Differences Between American and European Blackjack

Friday, February 28th, 2020 | Written by James Guill
Differences Between American and European Blackjack

When looking at different blackjack variants, you will notice American and European Blackjack offered at most US online casinos. These blackjack variants are nearly identical but have a few key differences that you should know about so you can make the best decision on which game to play.

Today, we will point out the key differences between the two games along with the difference in the house edge that you can expect when playing the games.

Differences Between the Games

European and American Blackjack are both available at many online casinos in the US and online casinos around the world. They have the same primary rules, but with a few small differences that are important to note.

The first is the number of cards dealt to the dealer. For European Blackjack, the deal only gets one card at the start. This means that you have to play your entire hand before you find out whether the dealer has a blackjack. Even if you buy insurance, you have to play your hand.

American Blackjack Hand
Make sure to play games that pay 3 to 2 on blackjack.

Next, the rules for doubling down are different. In American Blackjack, you can double down on any two cards you’re dealt. For European Blackjack, you can only double on hands totaling 9, 10, or 11.

Split rules are the same for splitting hands, but with American Blackjack, you can double down after you split a hand.

One thing to also keep in mind is that with American Blackjack, you are playing with just a four-deck shoe as opposed to a six-deck shoe with European Blackjack. This immediately lowers the house edge on American Blackjack.

Below is a chart of the few key differences between the games:

  American Blackjack European Blackjack
Number of Decks 4 6
Stand on 17? Yes Yes
Number of Dealer Cards 2 1
Double? First Two Cards – Any Hand 9,10,11 Only
Split Pairs or 10 Value Cards Pairs or 10 Value Cards
Double After Split? Yes No
Check for Blackjack? Yes No

Difference in House Edge

While blackjack, in general, has a lower house edge than most casino games, you can lower it even further by playing American Blackjack. American Blackjack has a lower overall house edge than European Blackjack. As already mentioned, the house edge is lowered out of the gate due to the reduced number of decks.

European Blackjack Hand
The dealer not getting his second card until after you play your hand gives the house an increased edge.

The ability to double any two cards drops the house edge by an additional .23%. Being able to double after a split drops the house edge an additional .14%. While .37% may not seem like a huge deal, every little bit helps when playing at online casinos. The edge really pays off the higher you play. High rollers get the biggest benefit out of the reduced house edge, but it can pay off for you in the long term.

When to Play European Blackjack Over American

Despite the lower house edge, there may be times where it will be more advantageous to play European Blackjack. For example, if the minimum bet for European Blackjack is .50 and the minimum bet for American is $1, then you may want to play European Blackjack and not worry about the extra edge.

There is another instance where you will consider European over American. Some casinos will pay 6 to 5 on a blackjack rather than 3 to 2. When you find American Blackjack games offering 6 to 5 payouts, avoid the game as the house edge goes up dramatically. The minimum bet rule doesn’t even apply to this one as the game just is not as profitable.

The only other instance where you may consider European over American is regarding online casino bonuses. Sometimes you will run across online casinos that change the amount of the wagering requirement based on the game or the developer.

For example, if a casino allows European Blackjack to contribute 25% to the wagering requirement as opposed to just 10% for American Blackjack. In this case you will want to play European Blackjack to clear your bonus quicker.