Blackjack Variations You Should Know About
By: Rick Balding, Monday September 1st 2008
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There are several variations of blackjack available in online casinos. To the player who has not perfected basic blackjack strategy these variations may not have an impact, because the money he loses due to imperfect play is more than the money he loses due to house edge. But for the serious long-term online player these variations can have significant impact and the sooner he learns about them the better. To be able to choose a game with the lowest house edge makes it easier to end up on the winning side.
Online casinos have blackjack games with the number of decks varying from one to eight. As the number of decks increases so does the house edge and therefore the chances of winning decrease. Players should opt for the blackjack variations that are played with fewer decks. In fact under some conditions the single deck game has a negative house edge, which means that good players will always make money in the long run.
Some blackjack variants allow the dealer to hit on a total of soft 17, whereas other variations force the dealer to stand. If the dealer is allowed to hit then he has the option of valuing the ace as 1 and staying in the game. Hence it is advantageous to the dealer if he is allowed to hit on a total of soft 17. The players must therefore head for those online casinos where the blackjack rules compel the dealer to stand on a total of soft 17.
In many online blackjack games the dealer is dealt a second card face down, which is known as a hole card. If the dealer’s first card is an ace or a 10-value card then he peeks at his hole card. If he has drawn a blackjack the game ends with the player losing before making a move (unless the player has a blackjack as well, in which case there is a tie). Hence this rule denies the player the opportunity of drawing cards and tying with the dealer in which case the bet pushes. Some online blackjack games do not deal a second card to the dealer. These are known as no hole card games. Hence the dealer does not check for blackjack and the player has a chance of tying. The no hole card games therefore give the player an advantage.
Some blackjack variations impose restrictions on players that obviously handicap the players and increase the house edge. Some such variations are not allowing players to double after a split, imposing restrictions on when players can double, imposing restrictions on re-splitting and not allowing players to surrender.
The task of choosing an appropriate variation is not as easy as it seems. Online casinos mix and match favorable rules with unfavorable ones so that it becomes difficult to assess the net result. Fortunately blackjack sites provide tables that quantify changes in house edges and blackjack players would do well to study these.
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