The history of online gambling
Gambling has its roots in dice games, and it is dated around 100AD, but gambling has come a long way since then. Some records suggest Harry Ogden was the first man to commercialize bookmaking services in 1790 when he first offered players an opportunity to place bets on horses. By 1845 gambling was restricted to horse racing in Canada till the law changes legalized betting shops in 1961, leading to the opening of more than 10,000 bookie shops in just six months.
Technological innovations are seen online gambling become one of the fastest-growing industries since the very first online gambling site hit the internet in 1995, offering poker. The industry continued to grown, and now you can find countless casino games online, including slots, table games, sports betting and lotteries.
How to play blackjack?
The goal of blackjack is to beat the dealer's hand without going over 21. Aces are worth 1 or 11, face cards worth 10 and all other cards worth their face value. Each players start with 2 cards while one of the dealer cards stays face down. Once it's your turn, you get to decide if you want to 'hit' and ask for another card or 'stand' and stay on the cards you already have.
If you are dealt 21 from the start (Ace & 10), you got a blackjack.
The dealer will hit until their cards total 17 or higher.
Double and split
Doubling is like a hit, only the bet is doubled and you only get one more card
Split can be done when you have two of the same card
, you essentially split them into two hands which also doubles the bet and each new hand is worth the original bet.
You can only double/split on the first move, or first move of a hand created by a split. You cannot play on two aces after they are split. You can double on a hand resulting from a split, tripling or quadrupling you bet.
Blackjack is one of the easiest casino games and with the right strategy you can get your hands on some nice wins
Play online blackjack in its many variations
While there are lots of variations available, classic blackjack is still the leading favourite. The main aim of classic blackjack is to create a hand coming close to number 21 and not going over.
Features that make classic blackjack stand out:
- It uses 2-4 decks of cards
- The dealer hits soft 17
- Splitting and doubling are both allowed
- The dealer checks for Blackjack
- A maximum of two splits are allowed with a doubling following a split
This version is normally played with 2 decks of cards. Only a few rules are in place, for example, the dealer standing on a soft 17 and a smaller number of card decks used. However, the casino would make it up for it by the dealer, not checking for a blackjack. What makes this online blackjack version stand out?
- Dealer's blackjack vs Player's leads to a push
- The dealer doesn't check for a blackjack
- The dealer stands on soft 17
- You can only double down if you have a total of 9, 10, and 11
- You can double after splitting but not allowed to re-split further
This online blackjack version is very popular in most online casinos. The fact that dealer's hole cards are placed face down is what makes Pontoon, also known as Spanish 21, popular. This game gives players a higher payout. Pontoon stands out because:
- The dealer hits soft 17 and wins on all ties
- A 2-card hand amounting to 21 is called a Pontoon
- You can stand only when there is a total of 15 or more
Match Play 21
This online blackjack version is a little bit different from other conventional blackjacks as all 10s are removed from the deck while there are cards that receive special bonus payouts. This is what makes Match Play 21 stand out:
- The dealer hits on soft 17
- All the 10s are taken away from the deck apart from face cards
- You split and double
Face Up 21
Face Up 21 presents dealer's cards face up. This is what gives you a hint on the next move. This is why this online blackjack version stands out:
- You could double after splitting. However, doubling is only possible on totals of 9, 10, and 11
- The dealer hits on soft 17
- Dealer's blackjack against the player's leads to a loss
Perfect Pairs Blackjack
Perfect pairs blackjack uses the classic blackjack rules with the exception of an additional side bet at the beginning of each hand. The side bet is an extra bet on the first 2 cards but being on the same value. Features of the Perfect Pairs Blackjack that make it stand out:
- Players are allowed to double down and split
- You can play to a maximum of 5 hands per round
- The dealer hits on soft 17
This blackjack version lets you play more than one hand per round. It is for that reason it's the most popular and preferred version of online blackjack. Why does Multi-hand blackjack stand out?
- The dealer doesn't check for blackjack
- Players can only slip once
- The dealer stands on soft 17
- You can only double in totals of 9, 10, and 11
This is how you get started
Select a trusted Canadian casino to open an account at, and you are on your way to a new world of online blackjack! You can select a generous casino bonus
, but you should always read the terms and conditions, as some casinos have special terms or a separate welcome offer if you only want to play table games
Once you set up an account at your new online casino, verified the account and deposited money, you are set to play! You can choose from the countless classic blackjack games or live casino
To be successful at your blackjack game, it is worth slowly getting to know what sort of betting strategy you are comfortable with. Learn to manage your bankroll and decide if you are a low-risk or a high-risk type of player. Choose the best strategy, and you could be enjoying some blackjack wins in no time!
Blackjack Basic Strategy
Blackjack is famous for being one of the best games for players due to it having a very low house edge - as low as 0.17%
in a game of Single Deck Blackjack, for example. However, because Blackjack involves an element of skill, the lowest possible house edge will only be experienced by those who consistently make the right decisions at the right time, so it is good to learn a little something about Basic Strategy.
What is Basic Strategy?
Basic Strategy is essentially a collection of rules that tell you what you should do in any given situation according to the cards you have been dealt and the value of the up-card that the Dealer is showing. There are Basic Strategy charts widely available which cover every possibility, but for many players, a handful of easy to remember rules is usually enough to give them more than a fighting chance at the tables. Here are the ones we believe to be the most essential:
- Always play a game with the fewest decks in the shoe as possible. Single Deck Blackjack is the one that gives the house its lowest edge, which automatically makes it the best choice for the player.
- Never take Insurance. This is a side bet offered when the Dealer’s up-card is an Ace, and while it will get you your stake back if the Dealer has a Blackjack, over the long term, Insurance bets will cost you money because it increases the house edge to 5.8% in a single deck game and even more in multi-deck games.
- Always Stand on 17 or higher. You might be tempted to hit if the Dealer’s up card is a 7 or higher, but doing so would favour the house far more often than it would favour you. Billions of computer simulations don’t lie, and the stats say you should Stand.
- Always Hit when your hand totals 11 or less.You have no chance of busting, and a total of 11 or less is only rarely good enough to beat the Dealer.
- Always Stand when your hand totals 13-16, and the Dealer’s up-card is 6 or lower. The Dealer can only usually stand on 17 or better, so if the unseen card is a 10-value, he must hit the 16 and risk busting. If he does bust, then your smaller hand would automatically win.
- Always Hit when your hand totals 13-16, and the Dealer’s up-card is 7 or higher. The stats reveal that to Stand in this scenario would cost you more over the long term.
- Always Split a pair of Aces or 8’s.
- Always Stand with a pair of 10’s. Also Stand with a pair of 9’s when the Dealer’s up-card is a 7, 10 or Ace.
You should consult a Basic Strategy chart for more detailed and comprehensive rules, but the guidelines presented above should help you to play more strategically from the outset.
Blackjack Card Counting
Players have been trying to beat the casinos from the very beginning, and a few have actually succeeded. One of the most famous methods that Blackjack players have used to get an edge over the house is card counting. This is a technique developed by Ed Thorpe, a mathematics professor who worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New Mexico State University, and the University of California in the late 1950s through to the early 1980s.
Thorpe's card counting technique was so successful that he was banned from multiple land-based casinos, and so was anyone else caught using it. Of course, that didn't stop plenty of people learning the technique for themselves (thanks to Thorpe writing and publishing a book called Beat the Dealer) and making good use of it for as long as they were able to remain under the radar.
What is Card Counting?
In the simplest of terms, card counting is a technique by which a Blackjack player keeps a mental track of all the cards he sees as they are dealt. By assigning a different count to both low and high cards, the player can keep a running total in his head that gives him a good idea of how many high cards remain in the shoe.
Thorpe's work as a mathematician proved that the more high-value cards there are in the shoe (meaning Aces and 10-value cards), the better it is for players. Being able to keep track of cards already dealt allowed him to bet more when the remaining shoe was richer in high-value cards and to reduce his stakes when there were relatively few high-value cards left to be dealt.
Experienced Blackjack players will know that this game is one that gives the casino the smallest edge over its customers. By adhering to Basic Strategy, players can reduce the house edge to 1% or even less. Add card counting into the mix, and it is easy to see how Thorpe was able to not only eradicate that slim edge but actually give himself a mathematical advantage over the casino.
Is Card Counting Illegal?
Many people believe that card counting is illegal, but that isn't the case. Since all a player is doing is keeping a mental track of the cards he sees dealt, he isn't interfering with the game in any way. He's simply being very aware of what's happening and adjusting his stakes accordingly.
However, that doesn't mean that card counting is something that is tolerated by casinos. Many venues have strict rules that forbid players from counting cards, and if they suspect that someone is doing so, they can and will eject them from the premises. Casinos are also quite happy to ban card counters from their premises for life.
How can the casino tell that someone is counting cards, you might ask? Well, because it takes a high level of concentration, it is fairly easy for casino staff to spot when a player is counting. Some players have tried to get around that by hiding electronic counting devices on their person, but that is even riskier, as such devices are forbidden at all casinos. And much easier for them to detect.
Of course, card counting without electronic devices still continues to this day. Some players are better at it than others, but only the very best will remain under the radar for long enough to make any decent money from their skill. The rest usually get caught out early and are banned long before they have done the casino any damage.
Counting Cards in Online Blackjack
At this point, you might think that card counting is something that is ideally suited to online blackjack. After all, you play online blackjack in the privacy of your own home, and there is nobody around to notice whether you're concentrating intensely or just having fun. So you could learn card counting and make a fortune from the comfort of your laptop, right?
Well, no, not really, and we say that for a couple of reasons. The first is that card counting works by telling you how many high cards remain in the shoe. As the total number of cards remaining in the shoe decreases (which means that the so-called 'shoe penetration' increases), the count becomes more useful.
Unfortunately, when you play online blackjack games that are driven by RNG software, the cards are usually shuffled after each and every hand. That effectively makes card counting useless, as every new hand is dealt from a shoe containing all of the available cards.
It is conceivably possible to count cards when playing Live Blackjack at an online casino, but here we get to the second reason why it isn't usually effective. We said a moment ago that card counting becomes more effective as the shoe penetration increases, so many Live Blackjack games simply start with a new shoe long before any counters at the table start getting an advantage.
Of course, if you find a Live Blackjack game that doesn't take this precaution, feel free to give card counting a try. It probably won't be as effective as at a land-based casino, but it could be an interesting exercise nevertheless.
The question of how much you should bet on any given hand of Blackjack doesn’t have an easy answer because all players are different, but a good starting point for someone who is relatively new to the game would be to bet 5% of the available session bank
on any given hand.
For example, if you have $40 that you are willing to put at risk in a single gaming session, you would bet a fixed 5% of that sum on each hand, which is $2. Should you Split your hand, another bet of $2 would be needed.
This 5% per hand approach would enable you to play 20 consecutive hands (assuming that no Splits are made) before wiping out the $40 session bank.
If you wish to take a more refined approach, you could bet 5% of your current session bank balance on each subsequent hand. This would allow your bets to increase as your bank increases (betting $3 when the bank reaches $60) and to decrease should the bank level fall (betting $1 when the bank reaches $20).
Practice Makes Perfect
Playing Blackjack strategically is a skill that must be developed over time, so don’t expect to become a Blackjack master after just one or two sessions. Instead, be patient, practice often and enjoy the process.