Live dealer Blackjack is a fast-paced, thrilling card game that is easy to play, and with a house edge of less than 1%, is one of the most popular online casino card games in South Africa today.
Blackjack is a multiplayer game where each player competes, each one after another, against a real live dealer via the game’s video feed interface. Gaming providers, such as Evolution Gaming and Ezugi, offer such live dealer services to many local online bookmakers.
The Basics of Live Dealer Blackjack
The game is one of the very few gambling games where the player’s decisions matter, and it is crucial to use a good strategy to beat the odds. The aim is to have a better hand than the dealer, getting as close as possible to 21 without going over.
There are many variants of the game, some of which have additional side bets such as Perfect Pairs and more. The standard Blackjack table has five to seven betting spots and one dealer. The dealer is the house representative and distributes the cards.
Like blackjack tables at brick and mortar casinos, live dealer blackjack tables each have a minimum and maximum bet that can be placed, so players need to choose one they feel comfortable playing at. Once the player has selected the table they want to join, they would need to select a seat before they can join the game and place their bet by clicking on the available chips in front of them. The table doesn’t need to be full for the game to start.
Once all the players at the table have placed their bets within the allotted time, the live dealer will begin dealing them their cards. Starting with the first player to his left, cards are dealt one at a time in a clock wise direction to each player, including himself, until each player has two cards. All cards are dealt face-up except for the dealer’s second card, which is dealt face down.
The value of the cards corresponds to their numerical value from 2 through 10. The value of the face cards (Jack, Queen, King) is 10 and the Ace is worth 1 or 11. A hand with an ace is called a soft hand because the player can change its value to either 1 or 11 to help strengthen their hand.
Player Decision Time
The player checks the value of their hand by totalling the two cards together to determine their next move. The dealer will again start with the first player to his left, and this player needs to decide what their next move will be.
- If the player has a Blackjack (Ace and a Jack, Queen or a King), the dealer pays them directly, a three to two pay-off.
- If the player has a pair, they can decide to split it. This is done by adding a wager next to the initial one. The dealer then separates the pair and deals two additional cards to form two new hands.
- The player also has the option to double down, meaning that they can double the initial bet. To do so, they must put an equal wager next to the initial one. Double down used to be on only allowed on small totals like 9, 10, or 11. However, many casinos now offer players the ability to double down on any two cards. Once all players have completed their choices, it will be the dealer’s turn to act.
- If the first card of the dealer is an Ace, players have the option to take insurance to protect their bets.
- If the player does not want another card, they stand. However, if the player does want another card, they hit. The dealer deals another card, and the player again has to show if they wish to hit or stand.
- The two possible outcomes of the draw are as follows:
- 21 or less. The player has to wait for the result of the dealer’s hand.
- Above 21. The player is bust, and they lose.
Once all the players have completed their turn, the dealer reveals their last card and must continue to hit until his cards total 17 or more. At 17 or higher, the dealer must stand. Here are the possible outcomes:
- The dealer exceeds 21. They are bust and the player wins a 2 to 1 pay-off.
- The dealer has a Blackjack. The player loses.
- The dealer has a higher hand. The player loses.
- The player has a better hand. The player wins a 2 to 1 pay-off.
- The dealer and player receive a blackjack or any other hands with the same total. No one wins, no one loses, it’s a push.
The rules used above are the most common ones, but many variants exist. Players should take note of them on the table information sign before taking a seat.
The best way to learn Blackjack is with a step by step description of the game. In this example, we consider a table with one player, a minimum bet limit of R50, and all the basic rules we discussed earlier. We will play four hands.
1st. Hand Dealt
We start the game by placing a R50 chip in the bet area on the table. We receive two cards from the dealer, the 10 of hearts and the 8 of clubs. The dealer card is the 7 of spades.
We add our two cards value together, we have 18. When it’s our turn, the dealer points to our cards. We decide to stand by waving our hand palm down.
The dealer reveals his 2nd card, it’s the 3 of hearts. His total is 10, it’s less than 17, he must draw another card.
Dealer’s next card is the 7 of diamonds, he now has 17, and must stand.
Our hand value is higher than the dealer, we win. We receive R100. Our gain is R50 (2 to 1).
We play again, and this time we decide to wager three R50 chips for a total bet of R150.
We receive the 8 of spades and the 8 of clubs. It’s a pair, so we choose to split it, we do that by adding another bet of R150 in the bet area, one for each 8. The dealer card is the 10 of hearts.
When it’s our turn, the dealer splits the pair of 8’s and deals two more cards, one onto each 8 card, forming two new hands.
The first card we receive is the 9 of hearts, and the second is the 3 of diamonds. So, the first hand has a total of 17, and the second hand has a total of eleven.
We decide to stand on the first hand with the total of 17. We know that we can’t bust on the second hand, so we decide to double down. To complete that, we add another R150 worth of chips into the bet area corresponding to that hand.
The dealer deals us the Jack of clubs. Our total is now 21.
The dealer reveals his other card, it’s the 7 of diamonds, and his total is 17. On the 1st. hand nobody wins, nobody loses, it’s a push, and we get back our R150 bet. On the double down hand, we win, and we receive R600.
We place our bet of R150 and the dealer deals the cards. We receive the Jack of hearts and the ace of spades. It’s a Blackjack, we win. We are paid directly R375, our profit is R225.
For our last bet, we bet R250 and the cards are dealt to each player, including the dealer. Our cards are ace of diamonds and 6 of hearts. The dealer card is the 10 of spades. We have a soft hand, the total of our two cards is 17 (11+6).
We hit, and we receive the 10 of diamonds. As a result, we change the value of the ace to one, and our total is still 17. The dealer takes another card, the 8 of clubs. His total is 18, and we lose.
It is highly recommended that players learn to play the game according to a strategy to improve their winning odds in the long term. A good blackjack basic strategy for beginners can be found on the Wizard of Odds website.
Live dealer blackjack is a fun and exciting game to play. If you play in a real casino, it is delightful as the players don’t play against each other, everyone supports each other and sets a friendly mood at the table. The same happens with the live dealer games. For more information about blackjack in general, read this article.
Use a perfect strategy, and soon you will become an expert on when to hit and when to stand, particularly on a 16.
One last tip to finish, almost no players ever take insurance as it is not worth it – have fun and good luck with your play!