Blackjack is the most popular table game at land-based casinos, so, unsurprisingly, the game has been recreated countless times by every creator of online slots and casino games. Relax Gaming’s interpretation of the classic card game is one of the newest of the bunch – a strange scenario, given that it’s visually one of the simplest that you are likely to encounter. I believe most players would agree that this is fine, however; this isn’t an online slot, and being able to read the cards on the table and make quickfire decisions is arguably of much greater importance than the graphics. As for the RTP, perfect play can get you as high as 99.6% - a great deal higher than even the most generous online slots, which max out at just 98%.
The high RTP of Relax’s Blackjack is a direct result of the developers' choices regarding its rules. The game is played using a shoe of four 52-card decks (jokers not included), which is shuffled after every hand. The dealer must stand on all 17s, the player is permitted to split only once, and doubling down is permitted on any two cards. There is no surrender rule in play; doubling down after a split is allowed, and a natural Blackjack pays 3-to-2. Finally, this is an American-style game, meaning the dealer will peek for Blackjack whenever he shows an Ace. Whilst the 99.6% RTP is undoubtedly accurate, it’s worth pointing out that you can’t really compare this style of online Blackjack directly with its land-based cousins unless they are using a continuous shuffling machine.
Do you fancy your chances against the dealer in a few rounds of 21? We have a free Blackjack demo of Relax Gaming’s version of the classic table game available to play below:
You’ll find a version of Blackjack available for play at all of the main slot sites, whether it's the likes of MRQ or 21. it’s. The version of Blackjack on review here (from Relax Gaming) is visually much simpler than many alternative variants such as those produced by Microgaming. Speaking of which, that developer has made dozens of versions of online Blackjack with every combination of rules imaginable. Relax has chosen to keep things simple by producing only one version of the game, but this does highlight the importance of checking what rules are in play before you begin. Whilst Blackjack’s paying a reduced premium of just 6-to-5 are almost an accepted reality at land-based casinos, you should never spend your money on such a game when playing online. If in doubt, you can find several ‘house edge calculators’ on the web which allow you to plug in the rules of a given Blackjack game. The calculator will factor in all the variables and let you know the resulting house edge. I did this for the Relax game on review here and learned that using the basic strategy with perfect play would result in an RTP of 99.5954% - extremely close to the number specified by its developer.
The rules and resulting return to player percentages are the most prominent differences between the many versions of Blackjack offered by online bingo sites. However, there can also be significant differences in terms of their features; Relax’s Blackjack has an optional dealer voice mode, which mirrors the behaviour of human dealers at land-based casinos. There are also three different dealing speeds on offer, although there didn’t seem to be much difference between them as far as I could tell. This could be a consequence of the UK Gambling Commissions' over-zealous rules regarding the permitted speed of play, so it’s possible that your mileage may vary here, should you be fortunate enough to live outside of the United Kingdom! The game also includes a so-called ‘best move indicator’, letting you know when the odds favour hitting, doubling, splitting, or standing.
Two further options labelled ‘double dark’ and ‘anticipation’ are poorly explained when reading the games information pages. The first option, ‘double dark’, will cause all cards taken after doubling to be dealt face-down. You’ll only find out whether your double-down has been successful after the dealer has finished playing out their hand. That’s a fairly useless feature in my eyes, but ‘anticipation’ is undoubtedly even worse! Enabling this mode simply causes pointless multiple-second delays to be injected at key stages of play, such as before the dealer receives a card that causes them to bust. This is made all the sillier by the fact that the introduction of such delays often serves as a huge clue as to what will happen next!
how to play free blackjack
Blackjack Winning Hand
You’re probably already somewhat familiar with how to play Blackjack, so this will only be a quick refresher! The objective of Blackjack is to finish each hand with a point total closer to 21 than that achieved by the dealer – without going over. The value of your hand is determined by the sum of the cards contained within it; two through ten are worth their face value, whilst Jacks, Queens, and Kings are all worth ten. In addition, the ace can be valued at either one or 11 – whichever is higher without taking your total over 21.
If you’re unsure what to do next, you can follow the advice of the game's built-in best move indicator, denoted by a simple line underneath one of the available action choices. I kept a close eye on this whilst testing the game, and it does seem to correctly highlight the most advantageous next move with complete accuracy. However, some players believe that having such features enabled spoils the fun by removing any sense of challenge that the game presents, so there is an option to disable this feature in the settings menu should you wish.
The minimum/maximum permitted bets in this version of Blackjack are £1.00 and £300.00 per hand, respectively. Note that these limits apply to each of the three boxes available in each round, meaning you can wager £300 three times for every hand the dealer plays.
Furthermore, those limits only apply to the starting bet for each hand – should you bet £300 and then choose to split before doubling both of your split hands, you could theoretically bet as much as £1,200 per box.
Lots of options – even if many of them do seem a little pointless!
A wide betting range should cater for most players.
Simple visuals make it easy to concentrate on your hands.
No penny stake options.
The option to play a side bet or two would have been a worthwhile extra.
Push Gaming have plenty of success under its belts, and in fact, one of the most played slots here on our site is Retro Tapes, so they certainly know how to appeal to the masses. In the case of 10 Swords, however, it feels as though this has been made just to target the growing number of players who seemingly enjoy these styles of games that have been knocked out consistently by several studios under the Games Global umbrella.
This is not a game I would find myself revisiting as I don't find those types of slots entertaining at all, but there are certainly many that do, so perhaps this will make it as a regular on your playlist if you happen to fall into that category of punter.