Atlantic City Blackjack is a common game offered by many online casinos, especially those which use Microgaming software. This is a version of the rules made famous in the casinos of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The new games played in these places don’t always have a lot in common with their online namesakes, so take the naming with a pinch of salt. Microgaming offers several versions of online Atlantic City blackjack, which I’ll discuss in detail later. For now, let’s look at the basic rules of this game.
Atlantic City is played with 8 decks of cards. The house lets you split up to three times, meaning you can play up to four hands on any given round of play. The 3-split rule doesn’t apply to aces, which can be split only once. Once you split the aces, each ace only receives one extra card. You have about a 30% chance of getting a 10-rank card for a 21 (which isn’t considered a blackjack). Even getting an 8 or 9 isn’t so bad, but when deals another ace you’ll hold 12, while the 2?s, 3?s, 4?s, and 5?s are much dreaded. On the positive side of things, any card which is the same value as another (like 10, jack, queen, or king) is considered a matched pair. If you receive a 10-queen or a jack-king on the deal, you can split these cards.
“Late surrender” occurs after the dealer has checked for a natural. If after the dealer peeks you can surrender, then you lose half your wager and forfeit the hand. This is the most common rule you’ll see, but not the best from your perspective. Early surrender is a better rule for your payout percentage, because it lets you surrender in those instances when the dealer shows a potential for a natural 21 after his or her up-card is dealt. In other words, if the dealer get a blackjack, in a late surrender game, you lose the whole bet.
Late surrender is a tool for reducing the house edge, but a player must know when to take a late surrender. Those situations are specific. If the dealer holds a 9-11, take a late surrender when you hold a 16. Anytime the dealer holds a 10, take late surrender when holding a 15. Statistics show (when running computer simulations) that surrendering in these situations is optimal strategy. Be secure in the knowledge that you should not take late surrender at any other time.
Whichever card players are dealt, you can double down on those first 2 cards. If you split cards, you can choose to double down. Remember that you won’t be able to split more than once, so if you want more action during a hand, you’ll need to double down after splitting the one time.
The dealer stands on all 17 hands, including soft 17. This is an important rule for the sake of your payout percentage, as few other single rules in 21 change the house edge as much. When the dealer holds either a 10 or an ace, he or she peeks to see if they hold a 21. The peek on 10 includes kings, queens, and jacks.
Blackjack using Microgaming’s Gold Series software offers enhanced graphics and sound quality. The game picture is sharper and more vivid, and the view is from a slightly different angle. The sounds are clearer. Also, the minimum bets are $5, while the minimum bets on the original software are $1. The game you’ll play is otherwise going to be the same on either type of software. Unless you want to play for a dollar, choose the Gold Series games every time.
Not only can you play Gold Series 21, but Microgaming also offers multi-hand blackjack. You can play up to 5 hands at a time, which usually assures you’ll win a hand or two every round of gaming. The only problem is, the more hands of blackjack you see, the more likely the house edge plays out like the probabilities suggest they should. The house edge suggests you’ll lose slightly more than you’ll win, so you put yourself at greater risk of losing more money per hour when you play the multihand blackjack games from Microgaming. Still, this is fun option, if you remember to keep your bets low enough you can afford to play.
The house edge on Atlantic City blackjack, assuming you follow perfect basic strategy, is 0.36%. This puts the game much in line with Vegas single-deck 21, Vegas Strip 21, and other such games from Microgaming. It goes without saying these are some of the best games you can play in a live setting or at an online casino.
We’ve heard people call blackjack a grind, but it’s a grind you (usually) don’t have to pay as much to play. It’s fun to play games which aren’t pure luck, and it allows skill to affect the odds. Why that would be a grind and hitting a button on a pokie wouldn’t be, I can’t say.
Online players need to know that all hands are reshuffled. Card counting doesn’t help increase your odds in the Internet game. That might disappoint those who hoped to play at a positive expectation, but that’s simply not much of a possibility in online blackjack. The good news is you can play game almost at 100%. Just avoid betting 5 times as much as you normally would on the multi-hand blackjack and you should be able to get the maximum amount of fun for your gambling dollar.