Basic blackjack variations
Blackjack is subject to certain basic rules that are determined by laws and regulations. But casinos may also offer different side blackjack variations that may change the odds either to a casino's or a player's advantage. House advantage is gained by the fact that the dealer acts after other players have made their decisions. The player who busts loses whatever the dealer's hand value is. Still, experienced players applying correct basic blackjack strategy may reduce house edge significantly.
Here is the list of basic blackjack variations of rules. Players who choose tables offering favorable rule variations are able to get more profit from a game.
- Dealer hitting or standing on 'Soft 17'. Some casinos require that the dealer reaches the total hand value of 17 - six plus an Ace, or 'Soft 17'. The dealer then is to choose whether to hit or to stand with this combination. If the dealer chooses to stand, the player's advantage increases by about 0.2%.
- Doubling after Split. According to this rule, the player who has made a decision to split pairs of cards is able to double his or her bet and draw two new cards to each of the two hands. This option reduces the house advantage by approximately 0.13%.
- Splitting/re-splitting Aces. The player who gets two Aces in an initial hand is able to split his hand into two different hands. In case the combination repeats, some casinos allow players to re-split their Aces to up to four new hands. This reduces the house edge by approximately 0.03%. There is also a rule that the player can only draw a single card to each of the split Aces and is prohibited to make further hits. Nevertheless, some casinos offer the players to draw more cards to the Aces, which consequently reduces house edge by nearly 0.13%.
- Doubling on 9-10-11 or 10-11 only. Some casinos allow doubling bets only if the player's initial hand values 10 or 11 (9 is included in some European casinos). Such restriction increases house advantage by up to 0.25%.
- 6 to 5 payout. There are blackjack tables that offer 6 to 5 payout for "Blackjack" instead of the traditional 3 to 2 payout. Most blackjack guides recommend to avoid such tables as the house edge according to this rule is increased by 1.4%.
- Number of decks in play. In single- and double-deck blackjack games the house edge is reduced significantly due to the fact that the player is more likely to have "Blackjack" when there are fewer decks. The house edge for a single-deck game makes 0.17%, 0.46% for a double-deck game, 0.6% for a game with 4 decks, 0.64% for 6-decks games and about 0.7% for games with 8 decks.
- No 'hole' card. Some casinos require that the dealer doesn't check his or her face-down card for "Blackjack" till all the players have their turns in play. This makes doubling and splitting decisions against the dealer's 10 or Ace useless as the dealer's "natural" will win over all split and doubled bets. This blackjack variation increases the house advantage by about 0.11%.
- OBO ("original bets only") rule. According to this rule, if the player in some games with no hole card loses his or her hand, only his initial bet fails. His doubled and split bets will be pushed.
It is crucial that the players get acquainted with blackjack variations and blackjack probabilities at every casino before they actually start playing. This basic knowledge may help the player to change the chances of winning at blackjack to his or her advantage.