BURN 20 BLACKJACK

This variant was first developed in 2011 in downtown Las Vegas.  Burn 20 Blackjack quickly became the “hottest” blackjack game around.  It is of course based on standard blackjack with a few fascinating twists.

The name comes from the fact that the dealer will discard, or “burn,” any 2-card, 10-value, hand that totals 20.  The dealer also burns suited blackjacks. This leaves the player stress-free about having to play against a dealer’s hard 20 (or suited blackjack). The give-back on that is that if the dealer busts with a 22 total, all remaining players push, instead of win.

RULES OF THE GAME

Burn 20 Blackjack follows standard blackjack rules, with the following exceptions or additions:

  • Six 52-card decks are used
  • Blackjack pays 3-2
  • Insurance pays 2-1
  • No surrender
  • Dealer hits soft 17
  • Can split pairs
  • Split aces get only 1 card each
  • Can double on any number of cards, except after splitting aces
  • If dealer has a 10 up, he will check the hole card and if it is a 10, he will discard both cards and take two new cards
  • If dealer has a 10 up, he will check the hole card and if it is a suited-Ace, he will discard both cards and take two new cards
  • If the dealer busts with a total of 22, all remaining players push, instead of win

PLAY OF THE GAME

When the dealer discards a suited blackjack, and the replacement cards form a blackjack (suited or not) those cards are discarded as well.

After discarding, the dealer will continue to draw cards until he doesn’t have a hard 20 or blackjack.

STRATEGY

Fortunately, you should be able to use basic blackjack strategy when playing Burn 20 Blackjack.  However, because you know the dealer won’t have a 20 with 2 cards, you should split 2’s, 3’s, 7’s, and 9’s, against a 10 up.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It is understandable how this became a hot variant to standard blackjack.  The rule changes are not that hard to grasp, as a matter of fact, the changes make it seem that the game is more favorable to the player.  While the house edge is slightly higher in this variant, it creates a fun atmosphere and challenge for players looking for a change.  If you’re a bit bored with standard blackjack, this can be a fun break from that!

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Blackjack Plus

This is a variant said to be found only in New Zealand and Australia.  The versions are slightly different, so there are variances in the variant!

The basic rule changes, followed in both versions, that make this variant interesting are:

  • Five-card Charlie (non-busted 5 card hand, automatic win)
  • Blackjack and 21-point hands automatically win
  • Dealer receives one card, until all players actions have been completed (known as European style dealing)
  • Six standard decks are used
  • If dealer totals 22, it is a push for all players with cards remaining
  • Blackjack pays even money

RULES DIFFERENCES

New Zealand Rules

  1. Dealer hits on soft 17
  2. Player can double on any two-card hard total
  3. Player can double after splitting
  4. Player cannot re-split
  5. Split Aces receive only 1 card

Australian Rules

  1. Dealer stands on soft 17
  2. Player can double on any 2 or 3 card hand, totaling less than 21
  3. Player can double after splitting
  4. Player can re-split only once
  5. Player cannot re-split Aces
  6. Blackjacks pay 3-2

STRATEGY & HOUSE EDGE

Fortunately, the use of basic Blackjack strategy is suggested when playing Blackjack Plus.

Unfortunately, the rules changes in this version actually give “the house” a greater advantage. The house edge in a standard Blackjack game is said to be about 1.5%.  However, because of the rules variations in Blackjack Plus (mainly the dealer “pushing” with 22), the house edges jumps to as much as 6.36%!

Obviously, this makes Blackjack Plus one of the worst variants ever created for a player.

FINAL THOUGHTS

On the surface, the differences appear to be intriguing enough to take the challenge of playing.  However, this variant was created by casinos to fool the uninformed player. The best strategy for a player in this game is to NOT play the game!  I would bet that you would have a lot more fun playing the boring traditional Blackjack and winning, than playing this version and losing quickly!

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Elimination Blackjack

Elimination Blackjack was invented by Russ Hamilton, the main event champion of the 1994 World Series of Poker.  It is a tournament style of blackjack and is the format used by many casinos today for blackjack tournaments.

BASICS

The game is played like regular blackjack.  There is a dealer, representing the house, who deals using a six or eight deck shoe.  The difference for players is that they are competing against each other, as opposed to just trying to beat the dealer or house, in order to win a guaranteed prize amount.

Players pay a “buy-in” amount for the tournament (similar to a poker tournament) and are given a set dollar amount of chips.  Every player is given the same amount in starting chips.  The players then work to increase their amount of chips, hoping to have the most chips at the end of the tournament, so they’ll be declared the winner.

Dealer and player options, such as hit, stand, double, split, are the same as in regular blackjack.  Depending on the tournament, dealer may have to hit on a soft 17.

STANDARD RULES OF ELIMINATION BLACKJACK

The following list of rules can vary by casino, but most casinos do abide by these for tournament play:

  • The house must hit 16 or less, and stand on 17 or more.  Some houses do hit soft 17’s
  • A player can split pairs up to four times, with the exception of aces.  Aces can only be split once and only receive one additional card. Ten-value cards may be limited to splitting only identical pairs
  • A six or eight deck shoe may used, though usually six deck
  • A player’s bet must be within the table minimum-maximum, and if unable to make the minimum bet, the player is eliminated from the tournament
  • Surrender is allowed for half the bet
  • Insurance is allowed if the dealer shows an Ace
  • Double down is allowed on any two cards
  • A maximum of seven players per table is allowed
  • A player has 25 seconds to make a decision in a normal hand, and 45 seconds to make a decision in an elimination hand

ORDER OF PLAY

Once a player has bought in, they are given a random assigned seat at the table.  Cards are dealt in the same manner as regular blackjack.

There is a pre-determined specific number of hands dealt.  The number will vary depending on the casino, however, it’s usually at least 30 hands.

After the last hand is dealt, the remaining players chips are tallied and the player with the most, is declared the winner.

THE ELIMINATIONS

Players are eliminated through the following:

  • If they lose all their chips
  • If they don’t have enough chips to make the required minimum bet
  • If they have the fewest chips after an elimination hand

Elimination hand:  A pre-determined hand, by number, where at the end, player chips are counted and the player with the fewest chips is eliminated.  As stated, they are pre-determined and usually in a 30-hand tournament, the elimination hands are numbers 8, 16 and 25.

Of course, the elimination hands are a key part of the game.  Betting strategy can definitely be affected and used deftly with elimination a possibility.

SECRET BET

Usually only in professional tour tournaments and high-profile games, players are allowed one secret bet during the course of the tournament.  As in the name, the bet is not revealed to the other players at the table, and it can be of strategic importance.  A player can elect to make a secret bet in order to force a smaller or larger bet from another player close in chip count.

PLAYING STRATEGY

Most important to remember is that you are competing against the other players, not the house.  You may need to make moves in an effort to cause your table opponents to bust when they make a big bet.

You also need to be aware of the approximate number of chips your table mates have, so you can stay close or get ahead.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Elimination blackjack became popular due to the popularity of Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments and casinos realized the possibility of doing something similar with blackjack.  As with poker, this gives the player an opportunity to win a large amount of money with a relatively small “buy-in” amount.

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Multiple Action Blackjack

Multiple Action Blackjack has been around since 1992, being developed and patented by The Four Queens Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. It is probably more prominent at online casinos now. The difference in this version is that the player has one hand that is played against 3 different dealer hands.

First, you will notice a different table layout in this version compared with regular blackjack.  There are three betting circles for the player and three rectangular spots marked 1,2 and 3 in front of the dealer. The rectangle spots are where the dealer will play his/her 3 different hands.

HOW TO PLAY

The player is dealt two face up cards and the dealer is dealt one face up card.  For online versions, the same face up card of the dealer is shown in all three rectangles.

The play proceeds the same as regular blackjack at this point.  The player can hit, stand, double down or split, depending on casino rules.  As rules permit, the player can surrender or take insurance.  If a player decides to split, the bet must be double the original bet. If a player decides to double down, it can be done on 1 or all three bets.  If the player does go over 21 and busts, all bets are lost.

Once the player stands with a total of 21 or less, the dealer plays his first hand in rectangle 1.  If he busts, the player receives an even money payout on his first bet. If the dealer does not bust and the player wins, the player receives an even money payout.  If the player loses, the first bet is lost. If the player does get blackjack, it is paid at 3 to 2, unless the dealer also has blackjack, which results in a push and the player’s bet is returned. 

After discarding all cards, except the original face up card, the dealer plays out hand number 2, with the same rules as above.  Once hand number 2 is completed, all cards except the original face up card are discarded and hand number 3 is played out, with the same rules.

STRATEGY

Strategy for Multiple Action Blackjack should be the same as in regular blackjack because all the rules are the same.  What changes with this version is that games are completed quicker because the player plays only once in every three games.  So, it’s preferred by players who like a quicker paced game play.

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Three Card Blackjack

This is a very simple version of Blackjack that was started at casinos in the state of Washington in 2010.  You can find it at many online casinos now.

RULES

  • Played with a single deck of cards
  • Cards are shuffled after every hand
  • No drawing rounds and players do not have the option to hit, double down or split
  • Players only decide to play or fold
  • Hands are scored based on the best blackjack hand derived from any 2 or 3 cards
  • Dealer must have at least 17 points to open
  • Aces can count as 1 or 11
  • Possible Ace Plus optional side bet

HOW TO PLAY

Play begins with the players making their Ante bet in the assigned Ante betting circles on the table.  Once all players have made their bets, the dealer deals three cards to each player and then three cards to him/herself.  All the player’s cards are dealt face down, but the dealer is dealt two face down and one face up.

The players then look at their hands and decide how to form their hands. They decide which two or three cards will give them the best blackjack hand, closest to 21 without going over.  Therefore, it’s impossible for the player to bust, because they can choose their best 2 or 3 cards.

The first player to the dealer’s left starts by deciding to raise their ante by placing an additional bet, equal in size to the original ante, in the “play” betting area.  If they choose not to “play,” they must fold.  If the player opts to “fold,” the ante is lost.  In order to play against the dealer, a raise must be made.

Once all players have decided to play or fold, the dealer then reveals his/her face down cards and looks to form the best blackjack hand possible.  However, the dealer’s hand must total at least 17 to “qualify” to play.  If the dealer does not have 17, the active players win, regardless of their total.

WIN DETERMINATION

There are only three ways for a hand to end, once the dealer has formed a hand.  First, if a player has a 2-card blackjack, both the player’s ante bet and the raise (play) bet are paid even money.  The player wins no matter what the dealer has, even if the dealer has blackjack.

Second, if the dealer does not qualify, all players’ ante bets are paid even money, but their play bet is considered a push and that bet is returned.

Third, if the dealer does qualify, the best hand wins. If the player beats the dealer, all bets are paid even money.  If the dealer wins, the player loses all bets.  If there is tie, except for blackjack, it’s considered a push and all bets are returned.

ACE PLUS OPTIONAL BET

Pays only based on the player’s hand.  The bonus of at least an even money payout is paid if the player’s hand contains an ace.  This bet must be at least one unit and is placed in the Ace Plus betting circle before the hand is dealt.

ACE PLUS BONUS PAYOUTS

  • 3-to-1 payout for Ace plus any card 10 through King
  • 5-to-1 payout for Ace plus any pair of 10’s through Kings
  • 15-to-1 payout for any Ace pair
  • 25-to-1 payout for any Ace pair plus any card 10 through King
  • 100-to-1 payout for 3 Aces

STRATEGY

The game is said to be simple because to play, you either raise or fold.  Since you can’t bust, you might think you would try to play almost every hand.  However, to truly make your playing session profitable, a best strategy for raising has been determined, as follows:

  • Raise (Play) With a player’s hand of:

16 or less: Never

17, against Dealer 2

18, against Dealer 2-8

19, against Dealer 2-9

20-21, against Dealer anything (Always play)

It is best strategy to only bet the Ante, to minimize loss, but many players feel making the Ace Plus bet is “where the money is.”  The bonus payouts are enticing, but once again, as in most side bets in any game, it really is a sucker bet because of the true rarity of hitting it.

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Caribbean 21 Blackjack

This game was developed by Real Time Gaming, an online casino software developer. It is a variant of standard blackjack that has many differences that make it a challenge.  The first and biggest difference is that an Ace is only and always counted as 1.  It is never valued at an 11, so there is never a two-card “21” in this game.  A hand comprised of two 10-value cards and an Ace is the Caribbean 21.  As in standard blackjack, the objective is to beat the dealer’s hand, without going over 21.  Caribbean 21 beats all other hands totaling 21.

RULES

  • All cards are valued the same as in standard blackjack, except for the ACE, which is, at all times, valued at 1
  • The game starts with the player making a bet
  • Two cards are dealt face up to the player and one card is dealt face up to the dealer
  • The dealer does not take a hole card
  • The dealer does not take his final cards until the player has completed all his plays
  • The player can take insurance on whether the dealer will hit a Caribbean 21 if the dealer has an Ace up
  • Insurance can be taken at any time, up to half of the total amount bet at the time
  • The insurance bet pays out at 9 to 1 if the dealer gets two ten value cards as his 2nd and 3rd cards
  • The insurance bet is paid out at the end of the hand
  • The stand and hit moves are the same as standard blackjack
  • The player can double down at any time, even with more than 2 cards, this includes re-doubles, as well as doubles after splits
  • The player can split any two cards
  • The player can surrender at any time, forfeiting half of his total bet at the time

PAYOUTS

  • Dealer wins all ties
  • If the player is dealt a Caribbean 21, the payout is 3-2
  • If the player busts, he loses his bet
  • If the dealer busts, the player wins even money on his bet

HOUSE EDGE vs. STRATEGY

Following a basic strategy developed by Michael Shackelford, a top authority on casino game probabilities, for this version, the house edge can be as low as 0.19%, which is lower than many other blackjack variants.  To be noted though, the house edge on the insurance bet is 5.38% in this version, so that bet should not ever be taken, despite the tantalizing 9-1 payout.

ONLINE PLAY

Being a property of RTG (Real Time Gaming), Caribbean 21 blackjack can be found at many of the top online casinos, as RTG is considered a leading industry software provider.  Take a look at the list below for a few of the most reliable online casinos where you can enjoy a true game of Caribbean 21 blackjack.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The challenge and thrill of play Caribbean 21 lies in the player’s ability to split any two cards and re-doubling.  Because of those extreme player-friendly rules, the house gets a slight advantage back by ruling that all ties go to the dealer.  In other words, without the possibility of a “push,” Caribbean 21 blackjack makes for a more up and down game playing experience, sure to appeal to thrill-seeking players who prefer out right gambling on every hand, instead of a back and forth grind out with pushes.

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21st Century Blackjack

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.

The Differences

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.

  1. The game is played with multiple decks of cards, from 2-8 decks, with 1 joker included, per deck of cards.
  2. The maximum hand is 22, also called a natural
  3. The joker is considered wild and helps a player get a hand of 22
  4. Players are allowed to bet on other hands
  5. 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)
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. A player can place up to 3 bets on his hand, designated by 3 betting circles on the table in front of his hand. 
  12. 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

PAYOFFS

  • 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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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Double Attack Blackjack

This variant offers many twists and is seen mostly in Atlantic City.  It is similar to Spanish 21, in that, blackjack pays even money and the player can double down after seeing the dealer’s first card, before seeing their own card.

RULES

  • 8 Spanish 48-cards decks are used (all the 10’s are removed)
  • Dealer stands on a soft 17
  • If a player takes insurance, a dealer peeks for blackjack
  • Insurance payout is 5 to 2
  • A player has a right to double down after splitting
  • A player can split aces once and receive one more card
  • All cards except aces can be re-split 4 times (this can vary depending on the casino)
  • No re-doubling for this type of blackjack
  • A player can double or surrender any time during a game

The dealer gets the first card dealt and the player can then choose to double their bet, namely, the “Double Attack.”  The bet actually can be just a slight raise, but maxed at double the original bet.  If the player later splits, that bet must match the “double attack” bet.

BUST IT – Side Bet

This bet is a bonus bet in the game.  The player has the opportunity to bet whether or not the dealer will bust with 3 total cards.  This bet does have to be made before the dealer’s up-card is dealt. The payout will depend on what the “bust out” card is for the dealer and is as follows:

  • Third card is a face card. Pays off 3 to 1.
  • Third card is a nine. Pays off 6 to 1.
  • Third card is an eight. Pays off 8 to 1.
  • Third card is a seven. Pays off 10 to 1.
  • Third card is a six. Pays off 15 to 1.

There is also a special payout if the dealer busts with 3 eights (888) and is as follows:

  • The eight is the same color. Pays off 50 to 1.
  • The eight is the same suit. Pays off 200 to 1.

Additional Bust It Side Bet

Though not typically done at many casinos, the Bust It side bet can also be made on the total number of cards the dealer busts with and those payouts are as follows:

  • Dealer busts with 4 cards. Pays off 2 to 1.
  • Dealer busts with 5 cards. Pays off 4 to 1.
  • Dealer busts with 6 cards. Pays off 12 to 1.
  • Dealer busts with 7 cards. Pays off 50 to 1.
  • Dealer busts with 8 cards. Pays off 250 to 1.

Best Strategy for Double Attack Blackjack

Using traditional blackjack strategy should allow for a decent return on your money. You can trust that typically doubling down on 9, 10 and 11, as well as splitting Aces and eights should continue to be your playing strategy.

When the dealer’s card is low, say 2-8, is the best time to double attack.  If the dealer’s up card is a 9 or better, it’s best not to double.

Taking insurance in this game is slightly more favorable, because the payout is better.

Final Thoughts

While Double Attack Blackjack could be looked at as a bit more advanced, it’s a fun version for many blackjack fans.  The additional rules and bets don’t have to be memorized, just enjoyed. If you’re want a little more excitement with your blackjack fun, try this version.

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Play Free Bet Blackjack

Another popular Blackjack variant is Free Bet Blackjack.  This version was created by Geoff Hall, who also invented Blackjack Switch, Zombie Blackjack and Zappit Blackjack.

The big difference from regular Blackjack is that the player doesn’t risk his own money when splitting or doubling down, for the most part.  I’m sure you thinking that’s great, show me where to sit!  Fortunately it won’t take long to understand the rules, especially if you’re already familiar with regular blackjack.

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Rules

Apparently the rules have been modified since the original launch in 2012, and casinos can develop their own rules, but the following are considered the standard.

  • Six decks
  • Dealer hits soft 17’s
  • Blackjacks pay 3 to 2
  • Double after split allowed
  • Double on two cards only
  • Re-split pairs up to four hands, including aces
  • No surrender

Three major changes from a standard game:

  1. FREE DOUBLES – with a 2 card total of 9, 10, or 11.  The player’s bet is matched with a “free bet” button and the player receive 1 additional card.
  2. If the dealer wins, the player loses only his original bet.
  3. If the player “pushes,” the player gets back only his original bet.
  4. If the player wins, the player get back his original bet, plus double the original bet.

  Regular doubling is allowed on all other two-card totals.

  • FREE SPLITS – With all pairs, except 10’s, the player’s cards are split into 2-one-card hands.  The player’s original bet is placed with the 1st hand and a “free bet” button is placed with the 2nd hand.  Each hand is played out one at a time, (where “free doubles” and “free splits” are still allowed).  For winning hands, the “free bet” button is replaced with chips equaling the original bet. Losing or push hands result in the dealer taking back the ‘free bet” button.
  • Dealer pushes with 22. If the player has 21 or less and the dealer busts with 22, the player’s bet is a push.

Basic Strategy

Strategy will depend  on whether you playing your real money hand or the “free bet” hand.  This is because with a ‘free bet,” a push is just as bad as a loss.  Therefore you want to be a bit more aggressive with a “free bet” hand.  Afterall, you’re not playing with your own money.

An easy thing to remember strategy-wise, take every free double and free split opportunity you can.  It’s free money!

Worth Playing?

Free Bet Blackjack was accepted by casinos because they know the idea of “free money” is appealing to gamblers.  The idea is that players will make larger original bets, hoping to get the opportunity of a free double or free split and thereby win bigger.

If you are a skilled player and a card counter, Free Bet Blackjack can result in some very profitable sessions.  The question is whether or not you can stay disciplined in play and make the bigger bets, only when it’s most opportune and not in hopes of hitting a big free bet.

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European Blackjack, Rules & Strategy

With Europe being the place where Blackjack was said to be born, the European version does vary slightly from the classic American standard and therefore more and more players look to challenge themselves with the European version.  It is mostly played online and in some rare instances, can be found in land-based casinos.  Rules can vary slightly depending on the casino you play at, so always be sure to look at their complete set of rules before sitting down at the table.

Oddly enough, you can find the European version played with anywhere from 2-8 decks of cards, so verify how many decks are being used at the casino you choose to play at.  Playing with 6 decks is most common.

Standard rules with any version:

  • – No Peek – dealer doesn’t look at hole-card, player loses total bet on dealer blackjack
  • – Dealer must draw to 16
  • – Insurance is allowed
  • – Cards are shuffled after each round

 

Rules that can vary depending on the version:

  • – Splitting allowed only once and only with identical cards (cannot split King/Queen, for instance)
  • – No splitting of 4s, 5s, or 10-valued cards
  • – If Aces split, player can only receive 1 additional card on each ace
  • – Blackjack pays 3:2
  • – Dealer always stands or always hits a soft 17
  • – Player can double on any two cards
  • – Double after split may or may not be allowed
  • – Surrender may or may not be allowed, though not if dealer is showing an Ace

As you can see, there can be several differences involved depending on where you play the game.  Make sure you understand all the rules to the version you opt to play, so you can strategize accordingly.

European Blackjack Strategy

The fact that the cards are shuffled after every round, makes it difficult to count cards, so don’t expect to practice your card counting skills playing European blackjack!

The first notable variant is that splitting of 4’s, 5’s and 10’s is not allowed.  This can vary depending on the casino you’re playing at.  While classic strategy tells you not to split those pairs anyway, the rule was set to make sure it’s not done.  By splitting, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to increase your bet and win more, something the casino doesn’t want to happen.

The variant considered most significant is that the dealer is not allowed to take a look at his face down card until all players decide what they want to do.  In most versions, the dealer is dealt only one card first anyway. Remember, with classic blackjack, the dealer will check for a blackjack if he has an Ace showing.

That changes strategy slightly because if the dealer eventually has blackjack, a player may have double downed or split cards, losing the additional bets.  With classic blackjack, the dealer immediately checks for a blackjack, “saving” the player from making additional bets on a “losing hand”.

Compared to classic American blackjack, in European blackjack, your play should be more conservative.  You’ll be doubling down and splitting less often.  For instance, when the dealer has a ten or an Ace, you don’t want to be doubling down so quickly, because he still may have 21 and you would lose even if you do make 21 yourself.

Conclusion

This is a great choice if you want to try a different version not too far off the classic blackjack. The differences are minor and easily figured out, so it makes it an easy game to fight the boredom of classic blackjack.

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