How To Play Blackjack | Best Casinos with Online Blackjack

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play blackjack (twenty-one) from scratch or just get better at it? We can't blame you. After all, it's an exciting card game based on luck and skill. Using a blackjack card strategy can cut the house edge down to as little as 0.2%.

Learning the basics of this card game is not that difficult with a bit of help and a lot of practice. We want to help.

Blackjack has several things going for it, which probably explains why it is so popular:

  • One of the lowest house edges of any casino game (typically 0.60%-0.40%)
  • Optional  side bets for more excitement
  • Common to the best blackjack casinos online
  • A strategy card can reduce the house edge
  • Available against virtual dealers online and live

Best Online Casinos with Blackjack in 2024

We've assembled our list of licensed casinos to play twenty-one online free and for real money. Our team has created a review for each, which presents our findings in different areas of the casino:

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The information presented is both objective and subjective. While we only list casinos we would consider playing at ourselves, we recommend doing some homework yourself.

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A short word on the history of blackjack

For a bit of context, blackjack ↱ is part of the same group of twenty-one banking games. Other notable members include Pontoon (a British game) and Vingt-et-Un (French for '21').

While the exact origin of this table game is not known with certainty, it is likely of Spanish ancestry. France recorded the first game in 1768, and Great Britain in the 1770s and 1780s as Vingt-Un. In the early 1800s, twenty-one (vingt-un) appeared in the United States. It would evolve into the American version at the turn of the 20th century that we see today.

How to play blackjack online

Developers such as Betsoft and Netent have designed visually stunning versions of the classic card game, typically played with 4-8 card decks of 52 cards. These card games have photo-real virtual tables, classy music and a pre-recorded blackjack dealer voiceover. Making a bet (ante) generally follows similar steps:

Step 1

1. Choose your stake (ante)

Bet (ante) sizes correspond to virtual chips, typically including the following sizes: 1-5-10-50-100-500. VIP blackjack has higher limits. Click on the chip to select it.

Step 2

2. Place your ante & side bets

Place the chip in the betting circle by clicking on the position on the table. Each click places a chip down, increasing the ante.

Side bets are available in some versions of online and live twenty-one. Two common side bets are 21+3 and Perfect Pairs, made similarly to normal bets.

Step 3

5. Press the deal button to start

Click on the 'deal' button to start the round. The blackjack dealer deals the player two faceup cards and two cards, in the European variant, to themselves: faceup and facedown (hole card). In the American version, the dealer initially deals themselves one faceup card.

Step 4

4. Evaluate your hand and make decisions

Depending on your starting cards you'll have several options available. You can take out insurance, double down, hit, stand or split. This is what makes the game interesting. You can use the basic blackjack strategy to help you with your decisions.

Step 5

5. The final stage of the game

Once the players no longer take cards the dealer draws cards. The rules for the dealer drawing can vary by table. Once the dealer stops the winner's hand is evaluated, that is if you didn't go bust before.

How to win at blackjack

Each card from 2 to 10 has a value equivalent to the face value (number) printed. All face cards, i.e., K, Q or J, have a value of 10. Finally, the Ace card can have a value of either 1 or 11, depending on the more favourable outcome.

Blackjack is a banked card game because a player competes against the house instead of other players. The game's objective is to defeat the dealer in one of three ways:

  • A hand total (sum of all cards) that's higher than the dealer's hand without going over 21.
  • A player's first two cards sum to 21 (blackjack) while the dealer's hand is less than 21.
  • A dealer's hand goes over 21 (dealer bust).

How to use a blackjack basic strategy

After the cards are dealt, examine your card hand and the dealer's faceup card. The outcome comes down to probabilities, so a blackjack basic strategy (cheat sheet) is a valuable tool for deciding what to do next.

A properly executed strategy can reduce the house edge to as low as 0.2%. Although, it can depend to some extent on the house rules. Using a blackjack probability chart, like the one below, gives you the best chance to win. It considers your hand value and the dealer's faceup card value to recommend the best option.

Blackjack strategy

Blackjack game options

Option Description
Hit Asking the dealer for another card, provided that your hand does not go over 21. A hand that goes over 21 is called a bust.
Stand When a player or dealer ends their turn with the hand they are holding.
Split When holding two cards with identical values, it may be possible to split them into two hands for the price of the ante. After splitting a pair of Aces, each hand receives one card. Hitting on split Aces is no longer possible, and an Ace and 10 hand are no longer considered a blackjack. There's no limit to the number of hits on any other split pair under 21.
Double Down The option of doubling the original bet (ante) after receiving the first two cards. A player then gets a third faceup card before the dealer reveals their hole card (European variant) or draws a second card (American variant). The dealer can then hit or choose to stand.
Insurance Bet When the dealer's faceup card is an Ace, there's a danger that the hole card is a 10, making the hand a blackjack (21). A player can take out insurance as a side bet to protect against this scenario. It pays 2:1 if the player is correct, but the player will lose the side bet if wrong. While not all players agree, the optimal strategy is to avoid placing an insurance bet.
Even Money

When the player is holding a blackjack hand, and the dealer's faceup card is an Ace, there is the risk that the dealer's hole card is a 10. If so, then the dealer is also holding a 2-pair hand totalling 21, which would result in a push.

When instinct tells a player that the dealer's first two cards are 21, they can choose to make an even money bet. An even money bet costs half the ante. If correct (push), the player collects their ante plus 1:1 (even money bet win). Of course, if incorrect, the player still collects the 3:2 payout.

Surrender When a player thinks their hand cannot beat the dealer's hand, they can give up (surrender). This option ends the game and returns half of the player's ante. The surrender option is not available in all versions of twenty-one.

The dealer's first turn only happens after the player has completed theirs. Being second is advantageous for the house because the player's hand may bust.

The dealer also decides their action based on probability. In some rules, the dealer must hit if their hand value does not total at least 17. This may or may not include a soft 17 (a total hand of 17 consists of an Ace with a value of 11). When the dealer's turn is complete, both hands are compared to determine the winner.

Autoplay function

This setting allows the game to play automatically using an optimal strategy. The player must set game limits, including loss limit, win limit and number of rounds.

Rebet | Rebet & Deal

A rebet option will place the same chips from the last round in the circle, while a rebet & deal option also commences the dealing.

Double your current bet

Before starting the game, you may have the option of doubling your last bet by clicking on a double button.

Blackjack side bets options

Two of the more popular side bet options are 21+3 and Perfect Pairs. Side bets make a regular card game more exciting by adding variety and higher potential payouts.

Side Bet Cards Involved Description of Hand Example
Perfect Pairs: Mixed Pair Player's two faceup cards Identical number/face card in different colours 5♥ 5♠
Perfect Pairs: Coloured Pair Player's two faceup cards Identical number/face card in the same colour but different suit 5♥ 5♦
Perfect Pairs: Perfect Pair Player's two faceup cards Identical number/face card in the same colour and suit Q♥ Q♥
21+3: Three of a kind (Suited) Player's two faceup cards & dealer's faceup card Three identical face cards in the same suit K♣ K♣ K♣
21+3: Straight flush Player's two faceup cards & dealer's faceup card Three consecutive cards in the same suit 2♥ 3♥ 4♥
21+3: Three of a kind (unsuited) Player's two faceup cards & dealer's faceup card Three non-face cards with the same face value but different suits 10♦ 10♥ 10♠
21+3:Straight Player's two faceup cards & dealer's faceup card Three consecutive cards in different suits 2♥ 3♣ 4♠
21+3: Flush Player's two faceup cards & dealer's faceup card Three non-consecutive cards in the same suit A♦ 3♦ 8♦

Standard blackjack payouts

Outcome Payout
Blackjack 3:2
Insurance 2:1
Win 1:1
Even Money 1:1
Push (tie) Return of Bet

Blackjack side bets payouts

Perfect Pairs Side Bets
Outcome Payout
Perfect Pair 25:1
Coloured Pair 12:1
Mixed Pair 6:1
21+3 Side Bets
Outcome Payout
Three of a kind (suited) 100:1
Straight flush 40:1
Three of a kind (unsuited) 30:1
Straight 10:1
Flush 5:1

Popular variants of Twenty-One

The game comes in variants, much like video poker, online roulette, and other table games. While some may appeal to you more than others, remember that they may not have the same rules, betting options and house edge.

For example, not all versions allow you to buy insurance or surrender. Some versions use eight card decks, while others might use one card deck. It all comes down to what you're looking for and what you can live without.


Pontoon ↱ is a 52-card version of twenty-one consisting of (numbered) pip cards and (face cards) court cards. Although the rules have changed over the years, the card values and objectives are identical to classic twenty-one. The rules between different pontoon games can differ. However, an Ace and either a court card or 10 hand is always a pontoon with a value of 21.

Blackjack Multi-Hand (MH)

Multi-Hand variants are eight card deck versions of the classic game that you can play simultaneously with more than one hand. The rules, payouts and RTPs are similar to classic twenty-one.

Single Deck Blackjack

As the name suggests, this game uses a single card deck of 52 cards, potentially making card counting possible for experienced players. However, this card game has a higher house edge, and a blackjack hand only pays 6:5.

Double Exposure Blackjack

In this variant of twenty-one, you can see both dealer's cards instead of just one, which benefits the player. However, the rules are different since a blackjack payout is only 1:1 rather than 3:2 in the standard variant. Furthermore, it is not possible to buy insurance or surrender. Also, a push in the Double Exposure ↱ variant goes to the dealer resulting in a player loss.

Live Dealer Blackjack

Live dealer twenty-one is the best way to experience prestigious live casino blackjack without stepping foot inside a brick-and-mortar casino. This live dealer game uses a genuine twenty-one table, real cards, and a real-life croupier. The action is streamed to a player's desktop, mobile or tablet in real-time.

A public chat function allows players to speak to the dealer and get an immediate reply. It too can be experienced from your local coffee shop, public transport or anywhere with a stable internet connection.

You can also find live dealer variants with side bet options, including 21+3, Perfect Pairs. Bet Behind is another side bet that allows infinite players to back a seated winner while waiting to sit in a live table room.

Some live dealer 21 variants come with a Six Card Charlie rule. Here, a player who manages to collect six cards without busting will automatically win.

Some live table games have standard limits, while VIP blackjack tables have higher limits for high rollers.

Pragmatic Play, Ezugi, and Playtech are the major live providers of twenty-one.

Live Blackjack

Blackjack FAQ

This is any software that calculates a player's optimal action based on the dealer's faceup card and the player's two faceup cards. It uses the same probability-based principle as a blackjack cheat sheet.

21+3 are optional side bets, available in some twenty-one casinos online and live casinos. 21+3 uses the dealer's faceup card and the player's first two cards to determine a winner. Although the 21+3 side bets (5 different ones) have a higher house edge, they also have higher payouts:

  • Three of a kind (suited) - 100:1
  • Straight flush - 40:1
  • Three of a kind (unsuited) - 30:1
  • Straight - 10:1
  • Flush - 5:1

Insurance is a betting option that a player with a 2-card hand of 21 can make when a dealer's faceup card is an ace. It protects a player from the risk that the dealer also has a blackjack. It pays out 2:1 but costs half your ante.

A player may have the option to double their ante after being dealt the first two cards. They then receive a third card before their turn ends and the dealer's turn starts (assuming no player bust).

Variants of 21 can have slightly different rules that impact the house edge. Generally, the game has amongst the lowest house edges of 0.60%-0.40% of all casino games. With a probability-based chart (cheat sheet), you can cut the house edge down to as low as 0.2% in some versions.

Using a basic strategy in some games can cut the house edge down to as little as 0.2%.

Some players use a card counting strategy to keep track of high and low numbers. However, a counting strategy is hard to pull off. First, most variants use multiple decks and second, discarded cards may be added back to the deck and reshuffled.

It's an online version of twenty-one that allows you to play alongside up to six other players using a live dealer, real cards and tables. The live game is broadcast in real-time from a provider's production studio.

It may come in several variants that offer side bet options or special rules. Examples include 21+3, Perfect Pairs and the Six Card Charlie rule. Additionally, some have features like bet behind, VIP high roller limits, random multipliers and faster than usual.

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