Live Dealer Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular games online so it makes sense for it to be one of the first games to be adapted to a live format. It is one of the most fun and engaging games that you can play at any online casino. While randomness plays a major role in the game due to its playing card nature, there is also a large element of skill involved. Decision making is crucial here and it will mean the difference between a win and a loss. Unlike other pure chance games like baccarat or roulette, you can actually utilize a strategy to improve your chances and a skilled player can excel at blackjack. Currently, blackjack is one of the most played games in online and land-based casinos and the variety in styles is immense.

Playing live dealer blackjack allows you to experience a true casino atmosphere in all of its glory. The croupiers are professionals and the quality of the service is high. Every top-tier casino includes some form of live blackjack courtesy of the best online casino software developers in the world. In recent years the technology behind live dealer games has improved exponentially and users get to enjoy a product of unrivalled quality. Live games are on the bleeding edge of online casino software development, never before have we seen such a leap in the technology since perhaps the inception of online casinos in the 1990s.

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Blackjack Variants

Blackjack is played all over the world, from Las Vegas to Macau and everywhere in between. It is one of the most popular games of all time and has a dedicated following. A peculiar aspect of blackjack is that its rules are not set in stone. Each establishment chooses what rules to include or exclude, which can change the game dramatically. The number of decks, the blackjack payout ratio, whether dealer stands or hits a soft 17, these are all important to the flow of the game and the house advantage. For instance, a table that pays 3:2 on blackjack has a much lower house edge than one that pays 6:5. Furthermore, being allowed to surrender can save you a good deal of your money. Finding the right table for you might take some time since, just like land-based casinos, the different software providers have the habit of changing the rules. Each company provides its own take on the blackjack game and as a result, we have many different live dealer blackjack versions to pick and choose from.

Playtech Blackjack

live dealer playtech blackjackPlaytech is one of the leading developers of live casino software. Its games are featured in a large number of online casinos and are enjoyed by millions of players. Playtech has gained critical acclaim and the adorations of its player base. As one of the first companies to start offering live dealer games to the mass market, Playtech has made great progress in the development of live casino technology. The live blackjack version of this company is featured in some of the best online casinos in the industry.

This version of blackjack is played with 8 decks of cards and a blackjack pays 3:2. The dealer has to draw to 16 and stand on 17. Doubling can be done on any 2 cards, as well as after splitting a pair. Only one split is allowed per hand. This version does not allow you to surrender if you think that your hand is not good enough. Seven seats are available at any such table and insurance is offered whenever the dealer gets dealt an ace.

Extreme Live Gaming Blackjack

live dealer extreme live gaming blackjackExtreme Live Gaming is one of the newest competitors to enter the live gaming market. Founded in 2013, this company is developing live dealer software exclusively and in 2014 was acquired by Novomatic Group. The live blackjack game offered by Extreme Live Gaming has its own rules and betting limits. For starters, there are 8 decks of cards used here and hitting a blackjack will reward you at a 3:2 ratio. There are 7 seats available at Extreme Live Gaming blackjack table. Much like any blackjack game, the dealer has to draw to 16 and then stand on 17. You can double down on any two cards, however, you cannot do so after splitting a pair. You also cannot surrender to receive a part of your bet back, should you be dealt a bad hand, however, you will be offered insurance if the dealer is dealt a blackjack.

Evolution Gaming Blackjack

live dealer evolution gaming blackjackEvolution Gaming is one of the companies that pioneered the live dealer genre. It was founded in 2006 and is dedicated to the creation of live dealer games. Blackjack is one the first games to be created by Evolution and is featured in many online casinos. When playing this version of the game there are some things that you should be aware of. For starters, there are seven seats at each live blackjack table. The game is played using 8 decks of cards and a blackjack pays 3:2. You can double down on any hand, as well as on any pair resulting from a split. You cannot, however, split more than once per hand. Insurance is offered to players when the dealer draws an ace. Surrender, on the other hand, is not an option here.

Microgaming Blackjack

live dealer microgaming blackjackYet another major software developer, Microgaming’s products are considered by many to be the pinnacle of the online casino industry. This company is at the forefront of casino software development, constantly making new iterations and improvements to already existing products. In addition to virtual games, Microgaming produces numerous live dealer ones. Blackjack is part of that portfolio and it has distinct rules from other similar products.

Microgaming’s live blackjack game can be played by up to 7 people on a single table. It pays 3:2 upon blackjack and it offers insurance when the dealer receives an ace. There are 8 decks of cards in the shoe. Doubling can only be done on 9,10,11 value cards, and you cannot double down after you split a pair. However, you can hit after you split a pair of aces, a feature that not many other providers offer. You can only split once and surrender is not available.

NetEnt Blackjack

live dealer netent blackjackUnlike other companies of the same caliber, NetEnt joined the live dealer scene quite late, more specifically in 2013. It has made good progress in the development of live games, though it does not offer the richest selection. Blackjack is one of the products available by NetEnt, and it plays slightly differently than the other providers.

For, starters the game uses only 6 decks, instead of the standard 8. Additionally, it allows you to double after a split, as well as on any two cards. Dealers, naturally, draw to 16 and stand on 17. Hands can only be split once and surrender is not offered if you have a bad hand. Blackjack pays the standard 3:2 ratio that other games do.

Odds, Probability and House Edge

blackjack odds definitionBlackjack has some of the most favorable odds out of any casino game. The house edge is very low, and in some cases can be turned into the player’s favor. This makes it one of the most attractive gambling games that you can play. Blackjack, much like poker, involves equal levels of skill and chance. If you wish to excel at this game you have to understand the odds and probabilities that come with each hand.

The house edge refers to the mathematical advantage that the casino has over the player. It is represented by a percentage that indicates the part of all bets that the casino keeps. For instance, a house edge of 5% implies that the casino pays out 95% of all bets as winnings to players while keeping 5% as revenue. The house edge is what the long-term profits of the casino will be, calculated over the course of millions of hands. What this means is that players can score big wins in the short-term, but over a long period of time they will start to lose money.

Blackjack is a game with a very low house edge. In the least favorable scenario, the house advantage is no more than 3%, a number that is considered to be very low by modern day standards. It is affected by many different factors, such as the number of decks used, the Blackjack hand payout ratio, surrender availability, the ability to hit after splitting aces, etc. At most live dealer blackjack tables the house edge is typically lower than 1%, hovering near the 0.5% area. This makes blackjack a very appealing game, since it offers the highest potential win chance out of all casino games, all the while being fun and engaging.

There are many win conditions in blackjack as you can either have a higher score than the dealer or simply wait for them to bust. The dealer has an average chance of 30.4% to bust, depending on what their up card is, with 4, 5, and 6 giving them the highest chance to go over 21. On the player’s side of things, we can calculate more precisely since we can see both cards in the opening hand. At a score of 12, the player has a 31% chance of busting, and this number goes up from there, to a 92% chance at a 20 score. These numbers, of course, are situational and the results may vary depending on what cards have already been discarded and the rules of the table.

The player has to take into account what has been played already and what cards are currently on the table. The rule is generally, the lower score that the dealer has, the higher the chance that they will bust.

Blackjack Player’s Bust-Out Rate
Hand Value Bust-Out Rate
12 31.00%
13 39.00%
14 56.00%
15 58.00%
16 62.00%
17 69.00%
18 77.00%
19 85.00%
20 92.00%


live dealer blackjackAt its core blackjack is very simple to understand, but there are many subtleties to it that give this game great depth. Blackjack does involve some level of skill, even though it is a game of chance. Skilled players who understand the odds and probabilities can use that to their advantage and make their plays accordingly.

The main idea of blackjack is to get a higher score than the dealer, without going over 21 points. The cards have assigned values to them, King, Queen and Jack cards have a value of 10, aces can be either 1 or 11, all other cards can be taken at face value. Aces change their value depending on that of your hand. They have a value of 11 unless a hit brings you over 21, in which case they count as 1.

A standard blackjack game will use between 4 a 8 full decks. This is to dissuade players from counting cards and turning the edge against the casino. Normally, the lower the number of decks the lower the house edge will be. Although, casinos that offer tables with a low number of decks sometimes reduce the payout for a blackjack from 3:2 to 6:5.

In this game you are playing against the dealer, both of you draw and the one with the highest score wins. You will be dealt two cards and you can either hit (add another card) or stand (stop drawing). Whenever someone goes over 21, that person loses. Blackjack is the strongest hand that you can have and it consists out of a face card or a ten and an ace. While other hands can have a combined sum of 21, blackjack beats all of them without exception. If the dealer gets a blackjack in his opening hand he automatically wins, unless you too also have a blackjack. Winning a hand normally pays equal to your bet (1:1), whereas getting a blackjack will earn you a 3:2 payout. This is the standard blackjack payout, though there are some tables known to pay 6:5 for the same hand.

Whenever the dealer is dealt an ace in the opening hand you will be given the option to take insurance. This means that you essentially bet whether or not the dealer gets a blackjack. An insurance is worth half of your original bet and pays 2:1. In the event that dealer hits blackjack, you will not win anything, but you will get the full sum of your initial bet back. While this may seem nice at first glance, many gamblers will tell you that insurance is a rip-off and that you should never take it.

Surrender is offered at some blackjack tables and you can make use of it, if you feel that your hand is too poor. When you take a surrender you forfeit your hand and half of your bet, with the other half being returned to you. Some gamblers consider this to be a bad deal, though it may have its uses in some scenarios. For instance, surrendering on 16 against a dealer’s 9 is a good move, since 16 is thought of by many to be the worst hand in the game.

When you are dealt a hand of two cards of identical value, such as two 5s or a Jack and a King, you have the option to split them and play them out as two independent hands. When you do this, another bet equal to your original one is placed on the extra hand. You can hit or stand, as well as win or lose, on either of them. Some games prohibit you from hitting when you split a pair of aces, though this is not very common.

To double down is to increase the size of your bet twofold and add another card to your hand. After drawing the card you will stand automatically and no longer be able to draw. Despite giving you the chance to double your winnings, this feature might set you behind, so it should be used with caution.

Blackjack Terminology

Blackjack has been around for many years, and in that time a whole culture has formed around this classic game. Long-term players of blackjack have their own unique jargon, insider language, and superstitions, as is the case with many such groups. To those not familiar with the terminology it might appear nonsensical or strange, but that is also true for many other subcultures. These are some of the most common blackjack terms that you will hear or read while playing.

  • Anchor – This is the person who sits at the leftmost side at the table. This seat is usually avoided since the player who sits there gets dealt their cards last. There is a baseless superstition among blackjack players that the anchor can ruin the game if they do not play correctly. There is no truth to this claim and you should not pay any attention to it.
  • Bankroll – The amount of money that you have available to gamble.
  • Blackjack – The strongest hand in the game consisting of an Ace and a 10-valued card.
  • Bust – A bust happens when you go over 21 and lose.
  • Bust card – The card that brings your score over 21.
  • Cut card – A card placed in the shoe that indicates that it is time to shuffle the deck.
  • Double down – You can double your bet after being dealt your hand, at which point you will be dealt a single card and that will determine your final score.
  • Early surrender – This is when you forfeit your hand and half of your bet while getting the other half back.
  • Face cards – These are the cards that have a ‘face’ on them, for example, Jacks, Queens, and Kings.
  • Flat Bet – Betting the same amount on each hand regardless of wins or losses.
  • Risk of ruin – The mathematical chance to lose your entire balance.
  • Hole card – The card that the dealer has dealt himself face down.
  • Hard hand – A hand that does not have an ace being valued at 11.
  • Natural Blackjack – A Natural Blackjack occurs when you are dealt a blackjack – an ace, and a 10-valued card – on your opening hand.
  • Soft hand – A hand that does have an ace being valued at 11, which may change its value to 1 if the player hits.
  • Push – A scenario where the dealer and the player have the same score. In this case, no money is won or lost.
  • Shoe – A shoe refers to where the cards are being kept prior to being dealt.
  • Up card – This is the first card that the dealer deals himself and it is face up.

Blackjack Basic Strategy

Basic Strategy is one of the most popular blackjack strategies, that countless players have utilized over the years. It gives you directions as to what to do in any particular situation. It does require a bit of time and effort to wrap your mind around it, but once you get the hang of it, it will drastically increase your performance. Basic Strategy requires a bit of card counting on your part in order to make it work, as well as for you to memorize each possible outcome. This could be seen as intimidating by some players, but in order to become good at anything, you must be prepared to put some work in. As the old saying goes ‘Practice makes perfect’, so learn it as best you can and you will get to enjoy the benefits of this system.

For the most part, Basic Strategy is visualized by comprehensive charts, giving you insight as to what you should. Every possible dealer hand is cross-referenced with every possible player hand, so you should be covered in any situation. Depending on what the rules of the game are, there may be the need for a different chart.

Some of the basics of Basic Strategy include commonly known play tactics like surrender on 16, never split a pair of 10s, or always double on 11. Taking insurance is considered a ‘cardinal sin’, and it is recommended to hit on all soft 17s. Basic Strategy is based on the results of millions of hands. It shows the best course of action in any given instance, and while it does not guarantee a 100% win, using it will reduce the house edge by a significant margin and push the odds in your favor. What you have to take into account is that each blackjack table is slightly different from the other, so you have to adjust the strategy accordingly.

Basic Strategy Chart
Players’ Hand Dealer’s Up Card
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
8 H H H D D H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D H H H H
11 D D D D D D D H H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H H
A-2 H H H D D H H H H H
A-3 H H D D D H H H H H
A-4 H H D D D H H H H H
A-5 H H D D D H H H H H
A-6 H D D D D H H H H H
A-7 S D D D D S S H H H
A-8 S S S S S S S S S S
A-9 S S S S S S S S S S
4-4 H H H SP SP H H H H H
5-5 D D D D D D H H H H