If you’ve ever wondered why casino Craps table games is so much livelier than a Blackjack one, even online, it’s because different table games appeal to different kinds of casino players. Thrill seekers like to play and spin the roulette wheels, and Craps games appeals to social people looking for fun while they play. Blackjack is a different beast of a game. It is a bit serious like poker, but has it's own system on how a player can win real money at any casino

Since it began to be offered in online and live casinos, Blackjack games has been attracting the attention of any new strategic player all over the world. The blackjack game is simple to play; to win, you need to build a hand with a higher score than the blackjack Dealer, without going over 21 points. While this can be played on intuition alone, learning the Blackjack basics at any casino can elevate your play and give you the best edge at the tables especially when the player goes to play for real money at these games. 

In this free comprehensive Blackjack games guide, we explain how to play for big specifically online. We go beyond the basic rules of the casino game and focus more on explaining the optimal times to play: hit, stand, double down, split and buy insurance. While you can get this information checking a free Blackjack strategy chart, learning the reasons behind these moves will help you understand the casino game at a deeper level than most recreational Blackjack players.

When to Hit

When you play 4-8 deck Blackjack, with the blackjack Dealer hitting on soft 17, you’ll be hitting approximately one third of the time. Basically, you play when you need to beef up your score in order to be the best online competitive player, so that includes hitting in the following three scenarios in your online blackjack games:

  • You have a low score.
  • You have a decent score, but the Dealer has a strong upcard.
  • You have a good score, but it includes a soft (11-point) Ace.

Low Player Score

If you’re wondering what entails a “low score” in online blackjack games, it’s a hard score of 8 and under. You should always play when your score is this low. A score of 9 is also low, but doubling down with a score of 9 is the best option in certain situations – we’ll explore this scenario in the “When to Double Down” section below. As for hitting with a score of 9, you’ll play when the blackjack Dealer has a minimum upcard of Seven, and also when his upcard is a Two. For a score of 10, you’ll play when the blackjack Dealer shows a Ten or Ace.

Strong Dealer Upcard

When the blackjack Dealer has a high card (Seven to Ace), you need to up the ante to play. That means hitting when you have a 12 to 16. If you’re able to surrender, it’s advisable in the following two scenarios:

  • You have a 15 against a Dealer’s Ten or Ace.
  • You have a 16 against a Dealer’s Nine, Ten or Ace.

Hitting on a score of 12 to 16 comes with the risk of busting, so you should surrender if the Dealer has the previously-mentioned upcards. If the version of one of the online blackjack casino games that you play doesn’t include a surrender option, hit and play instead. 

Soft Player Hands

Hands that include an 11-point Ace are considered soft hands and players can play more aggressively because you won’t bust when hitting. If you’re not able to double down, you should hit with scores of 17 and below, as well as a soft 18 when the Dealer shows a Nine, Ten or Ace. Doubling; however, is better than hitting in 14 scenarios that will be covered in our “When to Double Down” section of our free online blackjack guide.  

When to Stand

When you have a hard hand, you’re looking to stand when you have a chance to win over the blackjack Dealer. We know that the blackjack Dealer strives to reach a score of (hard) 17 and above, so you also should stand when you have a hard 17 and above (exception, if the blackjack Dealer shows an Ace, surrendering is better than standing with a 17). With a soft score, you should play higher; go for a score of 19 or better. A score of 18 is good enough if the blackjack Dealer shows a Seven or Eight.

There are also times when the online blackjack Dealer has strong odds of busting , which means you should play online more conservatively. Basically, any time the blackjack Dealer needs to take at least three cards, the odds of busting are higher, so that includes an upcard of Six and below. When you have a score of 13 and better, you can stand against one of these high Dealer bust cards. Even with a score as low as 12, it’s recommended to stand when the blackjack Dealer’s upcard is a Four, Five or Six. 

When to Double Down

Doubling down involves a fair amount of risk; you’re doubling your wager in exchange for one more card before you’re forced to stand. If that final card is a good one, you get twice the money. So what exactly is a good card to receive after you play that second money wager when you play blackjack games online?

Doubling down is best done when a 10-point card would give you a competitive play edge. Close to one third of the play deck consists of 10-point cards, so the odds are higher that you’ll receive a 10 rather than any other single card. For that reason, doubling is the best move when you have a hard 11. It’s also optimal when you have a score of 10 (unless the blackjack Dealer has a very strong upcard like a Ten or Ace). A nine is on the cusp of being a good double down candidate; it should be doubled when the blackjack Dealer is likely to bust with the following upcards: Three, Four, Five, Six.

Soft hands are another story. You’re more likely to need to play twice with a soft hand, so the double down should only be used in the following scenarios:

  • Score of 13, 14 against Dealer Five and Six.
  • Score of 15, 16 against Dealer Four, Five, Six.
  • Score of 17 against Dealer Three to Six.
  • Score of 18 against Dealer Six and below.
  • Score of 19 against Dealer Six only.

When to Split

Splitting should be done if splitting the hand into two and adding 10 points is better than the original score. The classic example is with Aces and Eights—two pairs that should always be split. We’ll go through each  game scenario that a blackjack player might see at the online casino table.

Pair of Aces

Getting a pair of Aces gives you a soft score of 12, which is not a great score because if you hit and get a 10, you bust. But split up those Aces, and getting a 10 gives you two scores of 21. The odds are so strong that most Blackjack casino games have a rule that dictates getting a 21 this way is not considered Blackjack and; therefore, not eligible for the prized 3:2 payout. Instead you get paid even-money as you would with a standard win.

Pair of Eights

Splitting a pair of Eights also takes a weak score and gives it a chance to become a strong score. A score of 16 is one of the worst scores in the game. There’s no other score with three Surrender recommendations, as there is with 16. If you split them and get 10s, the 16 becomes two scores of 18.

When to Use Insurance

Insurance is a side bet that pays 2:1 when the blackjack Dealer’s upcard is an Ace and he has a 10 in the hole for a perfect score of 21. If you win the Insurance bet, you lose your original play wager, but the 2X payout that comes with the Insurance bet cancels out the loss that comes from the Dealer’s Blackjack. 

When you compare the payout for the Insurance bet and the probability of winning it (roughly 30%), you get a house edge of 7.4% (based on six-deck Blackjack). This is far higher than the house edge that comes from playing the game according to basic blackjack casino table game strategy.

The only good time to use insurance in Blackjack games is when counting cards at a land-based casino and have reason to believe that the shoe is rich in 10s. To see more on how to count cards in Blackjack, see our article. Any other time, it’s best to avoid this side bet

Advanced Strategy

All of this information can be summed up as advanced strategy on how to win at Blackjack. As a rule of thumb, try to get your score up to 17 with hard hands and 19 with soft hands. Keep in mind, you can sit back and relax with a low score when the Dealer’s most likely to bust (Six and below). Double when a 10 would put you in a strong position, and always split Aces and Eights. Try all this and more when you play online Blackjack at Bovada Casino for real money and watch your bankroll grow with each game.