PA Online Blackjack – How To Play And Best Games

Whether its online, at a retail casino, or at your kitchen table, blackjack is timeless and the most popular casino card game in the U.S. Now that legal and regulated online casinos are here, you can play blackjack anytime, anywhere in Pennsylvania via your computer or mobile device.

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Where Can I play blackjack online in Pennsylvania?

All of the online casinos operating in Pennsylvania currently have at least one form of blackjack:

What are the best blackjack games to play in PA?

While every online casino in Pennsylvania now offers blackjack, there are two specific blackjack titles you’ll want to look for if you want to maximize your returns: IGT’s Single Hand Blackjack and NetEnt Blackjack.

Boasting a 98.71 and 99.59 RTP respectively, you will be hard pressed to find a better value in any online casino game. This fact makes these games very popular and explains why you will find one if not both in every PA online casino. While some sites offer their own branded blackjack game, or some other type of proprietary software, none can come close at cutting the house edge down to virtually zero as these two options. A closer look at the rule sets will explain why:

IGT Single Hand Blackjack

IGT Single Hand Blackjack is about as simple as it gets when it comes to blackjack. Minimum bet ranges from 10 cents to $1 depending on the site and has several customizable settings to help play the game how you want to play it.

  • Single hand: only one hand per deal
  • Minimum Bet: $0.10 – $1.00 depending on the site
  • Speed Setting: Slow/Normal/Fast
  • Insurance: Pays 2:1 and can be turned on or off
  • Blackjack: Pays 3:2
  • Dealer Action: Dealer must draw on 16
  • Splitting: One split and resplit per hand, only one card dealt when splitting Aces
  • Double Down: Double down on any 2, one double down after split
  • Surrender: Surrender on any 2 cards and get half back

NetEnt Blackjack

NetEnt Blackjack allows you to play up to three hands at once, but some rules are not as player-friendly as IGT’s offering, such as no resplits. NetEnt is less customizable than IGT but you can change the speed of play in the settings and in addition, it features some very relaxing musical options. Let’s take a look at how it compares:

  • Multi-hand: play up to three hands at once
  • Minimum Bet: $1.00
  • Speed Setting: Adjustable by slider
  • Insurance: Pays 2:1 and can not be turned off
  • Blackjack: Pays 3:2
  • Dealer Action: Dealer must draw on 16 and stand on 17
  • Splitting: No resplits, only one card dealt when splitting Aces
  • Double Down: Double down on any 2, one double down after split
  • Surrender: Surrender on any 2 cards and get half back

How to play blackack

Even though blackjack tables have spots available for several gamblers, the game is always played against a house dealer, not against other casino patrons.

The object of the game is very simple: Beat the dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible without going over (also known as “busting”)

To determine your overall hand score, each card is assigned a point value:

  • Face cards are equal to 10 points
  • Cards 2-10 retain their face value
  • Aces are worth either 1 or 11, whichever is the most helpful

Online gameplay

The game begins with the player selecting a chip denomination via the user interface, then clicking on one of the table’s betting circles to place the bet.

To start the game, players then click the “Deal” button, which initiates the action. Bettors receive one card face up, while another is dealt face up to the dealer. A second card is then dealt face up to the player, while an additional card is dealt to the dealer face down. It’s this unknown card that gives the house its edge.

From there, players must use the information they can glean from the dealer’s up card compared with their own two cards, then assess the situation and take action.

At this stage, players have the following options:

  • Hit or stand: If a player’s first two cards constitute a strong hand, they can choose to simply stand pat, taking no more cards. If dealt a weak hand, especially one which has no chance of busting, they may choose to hit and receive another card.
  • Double down: When doubling down, players double their original bet and receive one additional card. This move is advantageous, for example, when the dealer shows a potential bust card (4, 5 or 6), while the player holds an 9, 10 or 11, and sometimes an ace. This puts more money into play while the player has the advantage.
  • Split: Splitting is only allowed when a player receives two cards of the exact same rank. To split, an additional bet equal to the size of the initial bet is set to the right of the betting circle. The two cards are then split up, effectively creating two independent hands. Splitting at the right time is another way for players to put more skin in the game during a favorable situation.
  • Surrender: When a player believes that a hand has little chance of winning against the dealer’s holding, surrendering the hand is an option. By surrendering, the player forfeits their hand and half their bet is returned.
  • Take Insurance: If the dealer is dealt an ace, a player may protect their hand by buying insurance, which is effectively a side bet that the dealer will have a natural blackjack. The bet can mitigate against losing the full amount of your original wager by essentially hedging that the dealer will win.

Here are a couple more terms you’ll need to know:

  • Push: When both the player and the dealer end the game with the same hand value, the hand is deemed a push (i.e. a tie). When this happens, players receive their entire original bet back.
  • Naturals: When the first two cards dealt are any ace and 10-value card, it is referred to as a natural blackjack. A player cannot lose with a natural, but they will normally push if the dealer has a natural of their own. Players are usually paid an extra amount (3 to 2) if they receive a natural blackjack and the dealer does not.

There is an optimal mathematical play for every situation

While some situations in blackjack may cause frustration and doubt, in reality, there is no need for guesswork at all. Statistics whizzes have long broken the game down mathematically and determined the optimal play for every single situation. This is called Basic Strategy and can be learned freely on the web.

Blackjack Basic Strategy Card
Blackjack basic strategy card for multi-deck games with S17.

*Note: Basic Strategy varies slightly depending on the number of decks used, whether the dealer stands or hits on soft 17, and if the dealer takes a second card before or after (no hold card rule) the player completes his action. 

Your expected return by following Basic Strategy will vary depending on the specific rules of the table variation in question. It’s important to know the following:

  • Are dealers forced to stay on soft 17?
  • Do blackjacks pay 3-to-2 or 6-to-5?
  • Is doubling after splitting allowed?
  • Can players draw more cards after splitting aces?

Picking the PA blackjack game with the best rule set is crucial for maximizing your win. However, be aware that even games with the most favorable rules are still weighted toward the house.

That said, players can shave the casino edge down to a razor-thin margin by using Basic Strategy, increasing returns to up to 99.75% of each bet. The best part about playing blackjack from home is that strategy charts are readily available across the Internet and can be referenced during your gameplay to avoid any mistakes.

And what are some of these common mistakes?

  • Not hitting on a 16 vs a dealer 10
  • Not doubling on all 11s in hold card games
  • Not hitting soft 18 against a 9, 10 or ace
  • Not splitting aces vs a dealer 10

Favorable rules to look for

Fortunately for you, PA online casinos offer not just one, but several variations of blackjack. With so many options at hand, you should shop around and look for games with player-friendly rules like the following:

  • Dealer stands on soft 17
  • Fewer decks in play
  • Blackjack pays 3-to-2
  • Multiple splits allowed
  • Doubling after splitting allowed
  • Re-splitting aces allowed
  • Surrendering allowed
  • Dealer peeks for Blackjack before player action

Rules to avoid

If a blackjack variation insists on the rules below, it’s best to steer clear, if possible:

  • Dealer hits on soft 17
  • More decks in play
  • Blackjack pays 6-to-5
  • Only one split allowed
  • No doubling after splitting
  • No surrendering
  • Dealer peeks for Blackjack after player action

If there’s one rule players should avoid at all costs, it’s 6-to-5 payouts on Blackjack. While other unfavorable rules increase the house edge by a tenth-or-two of a percent, if for instance, a natural pays $12 as opposed to $15, it’s a massive tax, equal to over 1% in house advantage.

Popular blackjack sidebets

Tired of traditional blackjack? Sidebet games may be just what the doctor ordered. Some online blackjack flavors offer exotic bets which have the potential to payout much more than what a single normal blackjack wager would yield. Keep in mind though, that these types of bets should be made sparingly, since they usually offer less than favorable returns. Here are a few you might find in PA:

  • Lucky Lucky: Based on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card, Lucky Lucky pays out upwards of 200 to 1 when three suited 7s appear.
  • Lucky Ladies: One of the most popular sidebets around. Pays when a player’s first two cards equal 20 points. Certain combinations can yield prizes up to 1000 to 1.
  • 21+3: Also based on a player’s first two cards and the dealers up card, the goal is to hit a pair, flush, straight, three of a kind or straight flush.
  • Perfect Pair: Found mostly in Live Dealer games using Evolution Gaming software, Perfect Pair wins pay out up to 200 to 1 if the player or dealer’s initial two cards match in both rank and suit.
SugarHouse Casino Multi-Bet Blackjack with optional sidebets
BetRivers Casino Multi-Bet Blackjack with optional sidebets

Mobile blackjack

Don’t forget that online casino games are available not just on gambling websites, but on iOS and Android mobile devices as well. Blackjack, unlike other table games, translates to small screens quite well. All one needs to do is check out any of NetEnt’s mobile blackjack games for an illustration, which have been fully redesigned to display cleanly on smartphones or tablets.

PA mobile casinos feature a number of blackjack variants, something which isn’t normally the case for games like roulette and craps. That said, there are usually more blackjack options available on desktop, due to the fact that all games have not yet been converted by designers to display properly on multiple screen resolutions.

Playing blackjack to clear bonuses

Welcome bonuses and offers typically come with some type of wagering requirements, ranging from 1x up to 40x the deposit amount, depending on the site. For example, BetRivers online casino usually requires that players turn over their bonus amount 1x. So if you received $250 in bonus money, you would just need to wager that $250 one time over in order to withdraw the funds. If a site has 5x requirement, you would need to wager that same $250 5x, or $1250 in order to withdrawal.

Since blackjack has such a high return to player, around 99.8%, some sites limit the amount that blackjack play contributes to the overall wager requirement, sometimes cutting it down to 10%-20%. A 20% contribution would mean that, in order to satisfy a 1X wager requirement, players would need to put in $1250 in total play to meet the 1X requirement for a $250 bonus.

Fortunately for Pennsylvanians, on most sites, blackjack will contribute 100% towards the requirement.

Advantages of playing blackjack online in Pennsylvania

  • Convenience: With online blackjack, you can play anywhere, anytime in Pennsylvania including your couch.
  • Lower Limits: While most retail casinos have table minimums ranging from $10-$100 per hand, you can find blackjack tables online for as little as $0.10 per hand.
  • Beginner Friendly: Your first time walking up to a blackjack table in a retail casino can be a little intimidating. Online blackjack helps you learn the rules, play at your own pace and as previously mentioned, you can play for pennies online.
  • Play for Free: Online casinos also offer free play blackjack for those that want to try it out before playing for real money.
  • Bonuses and Promotions: Online casinos offer signup and deposit bonuses to get you to try their site. When you sign up using one of our bonus codes, you will literally be playing with house money.  Check out the top Pennsylvania online casino bonuses here.
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