There are any number of casino games available to the online gambler in New Zealand these days, with new variants being introduced seemingly on a daily basis. One of the original and still amongst the best is the classic game of blackjack. For a game to exist and thrive for over 400 years – there are reports of blackjack being played around the world from the early 1600’s – it must have something going for it.
Combining an attractive gamble, excitement and strategy in equal measure, part of the enduring appeal of the game, both in New Zealand and around the World is the head to head combat it represents between player and dealer. Mano a mano, closest to 21 without going bust wins.
From being played in the dusty casinos of years gone by, the game has moved with the times, and with the advent of online gambling, it’s never been so easy to get involved. Be it on you PC, laptop or mobile device, you are only ever a click or two away from being dealt into the heart of the action.
As with many things when it comes to the online world, the choice when it comes to getting your game on in cyberspace is almost endless, with a vast array of online casinos competing for the bettors business. In our experienced opinion you won’t go far wrong by checking out any of our best casinos to play online blackjack in the table below.
Rules Of Blackjack
First thing’s first though, particularly for the new players amongst you, we really ought to take a look at just how the game works.
- The game begins with the dealer dealing two cards to each of the players, and two to himself. All players cards will be dealt face up, whilst the dealer will receive one face up card and one face down. The game is generally played using between one and eight pre-shuffled decks.
- In blackjack each individual player plays only against the dealer and not the other players.
- The object of the game is to achieve a cards total closer to 21 than that achieved by the dealer, without going over this total. Exceeding 21 is known as going bust and results in an automatic loss of the stake.
- In blackjack the cards score as follows.
- All face cards count as ten.
- Cards 2 through 10 count at their face value.
- Aces may count as either 1 or 11 at the choice of the player.
- Having received their initial two cards, the player is then faced with a decision. They can either stick with what they have (stand), or alternatively take another card (hit) in an effort to improve their total. This process of taking a card can be repeated as many times as the player chooses, unless of course they go bust. Once all players have completed the play of their hands, the dealer will then play out his hand.
- An initial hand of an ace and a ten or face card is known as a “Blackjack” and beats all other 21 totals.
- The player wins should his final total be closer to 21 than the dealers, or should the dealer go bust and the player not. Should the player and dealer achieve the same total, the hand is said to be a “push” in which case the players stake is returned.
- In terms of the betting of the game, players place an initial stake or ante, prior to receiving their cards. In most hands this initial ante will remain the players total stake for the hand. It is possible to place additional bets – always of equal value to this initial stake – in the following scenarios.
- Should a players initial two cards be of identical value; two eights or two jacks for example the player may opt to “split” his hand in two by placing an additional stake, and so play two hands against the dealer.
- After receiving their initial two cards, the player may opt to place an additional bet equal to the original stake – a process known as “doubling down”. The one stipulation with this bet is that the player must receive one – and only one – more card.
- Rules for the dealer: Whilst a player may hit or stand on any total they desire. The dealer must stick to the following rules.
- The dealer must hit until he reaches a total of 17 or higher – or busts.
- Once this total of 17 or above is reached the dealer must stand, irrespective of the totals shown by the other players.
- The dealer may not double, split or surrender. (see below)
Note: Blackjack rules may vary slightly from casino to casino, with the following being two of the most common tweaks.
- Players are allowed to split any two cards with a total of ten. A queen and a king for example.
- The option to Surrender may be offered. In this instance the player simply gives up and loses only half their stake.
- A dealer may be permitted to hit on soft 17 i.e. an Ace and a six.
- An additional bet known as “insurance” may be offered should the dealers face up card be an ace. This bet pays out at 2/1 (3.0) if the dealer achieves a Blackjack, and loses otherwise.
Odds In Blackjack
Whether you are playing live blackjack or online, when compared with many other casino games, blackjack odds are very easy to remember.
All winning bets in blackjack are paid out at even money (2.0), with the exception of a Blackjack hand which is usually paid out at 6/4 (2.50).
One of the appealing aspects of blackjack is the relatively low house edge against the player. Employing sound basic strategy can result in an edge of just 0.28% against the player. This compares favourably with the 2.70% of single-zero roulette, and the 2-15% of most slot games for example.
Many books have been written on perfect blackjack strategy, which can often involve elaborate card counting schemes. Sticking to the following basic strategy is a good place to start though and will help adjust the edge against you to almost the bare minimum.
- Always stand on totals of 17 and over.
- Stand on a total of 13, 14, 15 or 16 should the dealers up card be between a 2 and a 6. Otherwise take a card.
- Stand on a total of 12 should the dealers up card be between a 4 and a 6. Otherwise take a card.
- Always double down on a total of eleven.
- Always double down on a total of 10 should the dealers up card be between 2 and 9. Otherwise hit.
- Always double down on a total of 9 should the dealers up cards be between 3 and 6. Otherwise hit.
- Never double down on a total of 8.
- Always split aces and eights.
- Never split tens.
Top 5 Blackjack tips
In addition to the above strategy suggestions, there are steps you can take to maximize your enjoyment and win potential in the game of blackjack. Below are out top 5.
- Stake sensibly in regard to your bankroll. This can vary but we would generally advise having at least 100 bets in your roll.
- Do not chase losses by employing any kind of doubling down strategy.
- Never take insurance. It’s a losing proposition in the long run.
- Print off a basic strategy chart to quickly refer to when playing online.
- Play at sites which offer a good bonus or rewards scheme.
Traditional blackjack as outlined above remains the most popular version of the game. It is far from the only variant available though. Below we list a selection of the most popular:
- Single-Hand :- The classic variation of the game. One hand for the player, one for the dealer. Let battle commence.
- Multi-Hand:- When one hand’s just not enough. Multi-Hand Blackjack offers a single player the opportunity to play up to five hands against the dealer. Ideal for those who thrive on fast paced action.
- Spanish Blackjack:- An increasingly popular variant which strips the deck of all 10’s. Face cards do remain though. The removal of the tens tilts the edge in the houses favour, but this is compensated for by rewarding bonus bets and more liberal splitting and doubling rules.
- Pontoon:- Almost identical to traditional Blackjack, with only a couple of rule differences. Here an initial total of 21 is known as a pontoon and pays 2/1. Any five cards totaling 21 or under – known as a five card trick – also pays out at 2/1 and beats everything bar a Pontoon for the dealer.
- Double Exposure:- Here both of the dealers initial cards are exposed, allowing the player to see exactly what they need to beat. Blackjack pays even money in this variant, and the dealer wins all ties. Doubling and splitting may also be restricted.
- Single Deck:- Played with just the one deck, the advantage against the player can fall to just 0.15% under perfect strategy, if standard Blackjack payouts are offered. However, many casinos reduce the Blackjack payout from 6/4 to 6/5 to compensate for this.
- Blackjack Tournament:- Compete against other players to win a share of the prize pool. Usually starting with a set buy in, players start with the same bankroll and play the same number of hands. Highest bankroll at the end of the tournament wins.
Conclusion: Hit It Right To Stand A Chance To Profit
Blackjack really is tough to beat when it comes to an easy and fun online casino game to play, and offers one of the best deals around in terms of casino gambling online. With fortunes turning with the turn of a card, mounting excitement and tension, it’s really no wonder it’s been such a big hit with gamblers for so long. Sticking to our handy guide on how to play blackjack should put you on the right track towards enjoying this great game.