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How to Play California Blackjack

If you have ever been to a card room in California you may have seen a live blackjack game in progress. You may have also noticed that the game is being conducted much differently than the game as it is played in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. California Blackjack is its own game. Here's a closer look at blackjack in California and how it differs from other 21 varieties.

About California Blackjack

Card rooms have been popular in California for many years. These card rooms are permitted under California law. They mostly allow card players to play poker with one another for real money. Otherwise, live gambling is not permitted under California law except under special circumstances.

The card room operators wanted to figure out a way to include live blackjack in their card rooms. They were immediately met with a problem. The only way to offer blackjack in California was to develop a version of the game that allows players to compete against one another. It would not be permitted for the players to compete against the house as they would in a casino.

In live casinos and online casinos blackjack is a game that is played between the player and the casino. The game has a built-in edge for the house. It is a low house edge, but the casino is still guaranteed a profit in the long run.

California Blackjack sought to remove the problem by letting players compete directly with one another. The casino would take money from the hands in exchange for facilitating the game. This is how the California version of the game was born. It somewhat resembles the game of blackjack as it is played at home among friends.

California Blackjack Rules

The rules of California Blackjack can vary from casino to casino. It is very important that you understand the house rules before you sit down to play the game. If you don't understand the rules you will likely wind up losing a lot of money. Ignorance will be no excuse.

The most important thing to understand in California Blackjack is that players must take turns being the dealer or banker. Each player must cover the bets of the other players when playing as the banker. That may sound risky, and it can be. It can also be profitable. Remember, blackjack is a game that favors the house. You are essentially getting a chance to become the house when you play California Blackjack.

Another rule variation is that the deck for California Blackjack uses a joker. There are 53 cards in the deck instead of 52, and the joker is a wild card. Many card rooms use six decks dealt from a shoe to play the game.

In many other respects the classic blackjack rules also apply to the California version of the game. Here are some of the notable differences between California Blackjack and the classic game:


There are also some specific betting rules that are used in California Blackjack. The minimum bet at most card rooms is $10 per hand. The maximum bet is usually $600.

The Collection Rule is the California Blackjack version of a rake. In most California card rooms this collection is 1% of every $100 bet. You should also know that the banker is charged a flat $3 fee for all hands. This can be less than the other collection, and it is meant to offset the risk that a player takes when they are tasked with being the banker.

We don't have to tell you that California Blackjack is a game that can become very expensive to play. A lucky run by all of the players at the table could wind up costing you thousands of dollars when you find yourself being the banker.

Strategies for California Blackjack

This variety of blackjack is still a blackjack game. That means that much of the basic blackjack strategy that you use online or in live games will be useful. You are still trying to beat the dealer even though the game is ran a little bit different.

Our recommendation would be to make sure you have a strong bankroll before you try to play the game. You have to face the possibility of having to cover winning bets from players. Most players would not dream of trying to play California Blackjack without at least a few thousand dollars in their personal bank.

The game is dealt from a shoe in many online casinos. That means that there is at least the possibility that you can count cards. If that is possible and you have the card counting skills, try to use your knowledge to establish and maintain an edge.

Can You Play California Blackjack Online?

So, about now you are probably wondering where this type of blackjack game can be found online. To our knowledge it cannot. There is no online platform that allows individuals to bet against one another when playing online blackjack.

Where California Players Can Play Blackjack Online

Here is the good news. You can play regular blackjack online at a number of different venues. In fact, we recommend many online casinos that welcome players from California. The blackjack games that you will find at these casinos are mostly standard. There are also variations like Spanish 21 and blackjack games with side bets like Royal Match.

Sign up today with one of our chosen online casinos and you can receive a large welcome bonus. Most online casinos have mobile versions of their games that you can play on a phone or tablet.