When looking for a fun and inexpensive gambling experience, playing online blackjack for real money is a good bet. The card game is a basic casino offering in the Philippines and around the world. Sometimes called 21, blackjack is an entertaining game that provides many opportunities to earn profits. Betting on blackjack online is not complicated once you grasp the basics, which is what you will find here. This online blackjack guide is as comprehensive as they get. We cover everything from the history of the game to finding the right casino to play blackjack online in the Philippines.
Brief Blackjack History
Various versions exist explaining the origins of blackjack. What’s clear, though, is that the casino game goes back a long time. Some reports trace the game back to 1700 France. At the time, the game was referred to as vingt-et-un, which is French for 21. It was a sophisticated game played by royals at court and the French elite. It is said that the game was Napoleon Bonaparte’s favorite. In the 18th century, blackjack started evolving with new bets coming up. As more ways to gamble for real money were discovered, the game’s popularity grew.
French settlers introduced blackjack games in North America with most of the action concentrated in New Orleans. In the 1930s when gambling was legislated in Nevada, Blackjack was among the top offerings at casinos. In 1958, the first attempt was made to devise a mathematical and scientific strategy to beat blackjack. The advent of online casinos fueled the proliferation of the table game. Now it is easily available anywhere in the world. Blackjack players in the Philippines only have to find the right gambling website to start playing.
Is Playing Blackjack Online Legal in the Philippines?
We always aim to keep our readers safe when they are gambling online, and that includes clarifying the legal standpoints in particular regions. The Philippines doesn’t have clear-cut online gambling laws. Therefore, if you are new to casino gaming, you might not be sure whether it’s allowed or not. The nation has Blackjack online operators that are licensed in the country. However, only non-residents can access these casinos legally to play online. Residents who wish to bet on blackjack online can use websites registered in jurisdictions other than the Philippines. So, players have to be careful about where they choose to gamble on online blackjack games.
All forms of online gambling are legal in the Philippines as long as they are not provided by locally registered operators. Since the country has strict gambling laws, some players might be confused about the legality of online blackjack. A 2012 court ruling established that the current laws don’t prohibit online gambling outright. Nonetheless, Blackjack online players should check any local laws to see if they set any restrictions for online gaming. Gamblers can play different types of blackjack games for free or for real money.
Basic Blackjack Rules – How the game is played
This guide assumes that you have never played blackjack online and, thus, covers everything. The goal when playing the card game is to have a hand that is as close to 21 as possible without exceeding this limit. You also need a better hand than the dealer to win. If either you or the dealer goes above 21, then that is considered a bust and you both lose. In real money online blackjack, you play against the dealer, not other players.
You play blackjack with a standard deck where each card holds a value. Number cards are worth their pip values, while face cards are worth 10 points. An Ace can be 11 or 1, depending on how the player wants to use it. A blackjack game begins with you receiving the first two cards, face up. The dealer also gets two cards, one face up and the other down. If your total is higher than the dealer’s, then you win and vice versa. You can choose to take one more card or not, depending on the value of your current hand. Gamblers have a few actions they can take when playing blackjack, which we explore later in the guide.
Popular Blackjack Variations
One motivation to play blackjack is the sheer number of options available. Online blackjack is a highly diverse game with numerous variations. The advantage is that players in the Philippines with different gambling tastes can easily find suitable blackjack casino games. As more people play online, it has become necessary for developers to offer more gaming solutions. Therefore, you will find that even standard versions of the game come in various forms. Casino sites also provide special blackjack games that are only produced by certain developers.
When learning to play blackjack for real money, you should know how to choose the best online version of the game for you. Different elements separate one blackjack game from the next. Some factors include the number of decks used, whether you double your bet or not, doubling after splitting and surrendering. Below are some common variations of real money or free blackjack you can choose to play online.
This version is one of the two most played online blackjack games. European blackjack uses the regular rules with a few changes. Firstly, this variation doesn’t include a hole card for the dealer. So, when the game begins, the dealer only receives one face-up card. The second card is dealt after the player plays his or her hand. With this move, the dealer cannot check for blackjack straight away. You can play European blackjack online with two to eight decks. This blackjack game allows you to double your bet, but only on 9, 10 and 11. The dealer stands on soft 17, and you can double after splitting. However, you cannot re-split or surrender.
From the name, you can tell that this variant was popularised in the United States. However, it’s not restricted to the region. This version uses between six and eight decks. The dealer gets two cards and, so, can peek to see if a blackjack is possible. It means that if the face-up card is an Ace, the dealer looks at the hole card. American blackjack allows you to double your bet on any two cards. It also lets you double after splitting. You can split your cards up to three times in this variation. Late surrender is allowed when playing American blackjack online.
Vegas Strip blackjack
With Vegas being casino central, it’s not surprising that there is an online blackjack variant in its name. Vegas Strip blackjack uses four decks with the dealer receiving two cards like in the classic game. Therefore, this version allows peeking for blackjack on tens and Aces before the player takes any action. You can double on your first two cards and after splitting. Even though Vegas Strip lets you split cards up to four times, you can only divide Aces once. The dealer stands on soft 17 and surrender is not an option.
If you want to play blackjack with a version that improves your chances, then Blackjack Switch is it. This game requires you to play two hands. You start with two cards for each hand with equal stakes. Now the difference between this game and other versions is that it allows you to alternate cards. Hence, you can take a card from one hand and switch it with another one from the second hand, letting you create a stronger hand with the first two cards. Splitting and re-splitting is allowed. The dealer hits on soft 17, and you can double down on any pair.
Players looking for a bit of a challenge when betting on blackjack online should try the multi-hand version. Whether you prefer playing free blackjack or for real money, you don’t have to learn new rules. The main difference between multi-hand and the classic game is that the former involves multiple hands. For that reason, the variant has more bets. The exact number of hands varies from one title to the next. Some rules like doubling down, splitting and surrendering also depend on a specific multi-hand blackjack game.
Single Deck Blackjack
When playing Single Deck blackjack online, one deck is used. Gambling sites are not particularly enthusiastic about this variant because it makes it easy for blackjack players to count cards. Nonetheless, Filipino players can expect to find a title to two. In this online blackjack variation, the dealer hits on soft 17. You can split cards up to three times. One advantage of Single Deck blackjack is a low house advantage of 0.15%. However, casinos incorporate new rules to increase the house edge.
Pontoon resembles classic blackjack and has its origins in Britain. However, you will find some sites that offer Malaysian and Australian Pontoon, which is similar to Spanish 21. This variant` uses four to eight decks depending on the game. In Pontoon, 21s generated from splitting cards are naturals and, so, are eligible for bonus payouts. The dealer doesn’t take a hole card in this version. Doubling after splitting is allowed. However, you can only double on 9-11 only. Surrender is available in Pontoon. Note that some terms in this variation might be different from regular blackjack. For example, the dealer can be the banker, buy means to double, and trust means to hit.
If regular online blackjack doesn’t do it for you, then you can consider live dealer blackjack. Live dealer gaming means that you get to play online for real money but with human dealers calling the game like in a physical casino. The dealers are set up in studios with HD cameras and microphones so that gamblers can see and hear everything that happens. Players can chat with the live dealer or each other, thus adding a social aspect to playing online. A dealer blackjack title can be any variant. Therefore, expect to find some popular offerings like European, American, and Switch dealer blackjack options. Some exclusive live dealer games are available as well.
Types of bets in Blackjack
Betting on blackjack online for real money means knowing which moves to make, and the right time to make them. After receiving those first two cards, the game gives you several betting options. When talking about the element of skill involved in online blackjack, this is where it comes in. Each move you make determines the value of the cards that you end up with. It’s for this reason, beginners should try free blackjack first to learn about the different bets. Note that you win outright if your first two cards are worth 21 (an Ace+ a 10), which is considered a blackjack and pays 3:2. Below are some of the betting alternatives in blackjack games.
Player options in blackjack
After summing up the value of the initial two cards, you can take one of several actions. In online blackjack, you have to click a button to indicate the move. However, dealer blackjack might require you to make hand gestures like you would in a brick-and-mortar casino. Before taking any action, the dealer checks for blackjack (in some variants), and if the hand is a blackjack, then all players without a blackjack lose. If the game proceeds, the actions are:
- Hit – you can ask for another card to improve your hand. You can hit more than once, but avoid going over 21.
- Stand – Also called a stay or stick, a stand is when you refuse to take another card, which can be after you get the first cards or after hitting.
- Split – When holding two cards of equal value, up can divide them then continue playing with two separate hands. Splitting requires you to double your bet.
- Double down – Doubling your original wager, which requires the dealer to give you one more card. However, you won’t be able to take another card.
- Surrender – An online casino can allow you to give up half your wager and recoup the other half to stop playing a poor hand.
Some operators try to encourage gamblers to play blackjack online by offering a variety of additional bets. So, players have the chance to enhance their odds and profit margins. Online blackjack has so many side bets, it’s impractical to try to learn all of them. Thus, we included a few popular ones:
- 21+3 – A player wins if the initial two cards and the dealer’s up card form a three of a kind, straight flush, straight or flush.
- Perfect Pairs – The bet pays if a player’s first cards are identical like 10s of diamonds. This side bet is available in online and live dealer games.
- Lucky Ladies – You see some sort of return for any 20-point hand. A pair of Queens are worth more. The value depends on whether the dealer has a blackjack, and if the pair is suited or matched.
- Pair Square – Also called Any Pair, the wager pays if the original cards are the same rank, such as a pair of eights. It can be suited or not.
- Royal Match – The side bet pays 5:2 if the initial cards are suited (easy match). It also pays 25:1 if the cards are a King and Queen, called a Royal Match.
Online Blackjack house edge
All casino games have a house advantage because that is how operators make profits. If a game is said to have a house edge of 4%, it means that for every 100 pesos you wager, you are expected to lose 4 pesos. So, depending on how much you are playing online, a casino’s advantage can cost you a significant amount. Before you play blackjack online, you should be aware of the house advantage of a specific game. Blackjack’s house advantage is one of the lowest you will come across. The average is 0.5%. However, this figure assumes that a player is using a basic blackjack strategy.
Beginners tend to give up more (up to 1.5%) to the casino because most don’t know how to reduce that statistical advantage. Various aspects influence the casino’s edge when you play blackjack. These include the number of decks, whether a dealer hits or stands on soft 17, how much a natural pays and if the game allows doubling and splitting. For this reason, the house advantage differs across various online blackjack games. In Blackjack Switch the house advantage is 0.17%, Single Deck Blackjack has 0.15%, 0.63% for Multi-hand Blackjack, 0.39% for European Blackjack and 0.39% in Pontoon.
Hard and soft hands in blackjack
When gambling on blackjack online for real money, the terms hard and soft hands will come up. Knowing how they affect the gameplay is critical. You should be able to tell the difference and know how to play each hand because it determines the rest of the game.
A soft hand in blackjack games contains a flexible Ace. It means that the Ace can count as 1 or 11. The Ace is the most powerful card when betting on blackjack online because it lets you change your hand’s total.
When holding a soft hand, it means that you can’t go bust when you ask for another card. You can convert the Ace from 11 to 1 to prevent you from going over 21.
A hard hand doesn’t contain an Ace. If it does, then the Ace is not flexible and is valued as 1. Examples of hard hands are J-3-5, K-4-2, Q-8, 7-A-K. In the last example, the hand was initially a soft 18 because it could count as 18 or 8.
When learning basic strategy, you can find out whether to hit, stand, double or split soft and hard hands.
Online Blackjack Tips
The temptation to jump right into gambling on blackjack online is understandable, especially when you think you have grasped how the game works. However, don’t commit that mistake. As simple as online blackjack looks at a glance, playing for real money should not be taken lightly. Therefore, you should know how to get the most value from the card game. One rule to remember when learning to play blackjack is that it doesn’t rely entirely on luck. For that reason, you should know how to sharpen your skills. The tips included in this guide should help.
Pick the right blackjack game variant
It might not seem like it, but whether you choose to play American blackjack, European blackjack or Pontoon makes a world of difference. Like we discussed earlier, different blackjack games have individual rules. Consequently, they will determine how you play online, the house advantage and the payout. For example, a game that pays 6:5 for a blackjack rather than 3:2 boosts the casino’s advantage by 1.4%. When picking the best online variant, consider your skills because some blackjack games are more complicated than others.
Make sure you know all the rules
As obvious as it is, not every player is keen on learning all the rules. Before you play blackjack for real money, you should be certain that you understand the necessary player actions. Remember that rules can vary slightly across different blackjack games. For example, Spanish 21 is played without all the 10s and European blackjack doesn’t include a hole card. You should be especially careful when playing dealer blackjack because everything happens in real-time. Playing free blackjack is a good way to get familiar with the rules.
Use Blackjack Strategy Cards
A basic blackjack strategy should be a priority when learning to play blackjack online. You should know which cards to split, when to double down, and what to do with soft and hard hands. The basic strategy uses computer simulations to generate the ideal moves for different situations. It helps you make the right decisions, consequently boosting your chances. For this reason, you should keep basic strategy cards, charts, or cheat sheets on hand as you play blackjack so that you can refer to them when needed.
Play the game in free/demo mode
Don’t dive into real money blackjack online right away. Try free blackjack first. Players in the Philippines can easily find free blackjack options at gambling websites. A majority of online blackjack titles have demo versions that allow you to play using pretend money. Hence, you get the opportunity to practice blackjack games as much as possible. With free blackjack, you can learn the rules and the gameplay of specific variants before investing real money.
Use casino bonuses
Another way to make the most out of gambling on blackjack online is to leverage different offers and promotions. Smart gambling is about managing your bankroll as wisely as possible. With extra cash to spend, you can bet more on blackjack online. Increasing your playtime means that you have more chances to try and win. Gambling websites usually offer different bonuses like welcome, reload, and cashback. Compare online blackjack bonuses to settle on the best one.
Card Counting in Online Blackjack – Is it Possible?
Counting cards is one of the oldest and most common strategies to play blackjack. The principle of card counting is that the player assigns value to different cards, then tracks how they are dealt. So, by keeping a running count mentally, you can tell when cards with lower value are out of the way, thus allowing you to capitalize on high-value cards. For example, you can take Aces and 10s as -1 and 2-6 as +1, then monitor the totals as each card comes off the deck. A host of other methods of card counting are available.
If you are looking for something beyond the basic blackjack strategy, then card counting is a legitimate way to reduce the house advantage. However, you can only count cards in a blackjack game if the shuffling doesn’t happen after each hand. Online casinos take measures to prevent card counting, which makes it hard for blackjack players to use this tactic. Some blackjack games have automatic shuffling features that reshuffle cards after each hand to discourage card counting.
How to find the best blackjack online casinos
Filipino gamblers have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of gambling sites where they can play blackjack for real money. Because online blackjack is legal at offshore casinos, then alternatives come in all sizes. An individual who has never played blackjack online might find all the options overwhelming and, thus, susceptible to common missteps. Not every blackjack site out there delivers what it promises. So, how do you find the best online gaming platform? Here are some aspects to prioritize.
Safe and secure operators
A pretty and user-friendly gambling platform is not enough. You must ensure that it provides a safe gaming experience as well. Playing online means that you have to submit personal details during registration, send verification documents, and transfer money. With all the confidential data that an online casino collects from you, you should be confident that all of it is safe. Thus, check that an operator is registered with a recognized regulatory body because that means it adheres to strict standards. Find out if a site is encrypted, as well.
One reason to be wary of new online casinos is that they have little information about their history. The reputation of a gambling company says a lot about its service delivery. Concentrate on casinos with experience in iGaming. Look at how they have fared since launching. Pay special attention to rebranded gaming sites. Find out why they had to rebrand and if that impacted their service delivery.
Quality bonuses and promotions
Casino sites are big on bonuses. They use various offers to attract customers and convince them to keep spending money. You see, online gaming platforms don’t incur as much overhead as their physical counterparts. Hence, they can afford to give away cash bonuses, gifts, and other rewards to customers. When choosing a blackjack site, analyze the bonus offers. Don’t focus on the size only, though. Look up the terms to ensure that you are getting decent offers.
The choice of blackjack games at a casino matters too. Gamblers have widely varying tastes and a decent operator should be able to cater to them as best as it can. Even if you prefer one blackjack variant, you might want to try something else later on. For that reason, a casino should have options from which to choose. Check the regular and live dealer variants available before using a casino. Sites with casino games from multiple suppliers are always a plus side.
Mobile app availability
Mobile gambling has become an integral part of casino gaming. Today’s gambler appreciates convenience and nothing is more convenient than accessing blackjack online on the move. Casinos now provide mobile gaming through native apps or optimized websites. Therefore, the operator you pick should provide at least one of these alternatives. Ensure that you can access most of the products, including promotions, payment methods, and live casino if there is one.
Reliable customer support
All the above elements are crucial, but nothing beats efficient customer support. When you are having trouble gambling on blackjack online, or you can’t deposit, you should be able to get the necessary assistance. A good blackjack casino should provide a knowledgeable, professional and efficient support team. Customers should also have multiple contact methods where they can communicate with customer service effectively. Find out about the response times and the conduct of the customer representatives by reading objective reviews.
Free Blackjack Games – The best way to learn to play
A huge plus point of playing online is that you can access free blackjack whenever you wish. By providing free blackjack games, operators entice players to spend their money on certain titles. Free blackjack is an effective learning tool, as well. When you are still studying how to play blackjack, it helps to put your knowledge into practice. However, wagering with real money is not feasible because you would be too scared to lose and forget about everything else.
You can gamble on blackjack online for free through demo games, which are integrated into most casino games. Without the need to deposit cash, you can play free blackjack for as long as you want. So, you have the time to familiarise yourself with different rules.
Benefits of Free Blackjack Games
Betting on blackjack online for free can help gamblers in the Philippines try out different gambling sites. After narrowing down your online casino options, you can play free blackjack to see how the site performs before depositing real money. Freeplay can also help you find the best online card game for you. Since a majority of online blackjack titles come with demo modes, players can easily test products from specific developers. If a casino or provider has a new release, then you can try playing for free first. Note that live blackjack titles don’t have play-for-fun features.
Where to Play Online Blackjack for Free
Filipino players can find play-for-fun blackjack games with a simple search. The first place to look is on gambling websites. Some casinos allow guests to try blackjack online without accounts, while others only offer free casino games to customers. Casino affiliate sites such as review platforms and bonus websites are other places where you can find free blackjack. Game manufacturers also offer the option to play demos on their official websites. You only have to search for a specific blackjack game, and start playing.
Conclusion – Why play blackjack online?
Now that you have an idea of how to play blackjack, you can think about trying this fun card game at online casinos in the Philippines. Blackjack is not overly complicated, which makes it an excellent choice, especially if you are still new to table games. The appeal of gambling on blackjack online is that you can find something to match your skills.
It offers the perfect variants for beginners like American and European blackjack games. When you move to the intermediate and later advanced level, you can find variations and strategies to satisfy your needs. Another reason to consider wagering on blackjack online is that its house edge is one of the lowest. Remember to play free blackjack first before trying for real money.