Blackjack. The very name of this epic game will send chills down any passionate card player’s spine. This seemingly simple game has been the rise and fall of amateur and professional gamblers alike and has been glamorized more than any other casino game. Blackjack has been featured in dozens of movies and TV shows and boasts of being the most popular card game in the world. Advances in online gambling technology have made blackjack hotter and more accessible than ever before. Thanks to the internet, you and your card-crazed friends can now play blackjack online anytime. Not only that, but you can play free blackjack at a number of reputable gaming sites. Of course if you want to get in on some real cash game action there are money versions of online blackjack too that cater to everyone from the timid amateur to the high roller.
How to Play Blackjack Online
Learning how to play blackjack online is easy; it’s learning how to stop playing that eventually gets hard! Once you get comfortable with playing blackjack online, you’ll find yourself screaming "Hit me!" at the virtual black jack dealer as you sit at your computer for hours. Because many sites offer free blackjack too, all it really takes to play a blackjack game online is a computer with an internet connection. As with any other online game, to play online blackjack you will need to join a casino that offers it. Joining requires little more than a few minutes of your time and some basic information. For your efforts, you will get your own player account. At some sites you may even get free money just for signing up which you can then use to try your first online blackjack games or any number of other casino games including poker or slots (depending on the site). Additionally, some online casinos will ask you to download their game software. This is only to ensure that you get the best experience, but if your computer lacks the speed, space or software most casinos also offer no-download Flash versions of their sites.
You are now ready to play your first blackjack game online. To begin, you will enter the blackjack section of the online casino. This includes a lobby where other players chat while they wait for tables. It also includes a list of tables, which is where the action starts. Click on a table that appeals to you (and has availability), and a new screen will load showing an animated version of a blackjack table. There may be a live dealer, animated dealer, or no dealer at all depending on the table type. You can choose to play alone or with as many as five other players. All players will use the same game screen buttons to make their bets. Once the bets are in, the dealer will deal two cards to every player and then two to themselves. If you beat the dealer’s hand then you win, and the appropriate sum of money will be added to your stack of chips. If you lose then your bet will be subtracted from your stack. Play continues in this way until you leave the table.
The classic blackjack rules remain the same for online blackjack. Each table is comprised of a dealer and as many as five players. Each player bets with chips and has the same betting and playing options. The players will build individual hands which they will use to compete with the dealer’s hand. In both live and online blackjack games the players never compete against each other. The dealer draws from the usual 52-card deck. In most cases, they are actually drawing from several decks to prevent card counting and increase randomization; this group of decks is called a "shoe." After the dealer gives each player two cards (face up), they deal themselves two cards (one up, one down).
Blackjack rules give players a limited set of moves. Each player has the option to hit, stand, double down, split, or forfeit. To hit is to request a single additional card. To stand is to accept your current hand. To double down is to double your bet when your first two cards equal 9, 10, or 11. To split you must be dealt two cards of the same value; you may then double your bet and split the cards to form two separate hands with the dealer adding an additional card to each. Blackjack is often called 21. This is because 21 is the highest possible combination—giving you an instant win—making it the most desirable hand you can get. All number cards are worth the value of the number displayed while all face cards are worth 10. An Ace may be played as a 1 or an 11. A "natural" is when a player receives an Ace and a ten or an Ace and a face card for an instant blackjack or 21. The purpose of online blackjack then is to build a hand closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over (or "bust").
In live blackjack, many professionals promote the benefits of counting cards, but a simpler blackjack strategy is going to be the best one for a new player, especially since counting cards is nearly impossible in online blackjack games. The core of all blackjack strategies is determining when you should hit and when you should stand. Generally the lowest total you want to stand on is 16; other players will not stand on anything lower than 17. A good way to determine whether to stand on 16 vs. 17 is to find out if your internet blackjack dealer stands at 16 or 17. Obviously if they will not stand on less than 17, then you should not stand at 16 or you put yourself at a disadvantage. Any hand total from 12 to 16 is considered what is called a stiff hand. If the dealer has a card total of 2 through 6 visible, then you are to assume that they also have a stiff hand. The trouble with hitting a stiff hand is that it puts you in a position to bust. Alternately, a hand with a total of 17 or higher is considered a pat hand because it has reached the dealer’s stand point, and they will not hit again.
A good blackjack strategy always considers the dealer’s hand. If both you and the dealer have a stiff hand, then you should stand. If you have a stiff hand and the dealer has a pat hand, then you must hit to have a chance at beating the dealer’s hand. This strategy is easy to remember and use when you first play blackjack online, plus it is easy to alter as your skills and understanding of internet blackjack improve.
Speaking of improving your skills... There is no better way to do it than to take advantage of free blackjack games online. If you're just learning how to play blackjack, these fun-only versions of the actual game give you an open opportunity to test your skills and refine your blackjack strategy, plus at many casinos you can win points that can be redeemed for fun prizes. Once you have mastered a casino’s free blackjack games, you may feel more confident playing the game for money.
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