One can hardly talk about casinos or gambling without mentioning the word Blackjack. An iconic, classic kind of a card game, immortalized by James Bond, played by millions all over the world, whether at home, in a traditional casino, or online, one simply can’t ignore blackjack. The rules of blackjack are quite simple, your goal is to have a score not higher than 21, preferably 21 or as close as possible.
If you go over 21 you went bust and that hand is over for you. 21 gives you an instant win, in most variations of the game. That’s why ‘21’ is the alternative name of the game. One difference between regular blackjack and online blackjack is that you can play online blackjack for free. Later, if you feel like you are on a winning streak, you can reach for your wallet.
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Compare Software Providers
There are different online casino software operators offering blackjack games for South African players to play at online casinos that accept South African Rands. These software operators include mainly:
Playtech is one of the global leaders when it comes to online casino software development. The company is known for its high quality game offerings, a fact underlined by the large number of online casinos that use Playtech software. All blackjack games offered by Playtech come with high quality graphics that are realistic and eye-catching. There are three different modes available when it comes to Playtech blackjack games: single player, multi-player (with a chat option that allows players to communicate with each other), and private tables.
The different games available include standard Blackjack, Blackjack Switch, Blackjack Progressive, Blackjack Surrender, Live Blackjack, and also Pontoon.
Real Time Gaming (RTG)
RTG is another well-known online casino software provider that powers casinos supporting South African players and accepting Rands. All RTG blackjack offerings come with excellent graphics, great features, and excellent payouts. You can play blackjack offerings from RTG for free or for real money. The different RTG blackjack offerings you can check out include standard Blackjack, Blackjack Surrender, European Blackjack, Face Up 21, Super 21, Perfect Pairs, Matchplay 21, and Pontoon.
Rival Gaming is another online casino software provider that powers casinos accepting South African Rands. While Rival Gaming's blackjack offerings may not be as numerous as some of the other providers, they are still good enough to draw a large player base. Rival Gaming offers mainly two varieties of blackjack: single hand and multi-hand blackjack. At any of the Rival-powered casinos available to South African players, you can play any of these two varieties of blackjack for fun or for real money.
iSoftBet is another provider of casino software for South African casinos, and has a decent range of online blackjack games. All blackjack offerings from iSoftBet come with excellent graphics and are available for both real money and fun play. The different games available include Blackjack 3D Multi-Hand, Blackjack Multi-Hand, standard blackjack, Blackjack Atlantic City, Blackjack French, Blackjack Multi-Hand VIP, Blackjack Reno, Blackjack Super 7s Multi-Hand, and Blackjack VIP.
Below is a table with a comparative study of the different kinds of blackjack from different online casino software providers.
|Software||Number of Games||Most Popular Games||House Edge||Progressive Blackjack||Live Dealer Blackjack|
|Playtech||6-7||Standard blackjack, Blackjack Surrender, Blackjack Switch||Standard: 0.49%
Blackjack Surrender: 0.39%
Blackjack Switch: 0.16%
|RTG||7||Standard blackjack, Blackjack Surrender||Standard blackjack: 0.57%
Blackjack Surrender: 0.49%
|Rival||2||Single Hand, Multi-Hand||No||No|
|iSoftBet||9||Blackjack 3D Multi-Hand, Blackjack Atlantic City||No|
Blackjack Download vs Flash
When it comes to playing blackjack online, there are two ways of playing it. You can play in download mode or opt for the no download Flash mode if it is offered by the casino. There are certain basic differences to playing in these two modes.
To play in the download mode, a player has to download the casino software to his desktop or laptop. To do so, he has to click the Download button on the casino's home page and follow the instructions to download the casino software. Once it is downloaded, he needs to register an account with the casino and opt to play either for fun or for real money. If he opts to play for real money he is required to deposit funds into his casino account to avail the bonuses on offer. Then he will be able to access the different blackjack games available. By choosing to play in the download mode, he gets access to the full suite of blackjack games being offered by the casino.
To play in the Flash casino mode, the player does not need to download the software. All he has to do is click the Instant Play or Play Now button on the home page of the casino. A pop-up box appears asking the player to register an account. Once the player has registered an account, he chooses whether he wants to play for fun or real money. If he chooses to play for real money, he is asked to deposit money into his account to avail the bonuses on offer. Once he has deposited money into his account, he is ready to play the blackjack game of his choice, directly from the browser.
Live Dealer Blackjack
Live dealer blackjack is a type of blackjack you find at online casinos. It takes the blackjack and online casino experience a couple of notches. The online casino basically uses webcam technology to stream images from an actual live casino to you at the online casino you are playing at. It gives you pretty much the experience of playing at a proper brick and mortar casino, but directly from the cozy comfort of your home.
The first live casino games were in fact launched to the market in 2003 by Playtech. Evolution and Microgaming followed with their own offerings in 2006. Live dealer casino offerings have become more common only since 2008, and by 2012 the number of casinos offering live dealer games had shot up to 140. Today there are a large number of software providers with their own set of live dealer games.
For South African online casino fans, Playtech is the software provider with their own unique set of live dealer blackjack games. So what do you get at a typical live dealer blackjack game from Playtech?
The updated live blackjack offering from Playtech has a range of enhancements, including an amazing dealer studio and some great dealers, new HD broadcast capability that ensures high video quality, more options when it comes to viewing and playing, and more dealers and tables. Play options include multi-table play, a chat option that allows them to talk to dealers and other players, a great UI, short 15 second time periods between deals, a wide variety of bet ranges, and much more.
The game range when it comes to Playtech's live dealer blackjack offerings is great too, and includes games like the standard blackjack and innovative new offerings like Unlimited Blackjack. Players can also play these live blackjack games from the Ruby Room, a VIP area put together by Playtech. Playtech's upgraded technology also allows operators to access an entire range of games and offer them to players playing from mobile devices, including iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.
To play a live blackjack game offered at any of the Playtech casinos, South African players need to register an account with the casino first. They can do so directly from the browser or from the mobile device if they are looking to play at a mobile casino. Once they have opened an account and made a deposit, they can click the Live Dealer tab and choose the blackjack game they want to play. There is no download required for playing a live blackjack game. There are some specific rules to be followed while playing these games, and these rules vary marginally from one casino to another.
Blackjack House Edge and Rules
When you get to playing at an online casino, or at any casino for that matter, one term you hear frequently is ‘house edge'. So what exactly is the house edge? Simply put, it is the edge that the house enjoys over the player when it comes to winning. Basically, a casino is expected to make a profit on every game it offers, else there would be no point to offering that game to players. The house edge is basically the profit that a casino is likely to make from a game it offers. The house edge, like other terms like payout percentage or return to player, is expressed as a percentage.
The house edge varies from one game to another and is also dependent on the software provider behind the game. When it comes to blackjack, there is variance in the house edge between the different games available, and there is also variance in the house edge based on software provider as well.
Let us take a few examples to understand the difference in house edge by game and by software provider. Take for example the game Blackjack Surrender brought to you by Real Time Gaming (RTG). This game has a house edge of 0.49%. The game of Blackjack Surrender brought to you by Playtech, on the other hand, has a house edge of 0.39%. Again, if you compare two other games from these two providers, you will see that the Playtech game Pontoon has a house edge of 0.38%, while the game of Pontoon from RTG has a house edge of 0.73%. As you can see here, the difference in house edge is not just between games from different software providers, it differs for different games from the same provider as well.
Look for Games with These Rules
Whenever you are looking to play blackjack at an online casino favoring South African players, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to help bring down the house edge marginally or tilt things a bit in your favor. The best thing is to look for games that have the following rules:
- Use a Single Deck: Look for games where only a single deck is used. There is a reason for this: the number of decks is directly proportional to the house edge at an online casino. In a single-deck game the house edge dips by 0.48% compared to multi-deck games. What this means is that a player is better off playing a game with fewer decks, and hence the preference for a single deck game. However, there are concerns associated with single-deck games you need to be aware off. Evaluation can be an issue as such games often come with poor rules. In such a situation, a game using two decks may actually be better. The house edge dips only 0.19%, but that is good enough.
- Gives players the option of drawing to split Aces: This is another important thing to look out for. In a game where you are actually allowed to play split Aces instead of drawing a card for each hand, your odds see a slight surge, and go up by about 0.19%.
- Late/Early Surrender: Check for games that allow you to surrender after the dealer checks for black. This option, if available, brings down the house edge marginally, by about 0.08%. Another option is too look for games that allow an early surrender; in such a game you can give up half a bet before the dealer checks for blackjack. However, while this rule results in a 0.24% dip in the house edge, it is difficult to find such a game as this rule is very rarely followed.
Avoid Games with These Rules
Continuing from above, you can also keep an eye out and avoid games that come with the following rules:
- No games offering short pay on Blackjack: Avoid short pay games. While normal odds on blackjack are 3 to 2, there would be some games that give 6 to 5. This is really bad for the player, as it causes the house edge to jump up by 1.39%.
- Games that allow the dealer to hit on Soft 17: Most games require the dealer to stand on a soft 17. Hitting on a soft 17 is considered a low-risk move, but the dealer hitting on that kind of a hand results in a 0.22% spike in the house edge. That is why it is best to avoid games that allow this move.
- Games that do not allow doubling down after splitting: Sometimes you get games that do not allow you to double down after splitting. Playing such games has a nominally inherent risk because it causes a 0.14% spike in the house edge.
When you are playing a skill-based game like blackjack online, it is always good to have some guidelines to fall back on. The following are some basic guidelines to follow when playing blackjack online. Strategy is a big help most of the times, except in games like Double Exposure, where you know what to do as the dealer's cards are shown.
This is a hand without an Ace, or with an Ace that can be counted as only 1.
- When you hit, try to ensure that your total does not exceed 8.
- If you have a total of 9, double if the dealer's hand has a 3, 4, 5, or 6. Otherwise, go ahead and hit.
- When your hand value is 10 or 11, and the dealer's card is lower than the value of your hand, double. Else, hit.
- When your hand is between 12 and 16, and the dealer's hand is a minimum of 7, then hit. Otherwise, stand.
- When you have a hand between 17 and 21, stand.
This is a hand with an Ace that can be counted as either 1 or 11 points. You cannot bust by hitting a soft hand.
- Always hit when you have soft hands of 15 or less.
- When you have soft hands between 16 and 18 and the dealer shows a maximum of 6, the double down. Otherwise, hit.
- Always stand when you have soft hands of 19 or more.
Follow these rules when it comes to splitting:
- Always split with Aces or 8s.
- Never split with 4s, 5s, or 10s.
- For all other pairs, split only if the dealer shows a maximum of 6.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind. Do not take insurance ever, if you are unable to double down, hit, and finally if you are not able to split, give the hand its due and play it according to its normal value.