Complete Guide to Blackjack With a Live Dealer

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Blackjack is the most popular card game in the world, and it has been around in one form or another for more than a century. It recently had its biggest ever expansion when it became a live dealer game online. There are now many online blackjack games with a live dealer for players to choose from, and they bring you closer to the action than ever before.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about live dealer blackjack games, including the basic rules and strategy and where to find games in the USA. We’ll also analyze the key differences between live dealer games and land-based blackjack offerings, before detailing some of the different games you’ll encounter online.

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How Does Live Blackjack Work?

When you play live blackjack online, you’ll be face to face with a real-life professional card dealer. This is just as it would be in a physical casino, with the only difference being that a screen is separating you from the croupier. The appeal of live blackjack is that it brings this casino experience to you in your own home.

One of the most important things to note is that the game does not rely on a random number generator like other forms of virtual blackjack. You will witness the dealer physically shuffling the cards in a shoe and then dealing them fairly.

To play a round of live blackjack, you simply place your bet, wait for the dealer to shuffle the cards, and then decide how to act. If you win, your returns will be displayed on the screen, and they will be immediately credited to your account. Read on to find out the basics of playing blackjack. Later, we’ll also detail some of the different variants of the game you’ll encounter online.

Blackjack Basics

In blackjack, you’ll face off against the dealer and not the other players. The aim of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going bust. At the same time, your hand’s total must exceed that of the dealer’s. These rules remain the same in most variants of the game. However, in some offerings, you may encounter a few minor differences.

The value of the numbered cards is their respective number, while all the picture cards are worth 10. An ace has a value of 11 unless it busts the player. In that case, it would be worth 1. For example, if a player receives an ace and a 5, they may decide to hit for another card. If that card is a 6 or higher, it would put the hand total over 21. Therefore, the ace then becomes its low value of 1.

You can play the game however you like, meaning you can hit for another card or stand on your hand regardless of its value. The dealer, on the other hand, must act in the same way every time. This makes the game more calculable, meaning you can follow tried and tested strategies based on what the dealer does.

Before you play, check the rules of the game you have chosen, as the dealer’s options may differ slightly. For instance, some games will allow the dealer to stand on soft 17 while others state that they must hit.

When you play blackjack, it’s important to know the lingo. Check the glossary below for the various words you will come across while playing:

Glossary

BlackjackOriginally this was a hand made up of an ace and a blackjack, but now it is any hand of two cards that equals 21  
BustWhen a player has a total of over 21
Bust cardThe card that puts a hand’s total over 21
DoubleAfter receiving the first two cards, players can opt to double their bet before receiving one additional card
Even moneyIf the dealer is showing an ace and the player has blackjack, the player can opt for even money and get paid immediately at 1:1. This mitigates the risk of the dealer having blackjack and the hand going to push
Hard handA hand without an ace or a hand in which the ace must count as one to avoid busting
HitWhen you opt to receive another card to add to your hand
Hole cardThis is the dealer’s face down card that is only revealed after the players have acted
Insurance A side bet you can place if the dealer has a blackjack if they drop an ace up
NaturalAnother name for a starting hand that equals 21
PushThis is the word for a tie when the player’s and the dealer’s hands both equal the same value but haven’t busted
ShoeA device used to hold over one deck of cards. The dealer will draw cards one at a time from the shoe
Soft handA hand that includes an ace valued as eleven. The player can continue to hit, and the ace will change value to one if the total exceeds 21
SplitIf you receive two cards of the same rank, you can split them and make two hands. You need to pay an additional stake for the new hand
StandWhen you are happy with your hand, and you don’t accept any more cards from the dealer
StiffA hand where the possibility to go bust with one additional card exists. This is any starting hand equaling 12 or higher
SurrenderYou can abandon your hand and recover half your initial bet, but it must be your first and only action of the round
UpcardThis is the face up card that the dealer shows

Top Live Dealer Blackjack for USA Players

We aim to ensure that we offer you the best information possible about where to play live dealer casino games in the USA. To do so, we follow a strict set of criteria before recommending sites to our users. Below, you’ll see the rigorous process we follow before suggesting a casino to you:

  • We check that the site has all the correct licenses to operate within a state in which online casinos have been legalized.
  • We make sure the site has all the right security protocols in place, including SSL certificates and multi-factor authentication.
  • We check the bonuses and make sure that they don’t have any hidden requirements to trip players up.
  • We assess the range of live blackjack games and make sure they are all from credible developers.
  • We check the payment options and the ease with which you can withdraw your winnings.
  • We make sure that the site has a useful help desk to assist with any problems.

How to Play Online Blackjack with a Live Dealer | Step by Step

If you’re interested in playing live blackjack games, follow this simple step-by-step guide from joining a casino to cashing out winnings.

  1. Make sure you are residing in one of the states in which online casinos are legal. These are New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware, Michigan, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
  2. Check out our list of online casino recommendations and choose a site that suits your needs.
  3. Register at the site and claim the welcome bonus.
  4. Navigate to the live casino section and find blackjack games.
  5. Select a game of your choice.
  6. Select your betting limits if you wish to do so.
  7. Place a bet and receive your cards.
  8. Decide how to act on the hand based on blackjack probability charts.
  9. Use the chat function to talk to the dealer if you have a question.
  10. If you win, either walk away or play again.
  11. Cash out your winnings on your account page.

Why Play Live Blackjack with a Live Dealer?

There are various reasons why people love playing online blackjack with a live dealer. Here are some of the best aspects of the online version of the classic card game:

  • Authentic casino feel with aesthetics and sounds
  • Multiple wagering options such as enhanced bets and multipliers
  • High quality streaming in HD
  • Multiple tables to choose from
  • Professional and approachable live dealers
  • New innovative developments that enhance the game

There are clearly many benefits to playing live blackjack with a live dealer, but the big question you may ask is whether it beats playing in a land-based casino. Read on to find out our assessment on this matter in the next section.

Live Blackjack vs. Land-Based Blackjack

In our quest to decide which form of blackjack is better between live dealer blackjack and land-based blackjack, we’ve put together a couple of handy tables with the pros and cons of each. They both have their strengths and limitations, and choosing between them could come down to what you look for in a game.

Land-Based Blackjack

ProsCons
Bustling casino atmosphereCan be busy around the tables
Social interaction with playersMust wait for other players to act
Waiter service with food and drinksCan get expensive buying additional things
Easy to cash out your chipsFewer payment methods are available
No hassle with registrationLack of welcome offers and promotions

Live Blackjack

ProsCons
Casino feelViewed through a screen
Can interact with the dealer via chatNo interaction with other players at the table
Save money on extra costs in the casino such as food and drinksNo waiter service
Plenty of payment methods to choose fromCan take a bit longer to cash out
Loads of bonuses and promotions to choose fromPlayers need to check the terms and conditions carefully

After assessing the various pros and cons, we believe that live blackjack just manages to edge it over its land-based counterpart. Live blackjack offers almost the same features, but also has a few added bonuses.

Live Dealer Blackjack Bonuses

One of the main advantages of playing online is the sheer array of bonuses available. You can join multiple sites that operate in the USA and trigger all their casino welcome bonuses if you wish to do so. Some VIP programs provide incentives for players who return to a site regularly.

Here are a few examples of bonuses you can find at live blackjack online casinos:

  • Wild Casino – 100% deposit match up to $5000
  • BetUS – 150% deposit match up to $3000
  • BetOnline Casino – 100% deposit match up to $3000
  • MyBookie Casino – 150% deposit match up to $750

Once you’ve joined a site, you can often earn rewards for continuing to play there. For instance, Bovada Casino has a tiered reward system where you can get points every time you wager $10 on a game of live blackjack. You can then redeem these points for cash at a later stage.

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Live Dealer Blackjack on Mobile

With modern mobiles using advanced technology, the live blackjack experience on these devices is just as good as on a desktop. The only difference is that the interface is smaller, but mobile still offers all the aspects you need. Numerous software are offering live blackjack games to online casinos in the USA. Some of the top brands are:

  • Evolution Gaming
  • Microgaming
  • Extreme Live Gaming
  • NetEnt Live
  • Authentic Gaming
  • Playtech

We have found that Evolution Gaming titles offer the most comfortable user experience. The studio prides itself on being an industry leader for live casino products, and these games have been its sole focus throughout its history. Have a look at the screenshots below for a taster of how live blackjack appears on the mobile screen.

Different Blackjack Versions

When playing live dealer blackjack online, you’re going to encounter loads of different ways to play. Read on to find an outline of what to expect from each variant. You can discover our more detailed guides for these games as well.

American Blackjack

In American blackjack, the dealer receives an upcard and a hole card. If the upcard is an ace, they will peek at the hole card to see if they’ve got blackjack. If so, the round is over, and all the players lose. This variant offers a slightly better RTP of around 99.59%, because it saves players from making additional bets that they might go on to lose if the dealer reveals blackjack at the end.

When playing this version of the game, you will need to follow standard blackjack charts for American blackjack to know how to act in any situation. The aim, as always, is to beat the dealer without exceeding a hand value of 21.

European Blackjack

European blackjack could be considered the original form of the game before it moved to the USA and gained its iconic name. In this variant, the dealer receives one upcard first and only gets the second card after each player has acted on their own hand. The game requires a standard blackjack strategy, and you will need to consult probability charts to know what to do based on your hand and the dealer’s upcard.

If it comes down to a choice between European and American blackjack, we recommend you play the American version for the slightly improved odds.

Blackjack Switch

Blackjack Switch is an innovative twist on the traditional blackjack game. It follows standard blackjack rules, with the crucial difference being that players are dealt two hands. They then have the option of switching the top card of each to make two new hands. This appeals to players who want to do a bit of thinking when they play.

Blackjack Perfect Pairs

Blackjack Perfect Pairs is a variant that offers you a range of side bets to up the ante on each hand. It follows basic blackjack rules, but you also have the chance to bet on whether you will receive a pair. You can stake on whether you’ll receive a pair of cards of the same rank with mixed colors art 5:1, same colors at 10:1, or a perfect pair of the same rank and color at 30:1.

Vegas Strip Blackjack

Vegas Strip Blackjack follows standard American blackjack rules but gives players the chance to double down on any initial starting hand. You’re also allowed to split up to four hands per game, with the chance to double down after splitting as well. Vegas Strip Blackjack is a big draw for live casino players, as it brings the iconic gambling city to players in their own homes.

Responsible Gambling

It’s no secret that, while the online casino industry is a great form of pleasure for many, it can also have detrimental effects on some people. We always try to stress the importance of playing responsibly, ensuring that the activity remains enjoyable. If you stop having fun or begin to feel like a problem is developing, you need to step away from the games and seek help.

There are some ways that you can protect yourself when playing. Here are a few of our ideas to help you play safely and responsibly:

  • Set yourself some ground rules before you get started. This could include daily or weekly bankroll limits. It could also mean a set amount of time that you choose to play for.
  • Tell friends and people close to you what you are doing. Ask them to check in with you to see if everything is going alright. They may be able to spot a problem even if you can’t see it for yourself.
  • Use the features at online casinos designed to help you play safely. These can include setting bankroll and bet limits.

If you believe that you or someone you know has a gambling problem, you should contact experts immediately. In the USA, the National Council on Problem Gambling is your best option. Please see the table below for ways to contact this organization for advice.

Call1-800-522-4700
Live Chatncpgambling.org/chat
Text1-800-522-4700

Blackjack FAQs

Is live online blackjack safe to play?

We only recommend established sites that have security protocols, such as SSL certificates, encryption, and multi-factor authentication in place. It’s also important that the relevant state authorities regulate and license them. If you’re ever unsure, check the licenses at the online casino you choose to play with.

Can I play live dealer blackjack anywhere in the USA?

No, unfortunately not at this time. There are six states in the USA that allow online blackjack live dealer games, and you can only play them if you reside within these regions. These are Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Are there any catches when claiming a live blackjack online bonus?

Sometimes the welcome bonuses for online casinos offering live blackjack online sound too good to be true. This is because there are some requirements that you must fulfill to be able to withdraw any winnings from them. Be careful to read the terms and conditions properly before you claim a bonus.

Is it easy to withdraw my live blackjack winnings?

The speed of withdrawals differs depending on the payment method you have chosen. At most online casinos, if you navigate to the help section, you will find out which methods offer the fastest withdrawals. Generally, taking money out of your online casino account is simple.

Why should I choose live blackjack over virtual blackjack?

The great thing about live online blackjack is that there is no RNG involved, and you can see everything the dealer does. You can be 100 percent sure that everything is fair and above board because you can witness the dealer shuffle and deal the cards.  

How do I know the odds for different variants of blackjack?

There is a lot of information online that can help you make the right decision in whatever variant of live dealer blackjack you are playing. We would strongly recommend that you check the rules of the game you choose to play before you get started as well.