How online blackjack differs from offline

Profile Picture: Simon Young

May 26th, 2020

On the face of it, playing blackjack online seems the same as sitting down and testing your skills in bricks and mortar casinos. After all, both are enjoyable, the rules are the same, and you must make pretty much identical decisions.

But while you should utilize the same basic blackjack strategy in both cases, one that will increase your chances of making a session profit, your process in many online casino blackjack games will be different.

There are two key reasons the gaming experience changes. Firstly, in online games of blackjack, you see only your two cards and one of the dealer’s cards. You don’t see any other players’ cards, because there are no other players. It’s just you and the dealer. Secondly, in online single-deck blackjack games, the deck is virtually shuffled after each hand, and the random number generator selects from a full deck.

Why not seeing so many cards makes a difference

By using a solid blackjack strategy, you can reduce the house's edge and increase your chances of making at least a short-term profit. The approach follows three known quantities:

  1. What your two cards are
  2. What the dealer’s face-up card is
  3. What other cards are known (i.e., those dealt to other players or used in previous hands)

The reason these three quantities interlink is because, armed with the knowledge that the next card is likely to be valued at ten since all picture cards are that value, you can balance the probability of you or the dealer going bust. You can play ultra-cautiously if the dealer looks like they might go bust, or you can "loosen up" and take another card if the dealer seems particularly strong. Seeing other players’ cards on the table can influence your decision – if many tens or picture cards are out already, it might affect your balance of probabilities.

Yet when you play online blackjack, there are no other players, so this third piece of knowledge is not there. While it won’t change your strategy, it makes your strategic thinking less impactful.

What about live dealer games online?

A good question, because online live dealer tables play like games in your local casino. Here, you sit at the same table as other players – perhaps six others – meaning you see at least 12 more cards before you must make your playing decision.

So, you can treat online live casino tables as you would bricks and mortar blackjack games.

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Shuffling and the random number generator

A second significant difference between live and online games is the deck. Most live games involve more than one deck lined up in the "shoe." The dealer continues to take cards until a pre-set, arbitrary limit is reached, when all the cards are shuffled once more.

In theory, this makes card counting easier. Although not illegal, it is frowned upon in casinos. The idea is that over a number of hands, you can total up in your head how many tens or picture cards have been used, therefore helping you to better forecast if the next card dealt will be valued 10.

Even if you get it vaguely correct, it makes only a fine-margin difference. But fine margins can add up to significant gains over time.

In online casino games, all of that goes out of the window. Most online games feature one notional deck, and that is randomly shuffled after each hand. The random number generator (RNG) then produces the cards for the next round. This makes it impossible to count the cards. The good news is that at least your calculations won’t need to change from one hand to the next!

Other differences between live and online blackjack

In online blackjack (discounting live dealer tables), you will get through far more hands because everything runs automatically, and there is no break for shuffling or waiting for other people to make decisions.

Online blackjack can also be cheaper as you can play for far lower stakes than in a real casino. You can even play for free in most online casinos like blackjack at BetAmerica Casino.

And the most significant difference is convenience. You can play online blackjack on your mobile device on the go, or on your tablet or laptop in front of the television.

Try online blackjack today

You can play blackjack online at BetAmerica Casino. Try for free on the table games (no free games are available on the live dealer tables) and test out your strategy. Make sure you take advantage of the welcome bonus when you sign up.

Win free spins every week in our BetAmerica Casino!