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American Blackjack Variants

By: rkingsley, Monday November 21st 2011
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American and Europeans like to do things differently, and this extends to blackjack rules in land casinos. Most blackjack players would be aware of the No Hole Card Rule in European Blackjack that differentiates it from the American variant. Some blackjack players may be aware that the blackjack rules are different in Las Vegas and in Atlantic City casinos. But it may come as a surprise that even within Las Vegas the rules differ marginally between the casinos on The Strip and those in Downtown Vegas.

The No Hole Card Rule is a good place to start. In the Las Vegas casinos when the dealer's face up card has a 10 value he has to check the hole card for an Ace before the player makes any move. If the dealer has a blackjack the player loses immediately. He is thus prevented from adding on to his losses by doubling or splitting his bet. In Europe the dealer does not check for blackjack up front. Only after the players have completed their moves is the second card exposed. If the dealer has a blackjack then players lose not only their ante wagers, but the wagers on doubling and splitting as well. Atlantic City casinos have an interesting practice. They follow the European procedure of the dealer not checking for blackjack up front. But if the dealer is dealt a blackjack then the players' wagers on doubling and splitting are returned and they lose only the ante wagers. Hence the end result is the same as the Vegas blackjack variants. The house edge is higher by about 0.11% in European Blackjack on account of this.

The Vegas Strip Blackjack and the Vegas Downtown Blackjack have almost identical rules. In fact there is only one difference. In Vegas Strip Blackjack the dealer must draw on all total of 16 or less and stand on all totals of 17 or more. In Vegas Downtown Blackjack the dealer must draw to soft 17. Hence the Vegas Strip blackjack variant is more advantageous to the player. The house edge is higher by about 0.21% in Vegas Downtown Blackjack on account of this.

There are also some differences between Vegas Strip Blackjack and Atlantic City Blackjack. The dealer's rules for hitting and standing are, however, the same. In Atlantic City Blackjack identical pairs can be split only once. Resplitting is not allowed. In Vegas Strip Blackjack identical pairs may be split, resplit and drawn to as desired with the exception of split Aces. In the case of split Aces the player is allowed only one hit on each Ace. This gives a slight advantage in house edge of about 0.09% to Vegas Strip Blackjack. In Atlantic City Blackjack players can double after splitting cards. In Vegas Strip Blackjack they cannot do so. The advantage in this case lies with Atlantic City Blackjack. This facility lowers the house edge by about 0.15%.

Most online gaming software providers offer Vegas Strip Blackjack as the American blackjack variant against European Blackjack. Microgaming has a fantastic portfolio of online blackjack variants. It offers all three American variants at its online casinos. Players at Microgaming online casinos like All Slots, Platinum Play, River Belle and Golden Riviera can wager on Vegas Strip Blackjack, Vegas Downtown Blackjack and Atlantic City Blackjack.

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