Blackjack Variants

As soon as you get to grips with how to play blackjack, you’ll be able to branch out and see how these basics are applied to different variants of the game. As twenty-one is one of the most well-known casino games the world over, it’s no surprise that numerous versions of blackjack have emerged over the years. While variations to the game with actual distinctions to the rules, odds and payouts are more prominent in land-based casinos, innovative versions have found their way to live casino too.

Popular live dealer blackjack variants

Almost all the live dealer blackjack games found online follow the conventional format. What sets each one apart is usually some atypical concept or table theme that doesn’t actually change how the game is played. You’ll find that it’s mostly the overall gaming experience that differs between one table and another. Let’s take a look at the prevalent ones and see which one suits your style.

Infinite Blackjack

Infinite Blackjack is a unique take on the classic game of twenty-one. It’s played with a universal (i.e. common) hand instead of the standard seven. In other words, every player at the table (there are unlimited seats in this game, by the way) receives identical cards but can choose to react to the hand independently of how others play.

Free Bet Blackjack

Remember Geoff Hall from earlier on? Well, he invented another blackjack variant in 2012 named Free Bet Blackjack. The concept is all in the name. After you place your initial wager, you needn’t risk any money to split or double down – you can do so for free.

Types of bets, rules and odds

Some of the usual rules of blackjack remain unchanged in Free Bet Blackjack. It’s played with a standard English deck and you can still double-down and split on hands other than the ones mentioned below. You simply won’t be able to do so for free. Let’s look at the basic rules first.

Game rules:

Free double down on hand 9,10,11;

Free Split on all pairs except 10, J, Q, K;

Side Bets: Hot 3, Three of a kind, Any pair, bust it

Now onto your two options – free doubles and free splits – in more detail. You’ll receive a free double on two-card hands of 9s, 10 and 11s by being dealt an additional card. If you win on a free double wager, you’ll receive your original bet as well as winnings equal to double your wager. On the other hand, if the dealer wins, you’ll only lose your original wager whereas if the hand results in a push, your original wager will be returned.

Free splits are available on all pairs excluding 10, J, Q, K. Your initial bet is placed on one of the split hands while the other receives a free bet button. Should your free split hand win, you’ll be paid an amount equal to your original wager. However, if the round results in a push or loss, the dealer simply reclaims the free bet marker.

Live Blackjack Party

Live blackjack party tables are best if you love a bit of chatter as you choose how to act on your cards. These games are led by at least two live dealers who talk about news, gossip and the latest happenings between themselves and the players. It’s an ordinary, seven-seat table with a party atmosphere and constant interaction.

VIP Live Blackjack

This is probably the simplest blackjack variant to grasp as the only thing that varies gameplay-wise are the minimum and maximum bet levels. Almost all live casino providers offer at least one high-roller version of their blackjack game. It’s usually set in a chicer studio set-up but other than that the game is played in the same way.

Salon Prive Blackjack

Salon Privé is a super-elegant, high-end VIP environment offering high maximum bets and enhanced player control at single-player private tables. As usual entry is subject to minimum bankroll requirements, with players receiving the highest levels of personal one-to-one service and being able to exercise control over the dealer, the shuffle and the deal. The Salon Privé variant takes place in a private environment with just one player. All communication with the dealer is therefore one-to-one.

Provided the player’s requests are reasonable, they can request:

Change of dealer or retain the existing dealer

The player can request a shuffle at anytime

The player can occupy all seven Blackjack seats

Popular land-based blackjack variants

Now let’s move on and take a look at land-based blackjack variants. You’ve more than likely heard of some of these versions as they’ve been around far longer than their online counterparts mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, live casino adaptations of the games listed below are seldom found online however you may come across RNG versions. Regardless, a few of the famous ones are detailed below with an explanation of their own rules, payouts and more. You never know when a provider may choose to release a live version of one of these games or when your next trip to your local casino might be so keep them handy!

Spanish 21

Spanish 21 (sometimes referred to as Spanish Blackjack), as it’s known today, dates back to the mid-90s but some online sources claim it can be traced further back. This is because Miguel de Cervantes makes reference to a Spanish baraja deck in his fifteenth-century novel Don Quixote. Legend has it that the modern version of the game was brought to Nevada by a casino employee and current ownership of this variant is held by Masque Publishing Inc.

Types of bets, rules and odds

First things first, Spanish 21 is played with decks of 48-playing cards or standard decks with the four 10 cards removed. The main principles of a traditional blackjack game still apply in that the game objective remains the same, the cards themselves are valued in the usual way (check out the How to play page if you need a refresher) and players compete against the dealer.There are some significant rule differences between the Spanish 21 variant and regular blackjack. While these will differ from casino to casino, you can become familiar with the main ones below. Just be sure to check which ones apply before you play.

Game rules:

Played with 6 and 8 decks;

Dealer can hit or stand on soft 17;

Blackjack pays 3:2;

Insurance pays 2:1;

Some hands, such as a five, six, and seven-card 21 may pay a bonus;

Player blackjack wins even when the dealer has a blackjack;

Player 21 wins even when the dealer has a 21;

Can double down on any number of cards and double after pair splitting;

Late surrender is always allowed;

Players can also surrender after doubling, pair splitting and hitting;

Players can resplit pairs up to four hands including aces.

Blackjack Switch

Have you ever been dealt a weak hand and wished you had the opportunity to swap one of your cards to gain an edge? Well, you’re not alone. Doing so would normally get your name on a casino’s black book, so that’s why one British advantage player by the name of Geoff Hall came up with Blackjack Switch. The game took off at land-based casinos and its inventor patented the game in 2009.

Types of bets, rules and odds

If you choose to play Blackjack Switch, you’ll be dealt two hands instead of one. You’ll then have the opportunity to review your cards and swap the second card dealt to each hand. To be able to do so, you’ll need to make two equal bets first. Consider the example below to see this in practice:

Say you have a 4-Ace hand and a Queen-7 hand. These total to 15 and 17 respectively which are mediocre hand totals. In this variant, you’re given the opportunity to swap the Ace and 7 cards with one another. You’ll end up with a blackjack (result!) and a hard eleven on which you have an increased chance of winning too. Keep in mind that switching is optional. If you’re lucky enough to receive two good hands in the first two rounds, there’s no pressure to trade cards.

The rules of Blackjack Switch will vary from casino to casino but you’ll find the main ones listed below. Do check which of these apply to your chosen game before you play.

Game rules:

Two equal sized initial bets must be placed;

The top cards of each initial hand may be swapped to your other hand;

If the dealer has a blackjack, there is no option to switch;

Played with 4, 6 and 8 52-card decks;

Dealer usually hits on a soft 17;

Blackjack only pays 1:1;

Players can double down on any two cards even after switching;

Players can double down after pair splitting and switching;

Players may not resplit;

A dealer hard 22 pushes against all current player hands excluding naturals (this rule was introduced a few years after the game’s inception).

This blackjack variant can also come with an optional side bet. Super Match rewards players on receiving two or more matching pairs in their hands, say two 4s of Diamonds and two Ace of Spades. Remember that most side bets favour the casino and payouts will vary according to each one’s rules.

Super Fun 21

Variants created by blackjack strategists keep finding their way onto the list! Super Fun 21 was created by Howard Grossman who was sure to include many player-lenient rules in the game.

Types of bets, rules and odds

Classic blackjack bets and rules apply for the most part, however, the ones cited below also apply.

Game rules:

Played with a 52-card deck;

Dealer hits on soft 17;

A player blackjack beats a dealer blackjack;

Player blackjack in diamonds pays 2:1;

A 5-card Charlie that totals 21 pays 2:1 except after doubling down;

A 6-card Charlie that totals 20 or less results in a win except after doubling down.

It’s rare but in some land-based casinos this variant comes with a side bet that pays 300:1 on a suited blackjack in diamonds. This bet is only available on the first hand after a shuffle. It comes with slim odds of winning of 0.3% while the house edge is 9.2%.

Stadium Blackjack

Stadium Blackjack combines live dealer twenty-one with an RNG feel. A live dealer stands in front of up to 44 players who sit in electronic playing terminals, spread out like seats in a football arena. This variant actually has some similarities to Common Draw Blackjack in that each player makes a bet from their own monitor on a community hand. Each individual is then allowed to hit, stand, double down or split as they please, irrespective of how others choose to play.

Types of bets, rules and odds

You’ll recognise all the bets and the majority of the rules of this variant. A few differences do exist though. Players can only split up to three hands due to the screen size and a dealer blackjack will result in a standard player loss plus one unit. It’s also worth noting that blackjack doesn’t always pay 3:2, it varies between casinos. You’ll notice that there aren’t any game rules listed here. This is because casinos have the liberty to choose certain rules as they please. Make sure you check them before you take your seat.

Stadium Blackjack

Stadium Blackjack combines live dealer twenty-one with an RNG feel. A live dealer stands in front of up to 44 players who sit in electronic playing terminals, spread out like seats in a football arena. This variant actually has some similarities to Common Draw Blackjack in that each player makes a bet from their own monitor on a community hand. Each individual is then allowed to hit, stand, double down or split as they please, irrespective of how others choose to play.

Continue your journey to blackjack pro status!

What goes perfectly with your new-found understanding of blackjack variants? Knowledge on the ways to play them and win of course! So, if you’re curious about how to alter the house edge and odds to your advantage, then go to the complete guide to blackjack strategies now.

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