The origins of twenty-one, the workhorse of casino table games, are lost to history. References to similar games have been extricated from writings in France and Spain from 500 years ago. The most notable are gambling scenes crafted by Miguel de Cervantes, rumored to be a bit of a night-ruffler and frequent player of cards. Cervantes’ most famous character, the romantic quester Don Quixote, found himself on more than one occasion patronizing a gambling den on his travels.
If Don Quixote were tilting at windmills in the 21st century he and trusted sidekick Sancho Panza would no doubt be active mobile blackjack players. When online casinos migrated to the mobile platform blackjack was one of the first casino games to be adapted for play on the go. The graphics are simple, play is fast and the game is easy to learn. Mastering set-in-stone simple strategies returns 99% of the player’s money.
With a simple download to a smartphone hands of blackjack can now be dealt to any location. Players are enjoying blackjack standing in line at the grocery stores, watching a ballgame or enduring an afternoon at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Mobile blackjack games can be set to play for free, sharpening skills for future money games, or played for real money through an account set up with the online casino.
Mobile blackjack rules are the same encountered at a land-based casino or a desktop computer. Bets are placed on the touchscreen and when “Deal” is tapped two cards arrive via the graphic interface to resemble the familiar blackjack table. Controls are used to pursue the normal blackjack strategies of hitting, standing, splitting or doubling down.
Mobile blackjack players can pursue their passion on their devices via apps or websites accessed through browsers. Due to the non-uniformity of gambling laws from country to country the number of apps that can be downloaded and played with real-money gambling are limited. When sitting down at a mobile blackjack table through a browser the location of your Internet Service Provider will dictate the availability of the game.
There is nothing like the convenience of pulling a blackjack game from your pocket anytime you want to play. The price for that convenience is that the number of game variations are fewer than those found in the average land-based casino or a leading online casino. The most common blackjack variants that have made the transition to the mobile platform are the pillars of the game:
Single Deck Blackjack
The standard game which introduces players to the intricacies of blackjack is dealt from one deck of 52 playing cards with play against the dealer. Bets are made and two cards are dealt up to the player and one card is delivered up and the other down to the dealer. In the American version a quick check by the dealer for a blackjack – exactly 21 – is conducted before game play begins. A dealer blackjack is an automatic winner. A player blackjack will typically pay 3 to 2; all other bets pay 1:1. Players are allowed to double the initial stake for totals of 9, 10, or 11. If the player receives two identical value cards two hands can be created, or split. The second hand carries the same stake as the initial play; the hands may also not be doubled. An ace counts as one or eleven points towards the total of twenty-one; due to this a hand with an ace is considered “soft.” A dealer must stand, take no more cards, on a hard 17 (a player advantage) but depending on house rules can sometimes hit on a soft 17 (a 0.2% advantage to the casino).
The European version of blackjack involves a “no hole card” game whereby the dealer neither deals nor consults the second card until after all players have finished with their hands. This leaves open the possibility for a dealer blackjack that will destroy all double downs and splitting decisions the players have added to their bets. This after-the-fact blackjack returns the house as additional 0.11% edge. European blackjack is dealt from two decks of cards and the dealer must stand on any 17.
The name is not a misnomer – players can play hands from three positions on the same deal. Play is followed best in landscape mode, even on the larger smartphones. The game is dealt from multiple decks. An advantage for the player is a blackjack game dealt from a single deck increases the possibility of a blackjack and a greater payout. The house advantage bulges from a skimpy 0.17% from a single deck to 0.65% from shoes with eight decks.
All mobile blackjack games are dealt from decks shuffled after each game. As with all blackjack games check for the rules regarding payouts and play options that differ from online casino to casino; find the blackjack rules that mesh with your style. If the connection is lost or the battery drains from your device in the middle of a hand you should be able to pick up in the game where you left in when you log in again. Graphics and ease of play will vary depending on the quality of your device and connection.
As mobile apps and online casinos acquire greater sophistication the opportunities for interactivity are increasing. Some mobile casinos have introduced tournament blackjack where the player is not only competing against the dealer’s cards but the bankrolls of the other players at the table. After the buy-in all players begin with a preset number of chips and at pre-determined stages of play chip leaders at different tables advance to a grand culmination table where the finalists vie for cash prizes.
With progressive blackjack players are tied together across the mobile platform with an optional side bet. Other mobile apps let players earn rewards or build points towards a loyalty program. Whether for practice or profit the fun of mobile blackjack is the go-to game for gamblers always on the go, like Don Quixote for one.