Not many casino games can match blackjack’s popularity. As an absolute fan-favourite, blackjack has a strong presence in both online and retail casinos. Online casinos in Ontario will likely offer several blackjack variants, with distinct rules, paytables, payouts and house edges.
Speaking of the house edge, blackjack with a perfect basic strategy has a house edge of 0.5%, and with some versions (single deck), it stands at just 0.13%. This puts it in the category of casino games with the best odds, alongside video poker, and therein lies one of its most appealing aspects.
Blackjack is very easy to pick up but difficult to master. Read the following guide to prepare for playing the game for real cash in Ontario. We’ll go over basic rules, hand-by-hand gameplay, strategy tips and more.
Online blackjack: play by play
One of the biggest hooks of online blackjack is the ease of play. You do not need any prior knowledge to get started, although long-term success takes skill. Assuming that you’ve picked an online casino and deposited some funds into your account, here are the steps you need to follow to play this casino classic:
- Blackjack table: If you opt for the RNG-based version of the game, you’ll always have an open seat at the table. With live dealer blackjack, capacity is limited.
- Bets: As soon as your chosen blackjack game loads, you will need to place your bet. To do that, click on one of the numeric buttons to enter your chip value. After placing your bet, hit the deal button to receive your cards. Remember that you’ll have a limited time window to put down your wagers if you’ve chosen live dealer blackjack.
- Action: You’ll receive two face-up cards during the game’s starting phase. The dealer will receive one face-up and one face-down card. Depending on how strong your hand is, choose what action to take. You can hit, stand, double down or split.
- Faceoff: Following your move, the dealer will reveal the face-down card and continue to hit until reaching 17 or above, in most cases.
- Outcome: You win if the sum of your cards is closer to 21 without going over than the dealer’s hand. If both you and the dealer have blackjack, it’s a standoff — the wager is a “tie” or a “push.”
Basic blackjack rules explained
You’ve already seen an illustration of a typical blackjack round, but that is just one piece of the puzzle. You should know a few additional rules before sitting down to play. Let’s go through the most important ones:
- Regular wins pay 1:1: You win the round by exceeding the dealer’s total without going bust (over 21). Most commonly, the payout for non-blackjack-winning hands is 1:1 (even money). Suppose you have a hand total of 20, and the dealer achieves a total of 19, you would make a profit of $100 on a $100 bet.
- Blackjack pays 3:2: At most tables, blackjack or a “natural” pays 3:2, which means that for every $2 you bet, you would win $3. You can see the payout odds on the interface, generally something like “blackjack pays 3 to 2.”
- Hit or stand: Hit and stand are the two main playing decisions you can make in a blackjack game. When you hit, you’ll receive another card from the dealer. Conversely, you can opt to stand and hold your total.
- Insurance: This is a side bet worth half your original stake. It’s an option when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. With an insurance bet in place, you’ll receive a 2:1 payoff if the dealer hits a natural.
- Dealer hits on 16: The rule at most blackjack tables is that the dealer must hit with a hand of 16 or under.
- Double down: This option allows you to double your original wager after receiving the first two cards. You’ll then receive only one more card — whatever your hand value is afterward, that’s your total.
- Split: At most blackjack tables, you can “split” your hand if you receive an opening pair (two cards of the same value). If you choose this option, the dealer will separate the two cards and treat them as two independent hands.
- Surrender: Some Ontario casinos may offer “surrender,” an optional rule that allows players to give up half of their original stake after seeing their opening two cards.
- Soft 17: Soft 17 is a hand that consists of an ace counted as 11 (ace-3-3, ace-2-4, etc.). In some casinos, the dealer must hit upon landing a soft 17. This is important because this rule increases the house edge by roughly 0.2%.
What is live dealer blackjack?
Live dealer blackjack is an online version of blackjack with a human dealer that you can play through a live stream in real time. The recent increase in popularity of live dealer games is attributable to their ability to better simulate the traditional casino experience — something their RNG counterparts lack.
Most casino sites that offer live blackjack games use titles from Ezugi and Evolution Gaming, two of the industry’s leading providers. Some online casinos like DraftKings and FanDuel have their own proprietary blackjack variants from in-house studios.
Minimum and maximum bets in online blackjack
Casinos offer several betting denominations, from $1 to $1,000. Additionally, each table may have its own betting limits. Casinos have different minimum and maximum bets based on variations and formats. A typical range is $1 to $5,000 for the minimum and maximum bets.
For instance, at Golden Nugget casino, you can get started playing Blazing 7s Blackjack for just $0.10, and the maximum bet per hand is $600. Caesar’s Infinite Blackjack has limits from $5 to $5,000, likely more pleasing to high rollers.
How to play and win
Both chance and skill play a role during a blackjack game. While luck is important to get the right combination of cards, your decisions after receiving them can significantly impact the outcome. By using basic blackjack strategy, you can decide whether to hit or stand. The following tips can also help with your decision:
- Avoid insurance bets: The juice is often not worth the squeeze with insurance bets, and most experts would advise against them. It increases the house edge by at least 7%.
- Be wary when splitting: Splitting pairs can be an effective blackjack strategy, but only when you use it properly and in certain situations. For instance, you can split aces and eights, the rationale being that you’ll likely end up with two strong hands. On the other hand, splitting 10s or 9s doesn’t make much sense since this combination already gives you a strong chance at beating the dealer.
- Steer clear of side bets: As exciting as they are, side bets like perfect pairs and 21+3 have high house edges, and you should generally avoid them.
- Manage your bankroll properly: Adequate bankroll management will help keep your spending habits in check and ensure that you don’t gamble away money you can’t afford to lose. It will also help you avoid getting caught up in the loss-chasing cycle.
Is five cards in blackjack a win?
Yes, but only if the casino in question uses the “5 card Charlie” rule, which states the player automatically wins by reaching five cards without busting.
Is blackjack easy to play?
It depends on how you look at it. Though it’s an easy game to learn, there are numerous layers of complexity.
Who wins ties in blackjack?
In the event of a tie, aka a push, the player gets a refund. Nobody wins or loses.
Do you have to count cards to win?
Not in the slightest. It can increase your margin if you do it correctly, but casinos strongly frown on the practice, and it’s not necessary for you to get some wins.
Should you ever split 10s?
The golden rule is never to split 10s, regardless of what the dealer has.