21st Century Blackjack is probably one of the most unique variants of blackjack It was invented, by an Irvine, California company called Casino Gaming Concepts, to “get around” the 1860 California law that made it explicitly illegal to play the game of “Twenty-One,” among other gambling games where the player bets against the house.
It is similar enough to standard blackjack for players to want to play, but also varies enough to not be considered an illegal game under the California law. It is mostly played in California, as you might imagine.
It is also sometimes called 21st Century No-Bust Blackjack, because one variant is that there is no “busting” in this game.
While the list of differences may seem lengthy and complicated, the basic goal of the game remains similar to blackjack, in that, as a player, you try to get closer to 21, than the dealer, without going over.
- The game is played with multiple decks of cards, from 2-8 decks, with 1 joker included, per deck of cards.
- The maximum hand is 22, also called a natural
- The joker is considered wild and helps a player get a hand of 22
- Players are allowed to bet on other hands
- There is no house dealer. There is a “dealer/bank” button that moves around the table, giving players the chance to act as the dealer as the game goes on. (This may vary depending on the casino)
- There is no bust…a player/dealer with a hand value over 21 that is also higher than a player’s hand, results in a push
- A player/dealer with a hand value over 21, but lower than a player’s, over 21 hand, results in a loss for the player
- The player/dealer does not actually receive cards for that round, but “acts” as the bank for the round. The player/dealer gets the money if the dealer wins, but also must pay the players if the dealer loses.
- The casino usually charges a fixed amount to play, usually $1 to play and $2 to act as the dealer. This is how the casino makes money on this game.
- The casino may or may not provide an employee or a player with a large bankroll, (detected by the large bankroll in front of them) to cover all bets on the table. If a player chooses to act as the dealer, but doesn’t have enough money to cover all bets, the large bankroll person will step in and cover what remains, and then splits all wins and losses with the dealer.
- A player can place up to 3 bets on his hand, designated by 3 betting circles on the table in front of his hand.
- A player may also bet on another player’s hand by placing a wager in one of that player’s betting circles.
RULES OF PLAY
- The maximum hand value is 22, or a “natural”
- A “natural” beats all other hands
- A “natural” is formed with 2 Jokers, a Joker and an Ace, or 2 Aces
- In some casinos, a “natural” of 2 Jokers, pays extra
- A “natural” for both a player and the player/dealer, results in a push
- Other than when paired with an Ace or another Joker, a Joker paired with anything else results in a hand value of 21
- There is a dealer/bank button that moves from player to player as the game progresses. The button stays with 1 player only a specified number of hands
- There is usually a bet limit, but players may bet that limit in each of the 3 betting circles
- A player does not bust if his hand totals more than 21, play continues until the dealer’s last move and then rules will determine wins and losses
- Player may double down on and receive 1 additional card
- Splitting is allowed
- Surrender is allowed after first 2 cards
- Player must hit 12 or less
- Player must stand on hard 20 and up, and hard/soft 21, 22
- Player may double down on 11 or 12 and draw up to two additional cards
- A player may not double down, split or surrender if they have a Joker
- If a player and the player/dealer tie with hands less than 21, it is a push
- A player cannot hit if the player/dealer’s up-card is a joker
- Player/dealer hits soft 18 or less
- Player/dealer stands on hard 18 or more
- When a player and player/dealer go over 22, it’s a push if the player’s hand value is lower than player/dealer’s
- When a player and player/dealer go over 22, a lower dealer hand results in a win for the dealer.
- Card values are the same as regular blackjack, except for the joker, which has no value except to pair with any other card to value 21 or 22.
- Some rules may vary depending on the casino
How to Play
- Player’s place their initial bet and one of them opts to be the player/dealer (or bank)
- Two cards are dealt to each player, each face up, with the dealer receiving his first card face down (the hole card) and the 2nd card face up
- If the player/dealer has an Ace or 10up, the hole card is checked to determine if he has a natural. If he does have a natural, all players hands lose, except if a player also has a natural and that player pushes
- If the player/dealer doesn’t have a natural, play continues with each player deciding to hit, stand, double down, split or surrender
- The player/dealer is last to play and either hits or stands. When his play has ended, winners and losers are decided and payouts are made
- All payoffs are to the extent the player/dealer has the money to cover all bets
- Order of payoff or collection is determined by the player/dealer’s hole card and is in clockwise order. The player/dealer will place an action button in front of the first hand and go clockwise from that point. If the hole card is an Ace, the payoffs start with the player immediately to the left of the player/dealer. If the hole card is a two, payoffs start with the second player to the left of the player/dealer, and so on.
- Order of payoff can make a big difference if the casino doesn’t offer the “large bankroll player” or employee who would cover any bets the chosen player/dealer can’t pay. If the player/dealer doesn’t have enough money to cover all bets, the players whose bets weren’t covered, would get no action, no matter if they would have won or lost.
As mentioned in the beginning, though the rules and differences may seem great, the game play is not that different from standard blackjack. If you’re an avid blackjack player, it’s a game that will challenge you a little more, having enough difference to keep you from getting bored with play. Also, if you’ve ever thought that being the “bank” or “dealer,” would be cool, this game gives you the opportunity to do that! Different can be fun!