With a history that dates back to the 1700s, it is fair to say that the iconic game of blackjack has truly stood the test of time.
Visit any land-based casino or sign-up at an online website and you will find plenty of blackjack tables designed to suit every budget level.
The skill element is what makes blackjack so appealing as it provides casino players with a genuine belief they can consistently beat the house.
The game’s popularity has undoubtedly risen massively in recent years, with the introduction of online sites attracting a new demographic to the game.
This has created a landscape where blackjack is more accessible than it has ever been, with players able to play whenever and wherever they want.
Traditional blackjack, online blackjack and live blackjack are the three main categories of the game, and there are some subtle differences between each one.
To understand how these manifests itself we take a closer look at how to play blackjack and how each variant differs from the rest.
How to play blackjack
The beauty of blackjack is its simplicity, with players required to beat the dealer by getting as close the number 21 as possible without busting.
Wherever you play blackjack this construct is the core element of the game – effectively making it a one-on-one battle of wills between you and the dealer.
To improve your chances of winning at blackjack it is recommended to employ basic strategy. This provides players with the best mathematical way to play each starting hand.
Playing perfect basic strategy cuts the casino’s edge to just 0.5%, but it requires plenty of self-discipline to stick rigidly to the system.
The system was derived from a computer simulation that played millions of blackjack hands to work out the best way to play in every situation.
The results were condensed into basic strategy charts which players can print off to help them make the correct decisions while playing.
Some land-based casino operators forbid the use of printed cards at their tables, but there are no such restrictions in place in the online arena.
However, it makes sense to learn how basic strategy works to ensure that it becomes second nature whenever you are at the blackjack table.
Basic strategy revolves around asking yourself several questions playing each hand. These are summarised as follows:
- Can I/should I surrender? – Available on your starting hand. If you decide to surrender, half of your bet is forfeited to the house.
- Can I/should I split? – If you are dealt two cards of the same value you can split. Basic strategy will tell you the optimum situations to do this.
- Can I/should I double? – Doubling down is the opportunity to increase your initial bet by up to 100 percent. Again, this should only be used in selected situations.
- Should I hit or stand? – This is the final decision you must make which involves taking another card or sticking with the hand you have been dealt.
In addition to employing basic strategy to help with your decisions, there are several other tips you can adopt that will improve your gameplay.
These include setting an affordable bankroll, playing tables that fit your bankroll, choosing tables that allow you to double down and where the dealer stands on soft 17.
Where to play blackjack
As we mentioned earlier there are the three main ways you can play blackjack – in a traditional casino, at an online site or in a live online casino.
In each case the game is played the same way, although there are a few differences that set each one apart from the others.
Before the creation of the internet the easiest way to play blackjack was by visiting a brick-and-mortar casino venue.
Most major cities have at least one land-based casino, while destinations such as Las Vegas have dozens to choose from.
There are several different variants of blackjack available, although the majority of land-based casinos tend to focus on the classic version of the game.
This is generally played with up to eight decks of cards, which can make card counting techniques difficult unless you have a photographic memory.
Each blackjack table is run by a dealer who stands opposite the player(s). He/she deals one card face up to each player in rotation clockwise, and one card face up to themselves.
Another round of cards is then dealt face up to each player, but the dealer takes the second card face down. The player then bets based on their hand and the action unfolds from there.
Online casinos offer digital versions of blackjack which can be played on desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone devices.
Unlike their land-based counterparts, online casinos often have a much wider range of blackjack games as they are not hindered by floor space limitations. Moreover, you can check the best no wagering casino Canada, where you can play without any annoying playthrough demands.
In addition to the classic version of the game, online sites are much more likely to feature other entertaining blackjack variants such as European or Vegas Strip.
While the aim of the game is the same, each hand is dealt by a random number generator rather than a human dealer.
It is still feasible to implement basic strategy in this scenario, but it effectively means that card counting becomes a redundant technique.
Many players believe that playing online removes the skill element from blackjack – a factor that operators have sought to address by offering live casino games.
Live casino games replicate the experience of visiting a traditional casino venue but in a digital environment.
Operators use modern video streaming technology to film live games that are staged in a studio they have set up specifically for this purpose.
This brings the skill element back into play as each game mimics the gameplay experience you can enjoy in a brick-and-mortar casino.
The action is filmed in real-time by high-quality video cameras and streamed directly to the player’s chosen device.
Chatroom facilities allow the player to converse the dealer, thus giving the same the same level of interaction as in a land-based venue.
Many operators now generate more revenue from live casinos than digital online variants, highlighting just how popular they have become.