Blackjack is an enduring component of the casino experience. It’s a game built on strategy, luck and courage, and has endeared itself to casino players of all standards throughout its long and fascinating history.
Looking to take your seat at one of thousands of online blackjack games taking place around the clock at the best UK blackjack casinos? Read our expert reviews, compare welcome bonuses, and twist your way to 21 at a top blackjack site.
Why Play Blackjack Online?
Blackjack has been the most popular card game at physical and online casinos for centuries. Its appeal is wide-ranging, with a simple central aim: to achieve a hand as close to 21 as possible without exceeding 21. It also has the highest return to player (RTP) rate of all casino games. Beyond these factors, here are some other reasons why you should consider playing at a top UK blackjack site.
Excellent Sign-Up Offers
If you’re looking to play at a blackjack casino for the first time, you’ll usually be able to claim a welcome bonus when you sign up. These are likely to arrive in the form of matched deposit bonuses and no deposit bonuses, perhaps alongside free spins bonuses which can be used on the site’s selection of slot games.
Range of Games
You’ll find a broad range of games available at the best blackjack sites, covering both random number generated (RNG) and live dealer formats. For the latter, you’ll be able to participate at real blackjack tables from the comfort of your own home, thanks to crisp livestreams. UK blackjack casinos will host all kinds of interesting variants, as well as having tables that suit players of all budgets.
Play for Free or for Real Money
When you play blackjack online, you’ll have a choice of two options: free-to-play and real money versions. Making use of free-to-play demo versions of casino games is a good idea, as it will let you get to grips with the gameplay before you commit real money to wagers. Once you’re all clued up on the rules, the format, and the betting process, you’ll be ready to start placing real money blackjack wagers.
Blackjack Overview – How to play?
When you first join a table, you will need to determine how much you want to stake on each hand. Whilst land-based casinos usually have a minimum bet of £5, online casinos allow you to bet much less. Once you have placed your bet, the game will begin.
Each player will have two face up cards dealt to them. Depending on the type of blackjack UK being played, the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier will either deal one face up card to themselves, or one face up and one face down card. We’ll cover this in more detail further down.
Once the player has had their two cards dealt, they then need to tally them up to form a total. Cards ranging from 2-10 are represented by their own value. All picture cards, which covers the Jack, Queen and King, represents 10. Finally, the Ace can be represented by either 1 or 11.
The player now needs to determine whether they want to ‘Hit’ or ‘Stick’. If the player decides to stick, then it means that they do not require any more cards, and are happy to stay on their current total. This option is usually utilised when a high-ranking score is achieved. However, it can also be used if the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier has a weak opening card, such as a 6.
Alternatively, if the player requires an additional card, they can instead choose to hit. There is no limit to the amount of times a player can hit, although if the total score of the cards goes beyond 21, then the player busts. If the player does bust, then they lose that particular game.
Once the player has completed their turn, it is then over to the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier to move. Once their two cards have been revealed, they can only do one of two things. Firstly, if the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier has a score that totals 17 or less, then they must continue to hit. When the total score amounts to 17 or more, then they must stick. Just like in the case of the player, if the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier has a total score that exceeds 21, then they also bust.
Once the hand is finished, the winner is determined by the person that has the higher score. If the player outscores the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier, then they win at odds of Even money. Moreover, if the player lands a ‘Blackjack’ hand in their opening two cards, then they get paid at 6/4. Blackjack UK is awarded when the player makes 21, via an Ace and any 10-value card.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore some of the rules in more detail.
Due to the sheer popularity of blackjack, there are now multiple variations of the rules. Each variation has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you will need to determine which rules you prefer.
In the vast majority of versions, the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier gives the player the chance to double down. This is where the player can decide to double their original bet, based on the opening two cards that at dealt. However, this is on the proviso that only one more card is dealt.
In some versions, such as American Blackjack, the play can double down on any hand combination. However, in the European variation, the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier will only permit a double down when the player’s opening hand amounts to 9, 10 or 11.
When the player gets an opening hand with cards of identical value, the player has the option to split. This splits the two individual cards so that the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier can deal two further cards, subsequently creating two separate hands. In order to do this, the player needs to match their original stake.
Certain Blackjack variations allow you to split on un-like 10-value cards. For example, in the American segment, you have the option of splitting a Jack and a King. However, in other versions, you can only split when the cards are identical (such as two Queens).
In a nutshell, the surrender option allows the player to exit the hand, based on their opening cards. Moreover, the surrender option is also useful when the Blackjack Casino Deal Croupier has a strong opening card, such as an Ace. In doing so, the player exits the hand with 50% of their stake returned. The surrender option is available in American Blackjack, but not in the European version.
There is also a variation in the amount of card decks used in blackjack UK. In effect, the lower the decks, the greater the chance that the player can calculate what cards are left. These days, it is most common for blackjack dealers to utilise either 6 or 8 decks. Whilst Single Deck Blackjack UK does exist online, it generally offers a lower payout for hitting blackjack.
How we Review Blackjack Sites
Before we point our users in the direction of any casino, we undertake a thorough reviewing process to determine whether it’s worth your notice. This process focuses on a number of key areas – here are some of the most important.
No online gambling site will ever make it onto GamblingDeals without proof that it holds a valid licence from a respected governing body, such as the UK Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority. Licenses from these regulators ensure casino best practices, protecting customers from manipulated games and potential data hackers. These licenses aren’t a guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong at your online casino, but you should certainly never place a bet at an unlicensed site.
These days, many casino players expect to receive a consistent, generous, and accessible string of player bonuses at UK sites. We’re under no illusions about this, and spend time looking not only at the frequency of bonuses, but also at their associated terms and conditions to uncover their true value.
Having a mix of the world’s best software developers represented in a site’s games library is an indication that it’s offering a good service to its members. A range of software providers means players will have access to lots of blackjack variants, including those available in both an RNG and live dealer context.
The best online blackjack sites will provide their customers with many different ways to pay, including debit cards, e-wallets, prepaid cards, bank transfers, and pay by mobile services. We like to see as many of these options as possible – not only because they offer members greater convenience, but also because newer banking technologies are better able to facilitate faster withdrawals.
Types of Blackjack Games
The general consensus is that games resembling blackjack have been played for almost 500 years. With this pedigree, it’s no wonder there are now many different variants, all with their own quirks and modifications to the rules. Here are some of the most well-known versions of the game.
American blackjack is considered one of the more player-friendly versions of the game due to its relaxed rules around betting options. Players are allowed to double down on any hand, for example, and the surrender option – where players forfeit 50% of their stake after receiving their first two cards – is also in play here. American blackjack also allows players to split their hands up to three times, and permits the splitting of any ten-value cards. These liberal betting rules are balanced by the fact American blackjack games contain either six or eight decks. Each deck added to a blackjack game increases the casino’s house edge.
European and American versions are considered opposites at blackjack sites. In the European variant, there are only two decks in play – giving it one of the highest RTP rates of all casino games – but players’ betting options are much more limited. For instance, there is no opportunity to surrender your hand in European blackjack, and players are only permitted to double down when their hand equals a total of nine, ten or eleven. Players can also only split their hands once, and any split on a ten-valued card must be of the same denomination.
Vegas Strip Blackjack
To play Vegas Strip blackjack, you’ll need to know about hard and soft 17s – a rule that refers to aces in blackjack. Since aces can be worth both one and eleven, a hand containing a one-valued ace is known as a hard hand, and a hand containing an eleven-valued ace is known as a soft one. Vegas Strip blackjack requires the dealer to always stand on a soft 17.
Beyond this, Vegas Strip blackjack games are played with four decks and include an entertaining side bet option. This involves players insuring their wager when the dealer’s upcard is an ace, which makes it possible for the dealer to obtain a natural blackjack and win the hand outright. If players successfully insure their wager in the side bet, they’ll be paid out at a rate of two to one. There’s no surrender option here, but players can split any ten-valued cards up to three times.
When Geoff Hall was left cursing his luck at a blackjack casino back in 2000, he channelled his frustration into the creation of a new variant. With Blackjack Switch, players are dealt two hands instead of one, and their first betting call is to decide whether they’d like to switch the top two cards. These two hands must have the same wager behind them, but will then play out independently and according to the rules of the casino.
Blackjack Switch contains two other unique rules. The first is that gamblers can take part in a side bet called the super match, in which players receive a payout for having a pair, three of a kind, two pairs, or four of a kind. The second is the push on 22 rule, where dealers tie with any remaining players in the round – except those who have a natural blackjack – if their hand totals 22.
Blackjack Perfect Pairs
Initially introduced to the blackjack world as an interesting side bet, Blackjack perfect pairs proved so popular that it quickly spawned a variant in its own right. Players of this game look to participate in a side bet before their cards have been dealt, rewarding those whose hands contain pairs. The payout rates, which differ according to the quality of the pair, are as follows:
- Mixed pairs – same value, different suit and colour
- Coloured pairs – same value and colour, different suit
- Perfect pairs – everything is identical
Once all side bets have been resolved, the game will play out according to the rules of the casino, so make sure you know all the peculiarities of the betting options and how many decks are in play.
How do Game Weightings Affect a Blackjack Bonus?
Blackjack online casinos might include game weightings as part of the terms and conditions of their bonuses. These refer to the contributions wagers make towards a bonus’s wagering requirements. Quite often, wagers on table games such as blackjack are weighted at different rates to wagers on slots, which tend to be weighted at 100%. By contrast, some sites may only weight wagers on blackjack games at 10% or 5%. Or, blackjack bets may not count towards wagering requirements at all.
Wagering requirements are already the most substantial obstacle to casino players looking to convert bonus funds into withdrawable winnings. So, if the game in question is weighted at anything less than 100%, fulfilling those requirements by playing this game becomes considerably more challenging.
Other Terms and Conditions
Game weightings and wagering requirements are just some of the T&Cs you’ll encounter at a UK blackjack site – here are a few more.
All bonuses are set in a race against the clock, where players must either use the bonus funds or satisfy the wagering requirements within the allotted time. This might be days, weeks or months, but if the clock strikes zero, you’ll lose any remaining bonus money.
You might find that some of the casino’s games are ineligible to play with bonus funds, in a condition known as game restrictions. Make sure there are at least a couple of your favourite titles included before committing to the bonus.
Players may find that they can only win a restricted amount with a casino bonus due to the site’s winning caps. The leniency of the cap depends on the generosity of each casino, so this is another key factor to look out for when checking the small print.
Our blackjack guide has illustrated that although the basics remain constant, there are a range of variations to the rules. Whether it’s the double down, surrender or split option, you need to make sure that you understand the implication of a change in rules. Moreover, you also need to check how many decks of cards are being used, as this will affect the house-edge.
Ultimately, the sheer choice of blackjack variations means that you can play the one that best suits your needs. Virtually every single version is now available to play online in the comfort of your own home, either in the form of software or live dealers!