The most popular table game on the internet is online casino blackjack. Slot machines are the most popular gambling game overall. But some players don’t like gambling machines.
Most of those players love online casino blackjack. And you’ll find any number of internet blackjack guides on the web.
Making sense of these guides can be a trial, though.
This post aims to explain the motives behind most of these pages. It also hopes to explain what you should look for from an online casino blackjack guide.
If you’re going to play only one game at an online casino, blackjack is usually that game. This guide explains why, too.
Why Do Webmasters Post Guides to Online Casino Blackjack in the First Place?
Webmasters create and publish guides to online casino blackjack for one simple reason:
To make money.
Understanding a little bit about how the online casino economy works can help you with your decision making process, too.
Online casinos love customers because over time they lose lots of money to these casinos. The average value of an online casino gambler is at least $1000.
Casinos market their games and products to players through multiple channels. One of the most important channels, and the one I’m most concerned with in this post, is the affiliate.
An affiliate program is a marketing plan where webmasters refer customers to a company in exchange for a commission. The publishers of almost every online casino blackjack guide get a commission for referring you to these casinos.
These commissions are lucrative, too.
CPA versus Revshare
The model for these commissions vary. Most casino affiliates work on a revshare model. They get a percentage of their referred players’ losses. This can range from 10% to 45% or more, depending on the amount of volume they’re sending the casino.
This means that the average player value for an affiliate (the person publishing the online casino blackjack guide) averages between $100 and $450 per player.
CPA affiliates get paid a flat fee for each referral. These arrangements aren’t as common, but they work similar to a revshare model. The difference is that your players don’t have to lose for you to get paid. All they have to do is make a deposit.
What does this mean for the player reading an online blackjack review?
It just means that if the review is incredibly positive, you might take the recommendation with a grain of salt. In fact, many sites publish overtly salesy pages that bear little resemblance to a real review of anything.
Don’t get me wrong. Many webmasters and website publishers provide plenty of helpful information in their guides. I’m just pointing out that these aren’t exactly unbiased reviews.
Online Casino Blackjack Software Reviews
Online casinos generally don’t each use their own proprietary software. Most of them lease their software from another company–an online casino software company.
These companies are generally reliable, trustworthy, and fair. They use random number generators that mimic the odds of a real deck of cards. The casinos have no real motive to cheat; even the best blackjack games have a house edge that’s impossible to beat in the long run.
Many online casino blackjack guides organize their reviews by software. Some examples of the software packages that might power your online blackjack game include:
- RealTime Gaming
That’s far from a comprehensive list, by the way. You can literally find dozens of companies which provide blackjack games to online casinos.
The various casino software companies offer multiple versions of the game. One of the advantages of using an online blackjack guide is that they’ll usually advise you which version of the game offers the best odds for the player.
Most of the time, this information is just copied from The Wizard of Odds. In some rare instances it might be possible that the webmaster just makes up bogus information, too. But it’s easy enough to gather the correct information without having to make it up.
A Word about the House Edge in Online Blackjack
The house edge is a mathematical estimate of how much money you can expect to lose every time you bet on a hand of blackjack. If a game has a 1% house edge, the casino expects you to lose an average of $1 every time you bet $100 on a hand.
Of course, this doesn’t happen in the short term at all. On a single hand, in fact, it’s impossible to average a $1 loss on a $100 bet. It’s even impossible to do over the course of 2 or 3 bets.
The difference between the short term actual results and the long term expectation for the game is called variance.
Here’s the thing about the house edge:
Everyone wants the lowest house edge possible. But as long as there’s a house edge in place, you’ll eventually lose all your money if you keep playing.
You’ll just lose it slower if the house edge is lower.
The goal of finding a game with a lower house edge is to get more entertainment for your money.
Expected Hourly Loss in Online Blackjack
At a normal blackjack table in a casino, you can expect to see between 50 and 210 hands per hour. At an online casino, where you have no other players and no human to deal with, you can expect to see at least 210 hands per hour–maybe more.
For purposes of illustrating what the house edge does to your expected hourly loss, I’ll just assume 200 hands per hour.
To calculate how much money you’re expected to lose per hour playing online blackjack, you multiply the house edge by the number of hands per hour. You multiply that, in turn, by how much you’re betting per hand.
Here’s an example:
You’re playing at an online casino where the house edge on their blackjack game is 0.5%. You’re playing 200 hands per hour, and you’re betting $10 per hand.
That’s $2000 per hour in action, and the expected loss is $10/hour.
That 0.5% house edge, by the way, assumes that you’re using perfect basic strategy. If you deviate from basic strategy, that number could be as high as 4% or 5%.
That’s an expected loss of $80 to $100 per hour, instead.
Online Blackjack Software, Game Variations, and House Edge Differences
The house edge in blackjack varies based on the game conditions and rules that are in place. You can find calculators online which enable you to input those game conditions that spit out the house edge for the game.
For example, in some casinos, the dealer stands on a soft total of 17. In others, the dealer hits that total. The house edge goes up in casinos where the dealer hits a soft 17.
Being able to double down after splitting is another condition which changes based on the casino. Obviously, if you’re able to double down after splitting, you’re better off. (The house edge goes down in that case.)
The number of decks in play also affects the house edge.
Most reviews of online blackjack games include house edge information. This might be accurate, or it might not. I tend to trust sites like the Wizard of Odds. After all, he’s made his career and his reputation analyzing the math behind casino games.
It’s tempting to only play at the single casino with the single lowest house edge on its best blackjack game. That might not even be a bad approach for most people.
I’d argue that it’s worth trying multiple games on multiple software platforms, though. I don’t think you should judge a game by a single factor.
After all, what if the graphics suck? What if you’re confused by the player interface? What if the game runs too slow or too fast?
Also, think about the casino hosting the game. Does it have a good reputation with players elsewhere on the internet? Do they have a responsive customer service team that speaks your language fluently? Do you like the user interface and platform for the casino as a whole?
What about their bonus offers? Can blackjack players even take advantage of these?
Online Casino Signup Bonuses for Online Blackjack Players
I’ll assume you’re a complete novice when it comes to online casino bonuses. That will make explaining the subtleties of this kind of promotion easier.
When you sign up at an online casino, they usually offer a signup bonus. This is a dollar amount that’s based on a percentage of your first deposit.
Here’s an example:
Casino A offers a 100% deposit bonus on your first deposit of up to $300.
This means when you deposit $300, the casino adds $300 in bonus money to your account. You deposit $300, but you have $600 to play with.
Savvy gamblers soon realize they could make a lot of profit by taking advantage of that bonus. Casinos put safeguards into place to limit the amount of advantage gambling such players can do.
The most important of these safeguards are wagering requirements.
Wagering and Rollover Requirements
All online casinos require you to wager the amount of your deposit and the bonus a certain number of times before cashing out. This is usually expressed as a multiple, like 15X, 25X, or 35X.
Using the above example, if you have $600 in your account, you might be required to make 35X that amount in wagers before cashing out. That’s $21,000 in wagers.
Please note–that’s not how much you’re required to lose. That’s how much you’re required to bet before cashing out.
You’ll win some of those bets, and you’ll lose others.
You can calculate your expected loss on that much action by multiplying that amount by the game’s house edge.
If you’re playing blackjack with a 0.5% house edge, the expected loss on $21,000 in wagers is $105.
You do some quick math. You put $300 into your account, and you got a $300 bonus, so you start with $600. If you expect to lose $105, you should have about $495 left after completing your wagering requirements.
That’s $195 in profit.
Advantage gamblers would have a field day with that.
So what do the casinos do?
Most of them require you to wager your money only on slots to fulfill your wagering requirement. Some of them just ignore bets made on blackjack for purposes of fulfilling those rollover requirements. Others invalidate your bonus altogether.
And some of them allow wagering on blackjack, but they discount that wagering by 90%. So instead of having to wager $21,000, you have to wager $210,000 on blackjack before cashing out.
The expected loss on those wagers is $1050, which is, of course, more money than you have.
Does This Mean You Can’t Win at Online Blackjack?
Of course, this does NOT mean you can’t win at online blackjack. In the short term, variance ensures us that anything can happen.
But in the long run, no, you can’t get an edge over an online casino at blackjack. You can’t even count cards. Online blackjack games shuffle the deck after every hand.
You can always get lucky and win at a casino game. In fact, you probably have a better chance of winning at blackjack online than any other game.
What Does All This Have to Do with Online Casino Blackjack Reviews?
Everything I’ve discussed up to this point is information that should be included in any legitimate online casino blackjack review.
Any review of an online casino offering online blackjack should thoroughly cover the games available and the house edge for each of those games.
Such a review should also cover the details of the casino’s signup bonus as they relate to online blackjack. You shouldn’t have to guess what the deal is with your bonus if you’re a blackjack player.
I’d be a little skeptical of outrageous claims regarding how much money someone has won at a particular casino playing blackjack. Keep in mind that the writers and publishers of these reviews have a financial stake in whether you sign up for the casino.
Online casino blackjack reviews are like anything else on the internet. Sometimes the information is great, but sometimes it’s self-serving on the part of the publisher.
Keep in mind that the more legitimate details a review includes, the more likely it is to be trustworthy.