Blackjack Variation Guide: How Differences Change the Odds
Blackjack is a game that may seem simple on the surface, but actually has a variety of rules and variations that can make it an intricate battle.
Professional players often look for specific games of blackjack that carry a slight increase in odds that favour the player. In order to understand the variations of Blackjack and the effects these slight differences can have on a player’s potential winnings, it’s important to know what a standard game of Blackjack looks like.
Normally Blackjack will include eight decks of cards. The player and dealer are both dealt two cards initially, one face up, the other face down. The aim of Blackjack is to have the cards total 21 – or as close to it as possible. Aces can count as 1 or 11, and players can choose to stick with their two cards in the hope that they beat the dealer's, or ask for an additional card to try and get closer to 21 without going over.
They can also 'double down' on the cards, where they receive one additional card while doubling the wager. If the player has a pair, they can split the cards into two separate hands.
Single Deck and Double Deck Blackjack
With a standard game using eight decks, it's almost impossible to predict what cards may come next. However, with a single or even a double deck being used, players can rule out cards that have already been dealt, thereby slightly increasing their chances of having a winning hand against the dealer.
A single deck carries higher odds of winning than a double deck.
Triple Up 21
This variation includes more variations within it, but they all share a common trait: players can triple their bet when dealt a certain pair or combination of cards. The cards they can do this on will depend largely on how many decks are in play. While this potentially allows players to earn more money, it comes with one caveat – hitting a Blackjack only pays even money.
As the title suggests, Multihand Blackjack riffs on the original by allowing players to play up to five different hands per round. Each hand is played individually, and players can choose different betting amounts for different hands. This offers up to five different wagers to win against the dealer’s one.
Five-, Six- and Seven-Card Charlie
Normally in Blackjack, players will be bust after a third or fourth card that takes them over the target of 21.
However, it is possible, though unlikely, to collect seven or more cards that total less than 21. If the Blackjack game has one of the Charlie rules, with Five-Card Charlie the more common one, then players automatically win if they manage to hit that number of cards. Six- and Seven-Card Charlie reduce the house edge slightly, but Five-Card Charlie can increase a player's overall return by roughly 1.5%.
Suited and Booted
The vast majority of Blackjack games will pay out at a rate of 3:2, so for every $2 bet you win $3 if you hit Blackjack. However, some tables may carry an increased payout for Blackjack at 2-to-1, so for the same $2 bet you would win $4.
Another rule that players may come across is Suited Blackjack, where if your winning hand is of the same suit, it pays 2-to-1.
Double Exposure / Dealer Disclosure
This variation essentially removes some of the guesswork from Blackjack by dealing all the cards face up. This allows the player to see exactly what the dealer is holding, and inform their decision to stick, hit, split or double the bet.
However, as it gives the player an advantage, other aspects of the game change. For example, Blackjack pays even, and the player can only split once. Other casinos or online versions of Double Exposure Blackjack may carry additional rules, such as only being able to double the bet on certain cards.