While the basic version of blackjack is popular around the globe, other blackjack games also exist in various casinos. Some of these variants are quite similar to the original, while others have little in common. But regardless of the mechanics of play and the conditions for victory, you can always count on different types of blackjack for excitement and potential profits.
This article is meant to familiarise you with some of the most popular versions of blackjack. While you may have to travel to a specific state or nation to experience some of the games listed below, you’ll still find it worth your time and money.
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List of blackjack variants
Blackjack Switch – The player is dealt two hands, and the second card of each hand can be swapped with one another. A dealer 22 is considered a push, and a natural blackjack only pays even money instead of the customary 3:2.
Vegas Strip – Played with four decks of cards, Vegas Strip is one of my favourite blackjack games. Players can split aces only once, but they may also double down on any two cards. The dealer stands on 17, and this applies to both soft and hard 17s. The player loses their insurance wager if they split, and they may only double down after a split if aces were involved.
Other rules include: 21 after a split is not considered blackjack; if aces are split, each hand only receives one additional card; split hands must have equal wagers; and any pair of cards with values of 10 may be split.
Perfect Pairs – The option to place a ‘perfect pairs’ wager is applicable with many different types of blackjack variants including regular blackjack, Pontoon, Vegas Blackjack, Pandemonium Blackjack and more. Before being dealt your hand, you can place a bet in the perfect pairs section on the table (usually directly above your hand), and you will win if the first two cards dealt to you result in any pair (two cards of the same figure, for example, two Kings or two sevens). If they do not match, the dealer will collect the chips allotted for this side wager. There are three different types of pairs which offer different payouts. They are as follows:
- Perfect Pair: The initial two cards dealt to the player are exactly alike, including colour and suit.
- Coloured Pair: The initial two cards dealt to the player are exactly alike including colour but not suit.
- Mixed Pair: The initial two cards dealt to the player are exactly alike except for suit and colour.
The payouts will vary from casino to casino and with different games, but same colour and suit perfect pairs will always have the highest payout, coloured pairs will have the second highest payout, and a mixed pair will always have the lowest payout.
Blackpot Blackjack – ‘Blackpot’ is another side-bet like ‘perfect pairs’ and is thoroughly entertaining, offering players the chance at massive winnings. Before a hand is dealt, you may choose to bet on the Blackpot side-bet (you can bet the Blackpot on someone else’s hand too). If the ﬁrst two cards dealt are any of the following combinations, in any order and any suit, you are immediately paid out 10 times your initial Blackpot wager:
- A six and a seven
- A six and an eight
- Or a seven and an eight
If this occurs and you choose to hit, the ‘Blackpot’ wager can continue and you have the chance to win more. If you decide to stay rather than hit after being dealt any one of the aforementioned combinations, the Blackpot bet ends and the dealer collects the initial wager (you still get paid out).
If you hit, and that card completes the three-card combination of a six, seven and eight, you are instantly paid out 100 times your original bet. If the 6–7–8 combo is not completed on that card, then the Blackpot bet is collected by the dealer and the fun ends there. If the combo was completed and you were paid out 100 times your wager, the Blackpot fun spills over to the immediate next hand for a chance to win BIG!
On this next hand, you will need another combination of those same numbers, just like the first hand. If you happen to get a combination of any of the three numbers (6,7 or 8), the pay-out reaches 1000 times your bet. As in the previous hand, you are entitled to go no further and not hit. But you’d be mad not to continue! If you do take another card and it completes the 6-7-8 combo, you win $20,000!
Note: Pay-outs may vary with different casinos and different game types.
Vegas Style Blackjack – Also called ’21st Century Blackjack,’ this game can be found in card rooms throughout California. If the dealer busts with a higher total, then a player bust often counts as a push.
Double Attack Blackjack – Usually found in Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos, Double Attack Blackjack is a variant of Spanish 21. Players may double their wager after seeing the dealer’s upcard, and blackjacks pay even money.
A side bet is also available before the dealer receives their upcard. Known as ‘Bust It,’ this wager is a winner if the dealer busts on their third card. Otherwise, the money for this side bet is collected by the house.
Other rules include the following: eight 48-card decks are used (with the ten cards removed); insurance pays 5:2; doubling and surrender can happen at any point in the game; all cards except aces can be re-split 4 times; aces can be split once; player can double down after splitting; dealer peeks for blackjack after player buys insurance; dealer stands on a soft 17.
Chinese Blackjack – Also known as 21-Point or Ban-Luck, this blackjack game is popular throughout Southeast Asia. No more than two decks of cards are used, but an unlimited number of people can play. Most of the rules are the same as traditional blackjack, but there are a few exceptions. For example, players act as the dealer and this can change multiple times during one game. The value of the ace also changes depending on how many cards a player has been dealt.
Spanish 21– Akin to blackjack, although the rules are far more liberal in favour of the player. Doubling down can occur with any number of cards, and the tens are removed from the deck before play. Players getting 21 with five or more cards receive a bonus, while player blackjacks and 21s always count as a win. Players may also choose late surrender as an option.
Multiple Action Blackjack – The player may make two or three wagers on a single hand. For each bet the player makes, the dealer gets dealt a hand. Doubling and splitting are allowed, although finite space on the blackjack table often requires certain limitations.
Elimination Blackjack – A melding of blackjack and Texas hold’em, the player’s objective is to beat the dealer but also to be the last player remaining at their table. At the end of a tournament, the winner is either the last person remaining or the one with the most chips.
A tournament consists of 30 hands, with ‘elimination hands’ taking place on the 8th, 16th, and 25th hands. At the end of these hands, the player with the lowest number of chips will be automatically eliminated. Players are also eliminated if they run out of chips or don’t have enough to make a wager.
The dealer is required to stand on a hard 17 and hit on a soft 17. Pairs can be split four times (except for aces), and doubling and surrender are also in effect. Played with a shoe of six decks, no more than seven individuals can compete at a table.
Another difference from regular blackjack is the presence of the secret bet. Each player may use this once per tournament, and it allows him or her to make a wager that won’t be revealed until the end of the hand.
French/German Blackjack – Also known as ‘Twenty-One’ and “Seventeen and Four,” this card game prohibits splitting and only counts an ace as 11. Two aces however, count as a natural blackjack.
Double Exposure Blackjack – The dealer receives two cards along with the players and both are dealt face up. Players lose on ties in this version of the game, and blackjack only pays even money.
Pontoon – Just like Spanish 21, except the game is played without a hole card. This version is popular here in Australia.
Super Fun 21 – This blackjack variant lets players split their hands up to a maximum of four times. A six-card hand that totals 20 in considered an automatic winner with an even money payout.
Blackjack games have been developing ever since the original version was introduced centuries ago. None have achieved the level of popularity of Twenty-One, but that doesn’t mean these games aren’t a lot of fun to experiment with. And even though some of these may only be offered in casinos halfway around the globe, you can still read up on the rules, get some friends together, and sample some awesome blackjack variants.