When it comes to strategic online casino games, online blackjack is king of the casino table. No other game can compare to blackjack’s complex gameplay when you dig beneath the surface. Don’t let the straightforward rules fool you. Sure, a brand-new casino player can join a game and play reasonably well following gut instincts, but when you begin to research ways to earn more at the casino tables, you’ll see that there’s room for many layers of improvement. Everything from basic casino strategy to card counting has been established by the pros.

While it may seem like a lot of information to take in at the start of your casino journey, there’s no math wizardry when it comes to learning the best blackjack strategies to win real money. That’s because experts have already crunched the numbers and compiled their research into charts, making it possible for anyone to become a seasoned blackjack player.

This online casino guide is devoted to both aspiring and experienced players, although the latter may want to skip the section where we explain how to bet in blackjack games online. After explaining the basics, we’ll move on to play strategy, and then acquaint you with all the different blackjack games to give you some direction on how to practice your new skills at Bovada's online casino.

How to Play Online Blackjack: Basic Rules for Beginners

Whether you play blackjack online or in a brick-and-mortar casino, this casino game is always played against the house. Both you and your opponent are trying to build the hand with the higher score while trying not to bust by going over 21 points. Initially, you’ll both be dealt two-card hands; you get to see one of the Dealer’s cards on the casino table, which gives you an idea of what you’re up against.


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Based on your play score and the Dealer’s visible card (known as his up-card), you decide if you want to add to your play score, keep your play score as is, double your bet and get another card, and in some cases, split your hand into two hands. Some games also let your forfeit the round early and retrieve half your bet. Here are the actions that coincide with each casino move:

  • Hit: Get another card.
  • Stand: Face off with the Dealer.
  • Double: Double your bet and receive one final card.
  • Split: Take pair and separate them into two individual hands.
  • Surrender: End round prematurely and forfeit half your wager.

While all these playing tools are at your disposal for the online games, the table Dealer is restricted to the first two: hit or stand. He will continue to hit until his play score is at least 17, with some games of blackjack requiring the Dealer to also hit on soft 17s.

The Dealer standing on soft 17, which is a 17-point score that includes an 11-point Ace, is one of the many game-specific rules that you’ll consider when hunting down the best games. Other game-specific rules include: the number of times you can split a hand, the play rules for splitting Aces (usually split Aces receive just one more card and are not considered “Blackjack” if dealt a 10), and limits on doubling.

Rules that apply to all online blackjack games include:

  • Getting dealt a score of 21 right off the bat is “Blackjack” and an automatic win (unless the opponent also gets Blackjack, in which case it’s a push).
  • Exceeding 21 points is an automatic loss, called a bust.
  • Face cards are worth 10 points.
  • Aces are worth 1 or 11 points.
  • All other cards take on face value.

Online Blackjack Strategy: Basic and Advanced

Blackjack beginners may want to play a few rounds on Practice Play mode to get a feel for the game before adopting optimal strategy to win real money at Bovada. To start, you can aim for a hard 17 or higher. The minimum target should be 19 or higher when you have a soft hand (comprising an 11-point Ace).

The next step involves checking the casino Dealer’s up-card and modifying your play based on the information. If the Dealer’s up-card is a Two to Six, there’s a good chance he’s going to bust, so you should stand on a score of 13 or higher. You can stand on a 12 too if the casino Dealer has a Four, Five or Six—the highest bust cards in the game.

Knowing the ideal time to split a pair will give you an edge. Here’s some solid advice: never split Tens, and always split Aces and Eights. A pair of Eights makes one of the worst scores possible: 16. You’re better off splitting them. As for two Aces, they make a score of 12, so splitting them gives you a chance to get two scores of 21, which is quite the upgrade. When it comes to Tens, they combine for a near-perfect score of 20—something that shouldn’t be risked.

Playing a few rounds with this in mind will give you an idea of how blackjack works. Once you’re ready to level up, you can start using a strategy chart, which tells you the optimal move to make based on your score and the Dealer’s up-card. This will slow down your play in the short-term, as you consult with the chart before making moves in any of the games. But as you learn the reasoning for each one, the moves will become more intuitive.

Online Blackjack Variations Overview

Blackjack comes in several shapes and sizes, so learning how to spot beneficial rules will help you pick out the casino game with the lowest house edge. We’ve listed all six of our blackjack variations below and highlighted their most beneficial rules.

Single Deck Blackjack

Having fewer decks in a shoe makes for a lower house edge, making Single Deck Blackjack a highly sought-after version.

Double Deck Blackjack

Our double deck blackjack has the Dealer stand on soft 17—a rule that benefits the player. Having the Dealer hit on soft 17 increases the house edge by .22%.

Standard Blackjack

Our standard blackjack is played with a six-deck shoe. In this version, the player gets the benefit of the Surrender option, which is very useful when the player has a score of 15 or 16 vs. a Ten or Ace Dealer up-card.

European Blackjack

European Blackjack has a couple quirks. For one, the online Dealer doesn’t get his second card (the hole card) until you’ve completed your turn. Secondly, doubling is restricted to hard totals of 9 to 11. The best part of our European Blackjack is the online Dealer standing on soft 17.

Perfect Pairs

Perfect Pairs has the same rules as our standard blackjack, with the bonus of a Pairs side bet that pays up to 25:1 when you’re dealt a pair right off the hop.

Zappit Blackjack

The most dreaded scores can be zapped away with this unique blackjack twist.

Most Popular Online Blackjack Games

Two of our blackjack games get more action than the others: The New Blackjack and Zappit Blackjack.

The New Blackjack

The makers of The New Blackjack pulled out all the stops for this game. You can customize your experience by selecting one of three deck styles and background colours, and by choosing whether or not to label the buttons. The game itself lets you play up to three hands per round, and has learning tutorials in the settings. Mobile-optimized, The New Blackjack works just as smoothly on your smartphone as it does on a desktop.

Zappit Blackjack

To shake things up, players turn to Zappit Blackjack. This game has a rule that everyone can appreciate: you can banish the three worst scores in the game. That’s right, 15, 16, and 17, the scores that you’d surrender if the Dealer had a hot up-card, can be “zapped” and replaced with new cards. On the flip side, the Dealer busting with a 22 is considered a push.

Blackjack Betting Strategy

Bankroll management is just as important the strategy when it comes to ensuring your success at the tables. Without it, you risk making a beginner mistake by depleting your money faster than they can be replenished. To get started, decide how much to spend on a session - this is your bankroll budget. In order to figure out how much to bet per hand, take your bankroll budget and divide it by 20. For example, a $200 bankroll budget would accommodate 20 $10 bets.

The information in this guide is designed to get you started playing in all blackjack games. We have plenty more strategy pages to help fill gaps in knowledge, but it’s best to start simple. Now that you know the theory, some basic strategy, and what to look for when choosing a game, you can put in time on the felt—either for free on Blackjack Practice Play, or for as little as $1 a round on Real Play. Then it’s back to the books for more theory.