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A Guide to Playing Blackjack for Real Money Online

Have you played blackjack online before?

If not, you should give it a shot. There are so many perks to playing online compared to playing live. I’ll go over these later on, but at a bare minimum, think about the money you spend traveling to the casino – the gas, airfare, hotels, food, days of work, etc. – you can save all that when you choose to play online instead.

The first step to getting started is to join a casino.

There are hundreds of casinos to choose from – some are better than others. You can take the time to find the best casinos yourself, but that can take you days, or even weeks.

A much faster option is to pick from one from our recommended casinos list below.

The rest of this page will more or less be a primer to playing blackjack online for real money. More specifically, we’ll cover:

  • Online Blackjack Casinos

    This will cover the basics of gambling online, ranging from banking to promotions to software.

  • Blackjack Software

    We go into more detail about blackjack software, including the different variants and rules you can expect to find online.

  • Blackjack Promotions

    In this section, we talk about the types of promotions casinos have for blackjack players – which are unlike those you’ll see offline – and, more importantly, how these offers work.

This page will be more useful for beginners who haven’t gambled online before, as this info will help just about anyone wanting to play online. Especially the first section. The rest of the page will cover specific stuff for online blackjack players.

Let’s get to it.

Online Blackjack Casinos

Let’s start with online blackjack casinos. Here’s what’s important for you to know.

Banking Options

Banking options vary wildly depending on what country you’re playing from and where you’re playing. For example, Americans will have fewer options than Canadians or UK players. But Americans will have more banking options at 5Dimes and BetOnline than they will at Bovada.

It just depends. Which is why it’s helpful to read reviews before you choose a casino.

With that in mind, these are the most common banking options you’ll find casinos accept:

  • Credit/Debit Cards (Visa, American Express (Amex), Discover, MasterCard)
  • Wire transfers
  • E-wallets (Neteller, PayPal, Skrill)
  • E-checks
  • Paper checks
  • Money transfers (MoneyGram, Western Union)
  • Bitcoin

Most casinos will have banking limits, too, for both deposits and cash outs. Many will also charge fees, which will either be a percentage (credit/debit cards) or flat cost.

None of this will be new to you if you’ve done any amount of shopping online. It works the same way – punch in your details, hit submit, and then you’ll have money (your ‘purchase’) in your player account.

Ensure the Casino is Licensed

A big concern about gambling online is safety and security. You don’t want to be ripped off, nor do you want to play rigged casino games.

One way to reduce the chances of this happening to you is to only play at licensed casinos.

All online casinos should be licensed. Even the offshore casinos operating illegally in the United States.

Now, I don’t recommend putting a ton of weight behind licensing and regulation – especially for casinos who don’t accept UK/Euro players – because the rules they have to follow are pretty lax. But it IS a barrier to entry, even if only a small one.

That said, if you play at a casino who has a UK / Euro license, it’ll all but guarantee you’re playing at a legit casino. Because they’ll actually face consequences if they fail to follow the rules and/or screw players over.

It’s not hard to make sure a casino is licensed – most post the details in the footer of their website, or on their about page.

You can learn more about license and jurisdictions and how all that stuff works by heading to our section on gambling laws and jurisdictions.

A Few Risks Associated with US (Offshore) Casinos

If you’re an American and cannot play at one of the legal online casinos or poker rooms in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, your only option is to play at an offshore casino. This comes with risks, primarily because these casinos are operating illegally.

They get away with it because they somehow operate outside the US’ jurisdiction. One way they do this is by using a domain extension such as .eu, .lv or .ag.

Because they’re not legal or regulated by the US, one of the biggest risks you take playing at one of these casinos is that they can screw you over and bail. You can try to lawyer up and fight them, but from what I’ve read this is often pointless for the amounts most players are ripped off for.

That’s the biggest risk.

Another risk is if the US ever does get jurisdiction over these domains, or finds another way to go after these casinos – if you have money with the casino, then chances are when the US confiscates the funds, yours will be confiscated too. We saw that happen with PokerStars and Full Tilt, and Full Tilt players had to wait a couple years to get their balances back.

Don’t let this scare you from gambling online. Just know that, if you’re from the US, you’re going to be gambling at casinos who’re offering their services illegally. Then there’s the possibility that it’s illegal to gamble (online) in your state.

And that all comes with risks.

Casino Software

We cover software in more detail below. But, like brick and mortar casinos, there’s more than one software company that provides games to online casinos. You’ll find nearly 180 active software companies listed on vegasslotsonline.com.

Software matters for a few different reasons:

  • It impacts the rules of the blackjack games you play. This also affects the payout percentage (how much is paid back to players over the lifetime of a machine).
  • It impacts the different variants you can play.
  • It impacts how you can play the games, be it by download, instant play or mobile (app).
  • It impacts how the games look.

Some casinos use one software company, while others use several. It’s helpful to know who the bigger software companies are and the types of games they offer, especially if you’re after a specific blackjack variant or side bet.

Promotions

Online casinos offer promotions. But they don’t just offer comp points like brick and mortar casinos do. They also offer deposit bonuses. These are offers where the casino matches a percentage of your deposit up to so many dollars. These aren’t entirely free – there’s a catch – but it can be a great way to add a few bucks to your bankroll if you’re up for it.

There are a few important things to know about blackjack offers that makes them different from offers for, say, slots players. We’ll cover this in more detail below.

That’s about it.

Online gambling isn’t overly complicated, though it might seem that way if you’ve never played online before.

But one of the great things about playing online is that most casinos let you create accounts and play their games for free. And while we assume most people reading a page about ‘real money blackjack’ will want to gamble for real money, it’s still good to know that you can first get your feet wet playing blackjack for free – something you can’t do in a B/M casino.

It’s especially helpful if you want to get familiar with a casino’s software first, or if you want to learn a new game or side bet – things we’ll be discussing in the next section.

Blackjack Software

Now let’s talk about software – specifically, blackjack software.

This isn’t something you have to think about or will experience in a brick and mortar casino. The casino will have whatever games they offer out there on the floor, and they pretty much all look and run the same way.

Online, though, you’ll often have different variants, rules, side bets, stakes and payouts from casino to casino.

Because of that, what I want to do now is highlight some of the most important blackjack rules and how much or little they favor the player. Then I’ll highlight which rules you should look for when choosing a game to play.

After that, I’ll cover the most common blackjack variants available online, followed by how you can play them.

Blackjack GamesImportant Blackjack Rules

Rules will vary from online casino to casino. But it’s less about the casino changing the rules – like they do in B/M casinos – and more about how each software provider sets their own rules.

Here are the rules that will affect your odds of winning most. Then after this I’ll show you the best and worst rules for blackjack players.

  • Number of Decks

    Blackjack games are played with one to eight decks. This creates a house edge ranging from .17 to .65 percent. The fewer decks used, the better.

  • Doubling after Split

    Can you double down on a new hand following a split? If not, the house edge is bumped up by .12%.

  • Surrender

    Surrendering allows you to forfeit your hand while keeping half of your bet. This boosts your edge, when allowed.

  • Soft 17

    All blackjack rules will let you know if the dealer will need to stand or hit on a soft 17 (a hand with an ace). You want games where the dealer hits soft 17s, as this lowers the house edge by .2%.

  • Resplitting

    Can you split new hands after you split your original hand? If so, this lowers the house edge.

  • Split Aces

    Can you split aces? And if you split aces, do you get only one card or as many cards as you need? The more splits you can do, the better your odds.

  • Payouts

    There are two common payouts – 3:2 and 6:5. 3:2 is the preferred payout, as 6:5 payouts increase the house edge by 1.4%. Some casinos even pay even money, which increases the house edge by 2.3%.

Those are the most common/important rules. But the following rules are what I recommend looking at first:

  • Number of Decks – Try to find games with as few decks used as possible.
  • Split Aces – Try to find a game that lets you split aces (which improves your odds by .19%).
  • Late/Early Surrender – If you can give up your hand and keep a portion of your bet, this reduces the house edge by .08 to .24%.

You want to avoid games with the following rules (whenever possible):

  • Small Blackjack Payouts – Avoid games with 6:5 payouts.
  • No Double Down After Splitting – This increases the house edge by .14%.

Keep in mind these rules are for a standard game of blackjack. There are tons of other blackjack variants you can play. The following section shares the most common variants you’ll find online.

Blackjack GamesBlackjack Variants

Most online casinos will have at least 2-3 blackjack games. But more common are casinos with 7-10 variants. Some casinos even have 20+ (usually casinos using Microgaming)!

Here are some of the more common variants you’ll come across online, as well as a few details about each one.

  • Super Fun 21

    A game where a natural blackjack always defeats a dealer’s natural 21. You can also split hands up to 4 times and a 6-card hand worth 20 is an automatic winner.

  • Caribbean 21

    In this variant an ace is worth a single point. The objective is to get a hand with one ace and two face cards, also known as a Caribbean 21.

  • Face Up 21

    Both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face up. This variant is also known as Double Exposure or Dealer’s Disclosure.

  • Blackjack Switch

    Manage two hands at the same time, with the option of swapping one card from each hand.

  • Match Play 21

    A variant where the ten point cards have been removed from the deck.

  • Live Dealer

    Blackjack games dealt by real croupiers – often in real casinos from around the world – that are streamed to online casinos in real time. These have several variants of their own, sometimes the game itself, but often times the dealer type (Playboy), gender (male/female) or ethnicity (Asian, European, etc.).

  • Spanish 21

    Another variant where the ten cards are removed. Players can also late surrender anytime; a natural 21 beats the dealer’s 21; you can surrender after doubling down; you can double down on any two cards.

  • Perfect Pairs

    A standard game of blackjack, but with a side bet bonus. Play the side bet and get paid if you get a mixed pair (a pair of different suits), colored pair (same color suits (red or black), or perfect pair (two cards of the same suit).

Those are the most common variants. But there are always outliers – a variant or side bet that only one software company offers. If you’re into trying new blackjack games, this would be another reason why it makes sense to become familiar with different software providers.

You can also read our reviews. We usually list all of a casino’s table game option and point out which of their variants are new, interesting or unique.

Blackjack GamesSoftware Compatibility

One other thing I want to cover regarding casino software is compatibility. Now, this doesn’t have much to do with blackjack specifically, but it is a byproduct of the casino and who they get their software from.

Compatibility simply boils down to what platforms you can play the casino’s games on. There are 3-4 different options depending on how you want to categorize them.

Here are your options:

  • Download

    The oldest and most common option. You’ll download the casino’s software to your computer. Downloads are usually only available for Windows operating systems.

  • Instant Play

    This is also called a browser or no download casino. The games are made using Flash or Java, and more recently HTML5, which allows you to play them from your browser – no download necessary.
    This option is available for Windows, Macs, Linux and often mobile devices. You can play from any computer, so long as you have internet access.

  • Native App

    A native app is an app made specifically for your phone. The upsides include better graphics and usability. The downside is that fewer devices – like Blackberry and Windows – are supported.

If the casino doesn’t have a native app, they’ll have a mobile website. The thing that sucks about some of these is that they won’t have nearly the number of blackjack games their download or instant play casino does. If you can, try to find a responsive and/or HTML5 casino as your chances are better at having more blackjack variants.

There’s not a better or bet software option, though I prefer instant play casinos due to the convenience.

Blackjack Promotions

Alright, let’s wrap this page up with a discussion about blackjack promotions.

Most deals for blackjack players will be the same as for everyone else. The biggest difference, though, is the terms you need to follow – or the “catch.”

I’ll get to the “catch” in just a second. But first I want to explain the types of offers online casinos make to real money blackjack players.

Here are the most common offers:

Deposit Bonus
A deposit bonus is usually a match offer where the casino will match a percentage of your deposit. For example, a 100% match up to $100 means that for every $1 you deposit, the casino will give you an additional $1 – up to $100 max – for a $200 total bankroll.

The most common type of deposit bonus is a welcome bonus, which is an offer for new players. Then there’s a reload bonus, which is a deposit bonus for existing customers.

(There are several others, but they’re basically the same thing with a different name.)

Keep in mind that the size – both the match percentage and total bonus amount – varies from one casino to the next.

Sometimes the casino will have a ‘blackjack’ or ‘table games’ match bonus. These will be for table games only. But other times – most times – they’ll have one offer for all players.

Live Dealer
This offer is specifically for live dealer players. There are all sorts of offers, including match deposit bonuses. But the offer I’ve seen most are rebates.

The general idea behind a rebate is that if you make a bet in the live dealer casino (usually your first bet), the casino will reimburse your bet if you lose up to $25. If you win your first bet, you get nothing.

Comps / VIP
Like a B/M casino, you get points for playing. The idea is that you can save these points to later exchange for cash back. Other online casinos will have multi-tier VIP programs where your points will also determine your VIP status. The higher your status, the more perks and rewards you get.

Those are the most common offers for blackjack players. And you’ll want to keep in mind that these offers don’t come free, nor do they come cheap.

All offers have a catch.

Playthrough Requirements AKA The Catch

All casino offers will have a catch. They call this a playthrough or rollover requirement.

A rollover requirement is where the casino will have you wager so much money, usually relative to your bonus and/or deposit.

Say you claimed a 100% match offer up to $100. You got the whole thing. A casino might have a 40x playthrough on the bonus ($100). This means that you’ll have to wager $4,000 BEFORE you can cash out.

Now, that default playthrough – that 40x – is for slots, keno and scratch card players. It’s for people clearing bonuses on games that favor the house. These don’t apply to blackjack players, or any other game where the house edge is low. Not usually.

I’m not 100% sure why casinos do this. I know some games are easy to manipulate so that the casino doesn’t stand a chance of making any money. But I think the other reason is because games like blackjack have such a low house edge that a little bit of good luck can screw a casino out of hundreds or thousands of dollars.

So, what some casinos do is say that their offers aren’t for blackjack players (or any low edged game). But that’s not as common as it used to be.

What other casinos do is handicap their offers so that if you play these games, you’ll have to play more to clear the same offer.

For example, the casino might say that bets made on blackjack are worth only 10% of a bet made on slots. This means you’ll need to wager 10x the regular playthrough (because 10 times 10% equals 100%). Using our example above, that means you’ll need to wager the bonus 400x, or $40,000.

Yes, you read that right. You’d have to wager $40,000 to clear a $100 bonus.

Some blackjack games are handicapped worse than that. Single deck blackjack games, for example, are often handicapped to 2-5%.

This applies to comp/VIP point programs, too. You’ll either spend the same amount of money, but earn less points, or have to spend more to earn the same number of points (as slots players), and/or your exchange rate will be higher than points earned from higher house edged games.

At the end of the day, blackjack players will have to spend more to get the same perks as slots/keno players.

Why Point This Out?

Well, one of the perks to gambling for real money online are the offers. Brick and mortar casinos don’t offer deposit bonuses or extensive VIP programs.

This might even be one of the reasons that drew you in to playing blackjack online.

The problem is that these offers are hardly worthwhile for blackjack players. You have to clear these terms BEFORE you can cash out, or else there are consequences. You either don’t get to keep your winnings or bonus money, or something else negative.

And we want to make sure you’re well aware of both the good AND bad to playing blackjack online before you jump in with both feet.

Last thing – not all casino’s bonus terms are this bad. Some are a bit better. But I’ve found that they’re almost always handicapped to the point to where you’re spending LOTS of money for a small return.

Tip!:

We cover each casino’s exact terms for their blackjack games, and give you our opinions of whether they’re worthwhile or not, in our casino reviews.

For that reason, I think it makes far more sense to skip the bonus and maybe play for comp points, but only if you plan on sticking with a specific casino for the long run.

Conclusion

Playing online blackjack for real money is the way to go. It trumps B/M casino blackjack for several reasons including:

  • You don’t have to spend money or time traveling.
  • You can skip the crowds.
  • You can skip the heat (especially Las Vegas).
  • You can play for smaller stakes online. You can play online blackjack for as little as $1.
  • There are more stakes, variants, side bets, etc. within reach. You can switch online casinos with only a couple clicks of your mouse.
  • There are bonuses and other perks not available offline – assuming you’re willing to complete the rollover requirements.
  • You can play blackjack for free online. This is a great way to learn the rules, try new variants, test strategies, casinos, and more.

It’s not terribly hard to get started, either. Choose a casino (using our recommendations or by reading our reviews) and get signed up. Then log in and start playing.

It’s really that easy to play blackjack online for real money.