Everything you need to know about Blackjack Variants

Blackjack is a popular classic casino game that all or nearly all casinos offer to their customers. Different casinos and gaming providers now offer different blackjack game variations to provide different experiences to the players and give them a reason to play through them.

Blackjack Variants

The different blackjack variations tend to have different house edges, odds, and payouts since the different games have a few different rules. These differences can make it easier or harder for players to win. Because the different games differ in the rules, it’s important to understand the common variations to know how to win at the specific blackjack variation.

Common Blackjack Rules Variations 

Because most blackjack variations have the same fundamental rules, there’s only so much that can be changed to create a unique experience. Knowing the different rules of blackjack games can help you learn how to win at blackjack regardless of the game version. The most common rule variations are the following:

Common Blackjack Rules Variations 

Number of Decks in Play 

Different blackjack games use a different number of decks for play. The number of decks in play range from two to eight decks. The higher the number of decks used in a game, the higher the house edge is.

Dealer’s Soft 17 

In most blackjack variations, the dealer must stand when they have a soft 17. Because there is no chance to bust when anyone draws or is dealt an extra card, the dealer has another chance of getting a blackjack or getting a hand higher than the players. Because the dealer has a chance to get blackjack, the house edge is increased by around 0.2%.

Can You Double Down After Splitting? 

In basic strategy, players are told to split in certain circumstances and there is even a specific instruction to split ONLY if DAS or doubling down in blackjack after splitting is allowed. Not all blackjack games allow you to double down after splitting because the house edge decreases by about 0.15% when you can double down.

Dealer Up card
Your Hand2345678910Ace
Ace & AceSSSSSSSSSS
10 & 10Don’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’t
9 & 9SSSSSDon’tSSDon’tDon’t
8 & 8SSSSSSSSSS
7 & 7SSSSSSDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’t
6 & 6Split if
allowed
SSSSDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’t
5 & 5Don’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’t
4 & 4Don’tDon’tDon’tSplit if
allowed
Split if
allowed
Don’tDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’t
3 & 3
2 & 2
Split if
allowed
SSSSSDon’tDon’tDon’tDon’t
Basic Strategy on when to split, including splitting when DAS is allowed.
Blackjack Split Chart's Notation

Resplitting 

Having the opportunity to split after an initial split can be advantageous to players when all their resulting hands get blackjack or at least beat the dealer’s hand. Even if a hand busts, the other winning hands should lead to big winnings. Not all blackjack games allow this and the house edge increases by 0.1%.

Surrendering 

Surrendering is a play to keep the bettor from losing their entire bet by forfeiting half the initial stake. This move can help bettors continue betting since they won’t lose big, but not all blackjack games allow surrendering. Some game variations that allow surrenders may allow both an early and late surrender while others might only allow late surrenders.

Dealer Peek 

A dealer checks for blackjack if their exposed card is either an ace or a ten. The dealer checks for blackjack when they have a hole card, but they won’t be able to do so in European Blackjack where there isn’t a hole card to check for blackjack. When the dealer peeks, the house edge is reduced by 0.1% because the player can then use the information that the dealer doesn’t have blackjack to hit to try and get blackjack or as close to 21 as possible.

Payout For Blackjack 

Not all blackjack games have the same payout for blackjack, with American Blackjack offering between 3:2 to 6:5. When casinos reduce a blackjack game’s payout to 6:5, it usually means the blackjack rules are favorable to the player so the casino increases the house edge by about 1%.

Popular Blackjack Variants 

Different online casinos typically offer different blackjack game variants, and among them are the following:

Blackjack Switch 

Blackjack Switch is a multi-hand blackjack game where players must play two hands. This means that players must place two equal stakes at the start of the round and the hands are dealt normally. The only difference is that players can switch the places of one card from one hand to the other to potentially create stronger starting hands.

In Blackjack Switch, the dealer has a hole card, hits on a soft 17, and can push your hands when they have a 22. The main reason to play this game is that players have a chance to win big here. 

Blackjack Switch
Switching one card from one hand to the other results in either one hand having a value of 20 and the other a 9.

Special Rules of Blackjack Switch 

Blackjack Switch features a few tweaks to more traditional blackjack mechanics. Some of the rules to keep in mind when playing the game are the following:

  • The number of decks is 6-8.
  • Dealers peek for Blackjack when their upcard is an Ace or 10.
  • Dealer hits on soft 17.
  • Insurance bet pays 2/1.
  • The player win and the Player Blackjack pays 1/1.
  • When the player switches to create Blackjack, it only counts as 21.
  • A dealer hand of 22 pushes against player hands of 21 or less, but a Blackjack beats it.
  • Players can double down after splitting.
  • Surrender bet unavailable.
  • Splitting and re-splitting are allowed.
  • Available side bets include the following: Any Pair (1/1) | 3-of-a-kind (5/1).
  • House edge is 0.13%

Blackjack Surrender 

Surrendering is already an option in blackjack games, but this action takes center stage in Blackjack Surrender. The fundamental rules remain the same and the best reason to play it is the lower house edge than traditional blackjack and a guarantee to be able to ditch poor hands.

Special Rules of Blackjack Surrender 

Blackjack Surrender features are pretty much the same as American Blackjack, but some features might not be familiar.

  • The number of decks is 6.
  • Dealers peek for Blackjack when their upcard is an Ace or 10.
  • Early surrender is sometimes available, depending on the particular table.
  • Late surrender is available.
  • The dealer stands on all 17s.
  • Insurance bet pays 2/1.
  • Player win pays 1/1.
  • Player Blackjack pays 3/2.
  • Splitting is allowed.
  • Re-splitting is not allowed.
  • Double down only on 9, 10, and 11
  • Multi-hands of 1-5.
  • Side bets are unavailable.
  • The House edge is 0.24%.

Perfect Pairs 

Perfect Blackjack or Perfect Pairs Blackjack is a great blackjack game variant that introduces side bets focused on pairs of cards, including the following:

  • Mixed Pair (6/1)
  • Colored Pair (12/1)
  • Perfect Pair (25/1)

Instead of just betting for blackjack, players can also opt to bet on pairs. A mixed pair side bet wins when the player is dealt two cards of any suit.  The biggest paying side bet is the perfect pair which wins when the pair of cards dealt are perfectly identical.

Special Rules of Perfect Blackjack 

Perfect Blackjack does not only introduce a few profitable side bets based on pairs, but also other great side bets.

  • The number of decks is 6.
  • Dealers peek for Blackjack when their upcard is an Ace or 10.
  • Surrender is not available.
  • The dealer stands on all 17s.
  • Insurance bet pays 2/1.
  • Player win pays 1/1.
  • Player Blackjack pays 3/2.
  • Splitting is allowed.
  • When splitting Aces, players only get one extra card.
  • Re-splitting is not allowed.
  • Double down is available, even after splitting.
  • Multi-hands are possible.
  • Side bets include the 21 + 3 side bet that incorporates poker elements.
  • House edge is 0.42%

European Blackjack 

European Blackjack offers slightly better odds to win for players than the American counterpart that’s more readily available at 6D online casino. This is easily one of the two most popular forms of blackjack, alongside American Blackjack.

Special Rules of European Blackjack 

  • The number of decks is 2-8.
  • Dealers don’t have a hole card to peek for blackjack.
  • Early surrender is available.
  • Late surrender is not available.
  • The dealer stands on soft 17.
  • Insurance bet pays 2/1.
  • Player win pays 1/1.
  • Player Blackjack pays 3/2.
  • Splitting is allowed only once.
  • Players can split only same-character face cards.
  • Re-splitting is not allowed.
  • Double down only on 9, 10, and 11.
  • Multi-hands are possible.
  • The House edge is 0.38%.

Comparing Blackjack Variants 

Of the four blackjack variants mentioned above, Perfect Pairs is arguably the best because of the available side bets that can pay a lot. Blackjack Switch is good to “switch” things up to have a different experience from the usual American and slightly different European Blackjack.

Other Blackjack Variants 

Online casinos also typically offer multiple other blackjack game variants, including the following:

Progressive Blackjack 

Progressive Blackjack is the same as conventional blackjack but with a side bet that pays out if a player’s first card is an Ace. If the player’s hand consists of two Aces, they’ll receive a bigger payout. A hand of suited Aces will result in a much bigger payout. A hand of four suited Aces dealt consecutively will win the progressive jackpot.

Face Up 21

Face Up 21 improves the player’s chances of winning by removing some house advantages. In this game, both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face-up to give players more information. However, the dealer hits on soft 17, and a dealer blackjack beats a player blackjack and a player blackjack only pays even money.

Spanish 21 

Spanish 21 offers the player better odds of winning than regular blackjack, but it still depends on the particular casino’s rules variations. This game removes all the 10s, except face cards, from the deck, resulting in a deck that only has 48 cards instead of 52. The removal of the four 10s from the deck naturally decreases a player’s chances of getting a natural blackjack, but a player blackjack beats the dealer blackjack.

Chinese Blackjack 

Chinese Blackjack is a regional blackjack variation that is also known as 21-Point. The game is played with one or two decks and multiple players. The dealer rotates.

The goal of Chinese Blackjack is to get closer to 21 than the dealer. Players can play special hands, with “Ban-luck” one of them where a natural blackjack pays off 2/1 instead of 3/2. Another hand is the “freehand” which is when two cards total 15 points which can then be used to stop the round and immediately reshuffle, allowing people to counter “Ban-luck.”

Double Attack 

Like Spanish 21, Double Attack uses a “Spanish” deck where all the 10s are removed except for the face cards that still count as 10. In Double Attack, players can double their bets after seeing the dealer’s upcard. Double Attack also offers the “Bust it” side bet when the dealer busts with exactly three cards with varying payoffs, depending on the dealer’s hand.

Pontoon 

Pontoon is an Australian blackjack game variation that resembles Spanish 21 and Double Attack while being a completely different game. Pontoon uses “Spanish decks” where all the 10s, except face cards, are removed. This game also features multiple bonus payouts that players can’t benefit from if they double down.

Conclusion

Blackjack players browsing an online casino’s game lists can see multiple blackjack tables of different variants in the list. When playing any blackjack game, it’s important that you know how to play these games and win them. Testing out the popular blackjack variants or even trying other games is ideal to know which game to frequent. When playing blackjack online and trying out a game like Perfect Pairs, you will need to look for a reputable casino online in the Philippines. 6D Casino is one such casino where you can sign up to start playing blackjack without getting scammed of your winnings.