Blackjack has been a casino staple ever since it first emerged as “vingt-et-un” (21) in France in the early 1700s, and it’s even more popular in the era of online casino games. The reasons for this have remained constant over the years. Blackjack is one of the most accessible casino table games for beginners, thanks to its easy rules and undemanding playing style (there’s no need to bluff or outwit other players as in poker, for example). At the same time, blackjack has more to offer strategic players than more chance-based card games such as baccarat.
Blackjack’s low house edge also makes it one of the best games to play at casinos from a responsible betting point of view. This consideration draws many gamblers to blackjack tables in land-based and online casinos alike. But blackjack tables aren’t all the same, and the kind of table you play at can influence your enjoyment of the game. Let’s dive into the different kinds of blackjack tables and how they work.
The classic blackjack table
The classic casino blackjack table is a semicircle with a rectangular wooden shoe at the flat end where the dealer stands, with a chip tray in front and a rectangular wooden or plastic shoe on their left (table right from the player’s point of view). The shoe is designed to hold the cards used in the game, up to eight decks at a time. The table will indicate the minimum and maximum bets per hand and rules for when the dealer must hit or stand, as well as payouts for insurance bets and blackjack. Players sit around the curved side of the table. In front of each seat, there’s a space for the player to place their bet. Most blackjack tables have seven places (or “spots”) for players, although some have as few as five and others as many as 12.
Blackjack table positions
Does table position count in blackjack? It’s less important than in competitive casino table games such as poker (in blackjack, you’re basically up against the dealer), but some players maintain that where you sit at the blackjack table can make a difference. Experienced blackjack players tend to talk about three primary positions.
First base is to the right of the table, next to the shoe. If you’re at first base, you’re the first player to receive cards and act. You also get to see the entire table and the discard pile, so you can keep an eye on which cards are being drawn and which are not. The center table position (seat number four at a seven-player table) is called shortstop, and it provides the best view of the table. Finally, third base (also known as the anchor seat) is the last player to act. If you go last, you can see what cards everyone else has received before you make your decision. The more players at the table, the more cards the anchor player gets to see!
This can make a difference if you’re playing with one deck, but these days the dealer is mostly dealing from a shoe with six or more decks, which makes it somewhat difficult to keep track. Furthermore, the general consensus is that table position makes no mathematical difference when you’re playing blackjack in casinos, so best stick to basic blackjack strategy.
Blackjack in online casinos
Blackjack was one of the first casino table games to transition to the online casino space, but it’s only in recent years that players have been able to play online at real blackjack tables. When you play live dealer games of blackjack, your dealer is a real human being at a proper blackjack table that’s identical to regular seven-seater blackjack tables in every way.
In fact, playing classic blackjack in a live casino environment online is very similar to land-based casinos, except for a few tweaks that could be said to enhance the overall experience. You can select different table views, for instance, control the volume and filter out distracting background noises (even mute the dealer!). Live dealer blackjack is also faster because players make their initial betting decision all at once instead of taking turns. You can also do things in a live casino that you can’t do in a brick-and-mortar setting, such as call up your gaming history and stats and “bet behind” other players. At the same time, you can chat with the dealer and other players during the game.
Innovative live dealer blackjack tables
There’s a whole lot more to live dealer blackjack in online casinos than playing seven at a table, though. The live casino space online is a regular incubator of innovation, producing more ways to play than ever before. A good example would be Infinite Blackjack. Thanks to some technical wizardry from Evolution Gaming, this variant enables you to play at a table with a limitless number of other players. It’s a feat impossible to reproduce in a land-based setting. This one also comes with entertaining side bets and a Six Card Charlie rule (if you reach six cards without busting, you automatically win).
For an even bigger entertainment factor, there’s Lightning Blackjack. This blackjack table also hosts a limitless number of players, but the table’s located in a stunning game show environment, complete with a live host. If you get a winning score, lightning flashes in the studio and you’re awarded a randomly generated multiplier which pays out 2x to 25x if you win in the next round. If you need to, you can leave the game without playing the multiplier, which remains available for up to 180 days.
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