How to Handle Blackjack Variations
On the face of it blackjack is a simple game. The objective is to have a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer without going bust. However if the fine print of the rules is itemized then one finds about ten items that impact the payout percentage of the game. These include factors like number of decks, whether the dealer hits or stands on a total of soft 17 and how many times can a hand be respilt. Online casino software providers have mixed and matched these rules in order to create subtle variations in the blackjack games. Microgaming alone provides about 50 variants. When the variants of the other software providers are added the number would increase significantly.

Therefore it is essential for the discerning gambler to understand the variants and the impact they have on the payout percentage. This will help the players to choose the more appropriate variant of blackjack from this point of view. One of the most important factors is the number of decks used in the game. Online blackjack games are played with between one and eight decks. Again using Microgaming as an example, Vegas Single Deck Blackjack Gold is played with one deck, Bonus Blackjack Gold is played with two decks, Big Five Blackjack Gold is played with five decks and Microgaming European Blackjack uses eight decks. The simple tip is that as the number of decks increases the expected payout percent decreases. Therefore players are best equipped playing games with single decks.

Another key rule is whether the dealer is whether the dealer should hit or stand on a total of soft 17. A soft total has an ace that can take the value of 11. If the dealer is allowed to hit on a soft 17 he gets the chance to convert the value of his ace to 1 and thus is likely to increase his hand value. Hence the payout percent to the player is expected to be better if the dealer is forced to stand on a soft 17 and therefore players should look for those variations. In Vegas Single Deck Blackjack Gold the dealer hits on a soft 17 whereas in Classic Blackjack Gold the dealer stands on a soft 17.

In general restricting the options of a player results in a decrease in the expected payout percent. Some of the restrictive impositions in common use are not allowing a player to double after a split, restricting resplitting to two times and not allowing a player to respilt aces. Therefore players should avoid those blackjack variants that have these restrictive provisions.

However the issue is not so simple. Each of the above discussions assumes that other conditions are constant. This is rarely so. Online gaming software providers combine the favorable and unfavorable conditions. But this is not a cause for worry. There are several blackjack calculators available on the Internet. Players need to plug in the conditions and get the numerical value of the expected payout percent. This leads to a simple comparison of the blackjack games.


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Comment by: Perl N. On: August 13, 2009
Sticking to the basic blackjack either classic blackjack, Vegas strip blackjack or Atlantic city style blackjack for newbies I would say is the way to go. Later on as one get's more comfortable with blackjack and the different variations including those that allow for side bets should be considered for play. But I really thing always that starting out should be begin with the basics. I know that most players who play slots for example will start out on 3 reels and then move onto video slots. It just makes sense!

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