Blackjack is easy to understand and difficult to master. On the surface, winning seems easy, get as close to 21 as possible without busting. However much more goes into the game. Variations of blackjack are a way for casino's to keep their players playing and for players to grow their knowledge of the game and stay entertained.
Normally the dealer will stand on hard 17. This simply means that, assuming there is no ace in the dealers hand, the dealer will stand if his/her hand is a 17 or greater. One variation is the dealer hitting on soft 17, meaning that the dealer will hit when he/she has an ace and his/her hand is equal to 17 and will stand when the dealer has a 17 and no ace. This raises the house edge 0.2%, which is a huge increase when you consider that the house edge in blackjack is between 0.3 - 0.6% depending on how you play and the casino's rules.
Some casino's are picky about rules regarding doubling while others have no problem with their players doubling whenever they would like. Many casinos only allow you to double after your first two cards, some casinos allow you to double whenever, and other casinos have outlawed doubling entirely. Considering there is roughly a 30% chance the next card you get will be worth 10, doubling on 10's and 11's can be very enticing. Doubling is one of the main reasons why the player has a chance against the casino, so it is important for you to choose a casino, online or real, that allows as much doubling as possible.
Most online casinos pay 3 to 2 on natural blackjacks, but there has been a big push lately, especially in real casinos to pay 6 to 5 when the player hits a natural blackjack. For those of you that are not big into fractions, there is a huge difference between a 3 to 2 payout and a 6 to 5 payout. On a 20 dollar bet you would win 30 dollars after receiving a natural blackjack with a 3 to 2 payout and just 24 dollars with a 6 to 5 payout. The house edge a player experiences will skyrocket while playing 6 to 5 blackjack, 7 to 5, or 1 to 1 blackjack. There is a 4.8% that a natural blackjack will be dealt, so roughly every 21 hands.
The number of decks in play for a game of blackjack can also vary. Some blackjack variations allow their to be just 1 deck in play while others mandate that up to 8 decks should be in play. The less decks used, the better odds a player has against the house. Atlantic City blackjack uses 8 decks and therefore has a house edge of 0.49%. Harrods casino uses 1 deck to play and has a house edge of 0.058%! The difference in odds can be exponential depending on how many decks are used so that is something you should definitely keep an eye on.
Spanish 21 is the most player friendly blackjack variation that I know of. You can double down at any time, there are extra payout bonuses if you hit 21 after five or more cards, and players 21's always win. If you play with proper strategy the difference between playing traditional blackjack and Spanish 21 can be huge!
Double exposure blackjack is also a very interesting variation. Both of the dealers cards are face up, so you are at a distinct advantage. This type of blackjack is very rare, but it is out their.
When it comes to blackjack and other casino games, the smallest things can make the biggest differences. 0.25% and 0.5% may seem nearly identical to the average player, but smart players realize that the player experiencing a 0.25% house edge has twice the chances to succeed in the long run compare to the player experiencing a 0.5% house edge.
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