A Look at Different Blackjack Games

September 7th, 2006 3:33 pm EST


card deckAn Overview of Popular Blackjack Variations

Here at Blackjack King we are committed to giving you the most comprehensive information on Blackjack available. This includes the rules and strategies for all of the most popular Blackjack variations to be found on the net.

We have comprehensive articles explaining all of the variations. This article is simply an overview of the hottest ones. It is by no means comprehensive and just gives you a basic idea of what rules variations you can find on some of these alternative Blackjack games. In some cases, the differences are very subtle and may not seem like there is any change at all. Others have several changes and may not even resemble the original game of Blackjack much at all. While offline casinos have a few rules variations, if you want a great game with a twist on the classic Blackjack, then online casinos is where it's at for you. Online casinos currently offer the most variations, with new ones being invented all the time to keep the game fresh and popular. Here is a short overview of the best ones:

-Multi-deck: There used to be a time where single-deck Blackjack was the only way to go. Unfortunately, most casinos realized that this made it easier for people to count cards and thus increase their chance of winning. Though casinos employ many tactics to try to prevent card counting, one of the biggest and most obvious ones is to use multiple decks at a table, and to shuffle them often. Multi-deck games of Blackjack are usually four decks at once, but have been known to go as high as eight.

-Double-down after split: Pretty much every game of Blackjack allows a player to double-down before they take a card into their hand, thus increasing their payout before should they win. If the rules vary to allow a double-down after split, this means that the player had a pair that they split and wish to double down on one or both hands. All other rules regarding splits usually apply.

-Early Surrender: This is a wonderful rule variation that gives a player the ability to salvage a hand that may be bad. Unfortunately, it is quite rare, as it decreases the overall house odds, which most casinos frown upon. In Early Surrender rules, a player is allowed to discard their hand before playing if the dealer's up card is an Ace. The player loses half their bet, with the other half going to the house. The purpose of doing this is to avoid losing the hand. Since the dealer's up card is an Ace, this increases their chance of having a natural (two-card Blackjack hand). Early surrender allows you to void the hand and keep half your money without having to find out if you would have lost or not.

-No dealer hole card: In this rare variation, the dealer's hole card is not dealt until the end of the hand in this variation. This means that the dealer could hit blackjack and you would not know until the very end of the hand. This could alter the way you play the hand, as most people play either aggressively or conservatively depending on what the dealer's up card is.

-Spanish 21: There are a few twists to Spanish 21, the first being that it is usually played with a four deck shoe of cards. These decks are what is referred to as a Spanish deck, meaning all of the tens are taken out. Some of the payouts are varied as well- all blackjack hands are paid on 3:2 odds no matter what the dealer has. Doubling down is allowed at anytime, including for split pairs. In fact, a player can double down anytime, not just on the initial two cards. So if you already took a card into your hand, you can still double down, though the rule of only one additional hit after doubling down would still apply. There is also a great rule called "double down rescue", which is unique only to Spanish 21. Double down rescue means that a player can invoke the early surrender rule on a hand that they doubled down on. They would then lose only half their bet instead of all of it if they were to lose.

-Double Exposure: In this variation, all cards are dealt face up, including the dealer's cards. In most games, the dealer has one "hole" card that is dealt face down. This is an advantage to the player, who does not now have to guess what the hole card is. However, to make up for that advantage, there is another rule tweak- the dealer wins all ties (pushes). The other big rule tweak is that Blackjacks pay 1:1 instead of the usual 3:2 odds.

-European blackjack: This is likely the most popular of all the Blackjack variations, as almost every online casino offers at least a few European Blackjack tables these days. There are several rule changes here. First, the dealer must stand on a soft 17 hand, which could increase your chances of beating them. You may double down, but only if your two-card total equals 9, 10 or 11, and never on a split pair. Two decks are used in each game and are shuffled often, with the dealer not having a hole card, which is part of what makes this game so popular.

-Atlantic City blackjack- Eight decks are used in this game, meaning a very large shoe is required to play it properly. This is to cut down on card counters who seek to gain a mathematical advantage at winning each hand. In Atlantic City Blackjack, re-splitting is allowed on pairs that have already been split so that the player can play up to three hands at once, increasing your potential payoff. Early Surrender rules may be invoked is allowed in Atlantic City blackjack, meaning you can surrender your hand early if the dealer has an Ace as their face up card. The usual rules regarding doubling down still apply here.