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Blackjack is one of the most popular games in the casino and usually one of the first table games that new gamblers try. The main reason for this is because the game is incredibly simple to learn and has a low house edge, which allows players to play for a long time, even with small bankrolls.
It is also one of the most popular games for professional and serious gamblers for a simple reason: the odds can be manipulated to give the player a better edge - if they know what they’re doing.
At one time every blackjack table was exactly the same. Casinos began to change up some of the rules after Edward Thorp published his landmark book Beat the Dealer, which proved that mathematically, blackjack could be “beaten.” However, the whole furor created by the book settled down and the game’s rules became fairly standard both in brick and mortar and online casinos, and the game remained a player favorite.
Free Bet Blackjack | Blackjack Switch | Soft 17 | Super Fun 21 | European Blackjack
Casino operators discovered that by changing the table rules and introducing new variations of blackjack, even more people took a seat at the tables. Each game has different odds and some variants in basic strategy.
Free Bet Blackjack
This variant is relatively new and is offered at a few of the downtown Las Vegas casinos. The player receives a free double down bet or a free double down. In exchange, a blackjack pays even money and a dealer 22 is a push.
The basic house edge in this variant is 1.02%.
Players are giving up value in terms of a blackjack. However, you will hit a blackjack less often than you will receive cards that allow you to double down or split. To make the most of the free bet, the best strategy is to be extremely aggressive with the free bet hand. Always take advantage of every free bet split or double down hand.
Blackjack switch allows players to make the one move they have long yearned to make; switch their second card with another hand.
Each player must make two equal sized bets and play two hands. They can switch the second card between the two hands.
A blackjack pays even money and a dealer 22 is a push.
If the game is played with six decks, the house edge is .58% with optimal strategy. Add .02% if the house uses eight decks.
The house rules for how the dealer handles a soft 17 make it easy for even a casual player to find value.
When the house stands on a soft 17 the house edge is .44%. When the house hits on a soft 17, the edge increases to .66%.
The number of decks also makes a difference. The least house edge is found in double deck games where the dealer stands on a soft 17.
Over the long run, finding a game where the dealer stands on all 17’s has positive EV.
Super Fun 21
Super Fun 21 is a popular variant found in almost every Las Vegas casino. The game has rules that are very liberal but require that serious players study the game to learn the differences in correct strategy.
The game is usually played with six decks, although single and double deck games can sometimes be found at the higher limit tables.
The rules include:
The dealer usually hits on a soft 17. The player is allowed to surrender after doubling down and loses only the original wager.
The player can split and re-split Aces. A player is also allowed to double down after splitting Aces. Players are allowed to double down on any number of cards. For example, if the player’s third card brings their total to 11, they are allowed to double.
A player six-card hand that totals 20 or less always wins. A player five-card hand that totals 21 is an immediate winner and is paid at 2 to 1. A player blackjack always wins. A suited blackjack of a specific suit (for example Ace-10 of spades) is paid at 2 to 1. All other blackjacks are paid even money.
The house edge is around 1.4%, which is higher than in classic blackjack. However, the liberal rules - especially the ability to re-split and double Aces, and double down - gives the player the opportunity to take advantage of specific situations. The even money payout for blackjacks counts for a substantial part of the increased house edge.
Just like with the game of roulette, blackjack is played differently in Europe. While the object of the game is the same, the game is played with several slight differences. The game is usually played with a six-deck shoe and the dealer stands on soft 17.
The most immediate difference is that the dealer does not receive a hole card until all player action is complete. This means that a player loses all bets, including those used to double down or on splits if the dealer has a blackjack.
The only other significant difference is that players are only allowed to double down on a hand that totals 9, 10 or 11.
The house edge for European blackjack is just over .6%
Blackjack is an enjoyable pastime. However players of almost every game enjoy a sense of variety. Taking the time to study the different strategies and odds of the various blackjack variants allows you to have a change of pace and still enjoy your favorite casino game.
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