Although it is one of the most challenging casino games, blackjack is equally appealing to regular casino visitors and first-timers, which is why casino operators rarely leave it outside their game catalogs. Its low house advantage is one more reason why such games win players with all levels of expertise over, no matter if they prefer land-based casinos or their virtual counterparts.
The history of this game dates back centuries ago, and it is safe to say that the popularity of the card game has not waned throughout its existence. Since the game has attracted lots of attention after it saw the light of the day, it makes sense that many variations sprang from it throughout the years, with European blackjack being among the most attention-grabbing options.
These days, software providers also go to great lengths to create variants of the card game that are instant attention-grabbers because of their fluid animations and life-like graphics. This is certainly the case with the creations of game-making studios the likes of Play’n GO, Microgaming, RealTime Gaming, and Betsoft that are all worthwhile to consider.
If you are taken with blackjack, but you are a total rookie, you should give your best to learn as much as you can about the variant you have chosen instead of diving your headfirst with placing real-money bets, so keep on reading.
Rules to Remember while Playing European Blackjack
Blackjack variants that follow the European rules are appropriate to players who lack that extensive experience in playing casino games, which makes it significantly easier for them to master the fundamental rules. That being said, gambling enthusiasts should bear in mind that there might be certain differences based on the casino they have chosen to play at or the game-making studio, which is to be blamed for the specific variant.
The Hole Card
The most fundamental difference between American-style blackjack versions and the ones that are based on the European rules is that with the former, when the dealer is showing an ace, he/she will check the hole card to see if a natural is formed. For starters, in American-style blackjack variants, the dealer gets two cards, one face-up and another face-down. The face-down one is referred to as a hole card, and the dealer is allowed to turn it to see if a blackjack is formed.
Please note that the dealer will check the hole card without anyone seeing it, and if he/she has a blackjack, this will cause the hand to instantly end, and all bets will be collected right off.
This is not so with European-style blackjack variants where a hole card is not used, and instead, the dealer gets two face-up cards. What is specific in European blackjack variants is that the dealer will not get a second card until players’ hands are complete. This is exactly the reason why many players prefer American blackjack over European-style variants of the card game, as with the former, players will not face any additional losses simply because the round will end right away. This is not so in European blackjack, where they will need to part with even more of their funds if they decide to double down or split.
Number of Decks
The number of decks in play is another thing to consider when comparing American and European-style blackjack games. While being on the lookout for blackjack versions that follow the American rules, gambling enthusiasts will stumble upon games in which between 6 to 8 standard decks are in play. Yet, this is not the case with European blackjack, as in such variants of the card game only two standard decks are used.
It goes without saying that the availability of more decks works to the advantage of the casino and makes it a lot more challenging for players to benefit from the card counting technique.
Doubling Down in European Blackjack
Another essential rule to pay closer attention to before you start playing blackjack is the doubling down one. It is important to note that while some casinos give players the chance to double down whenever they feel like it, with others, going for this option is possible only on specific card totals. In the majority of the cases, gambling enthusiasts can double down, provided that their hand totals nine, ten, or eleven. With others, doubling down is only possible if the total of players’ hand is either ten or eleven.
Blackjack fans should know that if they are not presented with the double-down option, and they have chosen to try their hand at a game in which multiple decks are used, the casino advantage will be 1.48%.
The edge the house gains over players increases by 0.09% if the chosen blackjack variant only allows players to double down if their hand totals nine, ten, or eleven. If the player can only double down on ten and eleven, this will result in a further increase of the house edge of 0.18%.
Before they give the preferred blackjack variant a shot, players should check if they are allowed to double down after a split as this way, they will stand a better chance to end up with a more powerful hand. This will be the case if players’ hand is 4-4 and the dealer has six, which he/she has chosen to split. If the player draws five, six, or seven, he/she will certainly want to double down, of course, if the rules allow this.
If blackjack aficionados are not allowed to double down after a split, the house edge will increase by around 0.14%. The difference will shrink slightly in the cases when players are permitted to take advantage of the split option multiple times, and this is so for the simple reason that when certain limitations are imposed on the number of hands, going for the double down option after a split will be less likely to happen.
Splitting Options in European Blackjack
The rules that apply to splitting pairs are easily among the things gambling enthusiasts should check before they start playing European-style blackjack. With such variants of the card game, players can take advantage of this option only once, and as we already mentioned, there are certain rules they should be mindful of before they make use of the splitting option. It is easy to see why such limitations are imposed as, in practice, when splitting their hand, players can benefit from the weaker hands of the dealer and win more.
While availing themselves in European-style blackjack games, players will only be allowed to go for the splitting option if the hand they are dealt is made of like-valued cards. The value of the cards should be 10, meaning that it is possible to use the splitting option if your hand is made of 10s, Jacks, Queens, or Kings. Please note that although a King and a Jack are both counted as 10, gambling enthusiasts will not be allowed to split a hand made of them.
Unlike European blackjack, the rules of American-style blackjack games allow players to go for the split option up to three times, which leaves them with four hands to play at the same time. Another difference stems from the fact that in American blackjack, no restrictions are imposed on the pairs gambling enthusiasts can split. Splitting Aces is possible only once, and players cannot take more than one card per Ace.
The Surrender Option
Whether or not the chosen blackjack variant allows players to give up their hand after the completion of the initial deal is also something to consider when choosing a variant to enjoy. Thanks to this option, players can forfeit their hand in the cases when they are not comfortable with it and get half of the staked amount back.
Needless to say, the surrender rule has a significant impact over the edge the house invariably has over players, all the more so in European blackjack, which is a no-peek game. In spite of the fact that with most European-style blackjack games the option to surrender is unavailable if the preferred variant offers it, this will lead to a reduction of the house edge of around 0.39%.
When American-style blackjack variants are concerned, players are normally given the freedom to use the surrender rule at any point.
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Payouts and House Edge
Payouts in European Blackjack
As likely as not, the payouts players will be offered throughout their betting session are among the things they will want to examine with a fine-tooth comb. The rates at which gambling enthusiasts will be paid rarely differ, and getting a natural means that they will be offered a payoff of 3 to 2. In fact, gambling enthusiasts will be paid at this rate no matter if they prefer to place their bets at a land-based casino or they are heavily into betting on the go.
As long as players are offered the chance to make an insurance bet, the rate at which they will be paid is 2 to 1. With all other wins, gambling enthusiasts will get a payoff of 1 to 1. If there is a tie, however, the player neither wins nor loses, and will get the staked amount back.
European Blackjack House Edge
Something gambling enthusiasts should pay special attention to is that the number of decks in play also has an impact on the house edge. The more decks are added into the shoe, the greater the house advantage will be. This also means that the return to player will also decrease, which puts players at a disadvantage. This will be the case, no matter if they are about to start betting on an American-style blackjack variant or one which follows the European ruleset.
Let’s take a look at the way the house advantage grows when additional decks are added into the gameplay. In the event that just one standard deck is used in the gameplay, the edge the house gains over gambling enthusiasts will run into 0.27%.
Yet, the advantage the house will gain over players when two or four standard decks are used will escalate to 0.57% and 0.70%, respectively. Adding one and two more decks to the shoe means that the house edge will increase to 0.73% and 0.75%. If the decks in play are eight in total, however, the house advantage will reach 0.77%. Something which might have already grabbed your attention is that the closer we get to eight decks, the difference in the house edge becomes less pronounced.
It is essential to remember that the edge the house will enjoy over players is not determined exclusively by the number of decks that are used in the specific game, but also by the other rules that apply.
Before they give the preferred blackjack variant a shot, gambling enthusiasts should take their time to check if the dealer is required to hit or stand on 17s. Most of the time, players will be up against variants in which the rules dictate that the dealer should stand on soft 17s. Yet, blackjack fans might also come across casinos where the dealer is required to hit on soft 17s, which makes the situation even more favorable to the house.
Gambling enthusiasts should also check for the availability of the surrender rule, as well as the option to double down after a split, resplit, hit split Aces, and the number of times they can re-split.
Whether or not the dealer is required to hit on soft 17s is easily among the rules avid blackjack players should not overlook as it has substantial impact on the house edge. As likely as not, you already know soft 17s are hands in which there is an Ace counting 11. Such hands can be formed in several ways, and a soft 17 will be a hand made of an Ace and three 2s, an Ace and 4, or an Ace and 6.
Contrary to what some players might consider, blackjack versions in which the dealer is required to stand on soft 17s are more advantageous to players simply because when he/she is required to hit on soft 17s, there are good chances of improving the hand instead of going bust.
If it is somewhat difficult to wrap your head around these explanations, just consider the fact that in such cases, the house edge will shrink to 0.55%, which is a difference of approximately 0.20%.
Favorable Rules In European Blackjack
How Do The Rules In European Blackjack Affect Players
Naturally, players want to get the most out of their blackjack betting session, and to this end, they should look for variants of the card game that have more favorable rules.
Ideally, gambling enthusiasts should be on the lookout for single-deck variants in which a natural pays at the rate of 3 to 2. Other rules that make much of a difference are the splitting and doubling down ones, and players should make sure that the chosen version allows them to double on just about any hand total and after a split.
The option to play with up to four hands after re-splitting is also favorable to players, so are the options to re-split Aces and hit on them. If players apply at least a basic strategy, their expected profit will be even higher when these rules apply because the house edge will shrink even more.
On the contrary, their expected profit will be less if the ruleset of the preferred blackjack variant dictates that the dealer needs to hit on soft 17s and that eight decks are thrown into the mix. The house advantage will grow further if players are only permitted to double on hand totals 10-11. The same applies also to the unavailability of the re-split option, as well as the option to re-split Aces.
All these rules will help the casino gain a greater advantage over players, which is also to say that their expected profit will be less. Say nothing of variants in which a natural pays at the rate of 6 to 5 instead of the standard one, which puts players at a disadvantage.
Special Rules to Pay Attention to while Playing European Blackjack
In spite of the fact that it is not that widely used, the five-card Charlie is a rule many players might have heard of. As long as it applies to the blackjack table you have joined, this means that if you end up with five cards without going bust, you will become an instant winner.
The so-called Original Bets and Busted Only (OBBO) rule is also worth taking a look at because when it is enforced, players will lose all their original bets. Thus, if we assume that the player has staked $10 and has then chosen to make use of the split option, this means that he/she will have two bets of $10 each.
Another rule players should be mindful of is that in the majority of the cases when they are dealt a ten-valued card after they have split Aces, this will not be considered a blackjack, and instead, the hand will be regarded as a standard 21. This is to say that gambling enthusiasts will be paid even money, instead of being paid at the rate of 3 to 2.
Other rules that are worth checking include whether the player will lose all tied 17s, whether they are allowed to split and double down. On some occasions, gambling enthusiasts might also lose tied 18s and 19s, but this varies greatly from one game to another.
Most Popular European Blackjack Variants to Play Online
Currently, gambling enthusiasts are spoiled for choice when it comes to the options they can enjoy, no matter whether they are heavily into American or European-style versions of the card classic.
The range of options is getting all the more diverse, thanks to the efforts of the game-making companies to present variants of the casino mainstay that are instant attention-grabbers. These are only some of the fan-favorite blackjack variants players will stumble upon while placing their bets over the Internet and are sourced from the gaming suites of some of the most well-known software providers.
European Blackjack by Microgaming
Microgaming is one of the creators of gaming content that have a significant contribution to the variety of blackjack games players can enjoy over the Internet. The company is to be blamed for a number of thrilling variants of the card classic, including several that follow the European rules.
Microgaming’s European Blackjack will certainly command the attention of players who want to enjoy no-frills variants of the casino classic. The game allows gambling enthusiasts to play just one hand at a time, and the best thing about it is that they are given a choice from a number of chip denominations. The game-making studio has decided not to make any changes in the rate at which players will be paid as a blackjack brings a payout of 3 to 2, while the insurance bet brings a payout of 2 to 1.
Another important thing to point out about this creation of the provider is that the dealer is required to stand on all 17s and that two standard decks are used. Players cannot benefit from the option to surrender and will be prevented from doubling down after a split. Something to bear in mind is that the option to double down is available only on players’ first hand, given that it is hard and its total is 9, 10, or 11. The last thing to note about this blackjack variant by Microgaming is that its RTP is 99.60%.
European Blackjack by Play’n GO
Play’n GO is yet another software provider, which has not overlooked the popularity of European-style blackjack versions. Players can give it a shot no matter the device they prefer using as the game works without a glitch on tablets, smartphones, and computers. Not to mention that the visuals of this game are a masterly job, which will make players enjoy their betting session all the more. The voice announcements, on the other hand, will help players get the feeling that they are at a brick-and-mortar casino.
The game might appeal to players with all levels of expertise as it allows playing up to three hands at the same time. The payouts that will come players’ way will be pretty much the standard ones as an insurance bet pays at the rate of 2 to 1, while a natural brings a payoff of 3 to 2. Another of its specifications to pay attention to is its RTP, which runs into 99.37%.
European Blackjack by Betsoft
Betsoft’s European Blackjack is also an option to consider next time you are looking for a blackjack game to enjoy, especially if you prefer to bet on multiple hands at the same time. Its visuals are adroitly designed, while the animations are surprisingly fluid. The available chip denominations are most likely to make this game equally appealing for risk-averse and high-stakes players.
The number of decks that are used in this variant of the card classic is six, which, combined with the ruleset, will have an impact on the RTP of the game. While players enjoy this European-style blackjack variant, they will see that the dealer is required to draw to 16 and stand on all 17s. Blackjack pays 3 to 2, while the insurance bet gives a payout of 2 to 1.
According to the rules of this blackjack variant, players are allowed to split solely their initial hand, and ultimately, play with a maximum of two hands. When splitting Aces, gambling enthusiasts will not be allowed to draw more than one card per hand. Players are allowed to double down, but this will only be possible, provided that their hand totals 9 through 11.
Hi Lo European Blackjack Gold by Microgaming
Hi-Lo European Blackjack is yet another worthwhile creation of Microgaming as it brings the glamor and class of brick-and-mortar casinos to players’ portable devices or computers. It is a two-deck variant of the casino mainstay, and its RTP stands at 99.60%.
What might come as a small disappointment for some players is that they will not be allowed to bet on several hands at the same time. The payouts are indeed one of the main aspects of the game players should take a closer look at before they give it a shot, and in this case, the software provider has decided to keep them unchanged as the insurance bet pays 2 to 1, while blackjack pays 3 to 2. One more essential term to bear in mind is that the dealer is required to stand on all 17s.
While availing themselves in Hi-Lo European Blackjack, players will not be allowed to surrender or re-split. In spite of the fact that gambling enthusiasts can hit on split Aces, they should bear in mind that doubling after a split is not an option.
European Blackjack Gold Redeal By Microgaming
Microgaming’s European Blackjack Redeal is yet another variant of the card classic, which steals the show with the authentic atmosphere it creates and eye-pleasing visuals. Its RTP is 99.60% and only two standard card decks are used in the game.
What gambling enthusiasts might notice right away is that they will not be able to benefit from an insurance bet when the dealer has an Ace. Besides, they will not be allowed to double down after a split. In order to take advantage of the double down option, the total of players’ hands should be 9, 10, or 11. Ten-valued cards cannot be split, and players should bear in mind that making use of the split option is possible only once, meaning that they can play just two hands at the same time.
The unique feature of this blackjack variant is the redeal option, thanks to which players can redeal their hand or the one of the dealer without using any of their funds. Yet, they cannot make use of the redeal feature more than five times per game. Yet, it is not possible to use the redeal option after they have split their hand. Finally, gambling enthusiasts should remember that getting an Ace and a Ten after the redeal is not blackjack and instead counts as 21.