Isle of Man-based software provider Microgaming has developed multiple versions of online blackjack and with Hi Lo 13 European Blackjack, it adds something a little more interesting to its portfolio. Although the game follows the standard rules of European blackjack, it also features an optional side bet that qualifies for bonus payouts.
As suggested by the name of this game, players can guess whether their initial hand would be lower, higher or equal to 13. The top payout available in this version is 10 times the stake. In addition, the game is beautifully designed, with clean graphics and a look that reminds of the blackjack tables at brick-and-mortar casinos.
Rules and Gameplay
Hi Lo 13 European Blackjack is played with 2 standard decks of cards and does not feature a hole card as in American-style blackjack. Here, the dealer receives just one card initially. The dealer also must Stand on all 17s and this rule slightly decreases the house edge of the game. After receiving their first two cards, players have several options.
They can choose the Hit button to draw an additional card or the Stand button to refuse any more cards being dealt to their hand. Another option is to Double their bet and if they go for it, they will receive another, final card and their turn will be over. However, Doubling down is allowed only on hard 9, 10, or 11. The other option is to Split pairs but only cards of the same denomination can be split. This means that players cannot Split a 10 and Queen even though they both count as 10. Moreover, only one Split is allowed per round and players cannot Double on a split hand. Insurance is available.
What sets this game apart from the many other versions of blackjack is the Lucky 13 side bet and the chance to win up to 10 times your stake if you guess correctly what cards you will be dealt. To be eligible for the bonus payouts, players need to place the side bet – its size is not fixed, so players can wager the table minimum. With this bet, they need to choose one of three possible options – Hi, Lo, or 13.
As we’ve previously said, with the Lo option, players bet that their initial hand will total less than 13, while with the Hi, they bet it will be higher than 13. Both pay evenly but if players win the third option – the 13, they will receive a payout of 10:1. They need to remember, however, that for the Lucky 13 side bet, the Ace always counts as 1 and not 11.
This blackjack release from Microgaming is a fun and rewarding version of blackjack that relies a little bit more on chance than the typical game of blackjack. The best thing about it is that it can be played like standard blackjack without the optional side bet and then, the RTP is 99.60%.