Types of Blackjack: Variations and Regional Differences

Mar 31, 2023
The History of Blackjack

Exploring the best casino games online, you’ll definitely come across poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and slots. While we have previously delved into the various casino games in another article, this article will focus on the history and variations of blackjack.

The History of Blackjack

Blackjack, also known as 21, ranks among the most well-known and extensively played casino card games worldwide. It’s popular for its simplicity and the fine line between luck and skill needed to win. Tracing back to the early 17th century in Europe, blackjack has roots in similar card games like “Twenty-One” and “Vingt-et-Un.” As European settlers journeyed across the Atlantic, the game gained immense popularity in North America. Over the years, the rules evolved, and the term “blackjack” emerged, denoting the bonus payout for a hand containing an ace of spades and a black jack (a jack of clubs or jack of spades).

Basic rules of Blackjack

In blackjack, the main goal is to achieve a hand worth more points than the dealer’s hand, without surpassing a total of 21 points. The game utilizes a standard 52-card deck.

Basic rules of Blackjack

At the start of each round, players are dealt 2 cards, as is the dealer, with one of the dealer’s cards facing up. During their turn, players have the following options:

  • Hit (draw a card)
  • Stand (end turn without drawing a card)
  • Double (double bet, draw one card, and end turn)
  • Split (create 2 separate hands if the initial two cards have the same value)
  • Surrender (forfeit half of the bet and withdraw from the game)

Once the players complete their turns, the dealer continues to draw cards until reaching a total of 17 or higher. The dealer cannot double, split, or surrender, and if the dealer busts, all players win. Achieving a total of 21 with the initial 2 cards is referred to as a natural or Blackjack, and the player wins unless the dealer also has a Blackjack. In such a case, bets are returned in a situation known as a “push” or “standoff.”

Types of Blackjack

Types of Blackjack

There is a wide variety of blackjack games available, and on iGaming platforms, you can certainly find some of the most popular versions, such as Atlantic, Vegas Strip, European, Switch, and Spanish 21. These names reflect the origins of each variation, and while they maintain the core rules of Blackjack, they also introduce some unique gameplay features. Let’s explore some of the differences among some types:

Atlantic City Blackjack

In Atlantic City Blackjack, the dealer checks for blackjack when showing an Ace or a 10. When players receive two cards of the same rank, there are three ways to split the hand. In this version, when aces are split, players only receive one additional card per ace and can split an ace only once. Players have the option to double at any stage of the game, even after a split.

The dealer stands on any hand valued at 17, including soft 17, which means that if the dealer’s hand totals 17, no further cards will be drawn, even if an Ace is present (which can count as 1 or 11). If the dealer reveals an Ace or a 10, the player has the option to delay their surrender. Subsequently, if the player believes their chances of winning are low, they can recover half of their initial bet.

Vegas Strip

One notable difference in Vegas Strip Blackjack is that it typically uses 4 decks. Players can split their hand up to three times, allowing for a total of 4 hands. Aces cannot be split again. In this version, players can double down on any 2 initial cards or after a split.

The dealer is required to hit on a soft 17 (a hand containing an Ace valued as 11) and stand on a hard 17 or higher. If the dealer’s up card is an Ace, players have the option to purchase insurance. If the dealer has a blackjack, the payout is 2:1.

European Blackjack

The card dealing process in European Blackjack differentiates it from other blackjack variations. In traditional blackjack, every player, including the dealer, receives 2 cards at the beginning of the hand – one card is dealt face up, and the other is dealt face down. In European Blackjack, players initially receive only one face-up card and are dealt their second card after all other players have finished their hands.

Players are only allowed to double their bets if their total points amount to 9, 10, or 11. When it comes to splitting, players can double their bets but cannot split again. The odds of winning in European Blackjack are marginally lower compared to standard blackjack.

Multi-Hand Blackjack

This blackjack variation provides players the chance to engage in multiple hands and place various bets. In this version, up to five hands can be played at the same time, increasing player excitement and potential winnings. Individual casinos may enforce their own rules. Experience faster-paced gameplay and increased winning odds by playing blackjack with multiple hands.

Double Exposure Blackjack

Some unique features of playing Double Exposure:

  • Both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face up, in contrast to traditional Blackjack, where only one card is visible.
  • In case of a tie, the player wins, except when there is a natural Blackjack tie, which results in a push.
  • As players have the advantage of seeing both dealer’s cards, natural Blackjack payouts are typically reduced from the standard 3:2 to 1:1. Players are not allowed to purchase insurance or surrender.
  • Players can only split once per hand and are not permitted to resplit aces after the initial split.

Progressive Blackjack

Progressive Blackjack is among the most popular blackjack variations. The addition of a $1 wager to the special jackpot bets, which must be placed before dealing the cards, enhances the game. Each player can play up to five hands at once, and split hands are considered a single hand.

The dealer must hit on 16 or lower and stand on 17 or higher. However, Progressive Blackjack has some unique rules compared to the standard version. When players split a pair of aces, they receive only one additional card, and the hand automatically stands. If the player’s second card is a 10, the hand is considered 21, not a blackjack. In most cases, resplitting is not allowed. Players can only double down if their hand totals 9, 10, or 11. Doubling down after splitting is not permitted.

Blackjack Switch

Blackjack Switch is a unique variation of the classic Blackjack game, allowing players to play 2 hands at the same time and exchange cards between them. This feature can benefit players by enhancing their hand’s value and potentially increasing their chances of winning.

To counterbalance this advantage, certain rules favor the dealer. For instance, if the dealer’s hand totals 22, it seems a push rather than a bust, meaning that any player hands that aren’t a bust or 21 will result in a tie against the dealer’s 22. This rule provides the dealer with an advantage by reducing their chances of busting.

Some Blackjack Switch games may enforce rules that require the dealer to hit on soft 17 or restrict the number of times players can swap cards between their hands. These rules can also grant the dealer an advantage in the game.

Super Fun 21

Super Fun 21 is a highly popular blackjack variation. In this version, players can double down on any number of cards and surrender their hand at any stage of the game, even after doubling down. Super Fun 21 features special hands that can lead to higher payouts, such as a six-card hand totaling 20 or less, or a hand of five or more cards totaling 21 or less.

In Super Fun 21, Blackjack payouts are 6-5 instead of the traditional 3-2. This variation provides bonuses for specific blackjack hands, like a diamond blackjack.

Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is played using a 48-card deck, with all the 10s removed. This blackjack variation may have a huge House Edge, but it is counterbalanced by several player advantages, including:

  1. Players can surrender their hand at any stage of the game, even after doubling down.
  2. Doubling down is allowed on any number of cards.
  3. Players can split their hand up to 3 times, allowing for a total of four hands. Moreover, players can split any two cards of equal value, including aces.
  4. The dealer must hit on a soft 17, which can influence the likelihood of the dealer busting.
  5. The game provides various bonus payouts for specific hands, such as a 5-card 21 or a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 hand totaling 21.

Blackjack is a widely enjoyed casino game played by people all around the world. Each region has added its own unique rules on the game. Whether you’re an experienced player or a beginner, exploring variations can bring a fresh level of excitement and challenge to the game. Understanding the differences between these versions can also help players refine their strategies and boost their gods of winning. Comparing the House Edge (HE) in blackjack to other gambling niches, the House Edge one of the smallest ranges from ~0.5-3%. The law HE, engaging gameplay, and numerous variations of blackjack attracts new players to the world of iGaming.

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