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The Most Popular Blackjack Variations
Blackjack comes in a few different forms – the game itself is pretty similar across all of them, except for a few choice rules. Here’s a quick overview of the popular types of Blackjack variations you can expect to find at online casinos:
- Classic/American Blackjack – like the name suggests, this is the ‘classic’ and ‘original’ game of blackjack – you need to create a hand of cards which is as near as possible to 21. Cards are dealt face up, and the dealer gets one face down and one face up. You can split, double down, hit and stand – and if you go over 21, you bust. This version is a great starting point for all players – newbies and advanced and is still one of the popular games out there for Canadian players.
- European Blackjack – as above, but this variation is played with two decks, and the dealer stands on a soft 17. This blackjack variation is also designed to work against professional card counters. The dealer is not allowed to check their hidden cards, and there is also no splitting on 4s, 5s or 10s.
- Blackjack Switch – in this blackjack variant, you receive two hands, which are played separately. After checking them, you can choose to switch the top cards in each hand you play – and this is where the name comes from. This gives player more of an advantage, with the ability to create stronger hands – but it also comes with a price. Blackjacks are only paid out at even money, and if the dealer busts with 22, each bet remaining in the game are pushed- other than a player’s blackjack, which is the only exception to this rule.
- Pontoon Blackjack – this is similar to the classic game, with one key difference: you have to hit if you have a 14 or less, and Pontoon (21) pays 2 to 1, while ‘Blackjack’ pays 3 to 2. This is a British blackjack variation, complete with a 5 card trick, where a player with 5 cards and still under 21 beats any hand of the dealers. Beating pontoon has lower odds than beating blackjack, but the payout is usually higher too.
- Double Exposure Blackjack – in this variation, both dealer cards are dealt face up (making it a lot easier for you, the player, to make a decision), and the dealer wins on all ties (unless it’s a natural blackjack). Plus, if the blackjack and dealer both have blackjack, the player is returned their stake (which is obviously a disadvantage to players, compared to other variants).
- Double Attack Blackjack – this variation is one of the newer ones out there, and typically found at casinos in Atlantic City. It’s larger than life: 8 decks of 48 cards are used, the dealer stands on a soft 17, and the insurance bet pays 5 to 2. This is a variant based off of Spanish 21, below.
- Spanish 21 Blackjack – probably one of the least frustrating games of blackjack out there, players with 21 always win, regardless of the dealer’s cards, you can also double-down on any 2 card hand you start with, whatever the value.
- Blackjack Surrender – this is usually played with 4 decks of cards, but it’s up to the casino to decide the amount. Dealers have to hit on soft 17, and you can double down after cards have been split.
- Progressive Blackjack – an exciting new blackjack innovation, in this variant, there is a growing jackpot pool which players opt to take part in. If you receive an Ace as a first card, you get a payout – two Aces, and you get an even bigger payout.
- Multiple Action Blackjack – this one is all about the multiple action! You can wager on one to three hands at the same time, and the wagers across each hand don;t have to be equal.
- 21st-Century Blackjack – played with multiple decks (it’s up to the casino to decide how many), this is played with the jokers left in. If you get a joker, you automatically receive a 21. Plus, if you go over 21, you only lose if the dealer’s busted hand is higher than yours.
- Super Fun 21 – this ‘super fun’ version uses one deck of cards, although it’s up to the casino to decide how many decks to use (and some use up to 8). The dealer has to hit on a soft 17, and players can double, hit, stand or stand on their hand of two cards. Plus, a player’s blackjack always beats the dealer’s blackjack, and if you hit blackjack with a suit of diamonds, the payout is 2 to 1.
- Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack – similar to European Blackjack, with one exciting twist – you can put a side bet on your initial two cards total – it’s either ‘Lo’ (under 13), ‘13’ if your first two cards are 13 exactly, or ‘Hi’ if your first two cards are higher than 13.