War Blackjack was first played in Las Vegas in 2013 and won the Raving Table Games Conference Best New Table Game of the year at the convention.
The good thing about this variant is that it’s not complicated at all because the difference is that it includes a side bet called the War Bet. It is a combination of blackjack and the card game war.
- Can be based on any blackjack rules
- For purposes of the War bet, Aces count as 1, all other cards are ranked as in poker (KvsQ is not a tie, it’s a win for the King)
- Dealer wins War bet ties
- The War bet is based on the first cards for the player and dealer
- If the player wins the War bet, he can either collect his war wager and winnings or collect the war wager only and parlay the winnings by adding it to the blackjack wager
- War bet pays even money
- Once the player and dealer have 2 cards, the hand plays out like traditional blackjack
- Double down is allowed
- Splitting is allowed
- Insurance is allowed
- Surrender is not allowed
- Dealer hits soft 17
Play of the Game
To start the hand, the player first makes a regular blackjack bet and a War bet if he wants. The War bet is actually optional and doesn’t have to be made. The War bet is only defined by table limits, it does not have to be any multiple of the blackjack bet.
The dealer deals the player a card and himself a card face up. Whichever card is higher by rank, wins the War the bet.
As mentioned in the rules, if the player wins the War bet, he has two options. He can collect the bet and the winnings, or collect just the winnings and add the bet to his blackjack bet.
After that decision has been made, play continues with the player receiving a second card and the dealer receiving a second card face down.
If the dealer has a 10 or Ace showing, insurance is offered. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, play continues as a standard game, where the player may hit, stand, double, or split. The hand closest to 21, without going over wins.
Of course, the regular blackjack part of the game should be played with basic blackjack strategy. The War bet is where some different strategy should be implemented.
Fortunately, it only involves a few decisions:
- Never parlay the bet if the dealer shows an Ace or 10-value card
- Never parlay the bet if you win with a 5 or lower
- If you win with a six or higher, parlay only if your card and the dealer’s card total 11 or more
- The only exception to the above rule is to parlay an 8 against a dealer’s 2
While it is basically traditional blackjack with a side bet, the house edge is heightened just a bit to 1.16% because of that. But remember, the War bet is optional, so you can play at the table as if were regular blackjack, which would bring the house edge back down to .5%.
War blackjack seems to be available only in live casinos in Las Vegas, California, South Dakota and Oklahoma. It makes blackjack fun to have an extra side bet if you want it.
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