Posts Tagged ‘blackjack variants’

Effect of rule variations on blackjack

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Blackjack is blackjack, right? Wrong. Though the basics of the game, and therefore the strategy, stay pretty much the same, not all blackjack games are created equal. Even if you avoid a blackjack variant where the gameplay is changed such as perfect pairs or double exposure, individual rule variations in the standard blackjack game greatly alter the odds.

Even seemingly minor things greatly affect the odds of the game, such as the number of decks. The best odds are with a single-deck game, as long as it still pays out 3:2 for a blackjack. However, those are increasingly difficult to find, both online and in a brick and mortar casino. Finding a single-deck blackjack game in Las Vegas is virtually impossible. For each deck that you add, the odds tilt slightly in favor of the house. Though the base game can have a house edge of only 0.5% when you utilize basic strategy, playing with two decks adds 0.31% to the house’s advantage. Playing with four decks give an additional 0.48% advantage to the house. Six decks provides the casino with an additional 0.52% advantage. Finally, eight-deck games are the worst, increasing the house edge by 0.55%.

It’s not just the number of decks that affect the odds, though. Whenever you play a blackjack game for the first time, make sure you know of any minor rule variations they have. For stance, if they don’t allow a resplitting of pairs, that adds a 0.03% edge to the house. A table where the dealer hits a soft 17 increases the house advantage by 0.20%.

Conversely, there are some rule variations that help the player. For example, a blackjack game with late surrender increases the player’s odds by 0.02% and a game with early surrender increases those odds by 0.62%. A blackjack table that allows you to double after splitting increases the player’s odds by 0.14%.

With all of those variations and more affecting the odds of a traditional blackjack game, it is best to know all of the table rules before you play. That is especially true of an online casino or land-based casino with multiple blackjack options available. You want to be sure you are playing a game that gives you the best chance of making money.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack tournament at InterCasino

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

InterCasino has a Perfect Pairs Blackjack Tournament going on right now and it’s a good opportunity to take a shot at prizes without risking much of your own money. The blackjack tournament only has a $250 prize pool, but the stakes are low – the entry fee is only $10.

If you only play the traditional blackjack game and are unfamiliar with the different blackjack variants, perfect pairs is a common variation with a side bet where the player earns extra money if their first two cards happen to be a pair. The payouts depend on the type of pair. A “perfect pair” is two identical cards, such as two aces of spades. Another type of pair is a “colored pair,” which is two cards that match in rank and color. An example would be a three of spades and a three of clubs, since both suits are black. The third type of pair is a “mixed pair,” which is a pair that matches in rank but is an opposite color.

InterCasino’s Perfect Pairs Blackjack Tournament is running now and ends Sunday, August 29. Until it ends, you can enter at any time. You just have to pony up the $10 buy-in. When you enter the tournament, the online casino gives you $500 worth of tournament chips with which to play. Your tournament lasts 30 minutes and you want to make as much tournament money as you can.

At the end, only the top six players in the blackjack tournament will win prizes. The tournament winner will earn a $100 prize. The second-place finisher will win a $50 prize. The players who finish in third through sixth place will win prizes worth $25 each.

To take part in the Perfect Pairs Blackjack Tournament, visit InterCasino before it ends on August 29.

$2400 Welcome Bonus at Pure Vegas

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Pure Vegas Casino is one of my favorite online casinos for playing blackjack. That is because they have a good variety of blackjack games. Though they have standards like European Blackjack, they also have some popular blackjack variants, such as Face Up 21, Super 21 and Perfect Pairs.

Right now Pure Vegas also offers a good welcome bonus for players new to their website. The casino is giving away up to $2400 as a welcome bonus. The welcome bonus comes as a deposit match bonus, with the online casino matching 100% of your deposit.

Here’s how it works. Once you join the casino, you are eligible for a 100% deposit match bonus on your first three deposits. Each bonus has a maximum limit of $800, giving you a limit of $2,400 total. To claim your bonus, you must enter the correct coupon code, which is different on each deposit and depending on your method of payment.

If you make your deposit using a credit card, you have a coupon code of 800FREE1 for the first deposit, 800FREE2 for the second deposit and 800FREE3 for the third deposit. Players who utilize eWalletXpress to make their deposits will have coupon code 800FREE1EX for their first deposit, 800FREE2EX for the second deposit and 800FREE3EX for the third deposit. If you use UseMyWallet for the deposit, the first coupon code is 800FREE1UW, the second code is 800FREE2UW and the third is 800FREE3UW.

To take advantage of the $2,400 welcome bonus and play some exciting online blackjack games, visit Pure Vegas Casino.

Blackjack Games at Intercasino

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Online casinos tend to favor players of poker and online slots. It makes sense, since those are the two most popular games. Also, slots have a significantly higher house edge than blackjack, so the casinos make more money off of it. For online blackjack players, though, it can be hard to find a casino with a decent selection. Most casinos seem to have one or two blackjack games and that’s not enough variety for me.

Intercasino is different. They’re one of my favorite casinos for a reason. Intercasino has seven different online blackjack games. There are the standard games of Atlantic City Blackjack, Vegas Blackjack and European Blackjack as well as a game that you play using only one deck, ingeniously called Single Deck Blackjack.

If you like variations on the traditional blackjack game, there are plenty of options. Pontoon is one of the most common blackjack variants, and it is available at Intercasino. They also offer Progressive Blackjack for the big spenders going after a progressive jackpot. Super Fun 21 is available for when you’re in the mood for a blackjack game with wacky rules. They also offer Perfect Pairs blackjack, another common and fun variant.

For a blackjack game with a little more technology and better visuals, Intercasino offers Video Blackjack. Now they just need a live-dealer game and blackjack players will have pretty much every type of blackjack game they could ask for.

To sample the blackjack selection, visit Intercasino.

Blackjack Variations: Quick Seven

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The thing about blackjack is that there are countless little tweaks you can make to the game to make a variant. Some are minor while others are big enough that it creates an entirely new game, such as pontoon or Spanish 21. There is a new blackjack variation that I have just read about called Quick Seven and it may soon be coming to a casino near you.

Quick Seven is the brainchild of a man named Larry Cockrell, who came up with the idea for this blackjack variation back when he drove concrete trucks for a living. Since then he has created a company called Innovate Gaming and is marketing Quick Seven.

Quick Seven is already available in some brick and mortar casinos, such as Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in Iowa. It is also available as an iPhone app. There is not yet an online casino license for the blackjack variation, so online blackjack fans cannot yet play it online.

Since I don’t have an iPhone and you can’t play it online, I have not yet played this game, so I don’t know everything about it. I will tell you what I do know, though. Quick seven is a game where instead of trying to outdraw the dealer without going over 21, you can’t go over 7. With the lower number, one change in the game is how the cards are counted.

In a press release, Cockrell said that in blackjack, the most exciting part is when you draw a natural blackjack (10 and ace). That only happens, on average, once every 20 hands. “In Quick Seven,” he said, “the most exciting thing happens once every 13 hands or so, which is 53.8% more often than in blackjack.”

He seems to be talking about drawing a 2-card seven, which could be a 6 and ace, 5 and 2, or 4 and 3. Then again, the card values are different in this game, so that may not be the case. As with 21 in blackjack, drawing over a 7 in this game busts you. The game also has different rules for hitting, doubling, and standing, among other things.

The most exciting rule in Quick Seven that differentiates it from blackjack, though, seems to be the discard option. In Quick Seven, you have the option of discarding one of the cards in your hand if you have a bad card. I believe you can only discard once per hand and I’m not sure if you can do it if drawing a card busts you, but being able to discard opens up more options and gives players more control over the outcome of the hand.

I haven’t been able to play Quick Seven yet, but I am hoping I’ll find it at an online casino soon. Cockrell seems to think it’s only a matter of time before this variation takes the blackjack world by storm. If he’s right, then you heard about it here first… unless you already read about it somewhere else.

Blackjack Strategy: Read the Rules

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Most people know that you can’t sit down at a blackjack table without knowing what you’re doing and make money. Just randomly picking what to do in blackjack results in a house edge of, oh, I don’t know, probably around 90%.

Okay, admittedly, I made up that number. I don’t know what the house edge would be in that situation, but it would be very high. Most people know that you have to memorize blackjack basic strategy and stick to it, but even then the casino has a slight advantage (0.5%), unless you count cards correctly.

There is one part of blackjack strategy that people often forget, though, and that is to read the rules. Let me make this very clear. Not all blackjack tables have the same rules. There are countless variations in the rules in both online casinos and the brick and mortar variety. Therefore, you should not assume that you know what the rules are for that particular blackjack game. Unless you have played at that particular table enough times that you know the rules already, you should always familiarize yourself with the rules before you play.

Rules variations can significantly affect the house edge and your decisions. Though a natural blackjack traditionally pays 3:2, some table pay 6:5 and I’ve even seen even money tables. At some tables the dealer will hit a soft 17 while at others he will stand. Some tables will allow you to split any pair, while others will only allow you to split tens or nines and tens. Some blackjack games let you resplit while others don’t. Some blackjack games offer insurance and late surrender, while others do not. Those are just a few of the many rule variations you will find at blackjack tables.

For that reason, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules before you play. At a brick and mortar casino, you can usually find the rules clearly printed on the table itself. If you’re unsure about any rules, feel free to ask the dealer. For online blackjack, it is even easier, because you can simply go to a section of the website that explains the rules. If you have any questions, you can contact customer service. You should never play blackjack without knowing all of the rules for that game ahead of time.

By knowing the rules, you can make sure you don’t make an error in judgment and make sure you are following the correct strategy. In addition, it helps you know whether that is even a blackjack table at which you want to play. If the rules aren’t good, you might want to find somewhere else to play. But you will never know that if you don’t check.

Blackjack Variations: Removing Cards

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The nature of blackjack’s simple game makes it perfect for a wide variety of rule changes. Whether playing a friendly game in your house, at a casino, online, or on a cruise ship, there are a number of blackjack variations that you could see.

For the most part, the blackjack variations favor the house, which is why I recommend sticking to the standard game. Also, it’s easier to remember the basic strategy for one game rather than the standard game and all of its variations.

One blackjack variation that is pretty common is the removal of one or more cards from the deck. Traditionally, blackjack is played with a standard 52-card deck, with face cards counting for 10 points, an ace standing for one or 11 points and everything else having its face value. However, it’s fairly common to find a game where all of the tens are removed or all of the sevens are taken out of the deck.

In the game of blackjack, high cards favor the player and small cards favor the dealer. Therefore, any blackjack variation where the high cards are removed tilts the odds farther in the house’s favor. In contrast, any variant where small cards are removed tips the odds in the player’s direction.

Below is a complete list of how each card being removed from the deck affects the house edge. The percentages given are the amount that is added to or subtracted from the house edge. For example, removing all twos from the deck reduces the house edge by 0.40% and removing all aces from the deck increases the house edge by 0.59%. Keep in mind that in the standard game of blackjack, playing perfect basic strategy reduces the house edge to 0.50%.

Removed Card = House Edge
2 = -0.40%
3 = -0.43%
4 = -0.52%
5 = -0.67%
6 = -0.45%
7 = -0.30%
8 = -0.01%
9 = +0.15%
10, J, Q, K = +0.51%
Ace = +0.59%

Risk of Blackjack Variations

Friday, April 9th, 2010

One of the great things about the game of blackjack is its simplicity. Basic strategy is fairly simple to learn if you take the time to acquaint yourself with it. Because of its simplicity, however, there is plenty of room for variations in the rules. There are countless rule variations common to casinos, online casinos, cruises and friendly games. I have even covered some of the most common blackjack variations, such as pontoon and double exposure.

However, there is a risk to playing any of these blackjack variations that some people don’t think about. Most players will lose a lot more money playing blackjack variations than playing the traditional game. One reason for that is that most blackjack variations have a higher house edge than the standard game. However, there is more to it than that.

Blackjack is a rare casino game in that it requires skill and if you have enough skill and play using proper basic strategy, you can actually make money at the blackjack table. However, making money is contingent on sticking to strategy and making the correct decisions. Because the blackjack variations change the rules of play, they often require a different strategy than the traditional game. The strategy is often similar, but with subtle variations. If you play with the basic strategy for the traditional game, you could be victimized by the rule changes.

What’s worse, often players will abandon strategy entirely when playing the different blackjack variations. This is especially true if it’s their first time playing that variation. It makes sense. You see a new game and are excited to play blackjack in a different way. Therefore, you get caught up in the excitement and forget about basic strategy. Also, if there are many complex rule variations in that blackjack game, you may focus on remembering all of those and simply waiting for one of those unique situations to occur, forgetting about the rest of the game.

Luckily, if you play blackjack variations online, it is easier for you to combat those bad habits. One advantage of playing online blackjack is that you’re playing on your own. There are no other players at your table waiting for you and there is no dealer. It’s just you and the computer. For that reason, if you’re playing a blackjack variation online, I advise finding the correct basic strategy chart for that game, making sure you understand all of the rules, and playing at a pace that allows you to play mistake free. That way you can take advantage of the perks of the variations without all of the negative elements.

Blackjack Variations: Double Attack Blackjack

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Similar to Spanish 21, double attack blackjack is a blackjack variation that is popular in casinos found in Atlantic City, New Jersey, though it can also be found online. In this variation, blackjacks only pay even money, rather than 3:2, but there are some rules that are beneficial to the player as well.

The major difference in the game is that in double attack blackjack, players are able to double their wager after seeing the dealer’s up card. With traditional blackjack, if you double you only get one more card, but with double attack blackjack, the first card dealt is the dealer’s up card. Based on that, you decide whether or not you want to double your bet. If you do, you can take as many cards as you want, but you cannot double again. After the players decide whether or not to double, the players are dealt two cards each and the dealer takes a hole card.

There is also a side bet in this game on whether or not the dealer will bust on the third card. This side bet is called BustIt and is made before you see the dealer’s up card, though, so it is a completely blind bet. If you bet that the dealer will bust on the third card and he does, your payout is different depending on what that third card was. If the third card was a 10, it pays 3:1. If the third card is a nine, it pays 6:1. If the third card was an eight, it pays 8:1. If the third card is a seven, it pays 10:1, and finally, the best deal of all happens if the third card is a six, because that pays out a whopping 15 to 1!

Because the game is played differently, the basic strategy for double attack blackjack is different than from traditional blackjack. The house edge for double attack blackjack is higher than in the traditional game. With most rules, the house edge is 0.62%, compared to 0.5% with traditional blackjack.

Blackjack Variations: Blackjack Switch

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Yesterday I tried a blackjack variation called “blackjack switch” for the first time. I had heard about the game but had never played it. I’ve yet to find a brick and mortar casino that offers blackjack switch, but you can find it sometimes online and of course in a game between friends you can play with whatever rules you want.

Blackjack switch is a variation that basically allows players to do something that is cheating (and a common cheating technique at that) in traditional blackjack. In this game, you play two hands at a time and have the opportunity to switch cards between the hands. For example, if you are dealt a hand of a 10 and 5 (15) and another hand of a Jack and 6 (16), you could swap the cards to make hands of 10-J (20) and 6-5 (13). In this scenario, making the switch is an easy decision because you traded two stiff hands for one stiff hand and a hand of 20.

Unless otherwise noted, the other rules in blackjack switch are the same as in traditional blackjack. However, to counteract the player advantage of allowing player switching, blackjacks only pay out 1:1 instead of the standard 3:2. Not only that, but the dealer basically has a one-point safety net. If the dealer draws a 22, which normally busts him, it is a push against any player hand except a 21, where the player would win. Drawing a 23 or higher does bust the dealer, though. Because of the rule making a dealer 22 a push, basic strategy for blackjack switch (after switching) is slightly different from traditional blackjack. There is also a generally accepted basic strategy for when to switch, but unlike regular blackjack basic strategy, it is far from simple and the complex strategy is not something I am going to delve into here.

Despite allowing players to switch cards, the house edge for this variation is slightly higher than with traditional blackjack. Playing perfect strategy, the house edge for this blackjack variation is 0.58%.