The Best Online Blackjack Sites for UK Players
What You Need to Know About the Best Blackjack Sites
Blackjack is one of the most fun and player-friendly games available on a casino floor. A sharp player who finds the right game and always makes the right play gets an expected return of over 99%, among the best odds of any casino game. Blackjack is also one of the few casino games that can be pushed to a theoretical return of over 100%, or an expected profit for the player over the long term, through the use of various techniques and special conditions.
The biggest factor in success at blackjack is finding the right place to play. Blackjack players do well in the long run by finding the most favourable games and table rules, the best promotions to take advantage of, and the safest and most fair places to play. This guide will help you find the online casinos that are the most profitable and most fun for blackjack players.
Though we take many different factors into consideration, three of the primary criteria we apply for recommending casinos are:
- A large selection of blackjack options with favourable rules and payouts.
- Availability of good live dealer games and an adequate number of tables.
- Great bonuses and promotions to take advantage of, both initial and ongoing.
How Are Low-Stakes and High-Stakes Blackjack Different?
Online casino blackjack tables offer all different kinds of stakes (also called "table limits"). These generally range from as low as £0.10 a hand to as high as £5,000 per hand. There are different advantages and styles of play for each type of game.
Low-stakes games are great for new players just getting used to the game, and intermediate players who want to try out new strategies in a "real money" blackjack environment with very little risk. Win amounts are small at this level, but skilled players focus on consistently grinding them out over a long period of time.
High-stakes games are thrilling contests that often take place at the casino's VIP tables. If you have the bankroll for them, you often enjoy much more generous table rules than are available to standard players.
Very little risk.
Fun side wagers available.
Play a long time on a small budget.
Limited short-term winnings potential.
Not comped well.
May not apply to wagering requirements.
Favourable terms for high rollers.
Can win a lot in a short time.
Need a big bankroll.
Nervousness can affect play.
Though the goal of blackjack is nearly always to beat the dealer by getting your hand as close to 21 as possible, there are quite a few variants that add small twists. These games may have slightly different rules, incorporate team play options (like trading cards with other players) or offer side bets. All of this can really spice up the standard blackjack game, especially if you've been playing for a long time!Some of the most popular blackjack variants include:
- Blackjack Switch
- Double Attack Blackjack
- Double Exposure Blackjack
- Free Bet Blackjack
- "21" Games (Pontoon, Spanish 21, Super Fun 21)
- Stadium Blackjack
- Progressive Blackjack
- Perfect Pairs
If you are new to blackjack be sure to check out our blackjack glossary and guide below
Our Criteria for Reviewing Blackjack Casinos
We take the time to carefully analyze every aspect of each of the blackjack casinos that we review. The ones we recommend are the absolute best for players who are going to be spending most of their time at the virtual blackjack tables.
Player safety and security is the cornerstone of any online casino recommendation. Nothing else matters if you can't cash your winnings out or if the casino doesn't take proper care of your financial and personal documents.
The available games and features are also critical. Players should have a good range of blackjack options, and the games should offer good terms and rules.
We also look for great bonus offers, as that is a key element of maintaining a blackjack bankroll. Things like deposit bonuses, free ace cards and even free spins at other types of games can be the edge that allows you to turn a profit. This extends to the offers made through any ongoing loyalty or VIP programs, which we always examine in detail and get input from real members about.
We also thoroughly review the mobile app options, in-browser games, deposit and withdrawal terms, customer service, software, graphics, interface and general atmosphere to give you a complete picture of the casino and its real money blackjack experience.
The Best Licenses and Regulation
This site focuses on UK blackjack players. Therefore, we give the strongest preference to online casinos that are licensed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). The UKGC is widely considered to be the world's best regulatory organization for gaming of all types, and has a top-notch reputation for protecting players from fraud and abuse.
Legitimate online casinos overseen by the UKGC do not need to be located in the UK proper. Many online casinos opt to operate out of the "whitelisted" territories, which are various protectorates and countries with special relationships to the UK. These casinos are overseen by the UKGC just the same way as one sitting in the middle of London would be.
What's more, these whitelist countries often have their own local gaming board in addition to the UKGC. It's always a big plus to see a legitimate and well-regarded local board like the Malta Gaming Authority or the Gibraltar Gambling Commission involved. It just adds an extra layer of protection for players.
Blackjack Bonus Offers
As part of our casino reviews, we look at the full collection of bonus offers. Our top recommended casinos are often those that have bonus offers that are well-suited to blackjack players.
It's important to not focus too much on the first numbers you see when you read bonus offers. We have long experience with the online casino industry and know to check the terms and conditions to make sure that blackjack players will benefit.
Why is there a difference? Well, take the common initial deposit bonuses, for example. You might see an offer that matches 100% of your first deposit up to £500, which seems great at first. But the fine print says that there is a wagering requirement, and blackjack is one of the games that doesn't count toward it. So, as a blackjack player, that bonus isn't going to be useful to you.
We emphasize casinos that make offers that are specifically useful to blackjack fans. It certainly doesn't hurt if they give you other things, and lucrative bonuses on other games are considered, but good bonuses for blackjack players are the main thing our reviewers are looking for.
Range of Blackjack Games and Features
Earlier we touched on the wide variety of blackjack games out there. We like to see a lot of different options to keep players interested, but we also like to see games that have a good expected return to the player.
How does "expected return" work in blackjack, anyway? It depends on the rules of each individual game. Little tweaks to the rules can make a big difference in how much a player can expect to walk away with. For example, one of the biggest factors is how much is paid out for a blackjack. The standard has always been 3:2, which is considered a favourable payout. When that amount is moved to 6:5, it greatly impacts the amount that players get back over time because they get paid less for each blackjack they hit.
In addition to looking for the best sets of rules to help extend your bankroll, we also look for good interfaces and game features. Features include things such as auto-play, multiple hands at once, and indicators that tell you whether or not a particular play is the best option.
Blackjack Software and Graphics
Blackjack can be an amazing thrill ride if you're playing at high stakes, with hundreds of pounds changing hands every minute. Many players will be playing at lower stakes, however, and at that level the game can suffer somewhat if the graphics aren't lively and the software doesn't make the experience smooth and convenient. Grinding through hundreds of hands is certainly a lot easier if you like what you're looking at and you aren't fighting the interface at every step!
We also check out the software developers that provide the casino with its blackjack games. The vast majority of online casinos don't develop their own games. Many license their games from multiple publishers, so we find out who their blackjack games come from and take their reputation into account. Some software providers are known to make great games, and those games will be very similar between different properties.
The Deposit and Withdrawal Process
You don't want to waste time fooling around with financial transfers, right? You want to play blackjack! That's why we recommend blackjack casinos that not only keep your money safe, but who also make the process of transfers (in both directions) as painless as possible.
Casinos that do well with our reviewers start out by offering a good range of deposit and withdrawal options. They should provide you with at least an adequate amount of options from the various popular forms of money transfer - credit and debit cards, e-wallet service, cheques, prepaid cards and wire or bank transfers.
Processing times are also key. Generally speaking, we like to see deposits be as fast as possible. Withdrawals do face some natural banking hurdles that can take a little longer, but we generally like to see them processed in under 24 hours and paid out in under 72 hours. The only exception here is bank and wire transfers, which can sometimes take a few days to withdraw.
The world just keeps getting more mobile all the time. You would no doubt like to have the option of playing blackjack on any type of phone or tablet that you own. It's a great way to pass the time throughout the day!
That's why we look for online casinos that offer their blackjack games through iOS and Android mobile apps. We check out these apps to make sure that they work well and that the casino has most or all of their blackjack titles available on it.
Another option for mobile players that we review is "no download" or "instant play" options that work through just about any modern web browser. These options are great for people who have older devices, or those that don't run the mainstream mobile operating system. All you need is a fairly recent web browser to get these games to run. We look for casinos that offer a good range of blackjack games through browser play, and they definitely get extra points if they do.
Loyalty and VIP Programs
Loyalty and VIP programs are an especially important topic for blackjack players. Since the game is one of the most favourable to players in terms of expected return, casinos often try to compensate by not giving out much in the way of loyalty rewards to players who just focus on playing blackjack.
We look for loyalty programs that include blackjack players among their valued customers and that offer them generous perks and rewards for their play. If the casino has a tier system, we also evaluate it specifically from the perspective of a blackjack player.
This goes for the casino's VIP program as well. VIP blackjack players with big bankrolls should be treated just as well as slot machine enthusiasts or any other type of player. We know that "big whale" blackjack players are just as valuable to casinos as any other high roller and that they should be offered appropriate perks and incentives for their high-level play.
The average blackjack player seems to be pretty self-sufficient, as the game attracts people who study the casino landscape and look for the most advantageous games. Still, you can hit unexpected problems from time to time. Maybe a game freezes up while you're in the middle of it and a wager gets lost. Or maybe a bonus offer doesn't come through, or doesn't pay out like it was supposed to.
These situations are exactly why we evaluate each casino's customer service response. We check out the available methods and their hours, and test them to see how fast and how helpful the responses are. Any casino that offers poor customer service options, that takes too long to respond or that replies with incompetence and rudeness is not going to be one that we recommend. We don't want to waste our time playing blackjack at bad casinos and we don't want to waste yours either!
How do the Best Blackjack Casinos Make Our List?
The best blackjack casinos have a combination of all of the qualities described above.
At minimum, we expect any casino we recommend to be very good in all departments. They don't have to be the best in the world in every category, but they do need to be well above average at everything they do.
We also tend to prioritize casinos that have one or two really impressive standout qualities in addition to being good across the board. One might have particularly great bonuses and promotions for blackjack players. Another might have an amazing selection of games and/or table rules. Another might have a really cool theme and just be a lot of fun to play and hang out at.
Of course, all of these casinos are built on a foundation of safe play and fair treatment. We expect them to be ethical enterprises that are subject to appropriate government oversight. You should always feel safe when transferring money, sending identity documents or just collecting on that big jackpot win.
These blackjack casinos are the best in the business due to their combination of safety, reputation, games, promotions, mobile support and overall treatment of their players.
Blackjack is a simple game to learn, but takes some time to master. The first step in that mastery is knowing the game's unique terminology. The common terms listed below are the most important ones to know when you step up to the virtual table.
- Stand - Stop drawing cards and put your current hand into play
- Hit - Add another card to your deck (until you reach or exceed 21)
- Push - When the dealer and player end with the same value, negating your wager
- Face / Paint Card - The King, Queen and Jack, all have a value of 10
- "Split - Create two hands from two cards of the same value
- Double Down - Double your bet and draw one additional card
- Insurance - A side bet offered if the dealer shows an ace
- Soft Hand - A hand with an ace and a 1-9, meaning the value is not fixed
- Up Card - The dealer card that is visible
- Ace Rich - A special game with more aces in play than are normally in a deck
- Even Money - Winning back the same amount that you wagered
Nothing is more fun that getting lucky and going on a hot streak in blackjack. We hope that the detailed information we provide in our reviews leads you to great fortune!
How To Play Blackjack
The basic goal is simple: beat the dealer. The closer your hand is to 21, the better your chances are. If you draw an ace and a card with a value of 10 immediately, that's a natural blackjack and you automatically win. A natural blackjack usually pays better than a regular winning hand.
Face cards have a value of 10. Aces can have a value of 1 or 11; they are automatically counted as whatever is most favourable for your current hand.
You "hit" to take another card or "stand" to keep your current hand and let the dealer make their move. You can continue to hit until you "bust" by going over 21. Each blackjack table has posted rules that tell you whether the dealer has to hit or stand with each card value they are holding.
There are a few advanced options too. You can "split" when you get two cards of the same value, creating two different hands to play (you'll have to add a new wager for the new hand). You can opt for "insurance" if the dealer shows an ace, which means you'll break even if they have a blackjack but lose the insurance amount if they don't. "Double down" is an option that lets you double your bet after seeing your first two cards, but with the requirement that you draw at least one more card.
Tips for Beginners
Always remember that the goal is to beat the dealer, NOT to get 21. There are situations where the best mathematical play is to stand with a hand value as low as 12. It all depends on what the dealer is showing with their up card. The dealer has to draw cards in a very structured way, and sometimes the best play is to try to force them to bust instead of increasing the value of your own hand.
Insurance is never mathematically the best option. The only exception is when you are engaging in advanced "card counting" techniques. However, this kind of card counting is impossible to do at online video blackjack games and is extremely unlikely to be possible at live dealer games. So you might as well just pass on insurance every single time when playing online.
Let's Play Blackjack!
If you're playing online, the two options are video blackjack and live dealer games.
If you're totally new, it's good to start out with video blackjack. You'll usually find these games under the "table games" section of an online casino. This is essentially like playing a video game. You play the computer and there are no time limits or pressure.
A live dealer game features streaming video of an actual dealer at a table. They deal actual cards, the value of which translates to your online interface automatically. These games are easier than playing at a real-life table since you don't have to know the lingo or hand gestures, but you will have to make your decisions a little faster here. The table minimums are also generally a little higher.
Blackjack has a very straightforward betting system. When you win a hand, you get double your wager. The only exception is when you get dealt a natural blackjack. This gives you a little bonus money, the exact amount of which varies from game to game. 3:2 blackjack tables are usually the ones that offer the best payment for a natural blackjack.
You'll simply double your original wager each time you opt to split or double down. Insurance is usually 50% of your original bet, which means the loss on the original wager cancels out if the dealer does indeed have a blackjack.
The only other options are side bets, which are only offered at certain games. You can usually tell if a game has side bets by its unique title (like Perfect Pairs). Some blackjack games also now have a progressive jackpot, which is usually won by placing some sort of a side bet that a certain series of cards will be dealt.
Best Online Blackjack Sites FAQ
We've provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about online blackjack for real money.
What is card counting, and does it work online?
Card counting is a way to gain an advantage over the casino by mentally keeping track of the cards that have already been dealt. The problem with this is that it becomes harder and harder to do the more decks are incorporated, and as soon as all the decks are shuffled the count is ruined.
It's mostly irrelevant for online play. Video blackjack games shuffle the deck after every single hand, so there is no point in counting. With most live dealer games, they will either shuffle too often or use too many decks to make card counting viable. Plus, if you can't see the shoe and see how many decks are being used, you can't count accurately.
In short, card counting isn't worth bothering with online - if you want an advantage, focus on other methods like finding really good promotions or building a big bankroll to make use of VIP perks.
How do blackjack tournaments work?
Tournament blackjack is played like regular blackjack, but a number of players are involved and competing against each other. You are still playing the dealer, but the goal is to have the most chips in your possession when the time limit is up.
You also don't wager your own money in a blackjack tournament. You either pay an entry fee to get in, or the casino simply gifts you an entry. You are then given a fixed amount to play with that can't be withdrawn. However, blackjack tournaments are still very profitable as the winners often get some very big prize pots.
Full strategy for tournaments is too much to cover here, but the main wrinkle is that you need to keep track of how many chips the other players have to formulate your betting strategy.
Can you beat blackjack without counting cards?
Yes, in the sense of pushing the expected return to player up to a little over 100% (meaning that if you play for long enough you can expect to make a profit). There are two basic ways to do it.
One is by using bonuses and promotions wisely. When combined with perfect play, the added edge these give can push your expected return into the positive numbers.
The other is by taking advantage of more lax table rules that are usually only granted to VIPs who bet a lot of money with the casino.
How do you play blackjack the right way?
When you see "return to player" (RTP) numbers attached to blackjack games, they are often something very high like 99.8%. But that number assumes that you are making every play the "right" way, or in other words doing the most mathematically sound thing given the current situation.
There are two ways to approach this. The first is to try to memorize everything. The correct play in any given situation depends on what you are holding, what the dealer is showing and what the table rules are. Most people have no problem memorizing when to hit or stand, but it gets very complicated when you incorporate doubling down and splitting. Rule changes between different tables also have to be accounted for.
The much easier way is to use a "strategy card" designed for the current table rules. One of the great advantages of playing blackjack online is that you're free to use a strategy card with no complaints from the casino or other players. You can take your time, consult the chart and make sure you're always making the smartest play.
What is a free ace coupon?
This is a specific type of promotion targeted at blackjack players. When you're playing, you can cash in your free ace coupon during a hand to swap one of your starting pair of cards for an ace. So basically, it's one free guaranteed blackjack if you use it while holding a 10 card. Needless to say this can be a very powerful tool, although casinos sometimes limit how much can be wagered or won with such a coupon.
Does it matter what other players do at a live dealer blackjack table?
Only in a blackjack tournament, and even there the impact is limited. In a standard game, the actions of the other players have no bearing on your own ability to win or lose. There is a persistent myth that the actions of the player at the "third base" position (just to the right of the dealer) will screw everything up for everyone if they play poorly, but there is absolutely nothing in math or statistics to back this up.