Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world. You probably know the story of Ben Affleck who was banned for life from Blackjack tables at one of the Las Vegas casinos after he was caught counting cards. Although all the famous actor was trying to do was to improve his odds and counting cards is not illegal (until you get caught, obviously), he has been no longer able to participate in his favourite form of entertainment.
Blackjack, also known as 21, is actually one of a few casino games offering players a chance to gain the advantage over the house. While playing at online casinos, players don’t have to worry about getting caught and can choose from numerous variations with different sets of rules. Some are more favourable than others, so in this guide, we want to present some of the Blackjack variations which are popular among players for the odds of winning they provide.
European Blackjack is one of the most popular variations played at casinos across Europe. It is most similar to the traditional version of Blackjack, yet there are certain differences which make this variation unique. The game is played with 2 decks of cards. Players are allowed to double down their initial wager on hands with a value of 9, 10 or 11. When it comes to splitting, players can divide the cards into 2 separate hands and double their only once. This applies only to like-value cards such as 10s, Jacks, Queens or Kings. You cannot split Aces and there is no Surrender option. With the house edge of 0.39%, European Blackjack is a perfect game for beginners as it uses only 2 decks instead of 6 to 8 decks. If you manage to create a Blackjack hand, you will be paid 3 to 2.
Double Exposure Blackjack
Another popular Blackjack variation is Double Exposure. It is popular because players have the increased odds. Basically, it is a standard Blackjack game played with 8 decks of cards. The main difference is in the fact that the dealer’s cards are exposed. This enables players to see what cards the dealer has before making their move. Due to the advantage players have, other rules are more favourable to the house. Players cannot use Insurance, Surrender or multiple splits. The dealer hits on soft 17s and all tied hands are won by the dealer. Blackjack pays 1:1 while an Insurance bet pays 2:1. The house edge is 0.69%.
Spanish 21 is a Blackjack variation played with 10s removed from the decks. The game uses 4 to 6 decks with 48 cards instead of 52. Due to the removal of 10s which increases the house edge, Spanish 21 comes with a set of rules that balance the gameplay and improve the players’ odds. For instance, the player can split hands up to 3 times up to 4 hands and double down with any two cards. Another option which can help you while playing this Blackjack variant is Late Surrender which can be highly useful. You can surrender before you opt for hit or stand if the dealer doesn’t get a Blackjack hand when the second card is dealt. This is how you can save half a wager. Blackjack pays 3:2 and you can win bonus payouts. The house edge is 0.34%.
What makes Perfect Pairs unique is the possibility of placing a side bet. A Perfect Pair bet can be placed before cards are dealt and you can bet on a red or black pair or two cards of the same rank but different colours. You can also bet on a coloured pair or two cards of the same colour and rank. The biggest possible payout of even 30:1 is awarded for a perfect pair, that is to say, two cards of the same suit and rank. Although payouts are appealing, keep in mind that side bets in this Blackjack variants come with a 6.76% house edge.
Pontoon is also a Blackjack variant played without 10s. Although it may seem similar to Spanish 21, it offers higher Blackjack payouts. The dealer’s cards are face-down and the player can stand on hands equal to 15 or higher. You are allowed to split twice up to 3 hands. When both the dealer and the player have hands of the same value, it results in a loss. If the player has cards with a value of 14 or less, he must hit. The player is also allowed to double on two, three or four cards. With a natural Blackjack, called Pontoon, the player wins 2:1. The house edge ranges between 0.34% and 0.42%.
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