There are a number of blackjack variations that you will encounter when looking to play the world’s favorite table game. One of the most common is often called European blackjack, no-hole card blackjack or no-peek blackjack. This blackjack game can be found at online casinos, brick and mortar casinos, cruise ships and more.
In the traditional blackjack game, the players are all dealt two cards and then the dealer gives himself two cards, one face up and a hole card face down. In this blackjack game, though, the dealer only gives himself the up card. He does not deal his hole card until after the players make all of their decisions. Once all of the players’ hands are finished, the dealer then deals himself the hole card and plays out his hand.
The disadvantage of this is that you have less of an idea of what cards the dealer has. In a traditional game, if the dealer has an ace or a ten as the upcard, he will peek at the hole card and see if he has a natural blackjack. If he does, all players lose except those who also have a natural blackjack (they would push). The advantage to the dealer peeking is that if he does have a blackjack, it prevents you from increasing your bet by doubling or splitting. If he does not, then you at least know that the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, which also helps your strategy.
Not having the dealer check his hole card before you play out your hand puts the players at a disadvantage. The player is taking a bigger risk any time he doubles or splits. This blackjack game increases the house edge by 0.11%.
There is good news, though. Many online casinos and some of their brick and mortar counterparts offset that disadvantage by tweaking the rules. Specifically, they change what happens to your additional bet. With traditional blackjack, if you double your bet, either by doubling down or by splitting, you lose all of the money. For example, if you bet $10 and then double down and lose the hand, you lose $20.
However, sometimes in European blackjack your additional bet would be a push if the dealer gets a blackjack. In this example, if you bet $10 and then double down and the dealer draws a blackjack, you would only lose the original $10. You keep the other $10. This evens things out and gets rid of the disadvantage, since it basically makes it the same as if the dealer had peeked at his hole card. That is because you would never double (and wouldn’t actually have a chance to) if the dealer has a blackjack. If the European blackjack game has rules where your additional bet is a push when the dealer has a blackjack, the house edge is the same as with the traditional game. In this situation, you should follow the same basic strategy as with the traditional game.