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Hole Card Rule Variations In Blackjack

By: Adam Richards, Tuesday August 18th 2009
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The game of blackjack has always been played in the casinos in Europe and America. However the game has evolved differently in the casinos of different regions. Broadly three regions are can be identified with different sets of rules. Two are in the United States. These are Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The third region is Europe. Microgaming and Cryptologic offer all three versions in their online casinos. The rules in these three regions differ in a number of ways. Important points of differences are how the dealer handles a hand value of 17, rules for splitting and doubling and how the hole card is treated.

In the two American variants of blackjack the dealer deals himself two cards, one of which is face up and the other is face down. The dealer's face down card is called the hole card. Under certain circumstances the hole card comes into play before the players make their moves. In the European version most often the face down card is not dealt at all. Hence this version is known as a 'no hole' variation. At other times the hole card is dealt but never comes into play till all the players have made their moves. Hence this version is also effectively a 'no hole' variation.

In the two American versions the no hole card comes into play if the dealer's face up card is an ace or a ten value card. Though the Las Vegas and Atlantic City blackjack rules differ in other respects they are the same for the hole card. In case the face up card is an ace the dealer asks the players to place the insurance bet if they want to. He then checks for blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack then the players who did not insure lose their original wagers and the players who did insure end up quits. If the dealer does not have a blackjack then the players who had insured lose their insurance wager and the players start making their moves.

In case the face up card is a ten value card then the players cannot buy insurance. The dealer will check his hole card and if it is an ace then he will reveal his blackjack. All the players then lose their wagers. However if players also have a blackjack the bets push. If the dealer does not have a blackjack then the game proceeds normally.

In European blackjack if the dealer's face up card is an ace, he will ask the players if they want to insure. Then the players start making their moves in turn. If the dealer has been dealt a hole card he will turn it over after all the players are standing or bust. If the dealer has not been dealt a hole card he will deal the second card face up.

The question arises what difference does the hole card or no hole card make to the player. The player may want to make additional wagers in splitting or doubling after the initial cards are dealt. In the American games the player takes this decision after the dealer checks for blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack then the player loses immediately and will not split or double and therefore does not lose the additional amount. In European blackjack the player takes the decision to split or double without the dealer checking for blackjack. If the dealer eventually has a blackjack then the player loses the amount wagered on the split or double moves. Therefore the American variants of Las Vegas and Atlantic City offer an advantage as far as the hole card rule is concerned. Players wagering on European blackjack should be less aggressive in their split and double moves.

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