These days, you don’t need to head down to the local casino to enjoy a hand or two of blackjack. In fact, you can do so from the comfort of your own home whenever you feel like it. Online casinos have revolutionised the way players bet on games of chance. Although the games themselves are often nearly identical to those played in brick-and-mortar gambling venues around the world, the experience itself is mostly different.
In the following article, we explain exactly what is the same about playing blackjack online versus playing in a real casino. We’ll then introduce some of the many differences between the two forms of the game.
Although versions of blackjack differ from venue to venue, you will find that the rules of game when played online are almost identical to those played in a brick-and-mortar casino. Players each receive two face up cards versus the dealer’s one faceup card.
The overall aim of blackjack is similar no matter where you play it. Both the player and the dealer are trying to make a hand with a total value as close to 21 as possible. They draw cards until they are happy with their hand. If either the player or the dealer ends up with a hand that exceeds 21, their hand is declared “bust” and they will surrender their bet to the opposition.
Whether you play blackjack online or in a casino, the player always plays out their hand first. This gives the dealer an advantage since they have more information than the player does. This is in part where the house edge comes from.
Another similarity between online and live blackjack is this house edge. No matter where you play and the exact rules you use, the casino will always hold an advantage over the player. This edge is how the venue makes its money. Blackjack typically has one of the lowest house edges of all casino games. In some versions of the game, you can play at a disadvantage to the casino of just 0.5 percent. Given that the house edge of other games can be much higher, blackjack is often considered one of the fairest casino games.
Finally, it’s useful to know that you can actually play blackjack well – both online and at brick-and-mortar casinos. This makes it distinct from many other games offered by gambling venues. With a slot machine, all you can really do is adjust the stakes and hit “spin”. With blackjack, you can “hit”, “stand”, “split”, or “double” your bet. For some player card/dealer card combinations, certain actions are more likely to result in player victory. For example, versus a dealer 10, the mathematically correct play is to hit on any hand lower than 17. Players that deviate from the mathematically correct play either online or in the casino will be playing at an even greater disadvantage than those playing “perfectly”.
The overall experience of playing blackjack in real life versus on a website is very different. For one, you will probably get kicked out of the casino if you show up in your pants or pyjamas!
A trip to the casino is an experience in itself. It tends to involve a few drinks, dressing up fancy, and if you’re lucky, a gorgeous date on your arm. Casinos usually have restaurants, other games, sports being shown, or even music events on. The overall experience is probably the largest difference between playing blackjack online and in real life.
Depending on the version of online blackjack you play, it’s possible to get many more hands in than it would be in a live game. Typically, each player in the live setting will play a single hand. Online, you can play five hands at once on a single game. For action junkies, online is clearly a better bet.
The time it takes to deal a hand is considerably reduced online too. You don’t wait for players to make bets or for dealers to deal physical cards. It all happens much quicker and allows for a much higher volume of bets.
One of the biggest advantages are the bonuses online casinos can offer over their land-based counterparts. Whilst some live casinos do offer bonuses, the aren’t usually anywhere near as common as those seen online.
When you sign up to a real-world casino, you might receive a free $10 chip to play on whatever game you feel, including blackjack. This will typically not have any wagering requirements associated with it and represents a gesture of good will from the casino. It’s not really intended to lure players in quite the same way as online bonuses are.
Most land-based casinos don’t have the same concerns as online ones when it comes to attracting new players. Unless they’re located in Las Vegas, Macau, or some other mecca for gambling, they’re unlikely to face much in the way of competition. Basically, if you want to gamble and you’re in the area, you’ll probably go to the closest casino.
Online it’s a little different. Players can access a huge number of casinos instantly. They don’t need to travel to them so visiting different venues does not have the same logistical requirements. An online casino, therefore, needs some other way to attract players to their websites. As well as striving for the best game selection and most respected licences, they will usually offer a welcome bonus to new players.
It’s important to be aware of wagering requirements and other terms and conditions when using a casino bonus to play blackjack. Since the game offers such a low house edge, it’s common to see blackjack heavily limited in its contributions to a wagering requirement or excluded entirely.
Although it’s incredibly difficult to do effectively at a live casino, it is technically possible to get an advantage over the house by using a technique known as card counting. Since decks are not usually shuffled between hands of blackjack, skilful players can determine when high value cards are more likely to come out. They can then adjust their bet sizes accordingly and clean up when conditions are favourable.
Card counting relies on the decks used not being shuffled frequently. It’s therefore impossible at an online casino since the deck is randomised using a random number generator instead of a shuffle. The deck is essentially “fresh” for every hand and no advantage can be derived by memorising which cards have already been seen.
These days, you can play blackjack online with a live casino game too. Cameras film the action as it unfolds at a real casino table located somewhere in the world. Players make bets on their hand in the same way they would in a real casino and they can interact with the human dealer using live chat.
Although the live casino gives a more authentic playing experience, it is usually even slower than playing at a real-world casino. You might be playing with four other people who are all giving the game half their attention and the TV, or some other distraction, the other half. The internet connections of players can also slow the action. If one player keeps disconnecting intermittently, the game could take ages!
That said, live casino games are particularly popular amongst recreational gamblers. They give a more social experience but still don’t require the same time commitment as attending a venue in real life would.