Blackjack is believed to have first been played in the casinos of 18th-century France. It was then called “vingt-et-un,” which is the French word for “twenty-one.” Even though there were several differences in terms of gameplay and the rules, the game was very similar to the modern version.
Blackjack first appeared in North America in the 1800s, and after the legalisation of gambling in the US state of Nevada in 1931, the game saw a huge increase in popularity. Today, blackjack is among the most popular card games played at land-based casinos worldwide and at online casinos.
At online casinos, live dealer blackjack attracts many players and inspires intense gameplay. With its fast, straightforward gameplay and outstanding reputation, it is one of the easiest games to learn in a live casino setting. However, being a game that is easy to learn does not mean that it is a game you can master easily. In fact, you need to have a mastery of a broad range of blackjack strategies to become expert at playing the game.
This guide will focus on the fundamentals of live dealer blackjack and walk you through the rules, the types of bets you can make and the odds, so when you log in to play the game, you’ll be aware of exactly what you should do.
The format of live dealer blackjack tries to remain as close as possible to the experience you would have at a land-based casino. When you join a live dealer blackjack session, you’ll be “seated’ facing the dealer, who sits at the back of the blackjack betting table. From that point, the game proceeds in the usual manner, as the dealer draws two cards from a physical shoe (the box from which the dealer draws the cards) and places them face-up in front of your bet. The dealer also draws two cards, placing one card face down and one card face up. You will also see the cards of the other players in the game, which adds to the feeling of community of live blackjack. There is an allotted amount of time between each round during which you can decide how much you want to wager and then place your bet. When that time is up, you will no longer be able to place any bets, and the dealer will begin drawing cards.
How does live dealer blackjack work?
In most cases, one of the studios established by a dedicated live dealer supplier will stream live dealer blackjack. Several companies, such as Playtech, Global Gaming Labs, Microgaming, Evolution Gaming and Visionary iGaming, host live dealer games from their own studios.
Those companies market their services to online casinos that sign contracts to become licensees of the live dealer games. The online casinos can decide whether to use the more generic blackjack tables or contract for a more specialised service that provides additional branding on the blackjack tables, or provides dealers who are more suited for specific geographical regions or countries.
Basic rules of live dealer blackjack
Contrary to what most people think, the object of blackjack is not to hit the number 21. Even though that is the best score obtainable in the game and is almost certain to guarantee that you win, if you try to reach 21 for every round you play, your winnings will be very meagre. Your real objective is to win the round by beating the dealer’s card total – that’s all there is to it!
Blackjack rules are quite straightforward, but you must gain a thorough understanding of them before you begin playing the game. The aim of live dealer blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand by getting a hand that has a higher value than theirs without going over 21.
When you’re learning how to play blackjack, it’s extremely important that you know the value of every card in the deck. Cards with the numbers from two to ten have their face value, while jacks, queens, and kings are valued at ten. In live dealer blackjack, the suits have no meaning in the gameplay.
Aces are wildcards, and they can have a value of either one or 11, whichever gives you the best chance of winning. If you value an ace at 11, you have what is known as a hard hand. If you value an ace at one, you have what is known as a soft hand. During the course of a round, a hard hand may become a soft hand, depending on the cards that are subsequently dealt to you.
At the beginning of the game, the dealer will deal you two cards and place them face up. The dealer will also deal two cards to himself but will only place one of them face up. Depending on your hand’s value and the value of the dealer’s hand, you must decide whether you wish to “stand” and not receive any additional cards or wish to “hit” and receive another card.
If you have been dealt a natural blackjack (a ten-value card and an ace), standing is the ideal option. Hitting is one of the main playing options in live dealer blackjack. What you are doing is requesting the dealer to deal you an additional card to increase the value of your hand. You can hit as many times as you desire, but you must avoid going over a total of 21.
You can also choose to double down, which will double your bet and also result in the dealer dealing you an extra card. If you’ve been dealt a terrible hand, you can choose to surrender and forfeit half of the amount you wagered. If you’ve been dealt a pair of cards, you can decide to split the pair. Each hand will be dealt another card, and you must make an additional bet for your second hand.
The dealer will then reveal his hand, and whoever’s hand has a value closest to 21 wins the round.
If the value of your cards is 21 exactly, you’ll win a blackjack no matter which cards the dealer has, and you will receive a payout of about 3:2.
If the value of your hand is greater than 21, you’ll go bust and lose your bet.
If your cards’ value is greater than the value of the dealer’s hand and is lower than 21, you’ll get an even-money payout of 1:1.
If the value of your cards and the dealer’s cards are the same, you’ll get your wager back.
Basic strategies for live dealer blackjack
By knowing when to stand, hit split or double down, you can improve your odds of winning at blackjack and lower the house advantage to only 0.5% from the 5% that the house usually enjoys. In fact, you always have a slight advantage over the dealer, as you have the option to hit, stand, split, or double down, which the dealer does not always have. Also, you have the option to stand on hands with a value of 12 to 16, while the dealer must hit on hands with those values, thereby increasing the odds that the dealer will go bust.
The commonest live dealer blackjack strategies
Blackjack strategies often revolve around the underlying logic of playing the game. There are mathematically correct options for playing every hand, and they provide you with a dependable set of rules that you should apply when you play each game.
Here’s a look at some rules that you can use to improve your odds over the duration of a blackjack game. To start, here is how you should play a hard hand.
- If your hand is valued at eight or less, your best option is to hit.
- If your hand is valued from13 to 16, your best option is to hit unless the dealer has a two through to six showing.
- If your hand is valued from17 to 21, your best option is to stand.
Now, here is the best way for you to play a soft hand.
- If your hand is valued from13 to 15, you should hit.
- If your hand is valued at 16 or 17, you should hit unless the dealer has a two to six showing, in which case you should double down.
- If your hand is valued at 18, your actions should be determined by the dealer’s card. If the dealer has a two to six showing, you should double down. If the dealer has a seven or eight showing, you should stand. If the dealer has a nine, ten or ace showing, you should hit.
- If your hand is valued from 19 to 21, you should stand.
Ultimately, it is crucial for you to understand basic mathematical blackjack strategies if you want to be successful at playing live dealer blackjack.
Doubling down is a terrific way to make a fast profit when playing live dealer blackjack, but it is a move that involves taking a risk. Doubling down refers to the strategy of choosing to be dealt only one additional card and doubling your initial bet after you have been dealt your first two cards.
The basic principle of this blackjack strategy is that you should double down when you have an ace and a low-value card when the dealer has a five or six showing. Not only do you have a lot of cards in the deck that can help you increase the value of your hand, but the dealer is also already showing a poor hand. That combination makes doubling down an outstanding option.
Strategically, you should also double down if your hand has a value of ten or 11. Doubling down in this situation gives you a strong probability of hitting a high-value card that will give you a high-value hand and an excellent chance of winning the game. On the other hand, it’s probably not a good idea to double down if the value of your hand is over 11, as the odds of going bust increase significantly in those situations.
Winning at live dealer blackjack often depends on your ability to master the strategy of pair splitting. Splitting a pair can turn a losing hand into a winning one and provide you with a dependable strategy to minimise your losses over the duration of a game.
If your initial two cards are a pair, you have the option to split them and create two new hands with separate bets for each one. It’s a very essential blackjack strategy for you to understand, so here is a quick explanation of the strategy’s main points.
First, you should also split a pair of aces. When you do this, you could end up with two strong hands, which reduces the advantage of the house over the duration of the round.
Splitting a pair of eights is also a strong move. Playing the pair of eights together gives your hand a value of 16, which is a relatively weak hand. However, choosing to hit is also a poor option, as doing so would give you a relatively high chance of going bust. If you choose to split your pair of eights, you avoid playing one of the worst hands in blackjack and give yourself a second chance to play a strong hand and end up winning the round.
You should never split a pair of face cards or a pair of tens. If you are dealt these types of cards, your hand already has a value of 20, which gives you a very strong probability of winning the round. Splitting the pair could turn your winning hand into a losing one, which is the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish when you split a pair.
You should never split a pair of low-value cards, as the only thing you will accomplish is to replicate a poor hand. Always remember the importance of splitting your pairs correctly, as this is the best strategy for reducing the house advantage over the duration of the game.
Some live casino lobbies will let you make an insurance bet, which you can only make when the dealer draws an ace as his upcard. When you place an insurance bet, you are betting that the dealer’s next card will be a 10-value card, resulting in a natural blackjack for the dealer.
You should never make an insurance bet when playing live dealer blackjack. While it might seem like a worthwhile bet at first glance, it is actually one of the worst bets you can make when playing in a live casino format. The bet has a payout of 2:1, but the probability of winning is only around 33% and depends on which cards are drawn for your fellow players in the round. The risk involved is certainly not worth the reward you might get by making the bet.
At first glance, surrendering might appear to be a bad choice. You lose a portion of your bet, and there is a possibility that you might have won the bet. However, the reason you would want to make that choice is because you know that the hand has only a very slight possibility of winning, especially if the dealer is showing a good card, such as a face card or an ace. It’s preferable to get half of your bet back rather than losing it all. When you first begin playing live dealer blackjack, it might not appear to be a reasonable choice, but as you gain more experience in playing the game, you will realise that the move saves you money and allows you to come back and play again some other day.
Types of live dealer blackjack games
Blackjack is a game where up to seven players can sit around a table and have the dealer give cards to each of them. However, this set-up limits the member of players who can participate at any given time. For online casinos, this is not an ideal situation, and some of them prefer many more people playing live dealer blackjack at the same time,
This situation has motivated the developers of live dealer blackjack games to develop their own variations of blackjack that permit many more people to play a game than there are seats at the table. The advances in live gaming technology have permitted online casinos to offer the opportunity for more people around the world to participate in live dealer blackjack as well as to provide a selection of more varieties of the game itself.
Here are brief descriptions of the most common varieties of live dealer blackjack you can find at online casinos.
This version is the exact same blackjack game you would play at a blackjack table at a land-based casino.
You’ll only be able to play the game if there is a vacant seat at the blackjack table. When you play this variety of live dealer blackjack, you’ll need to wait until your fellow players act before you are asked to participate. You’ll be able to make all the usual blackjack decisions, including whether to stand, hit, split or double down. Since this version has a limit on the number of people who can play at once, some online casinos only provide this version using high-stakes tables.
Shared blackjack (one-to-many)
This version of blackjack allows many people to play the hands at the same time.
Before the hands are dealt, you would be able to place your bets on one or more of the hands being played. For example, if three hands were being played, you could bet on the outcome of one, two or three of the hands. However, only the dealer can make decisions during gameplay, using the optimum strategy for playing blackjack. You would receive a payout on the winning hands and lose your bets on the others, just like with standard blackjack.
Standard/shared hybrid blackjack
This popular version of live dealer blackjack is a combination of the two games described above.
You can bet on one or more hands with this version of blackjack, just as in the shared version of the game. However, this version allows you to make decisions just like you would in the standard version of the game. You might decide to stand on a specific hand while other players decide to hit on the same hand. In that instance, the dealer will deal another card, but that card will only count for those players who decided to hit. Your decision to stand would not be affected by the additional card dealt, even if it improved the hand or caused it to go bust.
In both this game and in the shared game described above, players could be placing a wide range of bets on the same hand. For example, you could decide to wager $10 on the hand while another player decides to wager $1,000 on the same hand.
Table limits for live dealer blackjack
Each individual online casino sets the table limits for players, with some offering higher stakes than others. Since online casinos have lower overheads than brick-and-mortar casinos, most online casinos offer lower limits to play live dealer blackjack as compared with the limits offered at the land-based casinos. However, if you are interested in playing live dealer blackjack for higher stakes, you won’t be frustrated, as many of them do provide high-stakes tables.
Bonuses for live dealer blackjack
Most online casinos offer promotional bonuses, especially for new players when they first open an account. The bonuses are usually based on a percentage of the amount of your initial deposit. Most online casinos make their bonuses contingent on wagering requirements, meaning you must wager the amount of the initial deposit and the bonus a specific number of times before you can withdraw the bonus.
If you have a mathematical mind, playing live dealer blackjack is the perfect game for you. You can become an excellent player by gaining a thorough understanding of the strategy that underlies the game. Don’t miss out on playing one of the most enjoyable and most exciting games available in the live casino format.