Like poker, blackjack is a game that lends itself to a lot of game variations. In its simplest form, it is a game where you try to outdraw the dealer without going over 21. Beyond that simple premise, there are countless opportunities for variations. I have already covered the blackjack variations of pontoon, Spanish 21 and double exposure. This time I am writing about extreme 21.
Extreme 21 gets its name for the fact that the dealer can’t stand. In this variation, one player at a time faces off against the dealer. The player is dealt two cards face up and the dealer is given one card face up. There is no hole card in extreme 21.
In this blackjack variation, once the player is dealt two cards and the dealer one, the player can hit, stand, double, split or whatever. If he busts, the player loses. Once the player stands, the dealer begins drawing cards. Instead of having a certain number to draw to, such as 17, in this variation the dealer draws until he either beats the player’s total or busts.
If the player gets to exactly 21 points, he wins automatically and is paid 1:1. If the player splits, the dealer has to play against each hand individually. There are a few rule variations in extreme 21. Sometimes players are allowed to double any time, while at others they can only double on the first two cards. Sometimes redoubling and resplitting are allowed, but other times they are not.
Because the dealer will continue drawing until he either beats the player’s hand or busts, basic strategy for extreme 21 is different from traditional blackjack. Generally speaking, the strategy for extreme 21 is more aggressive, since the dealer will keep drawing until he either beats your number or busts. Therefore, you would never stand on a 13 or 14, for instance.
Extreme 21 can sometimes be found in brick and mortar casinos, but is more often found in online casinos as an alternative to traditional blackjack. Extreme 21 has a much higher house edge than traditional blackjack. Even using the correct strategy, the game has a house edge from 0.63% to 1.16%, depending on the rules of that particular game.