How to Play Blackjack Online in the USA

The best online blackjack casinos offer many game variants, plus the ability to play blackjack live with real dealers. This presents a challenge to new players, due to the sheer number of betting options. Luckily, this page gives a complete guide to blackjack online real money play in the USA.

Keep reading to learn online blackjack rules, a description of the various blackjack games, and tips for maximizing the games’ payouts. We’ll start with a rundown of how we review online blackjack casinos, then proceed to a step-by-step guide for how to play blackjack online.

How We Rate Blackjack Online Casinos

We recommend a few blackjack online casinos, so players should know what we consider when we rate blackjack sites. Here are the criteria:

  • Blackjack Game Selection: The number of different blackjack games offered is an important factor to consider. A good online casino should offer a variety of blackjack games, such as classic blackjack, European blackjack, Vegas Strip blackjack, and more.
  • Blackjack Betting Limits: The minimum and maximum betting limits should be suitable for both casual players and high rollers. A good online casino should have a range of betting limits to accommodate players with different budgets.
  • Software Provider: The software provider is crucial in determining the quality and fairness of the blackjack games. Some reputable software providers for online blackjack include RealTime Gaming, Rival Gaming, Betsoft, and ViG.
  • Mobile Blackjack: With the rise of mobile gaming, it’s important to check if the online casino offers several mobile blackjack options. The mobile blackjack app should have seamless gameplay, good graphics, and support several versions of Android and iPhone blackjack.
  • Licensing and Reputation: The online casino should be licensed by a reputable authority. Read reviews and player forums to learn the reputation of an online blackjack casino. Make sure it’s a safe and trustworthy place to play.
  • Blackjack Bonus Promotions: Some online casinos offer bonus promotions that apply specifically to blackjack games, such as deposit bonuses or cashback offers. Look on the promotions page either for Blackjack Bonuses or Table Game Bonuses. Also, check the FAQ for the contribution rate of blackjack to the welcome bonus.
  • Live Dealer Blackjack: Live blackjack provides a more immersive and realistic experience, combining the social interaction of land-based blackjack with the convenience of blackjack online. Players can interact with a real dealer and watch the game unfold in real time.

How to Play a Hand of Blackjack

  1. Place a Bet: Before the hand begins, you need to place your bet. You can do this by placing your chips on the table in the designated betting area.
  2. Receive Two Cards: Next, the dealer will deal two cards face-up to each player, including themselves. The objective of the game is to have a hand that’s closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand without going over.
  3. Hit or Stand: Next, players are given the option to hit or stand. Hitting means you’ll receive another card from the dealer, while standing means you’re satisfied with your current hand and don’t want any more cards.
  4. Double Down or Split: Two other options might exist. Depending on the rules of the game, you may have the option to double down or split your hand. Doubling down means you can double your initial bet and receive one additional card while splitting allows you to split your hand into two separate hands if you have a pair.
  5. Dealer’s Hand: After all players have finished taking their turns, the dealer will reveal their face-down card and continue to hit until they have a hand that’s at least 17. Players might have busted before the dealer plays, which gives blackjack its house edge.
  6. Compare Cards: Once the dealer has finished playing their hand, the hands are compared. If your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand without going over, you win. If the dealer’s hand is closer to 21 or if you go over 21, the dealer wins.
  7. Collect Winnings: If you win the hand, you’ll receive your winnings based on the payout odds for the game you’re playing.
  8. Play Another Hand: Once the hand is over, the dealer will collect the cards and deal a new hand to each player who wants to continue playing. Players can leave the table between any two hands of blackjack.

How Blackjack Basic Strategy Works

Blackjack is one of the casino games where strategy matters. Casinos offer a game with a low house edge knowing that many players won’t learn blackjack strategy. Thus, the casino gains a bigger advantage than one might think. Basic strategy is the key to achieving that low house edge.

  • What Is Basic Strategy?: Basic strategy is a set of rules that can help players make optimal decisions in blackjack. It involves memorizing or having access to a basic strategy chart that outlines the best play for each possible hand, based on the player’s total hand value and the dealer’s upcard.
  • Why Learn Basic Strategy?: The goal of basic strategy is to minimize the house edge, which is the statistical advantage the casino has over the player in any given hand. By using basic strategy, players can reduce the house edge to as low as 0.5%, depending on the specific game rules and the player’s skill level.
  • Basic Strategy Charts: Charts vary depending on the blackjack variant and the rules of the game being played, but the basic principles remain the same. For example, basic strategy may advise players to hit on a hand of 12 against a dealer’s upcard of 2 or 3, but to stand on a hand of 12 against a dealer’s upcard of 4, 5, or 6.

Blackjack Strategy Tips: Hitting, Standing, Doubling, or Splitting

One key aspect of basic strategy is understanding when to take certain actions, such as hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting pairs.

  • Hit or Stand?: For example, in most cases, it is recommended to hit on a hand of 16 when the dealer’s upcard is 7 or higher but to stand on a hand of 16 when the dealer’s upcard is 6 or lower.
  • Doubling Down: Similarly, basic strategy recommends doubling down on certain hands, such as 9 or 10, when the dealer has a weak upcard, but not doubling down on other hands, such as 12 or 13, when the dealer has a strong upcard.
  • Optimal House Edge: Overall, basic strategy is an essential tool for any serious blackjack player, as it can significantly reduce the house edge and increase the player’s chances of winning in the long run.
  • Basic Strategy Charts: By memorizing or having access to a basic strategy chart, players can make more informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes that can give the casino an even greater advantage.

Online Blackjack Variants

Online blackjack is one of the most popular casino games played by gamblers all over the world. There are various variants of online blackjack, each with its own unique rules, betting options, and strategies. Here are the most popular variants of online blackjack:

  • Pontoon: Pontoon is a variant of online blackjack that originated in the United Kingdom. In this game, players are dealt two cards face down, and they have to try and get as close to 21 as possible without going over. The dealer’s cards are also dealt face down, and the dealer wins all ties. If a player gets a total of 21 with their first two cards, it is known as “Pontoon” and pays out at 2:1.
  • Spanish 21 (Australian Pontoon): In Spanish 21, all of the 10s are removed from the deck, and the player has the option to double down on any number of cards. Players can also surrender at any point in the game, and the dealer must hit on a soft 17. This version of blackjack was mentioned in a Miguel de Cervantes novel written in the early 1500s.
  • European Blackjack: European Blackjack is a variant of blackjack that originated in Monte Carlo. It is played with two decks of cards. The dealer must stand on a soft 17, and players are not allowed to surrender. Players can double down on any two cards, but they cannot double down after splitting.
  • Vegas Strip Blackjack: In this game, the dealer must stand on a soft 17, and players are allowed to double down on any two cards. Players can also split their hands up to three times, and they can double down after splitting. Vegas Strip Blackjack uses four decks of cards.
  • Downtown Vegas Blackjack: In this game, the dealer must hit on a soft 17, and players are allowed to double down on any two cards. Players can also split their hands up to three times, and they can double down after splitting. Downtown Vegas Blackjack most often uses two decks of cards.
  • Atlantic City Blackjack: Atlantic City Blackjack requires the dealer to stand on a soft 17. Players are allowed to double down on any two cards. Players can also split their hands up to three times, and they can double down after splitting. Atlantic City Blackjack requires eight decks of cards.
  • Blackjack Switch: Blackjack Switch allows players to switch the top card from each of their hands, which can lead to better hands. The dealer must hit on a soft 17, and players are allowed to double down on any two cards. Switch is played with two hands of cards.
  • Double Exposure: In Double Exposure, both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face up. This gives the player a significant advantage, but the game has other rules in place to compensate for this, such as the dealer winning all ties.
  • Super Fun 21: In this game, the player’s blackjack always beats the dealer’s blackjack, and players can double down on any number of cards. Players can surrender at any point in the game, while the dealer must hit on a soft 17. Super Fun 21 uses one deck of cards.
  • Pirate 21: In this variant, players can win with a hand of five cards or more. Also, players can double down on any number of cards. Players also can surrender at any time, though this isn’t recommended. The dealer must hit on a soft 17. Pirate 21 is played with six decks of cards.

Popular Online Blackjack Side Bets

In blackjack, side bets are optional wagers made in addition to the main game. They often involve predicting specific outcomes or combinations of cards and have higher payouts than the main game. They also have a higher house edge than standard blackjack. Here are some of the most common side bets in blackjack:

  • Rummy: In this side bet, you wager that your first two cards and the dealer’s up-card will form a set, a run, or a flush, similar to the rules of the card game Rummy. A set is a hand where all three cards have the same rank, a run is a hand where all three cards are in consecutive order and of the same suit, and a flush is a hand where all three cards are of the same suit. The payout for this side bet varies, but it can be as high as 9:1.
  • 21+3: In this side bet, you wager that your first two cards and the dealer’s up-card will form a poker-style hand, such as a flush, straight, or three-of-a-kind. The payout for this side bet depends on the strength of your hand, with higher payouts for rarer combinations. For example, a flush pays 5:1, a straight pays 10:1, and a three-of-a-kind pays 30:1.
  • Perfect Pairs: In this side bet, you wager that your first two cards will be a pair, either of the same rank or the same color and suit. The payout for this side bet depends on the type of pair, with a perfect pair (same rank and suit) paying the highest payout of 25:1.
  • Progressive Blackjack: This is a type of side bet where players contribute to a progressive jackpot that increases over time. To win the jackpot, you usually need to be dealt a specific hand, such as four aces of the same suit. The payout for this side bet can be very high, sometimes reaching into hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

More Blackjack Strategy: Card Counting in Blackjack

Card counting is a strategy used in blackjack to determine when the player has a statistical advantage over the dealer, by keeping track of the cards that have been played and estimating the likelihood of certain cards remaining in the deck.

  • Card Counting Basics: The basic principle of card counting is assigning a point value to each card that is dealt, usually +1 for low cards (2-6) and -1 for high cards (10-Ace), with neutral cards (7-9) having a value of 0.
  • The Count: The player then keeps a running total of these point values as the cards are dealt, which is known as the count.
  • Increasing the Bet Size: When the count is positive, meaning that there are more high cards remaining in the deck, the player has an advantage and should increase their bet size.
  • Decreasing the Bet Size: Conversely, when the count is negative, meaning that there are more low cards remaining in the deck, the player has a disadvantage and should decrease their bet size.
  • Gaining an Advantage: Card counting can be a powerful tool for skilled players to increase their winnings, but it requires a great deal of concentration and practice to execute effectively.
  • Banned in Casinos: Additionally, it is important to note that while card counting is not illegal, casinos frown upon the practice and may ask players to leave if they suspect that they are counting cards.
  • No Card Counting in Online Blackjack: Card counting is not possible in online blackjack games as the deck is reshuffled after each hand. It is still possible in live blackjack games where the dealer deals from a physical deck.

How to Play Blackjack Online

  1. Log In or Sign Up: To play blackjack online, you will need to log in to your existing account or sign up for a new one. If you’re signing up for the first time, you’ll need to provide some personal details and create a username and password.
  2. Make a Deposit: To play for real money, you’ll need to make a deposit. Most online casinos accept a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, Bitcoin and other cryptos, web wallets, and bank transfers.
  3. Accept the Welcome Bonus: Most online casinos offer welcome bonuses to new players. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the bonus offer before accepting it. Alternately, sites offer Bitcoin bonuses to Bitcoin players.
  4. Choose a Blackjack Game: Most online casinos offer several versions of blackjack, including Classic Blackjack, European Blackjack, and Multi-Hand Blackjack. Choose the version that you prefer.
  5. Play for Real Money or Free: Once prompted, choose between real money blackjack and free blackjack (in practice mode). Whether you’re playing for real money or free, you’ll need to place a bet before the hand begins.
  6. Clear the Wagering Requirement: If you accepted a bonus offer, you may need to clear a wagering requirement before you can withdraw your winnings. This means that you’ll need to bet a certain amount of money before you can cash out.
  7. Cash Out Winnings: If you’re playing for real money and you win, you can cash out your winnings using the same payment method you used to make a deposit. Be sure to read the withdrawal terms and conditions before requesting a withdrawal. Wait a few hours to a few days for payment, depending on the payout option chosen.

Online Blackjack Real Money FAQ

Is online blackjack rigged?

No. It doesn’t need to be. Online casinos have a house edge. Over time, the odds are stacked in their favor. Rigged the game might give them bigger profits in the short term, but they’d be found out. Word spreads fast on the Internet, so word would spread on player forums and business would dry up overnight. It’s bad business to cheat.

No doubt, some black-hat online casinos have rigged games over the years. Some might still operate now. That’s why players should read honest online casino reviews and only sign up at blackjack casinos that have an established name and good reputation.

Where can I download a blackjack app to win real money?

Download them at real money online casinos. Sites have their own separate mobile casino apps for Android and iPhone users. Many don’t require a download anymore, because the games open in the web browser. Many mobile casinos have all of the games available in the desktop download. If not, you’ll still find over a hundred games at the best mobile casinos in the USA.

What do I need to have to play online blackjack?

All you need is a desktop computer, mobile smartphone, or tablet computer. Otherwise, you’ll need either a credit card, a debit card, a bank account, or an online wallet that lets you transfer funds electronically. The wallet can be either a web wallet like Skrill or Neteller, or it can be a crypto wallet like Ledger or Electron. On most sites, players can fund their accounts with gift cards and prepaid cards that carry the Visa and MasterCard logos, though that same player will need a credit card, bank account, or online wallet for withdrawals.