Nothing draws more players or inspires more intensity than live blackjack. With its fast, plain sailing gameplay and big-time reputation, it’s one of the simplest games to learn in the entire live casino, but just because it’s easy-to-learn, doesn’t mean it’s easy to master. In fact, to become a true expert in the game, you’ll need to grasp a wide array of blackjack strategies.
Fortunately, this beginners’ guide will focus on the basics of the games, walking you through the rules, the bets and the odds, so when you next sit down to play, you’ll know exactly what to do!
Live Blackjack Layout
The live casino format tries to stay as close to the real-life casino as possible. When you join a live blackjack casino, you’ll be facing the dealer, who sits behind the blackjack betting table. From here, the game proceeds as usual, with the dealer drawing cards from a physical shoe (the box that cards are drawn from) and laying them down, face-up in front of your bet. You’ll also be able to see the cards of your fellow players, adding to the community feel of live blackjack. Between each round there is an allotted time in which you can decide on your wager and place your bets, after this time you won’t be able to make bets and the dealer will start drawing cards.
Basic Rules of Live Blackjack
Contrary to popular belief, the aim of blackjack is not to reach the number 21. While this is the best score in the game, and all but guarantees a win, if you play online blackjack trying to hit 21 every round you won’t be winning much. In reality, all you have to do is beat the dealer’s card total to win – it’s really that simple!
Live Blackjack Card Values
In live blackjack, the cards numbered 2 to 10 have a value that’s equal to their numbers, so if you’re dealt a 5 and an 8, for example, you know your total hand value is 13. The face cards – Jack, Queen, King – are valued at 10 while the Ace can either be one or 11 depending on how it’s played and the other cards in your hand. For instance, if you draw an Ace and a two, the Ace will automatically be valued at 11, making you total hand value 13. However, if you hit and draw a 10, making the hand value 23, you’ll change the value of the Ace to one and avoid the bust.
The total value of your hand is determined by the cards in it, so if you draw a 10 and a Jack you have a total hand value of 20. If you exceed 21 at any point, your hand is “bust” and you’ll lose you wager.
After your cards are drawn you can take a number of different actions. These actions are fundamental to any blackjack strategy, so let’s explore some of them:
• Hit – Hitting is one of the core playing options in live blackjack. Essentially, you’re requesting another card from the dealer to increase your hand’s value. You can do this as many times as you like – just don’t bust!
• Stand – Standing is the opposite of hitting, whereby you refuse another card and stick with your hand. If you have a natural blackjack (an Ace and a 10-value card), this is the perfect option.
• Split – In order to split your hand, you must have a pair of cards – for example, two ‘eights’. By splitting you will create two separate hands, each with a value of eight, allowing you to potentially double your winnings. However, you will need to match the initial bet of the original hand on the new hand, making this a high risk, high reward strategy.
• Double Down – Double your initial bet in exchange for only one additional card. Once this play is made, you won’t be able to hit again. Be aware that some live casino’s won’t allow you to double down on certain hands, so always check the rules or directly message the dealer in-play.
• Insurance – Some live casino lobbies will allow you to take an insurance bet, which only becomes available if the dealer draws an Ace as their first card. Basically, you’re betting that their next card will be a 10-value card, resulting in a natural blackjack.
Live Blackjack Payouts
The house edge is different depending on what version of the game you play. However, if you play live blackjack with a basic strategy guide, it’s possible to reduce the house edge to as little as 0.5%, making it one of the lowest in the live casino.
Unlike live roulette, the payouts for blackjack are relatively straightforward. The payout for a win in live blackjack is 1:1, so if you put down a £5 bet you’ll get £10 back. If you manage to win on a natural blackjack, you’ll receive a payout of 3:2, making it the highest return bet in the game. Finally, if you choose to take the insurance bet, you’ll get a payout of 2:1 if the dealer gets a natural.
That’s everything a first-timer needs to know to get by in a game of live blackjack. Why not put your newfound knowledge to the test in one of Betsson’s live blackjack lobbies!