Bonus Blackjack

 

What is Bonus Blackjack?

With such a simple name, you can figure that there are probably several different versions.  I will first go over the online version by Microgaming.  It has been made popular because of the optional side bets that can pay as much as 50 to 1.  It is defined as a hole card game (where the dealer looks at his face down card if the up card is an Ace or a 10 value card) that uses 2 standard decks of cards.

Rules of Play

  • The dealer hits on soft 17
  • Player may split cards up to 3 times, creating 4 hands of play
  • Player can split non-matching 10 value cards
  • Player can split Aces only once and only 1 additional card is dealt
  • Player can double down on any 2 cards, even after a split
  • Any split Ace and a 10 value card will only create 21 points, it is not considered a Blackjack

Double down wagers must equal 50% of original bet.

There is NO SURRENDER in this Bonus Blackjack.

You are allowed to play 1 or up to 5 hands at a table.

Basic Payouts

  • Winning hands pay 1:1
  • Blackjack pays 3:2
  • Insurance pays 2:1

BONUS PAYOUTS

  • Any 2 suited cards (First 2 cards dealt) pays 5:2
  • A suited Ace and Jack pays 25:1, with the Ace and Jack of Spades paying 50:1

Bonus Blackjack – Land Casinos

Land casinos may play with up to 8 standard decks of card.  There are different bonus bets and different payouts for the bonus bets.  There are also at least 4 different versions you could see at different casinos.

Additional Bonus Side Bets and Payouts –

               Version 1

  • The player and/or dealer gets Blackjack pays 15:1, if both the dealer and player get blackjack, composed of Ace and Jack  of spades, a progressive pot is won

               Version 2

  • Player hand of 777 pays 500:1
  • Player hand of 678 pays 50:1
  • Suited Blackjack pay 20:1

             

               Version 3 (played with 1 standard deck and based on 1st two cards dealt)

  • Player and dealer blackjack pays 25:1
  • Player suited blackjack pays 10:1
  • Player unsuited blackjack pays 3:1
  • Pair pays 2:1
  • Suited cards 1:1

               Version 4

  • Player and dealer blackjack pays 25:1
  • Player suited blackjack pays 15:1
  • Suited pairs pays 10:1
  • Unsuited blackjack pays 5:1
  • Unsuited pair pays 3:1

Sum It Up

Bonus Blackjack is equally suited for any level serious player, as well as for those who just want to play for fun.  The 678 and 777 bets are fun to take a chance at because you would probably be “going for it” despite correct strategy play.  Why not try to hit a BONUS!

Chinese Blackjack

This is one of the most peculiar or fascinating blackjack variants available.  It is extremely popular in the Southeast Asia casinos.  Chinese Blackjack is also known as Ban-Nag, Ban-Luk or 21-point. Outside of Southeast Asia, you will primarily find it online, not in land-based casinos.

Principles of Chinese Blackjack

While there is no limit to the number of players allowed, it is usually played at a table with 5-6 players.  All players are playing against a dealer.

The goal is to get as close to 21 point as possible without going over, while beating the dealer’s hand total.

It is played with only 2 decks of cards.  Cards are valued exactly the same as in standard blackjack, except for aces.  Face cards are valued at 10 and numbered cards are valued at their numeric value.

The value of an ace depends on the number of cards the player has.  If a player has two cards, the ace can count as 10 or 11.  If a player has three cards, the ace can count as 1 or 10,  If a player has four or more cards, the ace will only count as 1.

Each player is dealt two cards, face down, with the dealer being the last to receive cards.

Player Options

Here’s where the fun differences begin.  While the players have the option of hitting or standing pat, there are certain hands in Chinese Blackjack that are immediate winners.

Immediate Winning Hands:

  • A Ban-Ban – Having two aces.  It is paid off at 3-1 immediately, unless the dealer also has a Ban-Ban, or an “escape hand” (discussed later). In the case of a tie like that, the player does not collect.
  • A Ban-Nag – Exactly the same as a standard blackjack, an Ace and a 10-value card.  It is paid off at 2-1, unless the dealer has a Ban-Nag or Ban-Ban.
  • An Escape Hand – A starting hand totaling 15.  If a player is dealt a “15,” he may opt to continuing playing the hand or he may resign the hand and get his bet back.  This also applies to the dealer.  If the dealer is dealt a 15, he can opt to continue playing or resign the hand.  If he opts to resign the hand, the hand is over and the cards are shuffled to start a new deal.
  • A 5-Dragon – A player hand of 5 cards that totals 21 or less.  If the total is less than 21, the pay off is 2-1.  If the total is exactly 21, the pay off is 3-1.
  • Pairs – If dealt a pair, the player is paid double his bet
  • 7-7-7 – If a player is dealt two sevens and gets another one after hitting, the player is paid 21 times his original bet.

If a player busts with 5 cards, the player has to pay double his wager.

 

Dealer Plays

The more intriguing differences start here.  The dealer is the last to act on his hand, once all players have made their decisions of play.  If the dealer holds a powerful hand, the player can easily lose big.

Except for a total of 15, the dealer must hit to improve his hand, if he has 16 or less.  With 16-20, he may “reveal” a certain number of  player hands before deciding whether to hit or stand.  Basically the dealer can check if his hand already beats a player’s hand, before deciding to take one more hit.  If the dealer gets 21 without busting, the hand is done and all players lose their original bets.  If the dealer busts, all players are paid even money.

If the dealer is lucky enough to get a 5-Dragon without totaling 21, all player lose must PAY the dealer TWICE their original bet.  If the dealer hits a 5-Dragon that totals 21, all players lose and must PAY the dealer TRIPLE their original bet!  Fortunately that doesn’t happen too often, or a player could go through their bankroll very quickly!

House Edge

It should be recognizable that the house holds a clear edge over the player with this game.  Because of the possibility of having to pay the dealer triple your bet, this is truly a gambler’s game!  Sure, there is skill involved in playing Chinese Blackjack because you can use some basic strategy, but the house edge is still quite significant.

 

Final Thoughts

As you can imagine, with the unique and complex rules variations, Chinese Blackjack will challenge even the most experienced blackjack players, making it an increasingly popular online blackjack option.  I believe what makes it intriguing and popular for experienced players is that there are several winning scenarios that payout at 2:1 or better.  With standard blackjack, except for hitting a blackjack, your wins are paid out at even money. It’s another great choice if you’re bored with the standard blackjack game.

 

Play Super Fun 21

This is a Blackjack variant usually found in Las Vegas casinos, but more and more online. It is played basically the same as standard blackjack, with a few additional rules to make it more exciting for game players. 

Rules Variations:

  • Game is usually played with 1 standard deck of cards, but may be played with up to 8 decks
  • Dealer hits on soft 17s
  • Player blackjacks always win
  • Double allowed after splitting
  • Can Re-Split Aces
  • Can Split and Re-Split up to four hands
  • Can Hit and Double down with split Aces
  • Player can Double on as many cards as they like
  • Late surrender available
  • Double Down Rescue is available – Where a player surrenders half of their wager after Doubling Down
  • If a player has a hand totaling 20 or less with six or more cards, they automatically win, excluding after Doubling, even if the dealer has 21
  • If a player has a hand of 21 with five or more cards, they automatically win, at a payout of 2:1, excluding after Doubling
  • Blackjack pays out at 1:1, instead of the usual 3:2
  • Special side bet of Blackjack with both cards Diamonds, pays 2:1, can be up to 300:1 in some online games

 

Super Fun 21 Strategy

As you should imagine, basic strategy for Super Fun 21 is slightly different than for standard blackjack.  It can be found online and I suggest you definitely take a look at it and use it to ensure in bringing down the house edge as much as possible.

Should you play the game in a land-based casino, here’s a list of important rules to know for a one deck game:

  • Always Double Down on a hand of nine when the dealer’s up card is a two, three, four, five, or six
  • Double Down on a hand total of 10 and 11 against any dealer up card
  • Surrender after Doubling Down (Double Down Rescue) with a hand total of 16 or less, if the dealer has an eight, nine,10, or Ace
  • Surrender after Doubling Down with 17 if the dealer has an Ace
  • Surrender shouldn’t be opted for unless the player has a hand of four cards or more

As noted above, surrender is used more strategically in this variation.  With standard blackjack, surrender is suggested very sparingly.  These tips above have been determined to be the best moves to make statistically against the dealer’s up card online. If you practice playing online, you can always have a “strategy chart” opened in another tab, to view, so you can make the perfect move.

General Online Payouts:

  • Blackjack: 1:1
  • Standard win: 1:1
  • Insurance win: 2:1
  • Diamond Blackjack: 2:1
  • Five Card or more 21: 2:1
  • Six card or more with a value of 20 or less: 1:1

Because the player has so many more chances to win, the payouts are tighter.  For example, since the player wins on all blackjacks, the payout for blackjack is only even money.

The best part about this variant is when there is a hand of low cards, the player has a high chance of making 21 with five cards, while a hand of high cards gives you the chance to score Blackjack – resulting in more chances to win.

Remember, allowing the dealer to hit on soft 17’s, increases the house edge greatly.  Essentially, the dealer gets a free card, because he can’t bust with a soft 17, he can basically only improve his hand.  This is how the house gets a slight advantage back, despite the seemingly many ways for the player to win.

 

Final Thoughts

Super Fun 21 is one of the wildest variations of blackjack available, thereby living up to it’s name.  There’s a lot of ways to win and that’s what makes it more fun for players.  Sometimes beginners aren’t even aware they’re playing a blackjack variant because they’re having fun winning somewhat easily. As always, remember it’s a game of chance wth a greater chance of losing if you play for long.  However, it’s another fun break from standard blackjack if you’re bored.

Pontoon

The game was first introduced in France. As in classic blackjack, Pontoon players are trying to obtain a score of 21 to beat the dealer.

It is played mostly online, but can also be found in land casinos on occasion.  Online or offline, you play against the dealer/banker. The Casino can use two and more card decks for the game, with the 10’s removed, like for Spanish 21. Eight decks are usually used when playing online.

The game can be played with just 2 players, but 5-8 is best.

Pontoon Blackjack is played like conventional blackjack, but the terminology and rules are slightly different.

The dealer/banker wins all tied hands, while ‘hits’ are called ‘twists’ and to Stand is called a ‘Stick’.

There are extra payouts for some hands but still very similar to classic blackjack.

 

Pontoon Blackjack Rules

Dealing in Pontoon

Before the first deal, one player is chosen at the table to be the banker (dealer). The banker does have the advantage in Pontoon, so the first banker is usually chosen by drawing for high card in the deck.  Players place their minimum and maximum bets before play.

Cards are dealt face down to each player, starting with the player who is immediately to the left of the banker. Everybody can look at their cards except the banker.

Card Values and Scoring in Pontoon

All face cards are worth ten points, while the numeric cards are their numeric value, for example the 5 of hearts is worth 5 points.  As in classic blackjack, the aces are either one or eleven.

Scoring is done by adding up the total points of your cards and not going over 21, while beating the banker’s count total.  If a player goes over 21, they bust and lose. If the player and the banker have the same amount, the banker will win and the player will lose.  There are no “ties” in Pontoon. 

Pontoon Terms

As stated earlier, some terminology is different in Pontoon, compared to classic blackjack.  For instance, “twist” is used for “hit,” and “stick” is used for “stand.”  To double the bet is called a buy, not doubling down, as in classic blackjack.

A hand consisting of an Ace and a face card (total value of 21) is called a Pontoon.

Pontoon Strategy & Differences

 

Because players have choice in Pontoon they can reduce the casino advantage to less than 0.5% by playing optimally. The complete set of optimal plays can be found online.

Not knowing any of the dealer’s cards makes the Pontoon strategy a bit more complicated than classic blackjack.

When you play online, the rules can vary. For example, in most versions of Pontoon, you can only double the stake when you buy a card. As in any blackjack game you play, be sure you know all the rules before sitting down.

Once you buy a card, the banker deals you an extra card. If your hand is still lower than 21, you can buy one more card. The same works for the fourth and the fifth card.

If you choose to buy one or two cards and twist another one after that, you cannot buy more cards even if your hand value is still under 21

If you go over 21, you bust.

In classic blackjack, you can make whatever dumb move you want, like standing on 9. But that’s not allowed in Pontoon. In Pontoon, you must twist on any hand that totals 14 points or less.

Finally, while insurance bets or surrender  are usually not allowed in Pontoon, the possibility to split pairs remains. When you have like value cards (e.g. two 9s, two face cards, two Aces), you can split them into two different hands.  It requires a new bet for the new hand, and then the gameplay continues as normal.  You play with one hand and then with the other. If the next card you get is equal in value to the first two, you can split again and play with three hands. Though highly unlikely, you could split up to four playable hands.

In some variations of Pontoon, online included, you can only split Aces.

Hand Ranking and Payouts

The best hand you can get when playing Pontoon is of course a pontoon. It’s an ace and a face card. It beats all the other hands in the game. However if the banker has a pontoon also, it’s a losing hand for the player because all ties go to the banker. There are no “ties” or “pushes” in Pontoon.  As the player, you will either win the hand or lose the hand, for sure.

Having a pontoon online pays 2 to 1. Though, it can vary depending on where you play.

The next best hand is a Five Card Trick.

If you are lucky enough to get a hand of five cards totaling 21 or less, it beats other hands of 21 made up of 3 or 4 cards. This hand also pays 2 to 1.

By default, a hand of three or four cards totaling 21 points is next best. It beats all the other hands except a Pontoon or a Five Card Trick.

If none of the above apply to the specific game, the winning hand is the one that has most points but doesn’t go over 21. And that pays 1 to 1.

Basic Pontoon Strategy

Of course there is optimal strategy for winning at Pontoon, (searchable online) however, here’s a few basic tips that will you allow you to play and learn the game and not lose your shirt!

Always stick with a total of 18 or more Being that close, you don’t want to take the risk of busting
With a 4-card hand, twist on 17 Though a double bet is risky, going for the Five Card Trick is worth it
With a 4-card hand of less than 17, buy card (double) You have a great chance at a Five Card Trick, which is the best when you already have more than 2 cards
Always split 2  Aces Obviously gives you a great shot at a Pontoon


To Sum Up

Pontoon is easy to learn and interesting to play. You’ll find it mostly on the internet and outside the U.S.

Compared to classic blackjack, it will seem quite odd, but the differences are what makes it a challenge and worth finding a casino to try it at least once.  If you’ve gotten bored with classic blackjack, try Pontoon.

Is Gambling OK?

There are so many ways to gamble and people all over the world do it on a regular basis. The adrenaline rush that the regular casino gambler (someone who goes 4-5 times a week) gets is what drives them. An adrenaline rush is your body activating a heightened state of physical and mental alertness. As long as it’s not sustained for a long period of time, that burst of human energy can be a good thing. Besides the regular gambler, there are plenty more who enjoy the occasional trip to Vegas or the local casino, or placing a bet on a big major sporting event.

Overall, there are definitely more people out there who think gambling is a total waste of money and time. So be it. Every single person is allowed to have their own opinion and gambling certainly is not for everybody. I certainly don’t believe in encouraging someone to gamble if they don’t want to gamble.

I’m hoping to reach those who are intrigued by the thought of gambling and whether or not they should try it. Perhaps I can enlighten you on the aspects of gambling you weren’t aware of, and by doing so, you can make a more educated foray into it or definitely stay away from it.

Of course, it’s impossible to give a concrete answer to whether or not gambling is ok. You’re absolutely going to find people on both sides of the fence about gambling being worth it or not. It’s going to depend on who you ask!

I’d just like to provide you with some information to help you determine the answer for yourself. I’ll go over the obvious pros and cons, plus other factors you should consider.

Full disclosure though: I absolutely believe gambling is ok! I’m not a professional, but I enjoy the heck out of it! LOL!

 

PROS

  • Possibility of winning money
  • Entertaining and fun
  • Easy to do
  • Big variety of ways

With the conscious awareness of keeping this article relatively short, I’ve only listed 4 pros, but of course there could be many more. These four are most important in my mind.

Without a doubt, the possibility of winning money, no matter the amount, (though more is better) is my number one reason for gambling. It’s possible for anyone, even a complete beginner, to win money. You just need to have some good luck!

I am totally entertained by gambling. I probably don’t look very entertained when I’m sitting at a blackjack table, but on the inside, the adrenaline is rushing and I’m excited about the possibility of beating the dealer and winning money! I think it’s a great form of fun. In terms of pure excitement, what other pastimes can compare with the opportunity to win money? I can’t think of any.

It is easy to get started with gambling, that’s a good thing. You don’t need much knowledge to play at a casino or place a sports bet. There are a few basic concepts you should understand, but nothing is overly complicated. If you want to be a more serious player, you’ll probably want to learn more, but as a beginner you can easily enjoy gambling with just a little bit of knowledge.

Last but not least, let’s consider the various types of gambling available. Casino games and sports betting are the most popular forms of gambling, but there are other types, like bingo, scratch tickets, poker and the lottery, to name a few. With so many to choose from, chances are there will be one that you’d enjoy.

 

CONS

  • Possibility of losing money
  • Consistency of winning
  • Approval from others
  • Can be addictive

There are absolute downsides to think about. Let’s honestly take a look at these, in order to make an informed decision about getting involved with gambling in general.

The biggest con of gambling is of course the fact that it’s possible to lose money. As a matter of fact, you’re almost guaranteed to lose in the long run with some gambling. The “house edge” of casino games is the best example of this. As mentioned in the “pros” section, luck is needed, allowing you to win frequently, but the overall odds are against you as a player. Over time, you are most likely to end up a loser.

Winning on a consistent basis can be difficult. I don’t think anybody can say they’re lucky all of the time, so regularly making money gambling is not a given.

If approval by others concerns you, (many people don’t approve of gambling), it could keep you from doing it. My thought is that it’s my money and I’m going to spend it however I like. I can’t let others approval or disapproval of what I am doing concern me. I just don’t mention my penchant for gambling to those close to me whom I feel may disapprove!

The last con I’ve listed is probably the biggest reason people disapprove of gambling. It can be highly addicting, and cause major problems and potentially even ruin lives.

Making Your Decision

So I’ve listed what I consider the main pros and cons of gambling, and now you can make your own decision as to whether gambling is okay or not. These are the things I thought about it in deciding whether gambling was okay for me. I can’t tell you either way what’s good for you, but I can point out some facts to help you make that decision.

Please carefully consider the pros and cons that were outlined above. Whichever side outweighs the other in your mind, should be your answer.

If you’re still not sure, you might want to consider these additional questions for clarification:

  • Are you okay with risking losses for the chance of winning?
  • Do you really think you would enjoy gambling?
  • Do you have money you can afford to lose, to spend on gambling?
  • Would your friends and family approve of you gambling?
  • Do you think you could gamble responsibly?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then I’d say gambling is something you should try for fun.

I can answer yes to all of them and as I stated earlier, I totally enjoy gambling. If you answered no to any of them, then, in my opinion, it may not be okay for you.

I’m not a professional gambler, but I do go to my local casino on a regular basis and believe that gambling can be an extremely enjoyable pastime if done responsibly. However, I also understand and believe that it isn’t for everyone.

I hope my website is filled with information and advice that will help people have the best possible experience gambling. I can only guarantee that you will not win all the time, that’s the nature of the beast!

Spanish 21

This is one of the more popular variants of blackjack.  The reason why is because it’s still possible to gain the edge over the house when you play, if played properly.

 

PLAYING RULES

The reason it’s called Spanish 21 is that a 48-card “Spanish deck” is used. A Spanish deck has the 4 10’s removed, leaving 48 cards.

Remember, 10’s are considered player friendly in regular blackjack.  Without 10’s in the deck, the house edge raises by almost 2 percent.

To compensate for the absence of 10’s, the rules for Spanish 21 are much more liberal than the regular game of blackjack.

For example, if you get 21, (hitting to 21 as opposed to being dealt a blackjack) you always win even if the dealer has 21. Within a traditional blackjack game, if you hit to 21, you would “push” if the dealer ends up with 21 as well. Winning hands of 5,6 or 7 cards will pay a bonus.  You’re allowed to surrender at anytime, even after hitting, doubling or pair splitting.

The table below summarizes the typical Spanish 21 playing rules compared to the traditional game of blackjack.

 

Traditional Blackjack vs. Spanish 21 Blackjack
  Blackjack Spanish 21
Number of Decks 1,2,4,6,8 6 or 8
Dealer Soft 17 Rule May Hit or Stand May Hit or Stand
Blackjack Payoff 3-2 or 6-5 3-2
Player Blackjack (2 cards) Always pushes when Dealer has blackjack Always wins, even if Dealer has blackjack
Player 21 (3+ cards) Always pushes when Dealer has 21 Always wins, even if Dealer has 21
Doubling Down Only after initial 2 cards Can double on any number of cards
Doubling After Splitting Usually allowed Always allowed
Resplitting Pairs Usually up to 3 or 4 hands, except Aces Up to 4 hands, including Aces
Late Surrender Sometimes allowed Always allowed, even after doubling, splitting and hitting
Insurance Pays 2-1 Pays 2-1*
    *Considered one of the worst bets in a casino because of the increased house edge

(Note: There may be some slight differences in rules from one casino to another.)

 

BONUS HANDS

Spanish 21 often pays a bonus for 5, 6, and 7 card hands that total 21, as well as, 6-7-8 and 7-7-7 hands. The payoffs for these bonus hands vary but they are all greater than even money.

EFFECT OF THE MISSING TENS

You can probably understand the thrill in Spanish 21 because of all the different rules and bonus hands that are offered. However, beware, missing those 4 10’s does make a big difference in how the game works out. If you were to play with the same strategies of traditional blackjack, you’d lose your money before your seat was warm!

Why? Because the ratio of low cards to high cards in Spanish 21 will obviously be different from that of traditional blackjack.  In a 52 card deck, 4 out of 12 cards (30.8 percent) are 10-value. In Spanish 21, it is cut down to 3 out of 12 cards or 25 percent are 10-value.

The key point is that these major differences in rules should have a great effect on the playing strategy, meaning it is a bit more complicated.  You know the house doesn’t want to make things too easy for you!

Here’s a solid example: If you have a stiff 12 – 16 in traditional blackjack and the dealer shows a 2–6, you would stand (except you would hit 12 against dealer’s 2 and 3). With Spanish 21, hitting becomes more inviting because you have less chance of busting because of fewer 10-value cards. Plus, if you hit to 21, you automatically win.

Accordingly, some of the traditional “stand on stiffs” becomes “hits” in Spanish 21. When your stiff hand contains 4,5, or 6 cards, traditional strategy tells you to stand (or double) regardless of the number of cards in your hand, in Spanish 21, considering the bonus payouts, the number of cards in your hand can influence how you would play a hand.

Yes the strategy is more complicated, but it can be mastered with study and practice. There are several sources available for accurate Spanish 21 strategy.  Here’s a couple to checkout: The Big Book of Blackjack by Arnold Snyder and The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon by Katrina Walker.

HOUSE EDGE

For a 6-deck, S17 game, the house edge (as a percentage of initial wager) using the Spanish 21 basic playing strategy (U.S. standard rules) is only 0.37 percent (from Katrina Walker’s book).  For a 6-deck, H17 game, the house edge becomes .78 percent. As you can see, the game with S17 is much more player friendly than one with H17; however, to achieve these low house edges, you must learn the Spanish 21 basic playing strategy.

REDOUBLE OPTION

The redouble option is available in some land-based casinos.  This player-friendly option allows a player to double down again after doubling and getting a card. For example, if you were to double down with a 7-2 and drew a 2 for an 11, you could double down again.

With redoubling allowed, the house edge decreases slightly (For example, from 0.78% in H17, six-deck game to 0.42%). Yes it’s great that the house edge goes down, but also remember that having to learn the correct strategy for this redouble option makes the basic playing strategy for Spanish 21 even more difficult.us

Conclusion

Because Spanish 21 offers the player plenty  of options, it provides a sense of excitement not found in traditional blackjack.  Therefore, more and more players are flocking to Spanish 21 for the thrill of a new challenge. Almost all casinos are offering it now, with tables full of players looking for a more exciting game of blackjack.

Double Exposure

What’s the Difference

In this version, both of the dealer’s cards are exposed. To compensate for this, there are rule changes that will favor the dealer.  You can assume that the house edge is better than in traditional blackjack, but it still is a top favorite variation for seasoned blackjack players.

Rules (Usual)

  • Both dealer cards are exposed
  • Dealer wins all ties, except on a natural blackjack
  • Player blackjack pays 1:1 (even money)
  • Player may split only once
  • No Insurance or surrender allowed

Additional rules that CAN vary:

  • Dealer hits or stands on soft 17
  • Tied blackjack either pushes or goes to the player
  • Player may or may not double after a split
  • Player may double on any first two cards or not
  • Player may split more than once
  • Player may or may not split different 10-value cards (10, J, Q, K)

Strategy

The strategy for this is absolutely different than that of traditional blackjack.  For instance, with double exposure blackjack, you would split two ten value cards whenever the dealer shows 13-16 and of course a hard 19 must be hit if the dealer has a 20.  This would not be typical strategy in traditional blackjack.

The fact that the dealer wins all ties (except blackjack) is what affects a player’s return the most.  It has been figured that the rule changes affect the player’s return as follows:

    • If the dealer stands on a soft 17, player’s edge is increased +.39%
    • If a double after a split is allowed, player’s edge is increased +.32%
    • If a tied blackjack is a win, player’s edge is increased +.22%
    • If a player can split only once, player’s edge is decreased -.71%
    • If a player can double on 9-11 only, player’s edge is decreased  -1.04%
    • If a player can double on 10-11 only, player’s edge is decreased  -1.44%

Perhaps the wide variance in edge advantage, is what entices the seasoned blackjack players to take a chance with this version.  It can be exciting to know that you have a better than normal chance of winning in certain situations.

As long as you have the basic knowledge of traditional blackjack, you can use the additional knowledge gained from seeing the dealer’s cards and work it to your advantage. It will cut down the errors made when guessing and although some rules work against the player, a good blackjack player will be able to turn things around for themselves

For example, when you can see that your hand is lower than the dealer’s hand, you know that the only choice you have would be to hit. As alluded to earlier, If both yours and the dealer’s hands are high, say 19 vs. 20, you need to hit.  You will still lose if you are dealt a higher card, but at least you won’t have to guess whether to hit or stand. With games like this, who knows, you might still win it. It may be tough to hit an 18 or 19, but if you know (can see) that the dealer has 20, it’s better to hit and try for the small card, than accept immediate defeat!

My Two Cents

This is another version of blackjack that is more popular online, than offline, but a player’s favorite.  Of course it’s easier for the player to make decisions in this because you see the dealer’s hand.  However, the rule changes actually give a bigger edge to the dealer, so your strategy must be on point.

While the double exposure blackjack odds may not be as good, the game is quite exciting and competitive for many players enjoyment.  Played with the correct strategy and skills, a profit can still be made.  Good Luck!

Blackjack Switch

This was created by card counter Geoff Hall in 2000, and patented in 2009.  In this version, the dealer deals out two hands per player rather than one.

Rules:

  • The player is allowed to exchange or “switch” the top two cards between his hands.
  • Natural blackjacks are paid only 1:1, instead of the typical 3:2
  • A dealers hard 22 pushes all non-busted hands, with the exception of a natural blackjack.
  • Players must make two bets of equal size
  • Cards are dealt face up
  • Usually 6 or 8 decks are used
  • Dealer usually hits a soft 17
  • Dealer wil peek for blackjack with a ten or Ace up
  • If dealer has blackjack, all player hands, except player blackjacks hands, lose
  • Players can only switch the 2nd card dealt to each hand
  • Players can double on any 2 cards
  • Players may double after a split
  • Players my split up to four hands

Side Bet

There is usually a side bet available called the Super Match.  This bet rewards pairs, three-of-a-kind, 2 pairs or four-of-a-kind among both hands. This bet has to be made before the deal takes place.  It would seem to be a good bet, considering if you got two top or bottom cards that were identical, it would rob the player of the chance to switch, so at least you could win something.  However, this is also considered a sucker bet because, in reality, how often would that happen (not too often) and then of course it ups the house edge.  You never want to increase the house edge against you!

Strategy

This is not the version of blackjack you want to play just for fun and relaxation.  If you like the challenge of thinking about game play, it’s an excellent choice.  Though available at some Vegas casinos, it’s not a popular choices offline, but quite popular online. When played with the proper strategy, the house edge can be reduced to below that of regular blackjack, thereby explaining it’s popularity. The house edge can be reduced to around .10 percent, compared to regular blackjack house edge of .50 percent.

Because you have 2 hands in play, you must quickly determine each hands strength and then be able to mentally switch the top cards to determine if you could have even stronger hands.  It’s easy to understand that the hardest part of blackjack switch is deciding on the switch.

At the simplest level, you want to balance your hands to avoid having a very weak hand against a dealer’s strong hand (when he’s showing a 7 or 8). Against other dealer up cards, you want to make your better hand as strong as possible.

There is specific blackjack switch strategy and it is imperative to understand and use it.  Because of the fact that the dealer pushes with 22, it forces big time changes to regular blackjack strategy.  There is usually more hitting on “stiffs” (a hand of less than 17 that is likely to bust with a drawn card) and slightly less doubling because of the pushing with 22.

You can find many different switch strategies available online.  Two of the most popular are developed by Arnold Snyder and Cindy Liu.  Their charts are too detailed for me to go through in this short post, but I do suggest you look one or both of them up, if you find you have an interest in trying out blackjack switch.

Final Thoughts

What makes blackjack switch enjoyable for many players is that, more often than not, you will win one hand and lose the other, thereby creating a “push,” where you don’t win or lose, but get to play another round!  So, you can usually play longer with you initial bankroll.  Good luck to you!

 

 

 

Play Blackjack Online – A quick overview

I’ll first start with a warning that many online casinos do not accept players from the United States because of the many regulations, so look out for that when deciding on an online casino to play at.

Considering that you will be playing with your own money, verifying any site’s safety should be your first concern.  The top online casinos are independently audited and regulated and will support the top notch SSL security encryption, so you know your bank information will be totally safe and secure.  Of course you want to be comfortable and assured that your winnings will not be hacked away by some idiot.  

You want to know that you would be able to collect any winnings.  The site may let you make a deposit using one method, like paypal, but in order to withdraw any winnings, another method woud have to be used.  That kind of information is usually found within the FAQ section of a website.  Make sure you know all the money details before you place your first bet.

Check for published lists of bad, as well as, top-rated casinos.  A top-rated casino will be certified by a reputable third-party governing body, like the eCOGRA (eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurnce) or Technical Systems Testing (TST).

Once you figure out the site is secure, you want to look at the bonuses the casino offers.  Online bonuses usually come with terms and conditions, including bet requirements to eventually withdraw any winnings, the specific games you must play to use the bonus money and whether a specific amount must be deposited to receive the bonus money.  You do want to pick the largest online bonus, keeping in mind the specific terms and conditions.  You can find sites online that will rank the top online blackjack sites, offering the biggest bonuses. As with promotions anywhere, “free money” may not really be free, read all the fine print.

Another key factor to look for in online casinos is that they use Random Number Generators.  This is what determines the shuffling and dealing of cards for fair play.  The top sites will show that their RNGs are regularly audited and tested as well. 

Last but not least, is to determine that the site has a good variety of blackjack games to play. The different varieties let a player make money from a variety of a side bets, keeping the player challenged and interested.

Blackjack online provides greater flexibility and unique features not offered at actual casinos.  Playing online can be less stressful, with all kinds of practice games and tutorials available for learning.  With continuously improved technology, the once perceptable difference between online and actual casino blackjack has decreased significantly to the point where blackjack online is beginning to over take land-based playing.   You can’t beat the convenience of being able to play at home.

What is Basic Blackjack Strategy – How to use it

Understanding the basic rules of the game should be your first step in winning at the blackjack table You need to know the correct moves for the different hands to maximize your opportunity for success. The skill part of blackjack is to avail yourself of the mathematically proven best plays to make when faced with any dealt hand at your blackjack table.

When to stand, hit or double down with any hand has been figured out based on the laws of probability, of wins versus losses.  Just taking into consideration basic strategy, not using any card counting, there is only one correct play to make in blackjack for any given hand, based on strictly mathematics. Other factors, such as house rules and number of decks used will make a difference in the correct playing strategies as well, which is why you might see several “basic” strategy charts available. Let’s go into a little bit of why that is so.

The Reason Basic Blackjack Strategy Works

First, as a quick refresher on the basic rules of blackjack, the value of your combined cards must beat the value of the dealers combined cards, without going over 21, for you to win. In a deck of 52 cards there are 16 cards valued at 10 and only 4 cards of each of the other denominations, Ace – 9. So, you are 4 times more likely to pull a ten-count card than any other denomination card.  Therefore, when the dealer’s upcard is high (7 or above), he is more likely to be close to 21, with a presumed 10-spot as his “hole” card and therefore hard to beat because he won’t have to hit his hand.  Conversely with a low upcard (2-6), he is more likely to have to hit his hand to come close enough to 21 and hopefully, for the player’s sake, bust because of that.

Basic strategy tells you that if the dealer’s upcard is a 7 or better and you have a hand totaling 12-16 (aka a “stiff”), you should hit.  The reason being that the dealer’s hand indicates strength, so you don’t want to stand with a weak hand.  A weak hand is considered anything 16 points or less. This is difficult concept for a novice to believe in.  It is probable that by hitting a stiff hand, you would probably bust, but you have to give yourself that better chance of beating the dealer by taking that hit to improve your hand.  If you don’t take the hit, you will definitely lose if the dealer is showing strength with a 7 or better upcard. You must make the assumption that the dealer’s hole card is a 10-spot and if you hold with a hand of less than 17, you lose anyway.  You have to take the hit to try and improve your hand.  Standing on stiff hands, against dealer’s hands showing a 7 or better upcard, loses more often than it wins in the long run, believe that.

If the dealer’s upcard is a 2-6, you can assume he has a stiff hand and therefore you want to stand with your own stiff hand.  With stiff hands more likely to bust, you want to stand with your stiff hand and let the dealer bust when he has to hit his hand.  In addition, if the dealer’s upcard shows he may have a stiff hand, it makes it a more opportune time to split pairs or double down, getting more money on the table when the dealer has a great chance of busting.

This is the simple theory behind basic blackjack strategy.  Of course there are expections to these rules, but it does give you a proven winning strategy to use in almost any blackjack game.

Keep it Simple 10-point Strategy

If you’ve looked at blackjack charts and decided they’re too difficult to memorize just remember these simple rules:

  1. Never Take Insurance
  2. If the dealer’s upcard is 7 or better, hit until you get a hard 17 or higher hand
  3. If the dealer’s upcard is 2-6, stand on all your stiffs (hard totals of 12-16)
  4. Hit all soft hands of 17 or below
  5. Stand on all soft hands of 18 or higher
  6. Double Down on 10 & 11, versus any dealer upcard of 2-9
  7. Always split Aces and 8’s
  8. Never split 4’s, 5’s, or 10’s
  9. Split all other pairs (2’s, 3’s, 6’s, 7’s and 9’s) versus dealer’s upcard of 4, 5, or 6
  10. Surrender 16 versus dealer’s 9,10, or Ace.

Remember, basic strategy can be the best weapon at the casino blackjack table, if you simply use it correctly.