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Microgaming Online Big Five Blackjack

By: Joan Peppin, Monday July 1st 2013
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The leading software provider Microgaming offers a variant of blackjack titled Big Five Blackjack at its online casinos. The “big five” obviously refers to the big five of the South African safari, which are lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino. This is evident from the logo displayed on the blackjack table. The only other connection to “five” is that the online blackjack game is played with five decks. This is an unusual number for blackjack games. Big Five Blackjack is a Microgaming Gold Series game and is available in both single hand and multi hand formats. The multi hand format allows players to play five hands against the dealer hand.

The rules of Microgaming Big Five Blackjack are a mix of the rules from the more standard versions of the game. These can be accessed by moving the cursor over the Game Rules icon on the screen. This blackjack variant is meant for big game hunters with the minimum table bet being 5 credits and the maximum being 1,000 credits. Big Five Blackjack is based on the European version. The dealer’s hole card is not dealt and there is no peeking for blackjack by the dealer upfront. The other significant rule for the dealer is that he hits on a total of soft 17. Both these rules offer a slight advantage to the house which is made up by giving some benefits to the player.

Players can double down on any two cards and even double down after a split. Players can split three times to make four hands. Even unlike cards valued at 10 can be split, like a jack and a queen. However, aces can be split only once and only one card will be dealt to split aces. A split ace and ten value card count as a normal 21 value hand and not as a blackjack. One of the important rules is that early surrender is allowed. In online blackjack variants that allow the dealer to check for blackjack, surrender may be allowed only after the checking process is complete. This form of surrender, known as late surrender, is not applicable in Big Five Blackjack. The surrender option entails the player losing half his ante wager and hence must be sparingly used in order to be effective. In Big Five Blackjack, the optimum strategy dictates that early surrender must be exercised only under the following conditions: the dealer’s face up card is 9 and the player’s hand value is 16 or the dealer’s face up card is a 10 value card and the player’s hand value is 14, 15 or 16 (including pairs).

The game play of Microgaming Big Five Blackjack begins with the player placing the ante bet. The player is dealt two cards and the dealer one card, all face up. Immediately the player is asked if he wants to surrender or not. If the player chooses to play on, he is given the options of hit, stand and double down. The option to split is added if applicable. Then the game play proceeds as in regular blackjack variants. Players need to use optimum strategy in order to achieve the 99.5% average returns that Big Five Blackjack offers. Therefore using the Auto Play feature in Expert Mode is recommended. It automatically uses the strategy card. Big Five Blackjack can be played at all Microgaming online casinos like Platinum Play, Crazy Vegas and River Belle.

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