Variations of Blackjack
Blackjack variations don’t seek to reinvent the wheel, but they do hope to give it a unique twist. No matter which online or land-based casino you visit, chances are strong that you’ll find variations on the classic card game. While some are clever in their design, others seem patched together in an effort to just be different. But no matter what the case, you’ll be able to test your skills by giving a few of them a try.
In this article, I’ve put together a list of the most popular blackjack variations. A brief description touches on the unique features of each game, although there may not be room to devote to every subtle nuance (always read the casino rules before beginning play).
It should be noted that some blackjack variations are exclusive to certain gaming software providers. This allows their participating casinos to tout games that exist nowhere else, with the intention being to draw in players looking for a unique thrill.
Super Fun 21 – There is a round of betting before any cards are dealt. The biggest difference with this variation is the ability of players to double, surrender, hit, or stand on any two cards. A player blackjack always beats a dealer blackjack, and getting a blackjack suited diamonds will pay out at 2 to 1.
Spanish 21– Also known as Spanish Blackjack, this game removes all 10 cards (leaving a deck of 48). Extra payouts are also available, such as getting a seven card 21 at 3 to 1. Late surrender is available, and any number of cards can be doubled down.
Double Exposure Blackjack – The first two cards received by the dealer are dealt face up. Blackjack pays out at even money, although the player loses on a tie.
Blackjack Switch – Each player receives two hands, and one card from each hand can be switched. A natural blackjack pays even money, and a dealer 22 is considered to be a push.
Vegas Strip – If the dealer shows an ace or 10 point value card, they must immediately check for blackjack before players take their turn. Doubling down can be done with both cards, no matter what their starting score. Players may split three times and double down after a split, but they may only split once after getting aces. If you split aces and get a 10 point value card, it does not count as a blackjack.
Pontoon – Popular in Asian and Australia, this game has some similarities to Spanish 21 (such as all 10 cards being removed from the deck). The dealer has no hole card, and their second card isn’t revealed until the end of the round. An ace in a pre-double hand always has a value of one.
Multiple Action Blackjack – Players are allowed to place multiple bets on a single hand, although the dealer then gets a hand for each wager made by the player.
Chinese Blackjack – A unique version played throughout Southeast Asia, especially during the Chinese New Year. All hands must reach at least 16, and the dealer has the option to reveal certain player’s hands and then hit again before settling bets with other players. I suggest reading the rules carefully, as they are radically different than traditional blackjack.
Double Attack – Blackjacks pay even money, but the player has the option of increasing their bet after seeing the dealer’s upcard. A side bet allows the player to wager on whether or not the dealer will bust on their third card.
21st Century Blackjack – A player bust does not always result in a loss if the dealer also goes bust with a higher total. Also known as Vegas Style Blackjack.
European Blackjack – Played with four decks. Player can purchase insurance if the dealer shows an ace. Blackjack pays out 3 to 2, and there is a round of betting before cards are dealt.
Atlantic City Blackjack – Similar to Vegas Strip Blackjack, this variant allows players to double down on any two cards and double after a split. If the dealer has an ace or 10 point value as his upcard, he immediately glances at his downcard and takes all table bets on a blackjack (except for players with a natural blackjack).
Blackjack Surrender – Players may surrender their hand, but they will lose half of the initial wager.
High Streak Blackjack – You can make a side bet that you’ll win consecutive rounds. A five-hand winning streak will pay out at 10 to 1.
21 Duel Blackjack – Found only at Playtech casinos, this variant utilizes community cards and plays a little like the blackjack version of Texas Hold’em.
Crazy Blackjack – Offers multiple side bets and the option to split, double down, or purchase insurance.
Multi-Hand Blackjack – Players are able to play more than one hand per round. Many variants offer a multi-hand option.
Stravaganza – Offered exclusively at Playtech casinos, the object of this game is to achieve a higher score than the dealer while being dealt only three cards.
Face Up 21 – Both dealer cards are exposed. Players may split only once, and blackjack pays even money.
Match Play 21 – The four 10 cards are removed from the deck. You can split up to three hands and double down on any two cards. Special blackjack payouts are available for hands containing certain cards, such as 40 to 1 for achieving Match Play 21 (a trio of sevens in the player’s hand, as well as a seven as the dealer’s upcard).
Vegas Downtown– Played with two decks of cards. If the dealer gets an ace or 10 point value card on his initial face up card, he must immediately check for blackjack. If he has it, he collects all bets on the table expect for those of players who also have blackjack. Players can make three splits per hand, although only one split is allowed for a pair of aces. If a player splits an ace and then receives a 10 point value card, it is not counted as a blackjack.
Triple 7s Blackjack– This online version of blackjack allows players a chance to win a progressive jackpot by placing a dollar side bet. To win the progressive, a player needs to get a trio of sevens with a diamond suit. Other payouts are available for various combinations of sevens.
Red Dog Blackjack – Cards have the same value as in poker, and only three cards are dealt to a player each round. A round of betting begins, and then players receive two cards. The goal is to get cards in consecutive order, although getting three cards of equal value will pay out at 11 to 1.
Big 5 Blackjack – Played with 5 decks of cards, this version allows players to split on any two cards with the same value. You can double down once per hand, and the dealer does not check for blackjack if their upcard is an ace or 10 point value card.
Blackjack variations range from novel to downright mystifying. But no matter what their level of difficulty, trying a few of these variants will help you appreciate the classic game.