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How To Play Blackjack – Learn 5 Variations

Casino Games, Gambling

Blackjack playing cards
Source: Pixabay

There are few Canadian iGaming enthusiasts that aren’t familiar with the game of Blackjack. It is not only one of the oldest, but also most popular games, boasting millions of fans around the world. It is easy to understand but difficult to master, has fast rounds, and offers decent payouts. But with that being said, understanding how to play Blackjack is about more than just wanting to get as close to 21 as possible.

Blackjack is a deeply strategic game with many intricacies and becoming a truly potent player is a challenge that could take a lifetime.

Let’s take a closer look at the various forms of the game and get a better understanding of how to play Blackjack on a deeper level.

Basic Tips

Before we look at some of the variations available, let’s first take a closer look and get a better idea of how to play Blackjack in the smartest possible way.

Amateur Canadian iGaming enthusiasts often have a tendency to chase 21, putting all consideration aside to get as close to the number as possible. But doing so is misunderstanding one of the most fundamental aspects of the game. Namely that the total only has to be higher than that of the croupier in order for the round to result in a payout.

This means that getting a lower total, such as 15, isn’t necessarily a problem, assuming that the competing hand goes bust. To be more precise; it is smart to understand that asking for another card should only be done if needed.

But what are the clues?

The house will always have 1 card facing up, which provides essential clues on how the round is going to unfold. If, for example, the shown card is a royal or an Ace, there is reason to be concerned. After all, this is good starting position to get a great total. On the other hand, if the shown card is a 2, it is a much better prospect. Hence, the focus should be on reading the situation and playing accordingly.

Classic Blackjack

Our first stop in how to play Blackjack is the classic version. This version of the game has the same rules that have applied for many hundreds of years, stretching back into the history of the United States and France. It is fascinating to think that a game has existed for so long, and very few changes have ever been made to the core mechanics.

A few tweaks have been made here and there, naturally, but this is essentially the same system that was used when the game first came into existence!

The first fact to take into account is that the house edge in Classic Blackjack is staggeringly low. In fact, it is amongst the lowest of all casino games, making it clear why this is such a preferred choice for so many professional gamblers. The official house edge is just 0.5%. With that being said, it should be kept in mind that this percentage applies only if the player is making all the right moves.

The rules are as follows:

The player and house are both dealt 2 cards.

The player gets them face up, the dealer gets 1 face down and 1 face up.

The idea is to get a total closer to 21 than the house.

The gameplay options include hitting, which means getting another card, or standing, where you stick with the current hand. If another card is asked for and the total exceeds 21, the round is over and the house wins.

Ace counts as 11 or 1, 2 of the same type of card can be spilt into an additional hand and doubling down is an option.

European Blackjack

Next up we have the European version of the game.

First and foremost, the traditional version already had a low house edge, but this pushes things even further; 0.39%. There are a few tweaks that make the European version this generous. But, once again, keep in mind that the house edge only counts if perfect strategy is used without ever making a mistake.

Let’s take a closer look at the changes.  

First, if both the player and the dealer score a Blackjack it results in a push, rather than a win for the house. The most generous change: the croupier must stand on a soft 17. A double down may only be played if the player’s hand is a 9, 10, or 11. Lastly, hitting a Blackjack pays out 3:2.

Naturally, any players that are learning how to play Blackjack will want to head for this variation for obvious reasons. Simply put, if the European alternative is offered, it is likely the best option.

The perfect Blackjack hand
Source: Pixabay

Face Up

If you were reading this guide and thought it a little unfair that the dealer gets to have a face down card, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a version of Blackjack simply titled Face Up.

The name pretty much says it all, the house cards are no longer face down, revealing a tremendous amount of information.

One of the primary challenges of the Classic and European versions is that much guesswork is involved, with players forced make decision based on incomplete information. But here the information is all right on the table.

Of course, casino games are designed to be balanced, and a fair amount of balancing has been done here to keep things interesting.

First, the house will not stand on a soft 17, which is taking away a big advantage.

Additionally, if both the player and the dealer draw a Blackjack it is not a push, the player loses.

And, if the player does manage to score Blackjack the payout is only a very low even money. So, although much better decision can be made, the payouts are significantly less generous.

Adding to this, the house edge here is 0.69%, the worst so far.

Perfect Pairs

This is perhaps the most interesting twist for those learning how to play Blackjack. At its core, Perfect Pairs is the Classic version of the game, but with a deeply interesting side betting system thrown in for good measure.

Perfect Pairs simply takes the suit and value of the starting cards and gives the opportunity to place a side wager. The normal wager is placed on the game itself, but the additional money can be put down for an added opportunity. The bet will pay if the cards are the same value, or if the cards are the same value and color, or if they are same value, color, and suit.

It seems like a strange additional set of rules to have, but the potential payouts make the system very interesting. Payouts for just the same value are 5:1, for the same value and color the payouts shoot to 10:1, and for value, color and suit the payout is an impressive 30:1.

Needless to say, the side wager in Perfect Pairs is optional. However, it is most interesting for those learning the game because the extra bets really don’t take much learning in order to take part. Plus, those that find the extra rules confusing can always just skip the extra wager altogether and focus on the game.

Spanish 21

Then we come to one of the most preferred versions of the game. Spanish 21 is a genius version that works with all the normal rules, but for a very big twist; all cards that have a value of 10 have been removed from the deck. This seems like a confusing addition at first, but after playing a few rounds it become apparent that this is actually a rather easy to understand setup.

There are a few changes that do need explanation, however, and can be a little puzzling.

Given that there are no 10s, rounds tend to go on far longer, with many calls for a hit.

So, if 5 cards make a 21 this is a payout of 3:2. A 6 card 21 results in a 2:1 payout.

A 7 card 21 is a 3:1 payout.

If a hand has cards that have values of 678 or 777 and are of a mixed suit, the payout is 3:2, if they are all of the same suit, the payout is 2:1.

If playing this variation these rules will generally be made clear as rounds unfold.

Then we get to the rule that the game is most well known for. If the player has 777 on the table, and all are the same suit, and the house has a 7 of any suit, there is a bonus payout of $1,000.

Can you say Olé?!

As you learn how to play Blackjack, be sure to be responsible. Keep track of your bankroll, play smart, and always remember that in gambling losses are inevitable. Blackjack can be very lucrative but the way you play is always important! Spin Casino promotes responsible gambling and will always do it’s best to offer the help you need, when you need it.

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