Blackjack is one of those casino games which offers countless novel variations. A player who wants to enjoy every single blackjack variant known to humanity is going to be playing a while. In this article, I want to discuss the most common game options available. Most of the novelty games I’ll be talking about are more readily available online than in brick and mortar casinos, but this isn’t always the case.
Match-play 21 is a game where you get a 40:1 payout if you hit a particular kind of 21. You’ll need three 7?s while the dealer holds a 7, too. Before you say that’s next to impossible, let me explain why this isn’t as rare in matchplay 21. All cards with the value of ten are pulled from the deck. That’s called a Spanish deck. So the tens, jacks, queens, and kings are taken from the deck, leaving 36 of 52 cards. In most games, 6 decks are used, which means 24 different 7?s are in the shoe. The chances of drawing a seven are 1-in-9 instead of 1-in-13, so all of this increase your chances of hitting those 7. The house edge on the best version of this game is 0.76%
Australian pontoon is known by the name “Spanish 21? in many countries around the globe. Once again, Spanish 21 is played with the 10?s, jacks, queens, and kings taken out of the deck. The same 777 hand when the dealer is showing 7 pays out $1,000 if you bet between $5 an $24. If you wagered $25 or more, the bet pays out at $5,000. In either case, the rest of the players at your table receive an envy bonus of $50 apiece. The 678 twenty-one has a 3 to 2 payout for a mixed suit, a 2 to 1 for same color, and 3 to 1 for all-spades. The 5-card hand 21 pays out 3:2, while the 6-card twenty-one pays out 2:1 and the 7-card twenty-one pays out 3:1. Of course, no natural 21 appears in the game, so despite all these rules, Australian pontoon still doesn’t have the best odds in an online casino. A 0.58% house edge is still nice for optimal play. Compare that with roulette odds for a real eye-opener.
Pontoon is one of the oldest variations of twenty-one. Pontoon also has some of the best odds, though you need to check rules to make sure no game changer is stipulated. In this game, a natural twenty-one is called a “pontoon”. The pontoon is best hand. The second best hand is the 5-card trick, which is defined as any five card combination you hold, if you haven’t busted. The house edge on pontoon is 0.38%, one of the best set of game odds I’ve seen anywhere.
Double exposure is also known as face-up 21 in certain online casinos. This is the game where both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face-up. To offset this significant advantage for you, the natural twenty-one only pays at 1 to 1. Also, any ties (besides the natural 21) are won by the dealer. This creates a game with a few difficult moments–when you receive a three-card 21 and still lose, for example. At the same time, the house edge is a respectable 0.85%.
Also called “switch” by some online casinos, the dealer in this game deals you two sets of cards. Players have the option of switching the top card in their hand, hoping to build a better hand. So if you hold an ace-ace and a 8-10, you would switch the ace and make hands of ace-10 and 8-ace. Players can build a lot of strong hands in switch, but they lose when they tie the dealer. The house edge sits at 0.58%, if you have 6 decks, the dealer stands on a soft 17, and other Las Vegas rules are in-effect.
This is the game where players have the option of surrendering, which means they lose half their wager automatically, instead of losing the whole wager on a loss. Surrender is a rule which allows people to lower the house edge if they know what they’re doing. Since most don’t understand when to surrender (and do so too often), novice players lose more money on this game than they should. Certain situations offer you less than a 50/50 chance of winning.
Progressive twenty-one offers a side bet which allows a player to win a progressive jackpot. The progressive jackpot prize is all the rage in many casino games these days, because the payouts offer players a chance at a lottery-sized winning pot. The problem with the progressive side bet is it comes with a house edge as bad as the pokies. It should be taken as a rule in casino gambling that the side bet always offers worse odds than the main bet. That’s certainly the case in this game–you pay for that small chance you’re going to win a huge jackpot.
Super-fun 21 offers a whole bunch of advantageous rules for players, but adds in one bad rule from a better’s perspective: the 1:1 natural twenty-one payout. The game offers a payout between 0.94% to 1.42%, depending on the rules being played. This makes super-fun 21, which is called super-21 at many online casinos, one of the worst twenty-one games from a player’s perspective. This is relative, since superfun 21 has better odds than most games. Still, if you’re going to flirt with greater than 1% odds, you might as well play baccarat or craps, which don’t require you to master strategy in order to get the nice house edge.
These novel variations of the game blackjack are among the most common you’ll find in the Internet gambling industry. Additional games like “multi-hand blackjack” also exist. I recommend avoiding multiple hands of any game with a house edge, because it encourages players to gamble more money than they should to get a similar thrill. A big part of twenty-one’s appeal is the ability to master the game’s strategy, so try to focus on the select variations above and study how to excel under these rules.