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The Most Popular Blackjack Variations

Blackjack Table - blackjackcanada

There are now dozens of online blackjack variations, ranging from those with minor changes (such as European Blackjack) to incredibly creative makeovers like 21st Century Blackjack.

Well we’ve collated all the most popular game variations right here, with helpful overviews and links to more detailed game descriptions. This page is your one-stop-shop whenever you’re looking to check the rules or find a new game to play.

We’ve built this dedicated page to make every blackjack variation accessible and easy to understand, for both beginners and veterans alike.

  • 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 players 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.
  • Perfect Blackjack – This variation is famous for its ‘Perfect Pairs’ side bet. Players are wagering on being dealt 7s: 5/1 payout for unmatched 7s, 10/1 for colour-matched 7s, and 30/1 for a Perfect Pair of suited 7s! Hitting a natural blackjack pays 3:2 and players can double-down on any split. Both insurance and late surrender can be available, and after the side bet, players are still looking to total closer to 21 than the dealer.
  • Atlantic City Blackjack – This variation offers a host of subtle changes to classic blackjack, including both late surrender and insurance. Players are still aiming for 21 without bust and the dealer always stands on soft 17, helping create a low house edge of 0.39%. Players can split pairs 3 times and at live dealer tables, Atlantic City Blackjack is very susceptible to card counting. Basic strategy cards are available to help players master this variation.
  • 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 on 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 that 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 actions! 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.

So what should you play?

Each of these variations offers something unique and attractive to players. That said, we do have a couple of recommendations. The most popular variations for all players are undoubtedly European Blackjack and Perfect Blackjack.

For beginners in particular, we also recommend variations which mimic the core classic blackjack game but with a few additional twists, such as Hi-Lo-13 or Progressive Blackjack. For the more experienced player, consider expanding your horizons with a variation which really turns the game on its head – something like 21st Century Blackjack or Super Fun 21 will provide an immersive and thrilling new experience.

  • Published date: 2017-07-05 06:59
  • Modified date: 2020-06-04 10:37