Online Black Jack Variations
Blackjack is among the most popular casino card games in the world – if not the most popular – and for good reason. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it has a perfect combo of skill and luck. It also allows for a personal playing style. Me, for example, I’m with the many of you who love challenging the dealer and feeling like part of a team with my fellow gamblers around the table.
And while there are a lot of ways to chase 21, I’ve come to realize many people don’t know something almost as critical – that there are in fact many varieties of the basic blackjack game available to play. In order to fix that hole in many a gambler’s knowledge, I picked out a few of my favourite blackjack spin-offs to profile here.
Spanish Blackjack or Spanish 21 — it goes by both — is one of the more popular blackjack spin-offs. Surprisingly, it has no connection to Spain or the Spanish language. In fact, history has it making its first appearance in Nevada USA around 1995. One of the first key differences between this version and the standard game is that in Spanish 21, all the 10 cards are removed from the deck. The dealer’s strategy will generally be the same as in regular blackjack, and players can hit, stand or split according to standard blackjack rules.
While players lose about a 2 percent advantage to the dealer with the 10 cards removed, there are other rules that close that gap considerably. For instance, a five-card 21 pays out 3:2, a six-card 21 pays 2:1, and a 21 with seven or more cards pays 3:1. Blackjacks composed of 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 pay 3:2, and suited 21s pay 2:1 except for spades, which pay 3:1. Because of all these funky payouts, smaller cards have more value in Spanish Blackjack than regular blackjack.
Rules can vary some between different Spanish Blackjack games, but the house edge for Spanish 21 is usually around 3 percent.
Hi-Lo-13 is basically the same game as standard European blackjack, but with one added twist. Players still try to beat the dealer by hitting, staying or folding, but before all that, they make one bonus bet. It can be a bit confusing, so read carefully. On the table, players can place chips in one of three circles: Lo, 13 or Hi. Players are betting on the sum of their first two cards, with 13 as the standard over/under. If you bet Lo, you’re wagering that the sum will be below 13. if you wager Hi, you’re betting for over 13. You can also bet for exactly 13 as your total. Lo and Hi bets pay out at 1:1, while a 13 bet pays out at 10:1.
It’s worth noting that for the purposes of Hi-Lo-13 betting, Aces always count as one. So if you’re dealt A-10, you’ll still win your 3:2 payout. However, for your Hi-Lo-13 bet, the total is 11, meaning this hand would only win a low bet.
The Hi-Lo-13 bets up the house edge slightly compared to regular blackjack, but since the rest of the game is still just regular old blackjack, there’s not much for new players to learn and adjust to. You can find Hi-Lo-13 Blackjack at many of our recommended casinos, including Lucky247 and Royal Vegas.
Pontoon is a variant of Spanish Online Blackjack that shakes things up even more. For starters, the dealer shows no hole card, meaning players have no indication of the dealer’s hand. If a player splits with an Ace in hand, the Ace must be played as a 1, and players are not allowed to draw after splitting Aces. The dealer will always hit on soft 17s.
Pontoon also has what’s known as a Super Bonus. This occurs when players draw a suited 7-7-7 and the dealer has a 7 face-up. The bonus pays $1,000 for bets of $5-$24 and $5,000 for bets over $25. The odds of hitting the bonus are 1 in 668,382 in six deck games, but it’s worth watching out for.
Mostly because the dealer shows no hole cards — and thus can’t end the game with a blackjack — the house edge for Pontoon is even slimmer than in Spanish 21. Pontoon blackjack is very popular among players at online gambling halls, and can be found in many of our recommended casinos, including Betway Casino.
It’s a little more rare to find Double Exposure in the online community, but you can access it at casinos like Lucky247. The game is very similar to regular blackjack, with one significant twist — rather than deal with one hole card, the dealer gives him or herself two face-up cards, so everyone at the table knows what the dealer has off the bat. The house gets back some edge because blackjacks pay out 1:1 instead of 3:2, and players lose ties with the dealer.
Some blackjack games give players the option to surrender. You won’t take advantage of this option often if you’re following optimal blackjack strategy, but it can help. If the table you’re at has dealers stand on a soft 17, you’ll want to surrender a 16 versus a 9, 10 or Ace, and 15 versus a 10. If the dealer hits on a soft 17, surrender 15 versus a 10 or Ace; 16 versus a 9, 10 or Ace; 17 versus an Ace; and an 8-8 versus an Ace.
In Switch, players are dealt two hands instead of one, and are allowed to “switch” the top card from their hand if they so desire. This gives players more control and creates the opportunity for more blackjacks, although the house picks back up on its edge by only paying 1:1 on blackjacks. Also, if a dealer gets a hard 22, he or she pushes with all player hands except a natural blackjack.
This is the big money game, for those in search of the millions! Similar to regular blackjack, Progressive Blackjack differs only in that it offers players an optional side bet for a chance to win an accumulating progressive jackpot. Players take chunks of the jackpot by drawing Aces. The more Aces drawn, the bigger the share of the pot received. If a player draws four Aces in a single hand, he or she wins the entire pot.