Each online blackjack game has its own set of rules which are set by the casino software provider designing the game, so while you won't be able to eliminate the house edge altogether you can still choose a game with better odds to increase your returns. It is therefore very important to ensure that you read the fine print of all the rules and understand them before you start playing a particular game.
In general, a player playing according to sound basic blackjack strategy should enjoy payouts of 99%, which is preferable to that of most other casino games including slots which generally offer 95% to 97%. When choosing a game with favourable rules, you will be assured of the best payouts possible.
The following rules have a significant impact on the house advantage, so look out for them and select your game accordingly:
Every blackjack game has its own rule on whether or not the dealer will hit on soft 17. If the dealer is required to hit on it, an "H17" is often displayed on the table and if the dealer stands, an "S17" is shown. Always be on the lookout for games where the dealer stands on soft 17 as this reduces the house advantage by approximately 0.2%, and as well all know, every little bit in our favour counts.
As a rule of thumb in blackjack, the fewer decks a game is played on, the lower the house edge and the more favourable the game is for the player. This is due to the fact that a lesser number of decks increases the odds of player blackjack, so if you happen to be dealt a ten value card on your first card, the odds of drawing an ace are higher with fewer decks.
But beware, games with fewer decks often incorporate other rules which are inserted to increase the house edge and offset the deficit caused by fewer decks. These rules often disallow doubling on soft hands or after splitting, occasionally restrict re-splitting, and may even pay you less than 3:2 for blackjack.
It is interesting to note that the house advantage increases the most from a single deck to two, and of course the more decks, the higher the house edge. While the exact increase will depend on the variant you play and the associated rules, you can generally expect increases similar to the following:
If you split a pair and one or both of the new hands happen to be a pair, the majority of casinos allow players to re-split. You will then be required to place an additional wager and the dealer splits the new pair and deals an additional card. While some games will permit re-splitting on a continuous basis, others have limits.
If you've been dealt Aces and have split them, another rule you'll often encounter is that only one card will be dealt to each Ace. This means that you won't be permitted to split, double down or take another hit on either of the new hands. If however you find a game where you are allowed to hit after splitting Aces, then play it as this reduces the house advantage by approximately 0.13%.
Generally when you split pair casinos permit you to double down on both of your hands, which is a good thing as a double after a split will increase your odds by around 0.1% and the lower you can push that edge, the better.
Some casinos will offer players the opportunity to double only on selected values. If you come across the Reno Rule you will only be able to double down on an initial total of Nine, Ten or Eleven (or ten and eleven only at some). This will mean that you can't double down on soft hands like soft 17. You should always try to avoid games where this rule is in force as it always favours the house.
Surrender allows you the option to "get out" of the game at the cost of half your wager. So if a dealer's first card is an Ace or has a value of ten, the hole card is checked to ensure that there is no blackjack and the option to surrender is then offered, this is termed late surrender. Some blackjack games offer "early" surrender whereby you can surrender prior to the dealer checking for blackjack. Although rare, if you can find a variant with early surrender, then always opt for that as it's always preferable to its late surrender counterpart.
As you can see, knowing the various rules of each game can go a long way to increasing your odds of winning, so it's well worth taking the time to investigate these so that you can choose a game with the most favourable ones and increase your payouts with every hand.