Two cards, one dealer and 21 reasons to play. Blackjack is a casino game where the skilled can thrive. Even if you learn just a few simple moves, you can start to reduce the house edge in this game. When you combine this with an array of innovative variants offered by the leading NZ online casinos (see below), you’ve got a game that’s fun for everyone.
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What Are the Rules of Blackjack?
Like all the best online casino games, blackjack isn’t hard to master. Instead of asking you to make multiple moves in search of a return on your investment, the dealer will start each round with one simple question: stand or hit. Now, there are some additional wrinkles to the rules. However, in general, playing blackjack online is a matter of sticking with the cards you’ve got or adding new ones.
Of course, without an aim, you won’t know whether to stand or hit. In this game, your goal is simple: make a better total than the dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible. Within this main aim, there are some subtle nuances you should be aware of.
Firstly, 21 is the best total and the one you should have in mind at all times. Secondly, you don’t need to hit 21 in order to win. As long as your end total is higher than the dealer’s, you’ll win the round. Finally, if you don’t go bust (i.e. make a total that’s greater than 21) and the dealer does, you’ll win.
As you can see, in practice there are three ways to win. To become a proficient blackjack player, you need to factor all three into your decision-making process. For example, if the dealer’s starting card suggests they’re likely to bust, you can stand on a low total and put the pressure on them. Conversely, if the dealer has a strong starting card, you’ll need to push for as high a score as possible.
These considerations are all part of the game’s strategic side and they’re important to consider each time you make a move. With that in mind, here’s an example hand:
- Player bets NZ$1 and receives two starting cards: J 6 (a total of 16)
- Dealer receives a 6 face up and a second card face down (i.e. hidden).
- Player decides to hit (take another card) and receives a 3.
- At this point, the player has the option to hit or stand again. With a total of 19, the player stands.
- Dealer reveals their hidden card: 7.
- Under the rules of blackjack, the dealer must draw to a total of at least 17. With a starting total of 13, the dealer has to hit.
- Dealer pulls a 3 meaning they have to hit again.
- Dealer pulls a 9, giving them a total of 25. Because that total is above 21, the dealer has “gone bust” and the player wins by default (i.e. because they didn’t bust first).
Bonus Blackjack Moves
In describing the rules of blackjack, we noted that there are some additional wrinkles to the dynamics. For the most part, you’ll be asked whether you want to hit or stand. However, under certain conditions, you’ll be allowed to make extra bets:
Double Down: If your starting total is 9, 10 or 11, you’ll have the option to double down. This move will cost you an extra bet that’s the same size as your opening wager. For example, if you started the round betting NZ$1, you’d have to pay NZ$1 to double down. If you make this move, you’ll receive just one extra card.
Split: If you’re dealt a pair, the dealer will give you the option to split. If you make this move, you’ll have to match your opening bet as you would if you’re doubling down. Once you choose to split, the dealer will literally separate your starting cards and deal each one a second card. At this point, you’ll have two hands which you can play as normal.
Once you learn basic blackjack strategy: You’ll know when to double and split. The reason you make these moves is to press home your advantage. You won’t always make these moves, but they are useful when the time is right. For example, if your starting total is 11 (a strong starting total) and the dealer is showing a 4 (a weak starting card), you’re in a strong position.
At this point, you can add an extra bet to the table and potentially win more when you have the advantage. Doubling down is the way to do that.
What’s the House Edge in Blackjack?
Unlike most online casino games, blackjack is unique in that you can actually shift the house edge. Even if you can’t necessarily swing the odds in your favour, the right strategy can almost negate the dealer’s advantage.
As a starting point, the average house edge in blackjack is 0.5%. That’s low compared to other games, including roulette, which has a house edge of just 2.70%. However, it’s important to note that different rulesets will yield different results. When you use our recommended NZ online casinos, you’ll find a selection of variants. From Vegas and European rules to bonus blackjack and more, each game has its own nuances.
By altering the number of decks in play (when you split/double), the maximum bet and more, you change the odds. As a general rule, 0.5% is the average edge in blackjack. That’s low, but skilled players can reduce it further with some slick moves.
By knowing when to hit, understanding the dynamics of the deck and more, you can reduce the edge to almost zero. Indeed, professional blackjack players will virtually be 50/50 against the house. This, in reality, is why blackjack has become hugely popular.
If you read our dedicated article on blackjack strategy, you’ll get a complete insight into the moves the pros make. However, as an introduction, here are five top blackjack strategy tips.
Top 5 Blackjack Tips
- Start slow and never bet more than you can afford. A broke player is an ineffective player.
- Consider the dealer’s card. If the dealer starts with a 3, 4, 5 or 6, they’re weak and this should guide your play.
- Don’t take insurance. As attractive as it might sound, paying extra to insure yourself against the dealer possibly having blackjack is a long-term losing proposition.
- Find the variant that suits your playing style.
- Think logically. You don’t have to be a maths whizz to play blackjack. If you’re holding 19, it’s probably not a good idea to hit. Think logically about every move you make.
Online Blackjack Variants
Before we leave you, it’s important to re-emphasise that blackjack is a catch-all term. Once you join the best online casinos in New Zealand, you’ll find a host of variants. We’ve covered them in another article. However, for now, here are the main games to look out for:
- Single-hand blackjack
- Multi-hand blackjack
- Spanish blackjack
- Double exposure blackjack
- Single deck blackjack
- Bonus bet blackjack
Test Your Skills and Play Blackjack for Free
If you’re a fan of numbers, timing and holding your nerve, online blackjack is a fantastic game to try. Even if you only follow basic strategy, this casino game gives you the chance to exercise some control over your destiny.
As you become more advanced, you can begin to push your edge and, if the cards are running right, get ahead of the dealer. Put simply, blackjack allows you to introduce an element of skill that isn’t available in other casino games. Combine that with its high-octane dynamic and you’ve got a game that’s hugely entertaining.