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Gold Series European Blackjack is an online game of 21 offered at Microgaming casinos. Assuming you follow perfect basic strategy, European Blackjack offers a house edge of only 0.62%, making it one of the best games in online casino gaming. This is the game played at many of the land-based casinos in Europe, including Monte Carlo. With time tested rules crafted to include challenges and advantages, this is one of the most popular versions of the game on the Internet.
This page discusses why you might want to play this variation. It also covers the house edge, pertinent rules, and why this game is better than many of the other Microgaming selections. We’ll also discuss, in brief, how the Gold Series games work.
Because of its high payout percentage, blackjack is a popular game in live casinos and in Internet casinos. It isn’t popular just because it’s the most exciting game. The roll of the dice in craps is more exciting hand to hand, while the heads-up challenge of staring down an opponent in poker make that game such a standout. Even pokies have bigger thrills, because of the progressive jackpots which (occasionally) hit and make someone rich.
Blackjack, on the other hand, can be a grind. The payouts tend to be 1:1 or 3:2 at most, so it’s not as if you have a huge swing on any one hand, unless you play for high stakes. The game is so popular because it offers the best odds in the casino. The house edge is often 0.50% or less, meaning a player wins back $99.50 of every $100 they wager. Besides full pay video poker and a few special bets in various games, it’s the best game to play if you watch your money.
Blackjack makes you earn your money, though. Strategy is a major part of the fun. While pokies are entertaining enough, they have no strategy component. If you play 21, you’ll need to study basic strategy.
If you’re really dedicated, you’ll become a card counter. Most people don’t want that level of dedication for what’s still a marginal advantage. Most people could count cards if they wanted to, but it’s not recommended unless you combine a mathematical brain with a theatrical streak, because you’ll have to pretend to be something you aren’t or risk getting barred from the casino.
Even if you aren’t going to become that involved, you need to learn what the rules mean for your game. Is a single deck better than a soft-17 dealer rule? Does limited splitting offset a decent surrender rule? These are the questions you’ll need to ask yourself when you search for the table you want.
European Blackjack is a good example to look at when asking these questions. The dealer must stand on a soft 17, which is rare in many other versions of 21. That’s offset by the fact the deck is actually 6 decks, while the splitting rules limit your opportunities to win consistently. Doubling after a split is legal, but only on hard totals of 9 through 11.
One rule stipulates there’s no peeking. So if the dealer holds a blackjack, you won’t know until after you play, at which point you’ll lose your entire wager. Once again, that’s not how the game plays out in many casinos around the world.
The rule forcing the dealer to stand on a soft 17 lowers the house edge by 0.22%. That’s good news, considering the next couples of rules stipulations.
The dealer does not peek to see if he or she has a blackjack. That’s not a good rule for players, because it means a natural 21 causes you to lose all your money (unless you have a blackjack). That means money you doubled or the money bet on extra hands from splitting. No peeking lowers your odds of having a winning hand by 0.11%, which is just slightly worse for you than the next rule.
The rules of European Blackjack only let you split on a 9, 10, or 11. Again, this lowers your odds by 0.09%. That’s not a disastrous rule for players, but every bit the house edge goes up takes money out of your pocket.
European Blackjack allows a player to double after splitting cards. This increases your payout percentage by a total of 0.14%, which recoups a big chunk of the money lost on the previous two rules.
As you can see, any given variation in how the game is played forces smart players to reevaluate the game. It’s not as simple as finding a single deck game and assuming you have the best game in the casino. Many casinos offer single deck blackjack along with several bad rules, just hoping to lure gamblers who don’t know any better into playing at that table. For example, single deck games often only offer a 6 to 5 payout on a natural, which is a much bigger disadvantage to the player than most people think.
When all is said and done, the payout percentage on European Blackjack is 0.62%. This represents slightly worse odds than you’ll find on a game of classic blackjack played with most of the standard rules.
The rule which keeps dealing from hitting on a soft 17 might be worth it to some players to play this version of the game. Knowing the dealer holds one more chance to get lucky is a bad feeling in casino gambling, so this rule ends a lot of hands quicker than otherwise.
Players can find the Microgaming Gold Series in all the up to date casinos powered by the software company. The only reason you might want to try the older software is if you want to place the lowest bets. In some games, the minimum bet is $1, while the Gold Series sometimes has a low limit of $5. If you prefer low stakes blackjack, you might avoid the Gold Series. Otherwise, give Microgaming’s best version of their 21 games a try.