California houses some of the biggest and best casinos in the country. However, in 2019, it’s challenging to find the same exciting California blackjack games online that you know and love from your local brick-and-mortar casino.
If you have played blackjack in a California casino, you have probably played a “player-banked” version of the game. Online casinos keep things more traditional. Vegas-style blackjack is available at all quality online gambling sites.
California is catching up with newly regulated states like New Jersey and Delaware. In 2019, there aren’t any legalized online casinos in California. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some 21 in the comfort of your home.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can play America’s favorite table game online.
Online casino laws in California
Californians have a long love affair with card games and blackjack, but CA lawmakers have been slow to bring their online gaming legislation into the 21st century. Players in California are still waiting for the state to regulate and legalize online casinos.
However, social casinos are legal in the Golden State and allow you to enjoy risk-free blackjack on your PC or tablet.
You can also win real cash by playing at new blackjack sweepstakes sites, which are entirely legal if you live in California.
Land-based blackjack laws are slightly different in the Golden State.
Californian gaming law allows some forms of blackjack at commercial brick-and-mortar casinos. Player-banked games, like California blackjack, come with special rules where players take turns being the “house.”
Tribal casinos, however, enjoy more freedom in offering traditional, Vegas-style blackjack games.
How to play blackjack online
You can play blackjack for free at all social casinos.
Additionally, new sweepstakes sites give you the chance to win real money on every game. Let’s take a look at a classic blackjack variant to show you how to play.
Placing bets: Download the blackjack casino client or load up a game in your browser window. You are in charge of the action, and the game begins when you are ready.
First, you select your stakes. The minimum and maximum stake are displayed on the table. Drag and drop chips onto the betting area on the screen. Once you are ready to go, click the “Deal” button.
Payouts: You get paid 1:1, even money, for beating the dealer. You win 3:2 on your stake if you get dealt a natural blackjack at the start of a hand (an ace and a 10-value card).
Push: The hand is tied if your total matches the dealer’s – the hand is a “push,” and your stake is returned.
Insurance: Insurance is a safety net against the dealer scoring a blackjack. You have the option to place an insurance bet on the designated betting area on the table if the dealer shows an ace. You win 2:1 for the insurance if the dealer reveals a blackjack.
Playing your hand
At the start of the game, the dealer gives you two cards face-up. The dealer receives one card face-down and one face-up. You now have several options depending on the strength of the cards.
The idea is to accumulate cards that total 21 or as close to it as possible. If you go over 21, you are bust and lose. Picture cards are worth 10, and aces are worth one or 11.
Once you have finished playing your hand, it is the dealer’s turn. The dealer draws cards until they hit 17 or above. If they go bust, you win.
- Hit: Receive more cards. You can choose to hit as many times as you like.
- Stand: Receive no more cards. Play moves to the dealer.
- Split: You have the option to separate a pair and play two unique hands. After splitting a pair, you place a second bet on the new hand and continue to hit or stand.
- Resplit: Some blackjack variants let you resplit new split hands. You need to place a bet on any new hands you make and continue to hit and stand.
- Double down: A double down is an extra bet allowed on totals of nine, ten, or 11. You can only double down on nine, 10 or 11 in some online blackjack variants. With a double down, you place an extra bet equal to your original one. You then receive one more card to your hand. After that, your turn is over.
Top blackjack variants online
Classic blackjack is widely available at online free-to-play casinos in California. You won’t discover any California Blackjack variants at online casinos, however.
Legalized internet casinos in New Jersey and Delaware currently offer a wide array of blackjack games. What can Californians expect to find online if the state ever passes online casino legislation?
Classic blackjack: Classic blackjack, or European blackjack, is available everywhere. A winning hand pays 1:1, and a blackjack pays 3:2.
Live dealer blackjack: In live dealer blackjack, you get to play against a human croupier via a live web stream. You place bets in the usual way, but the dealer uses real cards that are scanned and displayed on your screen. You can even chat with the dealer and ask questions.
Live dealer blackjack in some CA brick-and-mortar casinos is also available. You place bets via an electronic terminal, but a human croupier handles the action using real cards.
21+3 blackjack: The game 21+3 blackjack involves a side bet based on your two up-cards and the dealer’s up-card. The strength of the three cards will determine your payout. You will receive a payout if the three cards form a straight (e.g., 7-8-9), a flush (e.g., 2-5-9 of hearts), or three-of-a-kind.
Free bet blackjack: In free bet blackjack, you can double down and split without paying for an extra wager.
Spanish 21 blackjack: Spanish 21 blackjack is like classic blackjack with a few added twists. You can double down on any totals; not just your first two. And you can re-double down on doubled hands.
Spanish 21 also includes some exciting bonus payouts. You receive a 2:1 payout if you receive a six-card 21 and a 3:1 payout if you hit seven or more cards in your hand.
Blackjack surrender: You can “surrender” your hand in some versions of blackjack online. You can surrender half your stake if the dealer is showing a potential blackjack. Surrender is a good move if you have a high chance of losing and want to cut your losses.
Blackjack X-Change: Blackjack X-Change is a fun online variant you can play on desktop or tablet. In the game, you can purchase or sell cards to better your hand or lock in a win. That means you can win cash even if you don’t beat the dealer’s hand.
Offline blackjack laws in California
In California, games of chance, including roulette and craps, are primarily banned, but casinos have found clever ways of getting around legislation.
Similarly, traditional blackjack is banned outside tribal casinos. Under current CA gaming law, commercial casinos cannot “bank” blackjack games. The casino’s money can not match bets.
As a result, “player-banked” games have emerged. California blackjack is widely available at nontribal casinos in the Golden State.
Rules differ slightly from one casino to another, but the idea is the same: instead of a dealer, each player takes turns being the “banker.” The banker pays a flat fee on all hands, and all players pay a rake to play the game.
In California blackjack, instead of making a high total of 21, you must try to make 22. The decks use jokers as well. Jokers count as two or 12.
Pure 21.5 blackjack is probably the closest game to regular blackjack that you will find in California. You must get as close to 21 as possible without going bust.
It offers “red flex bet,” a fun side bet. If the dealer’s first two cards are either diamonds or hearts, you receive a payout. You continue to receive further payouts for consecutive red cards. For example, two consecutive red cards earn you 1:1, three consecutive red cards pay 5:1, and four consecutive red cards pay 10:1.
Benefits of playing blackjack online
- Play anywhere, anytime: You can play social casino blackjack games anytime, anywhere. Why wait for your local CA casino to open when you can play online?
- Never wait for a seat: There’s nothing more frustrating than a full blackjack table at a brick-and-mortar casino. Why bet behind on a stranger’s hand when you can sit at an online game without waiting?
- Try new games for free: You can try many exciting blackjack variants online in 2019. With free-to-play games, you can test out a new variation and learn the rules without risking a dime.
- Play on mobile or tablet: It’s possible to play most blackjack games online through your smartphone or tablet. Games will adapt to fit your smaller touchscreen, but the odds and payouts are the same.
Free blackjack and sweepstakes online
California prohibits real-money online casinos; however, you can try free blackjack online at social casinos. This type of online gambling is legal in California in 2019.
You can enjoy the same blackjack rules in free games as in real-cash variants. With new sweepstakes games, you can even win real money.
Sweepstakes casinos, including Chumba Casino, are growing in popularity.
You purchase “gold coins” to play blackjack and receive an equivalent amount in “sweeps cash.” If you win with sweeps cash, you can convert the currency into real money and transfer it to your checking account.
At Chumba Casino and its partners, you can also earn sweeps cash by sharing information on social media platforms like Facebook.
Finding a great blackjack casino online
Land-based blackjack and its variants are popular at CA casinos.
It’s also possible to play blackjack online in California, although you won’t find any real-money sites that are licensed in the state. With some homework, you can enjoy free-to-play games at any time.
At social casinos, you can play for fun and share your wins on social media. Meanwhile, sweepstakes sites offer a limited range of blackjack games and allow you to redeem special sweeps cash for real money.
Beat the dealer and take a shot.