Online Blackjack: Learn How to Play Blackjack at the Best UK Sites

Stephen Jones

Online blackjack is a very popular game in the UK. In fact, we don’t know of a single UK online casino that doesn’t have at least one version of the classic card game. Here, we’ll explore the best online casinos for playing online blackjack games. We’ll also review all the blackjack rules, strategies and tips to beat the dealer. In short, this is your ultimate blackjack guide…

 Best-Rated Casinos with Blackjack

Is it legal to play Online Blackjack in the UK?

It’s perfectly legal to play online blackjack games in the UK. So, as long as you are over the age of 18 and can make a deposit, you’re good to go. That being said, we only recommend playing at sites licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The UKGC ensures that the best online casinos are run by the book and have good responsible gambling practices in place.

Rules and Strategy for Online Blackjack 📕

If you want to know how to win at online blackjack, you’ll need a grasp of the rules and basic blackjack strategy. Here, we will cover all of that and much more. We’ll also go over the card values, insurance bets and the pros and cons of single-deck and multi-deck blackjack games.

The objectives of Blackjack

The aim of the game is to score more than the dealer’s hand without going bust. The maximum permissible score before going bust is 21 – otherwise known as blackjack!

The 3 ways in which you can beat the Dealer

The 2 ways in which you can lose to the Dealer

The conditions for a draw or standoff in Blackjack

All bets are returned if you and the dealer have the same score or both score 21. This draw is known as a standoff. The game round is reset as if it never happened in the first place.

Blackjack Card Values

All cards in blackjack games are assigned a value. This enables both the player and the dealer to calculate the value of their hand. Here, we cover the available cards and their values:

To score a perfect or natural blackjack, then, a player or dealer must receive an Ace (valued at 11 in this instance) and either a 10, Jack, Queen or King. This gives a combined score of 21.

Blackjack Rules explained

Firstly, you are only ever playing against the dealer. Any of the other players at the table are also only playing against the dealer. Therefore, players are never competing against each other. So, you can ignore the other hands for the large part. Let’s look at each element of the game…

Place your bet

The first thing you do at the start of each round is to place your initial bet. Just note the minimum and maximum bets for each particular table. In online blackjack, these should be clearly displayed somewhere within the interface. Let’s say you place a £5 bet this time.

Your £5 is your wager for that game round only. So, if you win, you will get your initial stake back as well as whatever winnings are coming your way. But, if you lose the game round, then you have your initial bet removed from the table by the dealer. The casino keeps your bet.

The First deal

After each player has made an initial bet, the cards are dealt. This is done in a clockwise pattern, with each player receiving a face-up card. The (always last in the chain) receive a face-down card. Then a second card is dealt to everyone – these, including the dealer, are all face up.

In this way, you can calculate your score (the card values are listed above). However, you can’t tell what the dealer has at this stage. This is what makes blackjack games exciting. We’ll cover more on this, what moves you could (or should) make and the basic blackjack strategy below.

It should be noted that if you have an Ace and a 10-scoring card straight away, you (usually) win! That’s because you’ve scored 21 – blackjack! This pays out at 3:2 at most tables – i.e., 1.5x your initial bet. We say “usually” because if the dealer also scores 21, it’s a draw (see above).

Hit or Stand?

If neither you nor the dealer wins the round with the first two cards, you get to decide if your want to hit or stand. For the dealer, this is usually predetermined by the rules of the game. But for the player, it’s entirely up to you. Choosing to hit or stand depends on the cards in play.

If the dealer’s face-up card is a good one scoring 10 or even when the dealer has an ace, you might want to hit. However, it depends on what you have too. So, if your score is, say, 20, then choosing to stand is the obvious option. It’s a judgement call if your score is around 16 or 17.

Most forms of online blackjack games enable players to make five different decisions at this point. So, you can choose to hit, stand, double down, split a pair or surrender. Let’s go over each one now before moving on to the blackjack card values and the best blackjack tactics…

Classic Blackjack moves

When it comes to the dealer’s moves, they are predetermined. So, if the dealer scores 17 or more (without going bust), they will automatically stand. However, if the dealer scores 16 or fewer with their initial hand, they will automatically hit even if it’s more likely they will bust.

Another thing you might hear is surrender being called late surrender. This is technically true and shows how long a blackjack player has been around. There used to be an early surrender, too – however, this was removed from casinos decades ago due to it aiding card counters.

Online Blackjack Payouts

Players get payouts on three different outcomes. Each one depends on the player remaining in the game, of course – i.e., not going bust. So, here’s what happens when you beat the dealer:

Basic Blackjack Strategy

Let’s discuss how to win at online blackjack. First of all, temper your expectations. Don’t expect to win all the time – there’s a house edge in every round (see below). Plus, don’t just think about what cards you have been dealt. The dealer’s face-up card is very important, too.

Should I Surrender?

This is the first question to ask yourself each round. You can only surrender when you have been dealt your first two cards, never after hitting. If you cannot surrender under the game rules or you feel that you shouldn’t be surrendering with your current hand, move on…

Can I Split?

If you have a pair, you can split and play with two hands (so long as you pony up another wager equal to your first). The same is true if you have two cards with the same value, like a Jack and a King. If a split is not on or you don’t feel like splitting a pair, again, move on…

Should I Double down?

If you’re confident in your hand versus what the dealer might end up with, consider doubling down. Some blackjack games do not allow doubling down on certain hands – be sure to check this. But if it’s possible and you have a reasonably strong hand, go for it. Otherwise…

Hit or Stand?

In simple terms, you should follow what the dealer has to do – this is based on the probability of what’s likely to come up next. So, if you have a score of 16 or fewer, you should probably choose to hit, mathematically speaking. But if you have 17 or more you should probably stand.

Blackjack House Edge

When played optimally, the blackjack house edge is 0.5%. That is incredibly low! However, the house (AKA, the casino) always has the advantage of going after the player. For example, the player will always bust first – even if the dealer eventually busts too. And when that happens, the player loses their money, even though it’s technically a draw. This explains the house edge.

What is an Insurance Bet?

One last thing that we didn’t cover above. Insurance bets are built into the majority of blackjack games. So, when playing blackjack online, you’ll see an area for insurance bets in the window. The most basic form of blackjack insurance is when the dealer has an Ace…

After your first two cards have been dealt and you’ve seen the dealer’s face-up card, you’ll be offered insurance. For this, you can put down an amount equal to up to half your bet. Therefore, this side bet is not really recommended for beginners who are still learning.

Essentially, then, you get the chance to buy insurance against the dealer having a 10-value hole card. Insurance bets are, therefore, made before hitting or standing. This pays out 2:1 if the dealer does end up scoring a natural blackjack once the hole card is revealed.

Single-deck Blackjack or Multi-deck games?

When playing blackjack games in London, Las Vegas or Monte Carlo, you’re most likely to be using a shoe containing six to eight decks. That’s because counting cards is much easier if there is only one deck in play. Blackjack tournaments will also use six to eight decks.

While single-deck blackjack is increasingly hard to find in traditional casinos, it is offered online by certain game providers. And best of all, it can lower the house edge to an astonishingly low 0.15%. However, other rules are tweaked to lessen a player’s advantage.

Online Blackjack vs. Live Dealer Blackjack games

While there are plenty of blackjack variants available online, none are quite as distinct as video blackjack versus live blackjack. So, while video versions of blackjack games are more akin to computer games, live dealer blackjack games offer a real casino experience.

In live casino blackjack, you are shown all the action in exquisite detail via HD cameras. There is often more than one angle, too, zooming in on the key moments of a game round. Plus, players can interact with the dealer via live chat and hear calls over headphones or speakers.

Live casino games from the likes of Evolution and others offer near enough the same casino experience as being in Las Vegas. Plus, there are plenty of blackjack variants. For example, be sure to check out Speed Blackjack, Infinite Blackjack, Blackjack Switch and many more.

Learn blackjack strategy with GamblingAuthority's online blackjack guide

How to improve your Blackjack Strategy

While starting out, playing free blackjack games is the way to go. You won’t be able to play live blackjack in such a manner – there’s only enough room for those making wagers. But, it’s not too hard to find a video blackjack game or an app playing with zero-value or free chips.

Once you’ve found a free blackjack game, play as many rounds as you can. In this way, you can start to build your confidence and see how a variety of different situations play out. And you can refer to our guidelines above to give you a helping hand with any tricky situations.

From there, you can download a blackjack chart that shows you the optimal move each time. When played like this, the house edge drops to its lowest possible amount. Then, once you’re up to speed, you can play an online blackjack game for real money. We wish you good luck!

Can I play Blackjack Online as a beginner?

Of all the card games available at the casino, classic blackjack is one of the easiest to pick up. Learning to play online baccarat is also fairly easy but the house edge isn’t as low as blackjack. And compared to poker and other casino games, the basic blackjack strategy is a relative walk in the park.

You can follow our guidelines above to learn how to play blackjack online. We’ve also provided plenty of online blackjack tips that you can try out in an online blackjack simulator or free app. In this way, you lucky ladies and gents can get a leg up with the online blackjack game.

Also, if you’re really unsure about how to get started, simply concentrate on hit or stand. Play blackjack online for free to get your bearings and simply choose stand or hit each time. You’ll soon see how your choices affect you. You’ll go bust a few times but you’ll also win some, too.

Card counting and the Blackjack House Edge 🃏

In many ways, blackjack is one of the most famous card games because of players trying to take down the house. So much so, that blackjack is almost synonymous with card counting nowadays for many people. But, while it’s technically not cheating, it will get you kicked out.

Some form of card counting shows up in many guides. From basic strategy to elite multi-player battle plans to game blackjack at the casino. And it’s not all that difficult to understand – but implementing it in the heat of the moment takes practice. So, let’s explore the topic…

Famous Blackjack card counters, cheats and swindlers

The most famous card counters were the MIT Blackjack Team. Run mainly by Harvard student Bill Kaplan over many, many years, the team trained players to use a system to game blackjack casinos. The team then sent three players to casinos in Nevada, Atlantic City and other casinos.

One player was a spotter for keeping a running count. A second player would place small bets and waste money while verifying the spotter’s count. Then, when the deck went positive, the controller would signal the big player who would bet big and win more often than not.

The exploits of the team were captured in a book called Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich. The subtitle of the book says it all: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. The book was also used as the main story behind the 2008 movie called 21.

How does card counting work?

While counting cards seems complicated, the basic premise is easy to learn. Players do not memorise every card that goes through the shoe. Instead, they assign a value to each one and keep a running count. This is to determine when the cards in the shoe are positive or negative.

So, whenever a 2-6 appears, a player adds one to the running count. For 7-9, he does nothing – the value is zero. And when a 10-Ace appears, he takes away one. If the running count increases, the deck favours the player. When negative, it favours the house or casino.

This is all well and good with single-deck games. But with multiple decks, the running count only really starts to tell nearer the end of the shoe. Therefore, to get a true count, a player will divide the running count by the number of decks remaining. And that’s largely the gist of it!

Does card counting lower the House Edge?

Counting cards really does give professional and elite gamblers an advantage. So, even though it’s not considered illegal, casinos are not going to let the behaviour go on. That’s why players will be removed from the premises – or kicked off when card counters play blackjack online.

In fact, when card counters play blackjack in Vegas or Atlantic City, they can turn the house edge on its head. In this way, the player actually has the edge. It’s usually not much, but it’s just enough to turn the tables. That’s why blackjack is the card game for professional counters.

How do Casinos prevent players from counting cards?

Many people wonder “how do online casinos protect themselves from blackjack card counting”? Well, it all comes down to sophisticated algorithms analysing player moves over each round. Due to AI and the analysis of thousands of games, there are some clear patterns.

If something gets flagged in a traditional casino, the pitboss will come over to keep an eye. An attractive bartender may be sent over to distract the player too. Or there may be an early reshuffle that will ruin the count. If it continues, the player will be removed and banned.

Online, it’s a little more difficult to use some of the tactics above, of course. However, players will be warned if they are suspected of card counting in live dealer games. And if they continue to employ counting tactics, they will be suspended and kicked from the site.

Do Online Casinos cheat in Blackjack?

Back in the Wild West days, there were numerous rouses and scams employed by casinos. Nowadays, however, there’s no need to try to cheat the player. Without card counting, the house always has the edge. And gaming regulators are very hot on cheating casinos anyway.

We only recommend playing at blackjack sites licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. The UKGC ensures that all blackjack games are independently tested by the likes of eCOGRA. The regulator also ensures that responsible gaming is in place to protect vulnerable UK players.

Playing Blackjack at Live Dealer Casinos

As mentioned above, live dealer blackjack is both exciting and engaging. There are tables to suit all budgets too. From classic blackjack to Salon Privé and VIP tables, there’s something for everyone. And most live casino blackjack games use the same rules making it easy to pick up.

Some of the variations include additional side bets, making the action that little bit more intense. However, it should be noted that a lot of these side bets increase the casino’s advantage over the player. So, be sure to do your research about the implications here.

As far as recommended live blackjack companies go, there are almost too many to mention. But definitely check out the blackjack rosters of Evolution Gaming, Ezugi, NetEnt Live, Playtech and Authentic Gaming. In short, you’ll never be short of live blackjack options.

What Blackjack Bonuses can I get at UK Online Casinos?

While casino bonuses specifically for blackjack are few are far between, most sites will enable players to use their bonus funds on blackjack games. This includes the top welcome bonuses recommended by GamblingAuthority. However, free spins are strictly locked to slot games.

Then, there are the live casino games bonuses that can absolutely be used on live dealer blackjack titles. Just note that wagering contributions for blackjack are often much lower than those for slots. We’re talking around 5% instead of the usual 100% contribution of slots.

Playing online Blackjack on your Mobile or Tablet 📲

It’s perfectly possible and often preferable to play blackjack online via a phone or tablet. All modern casino games are built or optimised for iOS and Android touchscreen devices. Plus, tapping, dragging and other touchscreen gestures translate very well to blackjack moves.

You may be tempted to download one of the many blackjack apps on the App Store and Play Store. However, these can be poorly made and don’t often enable you to play blackjack for real money. Therefore, it’s always best to play blackjack at an online casino or via its dedicated app.

Learn the differences between blackjack and vingt-et-un

A Brief History of Blackjack and Vingt-et-un

Blackjack used to be known as either Black Jack or Vingt-et-Un (French for twenty-one). The game we now know as blackjack is thought to have come from Spain. In fact, Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes references characters cheating at veintiuna (Spanish for twenty-one).

The first recorded game of blackjack in Britain was in the 1770-80s. And rules begin appearing for a game called Vignt-Un in 1800. The game is thought to have spread from Europe to America just after that, with a reprint of the English rules appearing sometime in 1825.

A French card historian called Thierry Depaulis claims to have proved that unknown American gold prospectors renamed the Vignt-Un game to blackjack in the late 19th Century. Since then, the card game has spread around the world – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Online Blackjack – Conclusion

Online blackjack is an incredibly easy card game to pick up. But there’s plenty of depth for professional gamblers too. This makes it a casino game suited to many different players. We hope you’ve gained some valuable insights into playing the game of blackjack to a high level.

References:

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27519748

Online Blackjack FAQ

Where can I play online blackjack games in the UK?

We don't know of many online casinos that don't feature blackjack in one form or another. But those wanting to play live dealer versions of the game should check out the available titles ahead of signing up. You can find info on the games in each of our expert online casino reviews.

Can I play free blackjack games at UK online casinos?

Since the UKGC tightened up the rules on free casino games in the UK, players will need to sign up for an account before playing free games. This is to prevent those under the age of 18 from playing online blackjack. There are also many free games available in the App Store.

Can I win real money playing online blackjack?

Yes, of course. Otherwise, no one would want to play it in the first place. All you need to do is follow the links to the reputable online casinos listed on this page. This will take you to the signup page where you can open a new account, make a deposit and start playing blackjack.

Is playing online blackjack for real money legal in the UK?

So long as you're over the age of 18 and a resident of the United Kingdom, you won't have any trouble finding and playing blackjack for real money. Just be sure to only play at UKGC-licensed online casinos and to research the sites on your shortlist before signing up.

Is blackjack fun? Is online blackjack hard to learn?

Fun? We (and millions of others) certainly think so! And yes, learning how to play blackjack shouldn't take more than a few hours tops. Plus, with all the tips and tricks we've provided above, you'll be a dab hand in next to no time. Then, you can experience the game for yourself.

Do I have to make a deposit to play blackjack online?

If you want to win real money, you will no doubt have to make a deposit. However, if you just want to play the game for fun, those options exist at UK online casinos too. It's just that you might prefer to win money eventually. But at least online casinos let you play both game types.

Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones
Senior Editor
24 Articles
25 Reviews

With an education from the University of Cambridge and while working with iGaming for the last 6 years, Stephen has obtained a lot of knowledge about the industry. He usually writes about the different types of online casinos, casino bonuses and various gambling strategies.

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