Although it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact moment in history when Blackjack was invented or even assumed the form that we know today, it is speculated that it is centuries old, with the first known reference of the game found in the literal work of Cervantes. With the onset and expansion of online casinos, Blackjack gained a new army of devotees. Younger generations of players have suddenly been exposed to this old school game and even though its appeal has never weakened, Blackjack managed to reach millennials and establish its position as one of the most popular card games of all times.
Another “revival” of Blackjack came with the introduction of Live Online Casinos, where its attraction has been proven once again as it became a standard part of the offer of literally every software provider on the market. Through a number of variants, the players can enjoy multi hand betting, different splitting, re-splitting and double up/double down rules as well as side bets or surrendering their hand.
Based on skills rather than luck, Blackjack continues to equally inspire the developers and players in pursue of competitive edge and the ultimate winning strategy. The low house edge is another Blackjack perk that adds value to this timeless card game; depending on the number of decks and payout table, the house edge can trend at around 1%, or even at the lower rate with an advanced strategy employed. Check out the best casinos for Blackjack players below.
Blackjack Characteristics and Strategies
Looking at the structure, it almost seems impossible that a game of such simplicity can keep a player engaged for hours on end. Thanks to its strategic potential, Blackjack allows for a certain degree of control which is usually absent from the life of a gambler.
The object of the game is simple enough – acquiring a hand as close as possible to the total of 21 without going overboard. Depending on the Blackjack variation, additional rules can be introduced, including Surrender, Insurance, Re-Splitting, S17 etc. While some are designed solely to increase the house edge, there are others that can be used to gain one’s advantage over the dealer. Putting it plainly, as long as the player follows the Blackjack strategy basics, the return to player percentage will remain on the higher side.
In Blackjack, the best known and most commonly used advanced strategies are Card Counting and Shuffle tracking.
This skill is pretty self-explanatory and not difficult to master. In a nutshell, card counting is a technique of tracking the cards by assigning them a value, which you will later subtract or add, getting a “true card count” and using it to plan your bets.
This technique is used together with card counting and it refers to deck shuffle analysis and keeping track of card chunks in order to be able to memorize the location of high and low cards.
Popular Blackjack Variants
Three main variants of Blackjack are Vegas Strip, Atlantic City and European style. They are differentiated by the number of card decks within the shoe and their interpretation of some standard rules, such as S17 rule, doubling, splitting, surrendering and peek/no peek.
- Atlantic City Blackjack is played with 6 decks and dealer must stand on soft 17 and peek for Blackjack on tens and Aces. Doubling is allowed on any two cards and after a split. Split hands can be re-split and the player can surrender the hand (agree on 50% bet loss on a risky hand).
- Vegas Strip Blackjack is pretty much identical to Atlantic variant in terms of S17 rule (dealer stands on soft 17), doubling and doubling after the split. Re-splitting and dealer peeks are also allowed, however, the player cannot surrender the hand and 8 decks are used.
- European Blackjack is usually played with 6 decks, although this number is not fixed. Doubling is allowed only on 9 – 11 totals and there is no re-splitting, surrendering or peeking.
Other popular variations are Double Exposure, Blackjack Switch, Progressive Blackjack and Perfect Pairs.
- With Double Exposure, dealers reveal their cards prior to the players making their final move. The advantage that this gives the players is obviously huge, but still restricted by the decrease of Blackjack payout ratio (1:1 as oppose to 3:2) and favouring the dealers on push hands.
- Another interesting deviation is Blackjack Switch, where the players have to handle an additional hand and switch the cards back and forward to increase their odds. The balance between the house edge and return to player is established through even money payout for the Blackjack hand. Also, the bets are pushed if the dealer busts with 22.
- Progressive Blackjack employs the same set of rules as the regular version, with a progressive side bet won by Aces. The payout increases with every additional Ace and the entire jackpot is won when the player is dealt with 4 suited Aces.
- Perfect Pairs Blackjack is pretty standard as well, with an extra bet for paired hands. Mixed Pairs come with 6 to 1 ratio, Coloured Pairs are paid 12 to 1 and Perfect Pairs have the highest payout potential of 25 to 1.