European Blackjack

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European Blackjack is one of the most frequently played versions of Blackjack in the world, it’s almost identical to the classic Blackjack game we play here in Canada. The main differences are that it’s played with two decks, there’s no hole card for the dealer, and the rules vary for doubling down, splitting, and a few other things.

Pros and cons

  • Slightly better odds than traditional Blackjack
  • Easier to count cards
  • No dealer hole card
  • More restrictive splitting rules than traditional Blackjack
If you love the skill aspect of Blackjack, then European Blackjack is the game for you.

Rules of European Blackjack

European Blackjack does not reinvent the Blackjack wheel.. In fact, if you are already familiar with the classic Blackjack game (aka American Blackjack), then you’re just about ready to get started. There are just a few little details to keep in mind:

Two decks of cards: American Blackjack is played with anywhere from 6-8 decks of cards. European Blackjack, on the other hand (pun intended), is always played with exactly two standard decks, each with 52 cards.

No hole card: The lack of a hole card for the dealer is considered the other big differentiation here. Instead of one face-up card and one face-down card dealt to the dealer at the beginning of play, the dealer receives one face-up card at the beginning of the deal, and a face-down card only after all players have finalized their bets. This is especially pertinent in land-based play, as the dealer no longer has the advantage of peeking at his card to decide when to stand and when to hit. This is relevant to online blackjack play because without the hole card, there’s no option for the dealer to immediately declare Blackjack, and end any additional wagering.

Splitting your cards: While splitting is allowed, it is much more limited than in American Blackjack. Here you can split only once (as opposed to three times) to make up a total of two hands (as opposed to four hands), and only on like valued cards ranging from 10-Kings (as opposed to any pair of cards).

Doubling down: When playing European Blackjack, you can only double down – that is to say double your initial wager – on hands totalling 9, 10 or 11, and you cannot double down on cards that you have split. This is far less flexible than American Blackjack, which allows you to double down on any hand, including split hands.

No surrender: In European Blackjack there’s no option to surrender, which means you win you win, you lose, you lose. There’s no halfway here.

Reach 21: Other than the above, the game remains pretty much the same, with the goal being to reach a card total of 21, or as close as possible, and in so doing, beating the dealer’s hand.

Odds in European Blackjack

Consistent odds at 3:2: One of the things people really like about European Blackjack is its simplicity. This is especially true when it comes to odds, which will always be paid out at a rate of 3:2 on a Blackjack win – no matter which establishment you’re frequenting.

Reducing the house edge: There are two factors that reduce the house edge in this game. One is the fact that it’s played with two decks as opposed to 6-8 decks (fewer cards = better odds + easier to count cards). The other factor is that the dealer stands on a soft 17. On the other hand, limited splitting options and no doubling down on splits somewhat counters this house edge.

Blackjack with better odds: At the end of the day all Blackjack games have very similar odds. Some would say the American game is easier to win due to its slightly relaxed rules, but if this is the case, it’s only to a marginal degree.

Variations of European Blackjack

As the name implies, European Blackjack can be played at just about every casino in Europe. The same goes for Canadian casinos, where the game also makes frequent appearances. As for online play, most internet casinos will have at least a standard European version. For something extra, there are games like European Blackjack Gold available at most Microgaming casinos.

Top 5 European Blackjack Tips

For every casino game you play, there are always a few basics to keep in mind. For European Blackjack, we suggest the following:

  • Hit if you have 17 or lower
  • Stand with 18, unless the dealer’s showing a 9, 10 value card, or Ace
  • Stand if you have 19 or higher
  • Take advantage of the option to double down when you have a 10 or 11 and the dealer has 9 or lower
  • New to the game? Get started playing free European Blackjack at any of our recommended casinos

Conclusion

European Blackjack is a mainstay of casinos in Europe, and rather popular in Canadian casinos as well. Played with fewer cards (just two decks), it’s particularly well loved by those who are adept at card counting, and has a few unique features such as the lack of a dealer hole card, that give you an added edge. Looking to play? Save yourself the flight and pop on by any of our recommended European Blackjack casinos instead!

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