, the Ace must be involved to describe the first concept of hard blackjack hands and soft blackjack hands:
- A ‘soft hand’ is a hand with an Ace that can valued as an 11 or 1. Therefore, a soft hand still offers flexibility with the ability to hit and not allow the hand to go bust. In the example hands below, no new card ‘hit’ can make the hand go over 21 and bust.
A-2 = (3 or 13)
A-3 = (4 or 14)
A-4 = (5 or 15)
A-5 = (6 or 16)
A-6 = (7 or 17)
A-7 = (8 or 18)
A-8 = (9 or 19)
A-9 = (10 or 20)
A-2-7 = (9 or 20)
- A ‘hard hand’ contains an ace whereby the ace can only count as a 1 in order to avoid the hand from busting. This can only occur if you have already hit when you already had an Ace as one of your starting 2 cards.
A-5-7 = (13) if the Ace counted as 11, then the hand would be 23
A-9-7 = (17) if the Ace counted as 11, then the hand would be 27
In each of these scenarios, the Ace must be 1 or if it were an 11, then the hand would bust by totalling over 21.
- A hand with no Ace at all that cannot be busted by taking a hit is a soft hand. The only values that can come out with a ‘hit’ are cards valued between 1 and 11. None of which could make the hand bust over 32.
- If the hand has no Ace, but there is a risk of busting if the player ‘hits’, then this is known as hard blackjack hand
7-8 (15) – Any card above a 6 will bust this hand
3-9 (12) – Any card above a 9 will bust this hand
5-8 (13) – Any card above a 8 will bust this hand
10-2 (12) – Any card above a 9 will bust this hand
5-7– (12) Any card above a 9 will bust this hand
What is a soft 17 and why on some tables does the dealer have to hit a soft 17?
This is probably one of the easiest Blackjack to explain. A dealer can normally ‘stand’ on a soft 17, which is a starting hand of A-6 or a hand with 3 or 4 cards that contain an Ace and the total comes to 17. In this whole scenario the Ace always counts as an 11.
A-6 (7 or 17)
A-3-3 (7 or 17)
A-2-4 (7 or 17)
Depending on the table you are playing at, the dealer will be forced to hit on a soft 17 rather than forced to stand.
In any scenario when the dealer is forced to hit, the dealer cannot bust the hand as if a card valued at 5 or higher comes out, the hand would become a ‘hard hand’ as the Ace would be forced to count as a 1.
What is a soft 21 and why does it sometimes pay even odds?
Use the same principles as a soft 17. Basically a soft 21 can happen when you split tens and you are dealt an Ace. Conversely, this is when you are dealt a pair of cards with a 10 value, you decide to split the hand, and you are dealt an A making the hand a soft 21. Splits with A-10 are not counted as Blackjack 3-2 payout, and so you will be paid even odds.
A soft 21 can be a Blackjack too, only if this is the hand that was immediately dealt out to you. At this point the player wins if the dealer does not have Blackjack.
What do people mean when they say a hard double down and soft double down?
If you have already read the above scenarios regarding ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ blackjack hands, then you will be able to understand what a soft and hard hand is.
- Anytime with 2, 3 or 4 cards, and the hand cannot go bust, you can call it a ‘soft double’. Some blackjack tables still allow players to double even after they have ‘hit’. This is generally only allowed if the player still has a ‘soft hand’ (one that cannot bust). This is known as a ‘soft double’.
- A ‘hard double’ is when a player ‘doubles’ and there is a risk that the hand could go bust when the dealer delivers the final card. Most tables only allow this move with 2 cards in the hand, but I have come across tables where the dealer allows a ‘hard double’ even after you have hit, so keep your eyes peeled for any such table.
When is the best time to use the ‘double down’ or ‘hit’ strategy with a hard hand?
This is a great questions and requires some good strategy. Firstly, a good time to double with a hard hand is when the odds of winning are 50/50. This is because your double is also paid back at 50/50 odds; effectively even odds. A score of 16 is a good time to ‘double’ or ‘hit’.
- 50/50 Odds
For example, if you had a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ score of 16, the only card that can really come out and score are between 1 and 10 at this point, as an 11 Ace would be of no use. With the score 16, you need a 5 to make your hand count as a 21. 50% of the time an Ace, 2, 3, 4 or 5 would come out and not see you hand bust if you ‘hit’ or ‘doubled’.
On the other hand, 50% of the time a 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 will come out adding too many points to your 16 hand. All these cards would mean your hand would be bust.
- 60/40 Odds
You can also ‘double down’ or hit with a score of 15 ‘hard’ or ‘soft’. Only a 7, 8, 9 or 10 will make your hand go bust, so there is a 60% chance that your hand will not bust. The problem here is that if you hit an Ace, 2 or 3 on the hand you score will be 16, 17 or 18. The dealer will still have a good chance of beating you.
Optimal Strategy in both scenarios:
Hard 16: ‘Stand’ if the dealer’s up card is 2 to 6 or ‘hit’ if the dealer’s up card is a 7 to A.
Soft 16: ‘Double’ if the dealer’s up card is 2 to 6 or ‘hit’ if the dealer’s up card is a 7 to A.
Hard 15: ‘Stand’ if the dealer’s up card is 2 to 6 or ‘hit’ if the dealer’s up card is a 7 to A.
Soft 15: ‘Hit’ every time as the optimal strategy.
What happens if both the player and dealer have Blackjack or an equal score?
Usually no one wins or loses here and the players bet is pushed (returned). There are some tables around the globe that will rule a points or Blackjack tie in favour of the dealer; while, in other places ties are ruled in favour of the player; however, most of the time you will find that the game is tied and all bets are off with the player getting his/her money returned.
Why do some people say Insurance is not a good bet to take? And when is the right time to take an insurance bet?
If you do the maths, then mostly it is more unlikely for the dealer to have an Ace or 10 as their face-down card. On a typical 6 pack Blackjack game thee odds of the dealer having matched up with a 10 are 30.55% ruling 69.45% in favour of the player.
That means when you take out insurance, you will not be paid 30.55% of the time. However, this does not mean you should not wager the insurance bet.
Optimal Strategy by working out the percentages:
Simply calculate how many times the dealer has had an Ace up card and landed a Blackjack versus how many times the dealer didn’t have a Blackjack hand.
It’s basically a memory game. If you notice that when you didn’t bet insurance the dealer didn’t land Blackjack on several occasions, then it is logically time to bet the insurance.
Why do I sometimes hear the term “A stiff hand?” on the Blackjack tables?
When you this term, it is referring to a hard hand that totals 12 to 16. This is a tough hand to have because you can have trouble opting to ‘double’ as you could end up with a low hand if a low card comes out or you stand the risk of going bust if you ‘double’ or ‘hit’.
I play a lot of Blackjack tournaments, but I never seem to be able to advance by hustling my way into the top 2 thus more often than not coming 3rd instead. I’ve followed the system I have read here and other systems that have worked for pals of mine. What am I missing?
SIMON FROM NEWCASTLE, UK
There are plenty of blackjack tournament strategy books and blog posts out there today. Books are always a winner because they have earned the right to be published, and they are usually written by those that have used successful Blackjack strategies in the past.
Here are some tips:
- The best place to take bigger bet risks and double is when you are the last person to act because you get to see what everyone else is up to. This way you already know what you need to win the hand.
- Take your time at the start of the game because most other people will be hell bent on winning early and go bust in the process
- When the second half comes around, then you can judge what is needed better and start to take bigger risks, or just slow it down because other are burning themselves
- If you are ahead versus 1 other player, then bet with the player
- In cases where you are behind, go for the opposite in order to catch up
- Always look at and note the maximum bet. With small maximums, you can be more aggressive in your betting during the early stages as there is less to lose
I keep hearing people talking about variation in Blackjack. I have been using several Blackjack strategies in the past that have worked and then stopped working. A poker player friend of mine said that in poker many players understand the concept of downswings and upswings. What does this mean?
JuRGEN FROM STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
Probably one of our favourite questions that has been sent in here. Poker players try to play an optimal strategy. This is a mathematical strategy used aside from the bluffing in poker, and is a very important side to the game of poker, which incidentally can be used to explain crazy winning and losing streaks in Blackjack.
In addition, it can explain a lot of the shortfalls in the reason why Simon from Newcastle is often coming third in tournament games.
Variation can change. It is the same as flipping a coin. The percentages are there, but probability doesn’t follow. You could be in a long term game versus a friend where in the begging his tails seemed to consistently hit way more than heads. Odd since probability gives you a 50% chance of winning, but you were losing consistently. This is the downswing.
As the game goes on it seems heads is a winner all the time now. Soon variation catches up with itself and your upswing is so good you are in profit. Sometimes variation doesn’t swing so good as to put you back in profit, but eventually the longer you play, the more heads will start to catch up and possibly overtake.
Blackjack is essentially the same thing. The percentages go along the lines of variation; especially if you are a tournament player. You will eventually find that if you continue to stick to your optimal strategy, then it will pay off.
Hi there, I just wanted to say what a great site you have here and thanks for all the great information. My question relates to random number generators. Online how do the random number generators work and are they safe?
Thanks for such a well thought out question Max, and for mentioning that you like our site. We often hear people talking about fixed casino and that’s why this is a very good topic for us to help people with. We are sure this is a questions thousands of online Blackjack players have.
Random Number Generators are basically strings of code in an algorithm. A bit like with Google or Yahoo where they use algorithms to fairly give you the best search results on their search engines when you are looking for Blackjack tables.
These codes are basically unbreakable. They are so advanced and mimic real to life play so well that there is no way for anyone to hack them and see what the next card is. This is because the decks are in constant shuffle mode. Unlike in a real life card game, the next card is always going to be the next card! Whereas online, in order to keep things safe, the next card is selected by you when you click the button to ‘hit’ or ‘double’.
Basically, the decks stops shuffling when you decide to act, and the card the decks stop on is the card that comes out. This also applies for the dealer, because you stopped the pack, so whichever order the cards stop in will also decide the dealer’s next cards.
This way the system is kept entirely fair, and stops intruders, and the host for that matter, from manipulating the game. This makes them totally safe!