Blackjack – A Complete Guide for Canadians

Blackjack is an all-time favorite for online casino players, especially in Canada. It’s a game with a long history and has the potential for huge profits, It holds a special place among other casino games. You have probably eyed the blackjack tables countless times but didn’t join because you didn’t know the rules. This is your chance to learn it all. In this guide, we discuss in detail exactly how to play the game and become better at it. Everything from the basic rules to pro tips is here in one place. Stick around and on your next visit, you may leave the casino with a smile.

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Brief History of Blackjack

The exact origin of blackjack is not clear despite its long history. But one of the earliest mentions is in a book by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes from the early 17th century. Records of this casino game would later emerge in France during the 18th century. Then records appeared also in Britain and the U.S. in the 19th century. 

At first, the game was called 21 since the aim is to reach a hand with that value. Later on casinos introduced bonus payouts if a player drew an ace of spades. Additionally, the bonus applied to either a jack of clubs or spades. Hence the name of the game later became blackjack. Although these bonuses no longer exist blackjack remained with the same name.

Online Blackjack Guide

Basic Terms

  • Blackjack – a hand consisting of an ace and a monkey.
  • Bust – when your hand total value exceeds 21. 
  • Double down – to double your original bet amount and receive one more card.
  • Face cards/monkey – cards with a value of 10 (J, Q, K).
  • Hit – to ask for another card.
  • Hole card – the dealer’s card which is dealt face down.
  • Pair – when you have two cards of the same value, with the option to split.
  • Shoe – a box on the table from where cards are dealt.
  • Split – when you split your pair of cards because they have equal value and bet the same amount again to have two hands.
  • Stand/sitting – to turn down any more cards.
  • Standoff – when a player and the dealer have cards of the same value.
  • Surrender – an option to forfeit half your bet before the dealer reveals the hole card.
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How to Play Blackjack

The main objective in blackjack is to beat the dealer by achieving a hand value closer or equal to 21. Hence the player with the hand closest in value to 21 wins the betting round. However, reaching a value over 21 counts as a loss.

The game begins when the dealer issues 2 cards to players around the table, facing up. Then the dealer gives 2 cards to themselves – one face up and the other face down. Next, the players place their bets around the betting circle. Of course, this is done using chips and the bet depends on the value of the hand. This value is not affected by the suit, and the cards are valued as such:

  • Cards 2 to 9 are counted at their face value.
  • Face cards all have a value of 10.
  • An ace can be worth 1 or 11 points, depending on the hand. 

Variations of Blackjack

Almost certainly all casinos out there offer blackjack. Of course, each casino has its own variation that they offer. Hence there are more than 20 blackjack options available out there. Out of those, there are 5 which are the most common.

Blackjack Switch

Every player initially receives 2 hands and 4 cards in total. Additionally, there’s the option to switch the 2nd card in each hand. Hence, this variant allows players more flexibility. However, the casino will often make up for it. For example, if the dealer draws 22, this is not a bust but rather a push.

Chinese Blackjack

This variant’s main difference is that the position of the dealer is rotated. As a result, it is more of a regional game and can’t be found in most casinos. Also it allows players to draw special hands, such as Ban-luck (blackjack) where the player receives a 2 to 1 payout and not 3 to 2.

Double Attack

In standard blackjack, you should place all bets before the dealer reveals the up card. However, double attack allows a player to double their bet after the dealer does so. Furthermore, the game involves a 48-card deck with the 10s removed. The rules remain the same as the standard variation.

Double Exposure

Double exposure is another very popular blackjack variant. Here both of the dealer’s cards are exposed, giving players a huge advantage. In order to counter this, the dealer will win all ties. Additionally, a blackjack will only pay even money (1 to 1) and not 3 to 2.

Spanish 21

The name of this variant comes from the reference to a Spanish deck of 48 cards with the 10s removed. Because this reduces a player’s edge, the game allows players to double down after splitting. Additionally, there’s an option for a subsequent re-splitting in case of aces. Plus, the player wins all draws including a blackjack.

How to Play Blackjack Online

What Is House Edge?

A standard variation of blackjack presents a house edge of below 0.50% if you play with a basic strategy. However, the exact house edge depends on the variation of blackjack and its specific characteristics.

For instance, the number of decks in use determines how often they are reshuffled. Naturally, the more reshuffling takes place, the higher the house edge. Moreover, casino rules can either raise or reduce the house edge. So of course you should seek tables with player-friendly rules.

Strategies for the Blackjack Table

The most effective strategy is called ‘basic’ because it involves simple logic. For example, you wouldn’t ‘hit’ if your hand total was 20 points or ‘stand’ if your total was 10. However, for new players, we recommend a conservative strategy instead. It involves starting with the table minimum. In order to avoid losing too much money, you should thereafter only increase your bet after several consecutive wins. 

Blackjack strategy charts show you the right moves to make according to basic strategy. The basic strategy for blackjack is the best play that you can choose when you consider what the dealer is showing and the hand you have. When it was discovered in the 1950s, it changed blackjack and how people thought about the game, inspiring other blackjack enthusiasts and also led the founding of card counting.

The best way to reduce the house’s edge against you is by sticking to the optimal play for both hands. Basically, the average player is expected to give something between 3% to 5%, or even more, while a player using a basic blackjack strategy can give up less than 0.5%. This basically means that you are increasing your chances of winning provided the cards go right.

Blackjack online basic rules to remember

  • If the dealer shows a 7, 8, 9, 10, or Ace, hit up to 17 or more
  • Hit if the dealer shows 9, 10, or Ace and if you have a 7 or less and Ace
  • Hit if the dealer shows 7 or more and you have a 6 or Ace
  • If the dealer shows a 4, 5, or 6, stand at 12
  • If the dealer shows any number less than 7, stand at 13
  • Split eights and Aces
  • Split 9 except if the dealer shows a 7, Ace or 10
  • Split 7 except if the dealer shows an 8 or more
  • Split 6 except if the dealer shows a 7 or more
  • Don’t split 5
  • Split 4 whenever the dealer shows a 5 or 6
  • Double if you have 11
  • Double expect when the dealer shows a 10 or Ace
  • Double 9 except when the dealer shows a number more than 6
  • Double 7 or 6 and Aces except when the dealer shows a number more than 6
  • Double 5 or 4 and Ace if the dealer shows a 4, 5 or 6
  • Double 3 or 2 and Ace if the dealer shows a 5 or 6
  • Surrender a hard 16, but not 8-8 vs. an Ace, 9, or 10
  • Surrender a hard 15 vs. 10, Ace

You should also remember that although the basic strategy is proven mathematically, there will always be exceptions to the rules, which are usually based on the number of players, conditions, and number of decks used by the dealer.

Blackjack doesn’t end at the basic strategy. There are many other recommended advanced strategies that you can use to improve your chances of winning. In case you want to take more risks, the Martingale system involves doubling your bet every time you lose. But when you win, you will get to recover all previous losses. However, these can increase rapidly, and hence you need a higher bankroll.

Other blackjack strategies

Don’t take insurance or even money

This is basically the first strategy you should keep in mind. For instance, if an Ace is the dealer’s up card don’t take insurance and carry on with the round as usual.

View your hand as hard total if you are unable to split the cards

Another key strategy is that if you are playing a hand and chart for the basic strategy tells you to split cards and you are not able owing to the re-splitting limitation, you will need to view your hand as a hard total and continue to play based on the rules. For instance, if you’ve been dealt two 3’s and you cannot split the cards, you will need to view both hands as a 6. In this case, based on the rules of the basic strategy chart, if the dealer’s up card is a 2, you should hit.

The reality is that blackjack is a probability game and if the basic strategy is used accurately, you are likely to win. It doesn’t really matter whether you are a new player, or a seasoned pro, blackjack strategy is the right guide to increase your chances of winning.

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How to Play Online

If you want to enjoy the game and perhaps make some money, there are some things you should keep in mind. Here are the factors that all pros take into consideration when it comes to selecting a platform and playing blackjack:

  • License and regulations: There is no doubt online casinos need to be licensed. In order to ensure your funds are safe, always check for a license.
  • Payment options: Of course, making deposits and withdrawals should be quick and hassle-free. Especially if you have a preferred banking method, make sure it is available. 
  • Number of games: It’s best to choose a platform with plenty of blackjack variations. The more, the merrier when it comes to choices.
  • Bonuses and offers: We all like to enjoy free play as it extends the fun at no extra cost. Look around on the market and seek the most generous casino bonus offer.
  • Game developers: A developer determines the quality of the game and your experience. So the platform should work with the best software providers is you want a great gaming session.

Live Dealer Games vs. Regular Online Blackjack

Although most online platforms support blackjack anyway, a few software providers even support live dealer games. This can be good or bad depending on your perspective. The advantage of live blackjack is clear because you get as close an experience to visiting an actual casino as possible. If you prefer to talk to the dealers and other players, then this would be your go-to game. Additionally, you will also see the dealer issue every player their cards so that you know the game is fair. 

On the other hand, regular blackjack also has its merits. Some players prefer to avoid any distractions, which are usually present in live dealer games. Thus, you can focus on the game and your strategy. Furthermore, regular blackjack has more options/variants because it’s been out there longer.

Blackjack on Your Mobile

Online blackjack is a great choice if you want to have the freedom to play wherever you are. Of course, this usually involves a mobile device. The good news is that most developers nowadays make this possible by optimizing their games for flash technology. Hence, you don’t have to install any apps and can still play blackjack via any web browser. Nevertheless, we recommend testing different mobile casinos and apps before settling on one.

Real Money Play or for Free?

Playing for free can be very tempting, but the experience gets old rather fast. Of course, with nothing to lose, this is a great choice for those who want to test a game, a strategy or just practice. Free play is a good way to learn the game rules, too. However, with free mode you can never really win actual cash. Hence, for those seeking a profit we recommend investing some cash and playing at a real money casino. But besides the potential profits, with real money play also comes a real thrill of the risk. Give it a try and you’ll see for yourself how much more fun it is.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to improve your game, it’s time to practice these tips at an online casino. Feel free to try different platforms until you find the one with the best balance of features. But if you want to get started with your journey quicker, have a look at our casino reviews. There you’re sure to find some of the best platforms in Canada. And finally, always remember to manage your bankroll wisely. It’s no fun losing all your money in one sitting so be sure budget smart.

FAQ

Yes, it’s not just about luck. Many strategies can be used to play blackjack and increase your winning chances. We recommend a conservative one for beginners.

The basic strategy is one of the most effective strategies, reducing the house edge to under 0.5%.

Yes. Most game developers optimize online blackjack for mobile devices. You only need a browser.

The exact house edge depends on the variation of the game you play. With classic blackjack using the basic strategy, the house edge is below 0.5%.

Yes. But most casinos use multiple decks and some even use continuous shuffling machines.

Essentially, yes. The rules of the game remain the same, but the experience is very different because you can interact with dealers and other players.

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