Strategy for European blackjack
It is seen from the name that the European blackjack is a blackjack game commonly played in European countries. It shares all basic features of classical blackjack:
- The aim of the game is to reach the total hand value of 21, but not to exceed it. Otherwise the player's hand busts. It is also necessary to beat the dealer's hand.
- Numbered cards are valued according to their exact number, or "face value" - a 2 is valued 2, a 7 is valued 7. Face cards or pictures (like a Jack or a King) are all valued 10. An Ace is an ambiguous card and is valued either 1 or 11, according to the total value of the player's hand.
- The combination of an Ace and any 10-valued card - either a 10 or a picture - makes a "Natural blackjack". In European blackjack it always beats any other 21-valued hand. The payout for "blackjack" is 3 to 2, just like in a regular blackjack.
- In case the player's hand and that of the dealer have the same value, the 'tie' or 'push' is announced, which means that no one wins and the player gets his or her bet back.
Rules of European blackjack
Apart from the regular blackjack basics, European blackjack has its own specific features that differentiate it from other blackjack variations. European blackjack is played with two decks of 52 cards, decks shuffled after each game. The dealer is supposed to stand on "Soft 17" (a hand including an Ace valued 11 and a six).
Rules for Splitting:
- Each hand can only be split once in a game.
- It is recommended to always split Aces. In case the Aces are split, it is allowed to draw multiple cards to each of the new hands.
- If a split Ace is combined with any 10-valued card, there is no "Blackjack". The hand is considered equal to a usual 21-valued hand.
- 10-valued cards can only be split if they are the same - we can split a pair of Queens, but not a Queen and a King, unlike in the Vegas Strip blackjack.
Double down is only allowed with hands valued 9, 10 or 11.
- "Natural blackjack" is paid out at 3 to 2.
- Insurance bet that wins pays out 2 to 1. In case the insurance bet is lost, the player gets his or her original bet back.
House edge in European blackjack makes about 0.4%. With an effective strategy it is always possible to reduce house edge significantly and to make a good profit.
European blackjack strategy
- It is recommended to always hit with a total hand value of 5 to 8, no matter what face-up card has the dealer.
- Doubling down is best with the player's hand valued 9 to 11 and the dealer's face-up card from 2 to 9. It is also recommended to double with a pair of fives.
- One should always split Aces whatever the dealers' card. In case the dealer's face-up card is an Ace, the player may hit.
- The player should better stand on a hand valued 17 and more, on "Soft 19" or "Soft 20" and a pair of tens. The pair of tens should never be split!
It is best to learn European blackjack strategy, just as any basic blackjack strategy, using a strategy chart. In case the player uses an appropriate strategy, he or she will be able to beat the house edge and eventually get advantage over the casino!