Card game – Basic Rules & Variations


Blackjack is one of the oldest gambling games globally with mixed and intertwined historical origins. It isn’t easy to pinpoint the original location of this beloved game as it has its roots in China and India, but it is historically certain that it obtained its current form in two countries, France and the United States. Although being classic might seem outdated to you, the contrary is the case of Blackjack!

The long history of this exciting game has allowed it to be favoured by multiple generations and people from different cultures. To make the game even more attractive to the younger players, online casino games developers have created significant numbers of the variations of blackjack to give players the variety of choice and, in some cases, to try to get the casino a bigger house edge!

In fact, every blackjack variant comes with something extra to entice players and give the house a bit of edge back! With that being said, all blackjack types remain the most profitable for players in the long term. As for the inexperienced players, the house edge for this game is around 2% only, while old hand players can decrease this percentage to only 1% or even less.

In this article, we’ll break down some of the most popular blackjack variants.

Common Rule variation

To make the explanation easier for beginners, we combined all rule variations into one simple section. All the following mentioned rules are applied to all types of virtual blackjack games you may find at any online casino.

1. Number of decks in use vary

The decks in-play vary from single-hand up to 8 decks at a time, note that the more decks in use, the worse the odds for you. Although the digital games are integrated with an RNG component that gives each card’s result, the single deck blackjack games are programmed to give an outcome from only 52 possible outcomes.

2. The way of handling soft 17 varies

The way the dealer handles soft 17 can vary according to the variant’s rules. If the dealer’s hand contains an ace and has a total of 17, he either hit or stick on all 17’s. In fact, sticking on soft 17 is better for players as they can exceed it in most cases, while if the dealer hits, he may get a card between the Ace and 5.

3. Double down and splitting

You will be allowed to double-down your bet in some variants after splitting your hand. If you split your hand as per the instructions of the basic blackjack strategy, doubling down after splitting will be beneficial for you, however, slightly! This means if you have two cards of 5, you can split them into two separate hands, then you will get a new additional card for each hand, and you will double the initial bet amount to keep both hands on high! If you get another new pair, you may have the opportunity to split them again. Definitely, the more you are allowed to double, the better for you!

4. The ratio of blackjack payoff

The standard payout of the blackjack game is 3-to-2. This rule is applied in all Las Vegas casinos and online casinos. However, some bad tables offer a payout of 6-to-5, and you should avoid these tables like the plague! However, it is worth noting that some blackjack variants can be playable while offering lower payouts only in case if they offer higher odds, but you need to investigate and review these games separately in the free demo mode before wagering on them with real money.

Most popular variations of blackjack

Now the most common rule variation of blackjack are out of the way, and let’s get to the game variations. To determine whether or not a game is a good choice for you, you must know the rules that distinguish it from others. For instance, games that force the dealer to peek at his hole card is beneficial for you, as do games where the dealer doesn’t hit when you hit 17.

1. European Blackjack

This variant is the most popular and common one. Also, its rules are the basis of many other modern blackjack variations. However, this game isn’t favourable for players as it uses 6 decks.

2. Blackjack Switch

In this game, all players must place two bets to receive two separate hands. Then, players can switch the second card in each hand to strengthen them. This rule makes it easier for players to get a blackjack or get at least a single strong hand that can beat the dealer. Also, the blackjack switch game includes split and double-down features. The only concession here is that the dealer 22 hand isn’t counted as a bust hand, but rather a push!

3. Chinese Blackjack

Although Chinese Blackjack may be the least popular game variant, it can be a good choice for experienced players who have tried every known variation before. This game has a few other names, but it’s played with only one or two decks of cards, and there is a player designated as the “dealer” for each hand. The player’s goal here isn’t anyway different from other variations; he should get closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, but without going over. There are some special hands for this game to make things more interesting, with one example called “Ban-Luck”. This hand is just a natural blackjack, but it pays off at 2 to 1 instead of 3 to 2 like the standard game’s payoff rule.

Another example is the “free hand” which consists of any two cards with 15 points. If the player/ dealer get this hand, they can stop the round and reshuffle the cards! The “free hand” rule is advantageous for players, as 15’s hand is one of the worst to stand or hit! Also, it provides an effective counter to a “Ban-luck” hand.


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