Probably the most popular game in the real-life casino, live blackjack hasn’t lost any of its appeal. Being one of the few casino games where you directly face off against the dealer, it helps to be able to see them in the flesh and interact – something that can be lost in some online blackjack lobbies.
The rules of blackjack remain the same, don’t go over 21 and beat the dealer’s hand: pretty easy stuff!
Live Blackjack Card Value
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.
Live Blackjack Hacks for Beginners
1) Live Blackjack and Card Counting
Despite popular belief, card counting is not illegal – though it is somewhat frowned upon in the casino community. While you’re completely within your rights to practice this in a real-life casino, if you’re caught, it’s very likely that you’ll be banned from the premises, which isn’t a great way to spend your time.
However, in live blackjack games, you aren’t being watched, so it’s a great place to practice card counting techniques – especially as the live dealers use real
cards and shoes.
2) Print a Basic Strategy Chart
Rather than spending your hard-earned time and money on complex strategy books or guides hoping to become a better live blackjack player, it’s just as easy
to print out several basic strategy charts.
Essentially, basic strategy is a very specific guide that tells you exactly when to hit, stand, double down, and split, all depending on the cards in your hand as
well as the dealer’s cards. And the best part? There are literally hundreds of them online that’re free to use! So to hack your way to a better live casino experience, simply print one out and consult it before you bet.
3) Use the Bet Behind Feature
When you enter a live blackjack game and there are no more seats available, you may be given the option to ‘bet behind’ another player at the table.
Essentially, this means that you make a separate bet on their hand, though you have no control over how they play unless you communicate directly through
the chat feature.
On top of letting you play despite not having a seat, this is a great way for you to ride on someone else’s winning streak – as long as you choose wisely.
Equally, you can watch a more experienced player and learn from their playstyle, making it one of the best live casino hacks around.
4) Never Take the Insurance Bet
Less of a hack, but definitely worth remembering: never ever take the insurance bet in live blackjack. Ever. The insurance side bet can only be taken if the
dealer’s upcard is an ace, and you’re betting on whether their next card will be a 10-value card, resulting in a natural blackjack.
While this might seem like a good idea on the surface, it’s one of the worst bets in the entire live casino format. With a payout of 2:1 and odds of around 33%,
depending on which cards are drawn for everyone else, the risk is certainly not worth the reward.
5) Pick the Right Live Blackjack Game
On the live casino lobby, there are usually multiple variations of the game, including some with adjusted rules and betting limits. Before you sit down to play for real, always read the rules of each game and find the one that best suits your playstyle and bankroll. You wouldn’t want to be playing for fun only to find that you’re in a VIP lobby with minimum bets of £50 or more!