Blackjack has been one of the most popular casino games for more than a century. For most of the game’s history the only significant change was a 3-to-2 payout for a natural blackjack. In recent years more variants have been introduced. These variants offer some interesting opportunities and some potentially rewarding side action.
Free Bet Blackjack
Free Bet Blackjack is a relatively new variant that was first played in Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget Casino, and is now making its way into many casinos. Free Bet Blackjack gives the player a free double down bet on all hard nines, tens, and elevens. (Double downs on other hands are played the standard way.) Players also get a free split on all pairs other than tens. If the dealer wins both, the player loses the initial wager only. If the player wins both, the dealer pays two times the original bet.
The only difference in the game play is that a dealer’s 22 is a push. The game is like having a generous uncle at the table with you who covers your bets and lets you keep the winnings. It pays to be more aggressive with splits and double downs than in regular basic strategy. The house edge in Free Bet Blackjack is a little over 1% (about double a normal game). The game also has a different dynamic than most other blackjack games.
Players should look for games that use the most number of decks. This is completely opposite from all other blackjack games.
European Blackjack is one of the most popular variants, especially, as the name suggests, outside the United States. European Blackjack is generally played with a six deck shoe. The dealer hits Soft 17s, and players can double down on any two cards and split any two cards of the same rank or value.
The biggest difference in European blackjack is how the dealer’s hand is played. The dealer does not receive a hole card until all player action is concluded. If a player has doubled down or split on a hand where the dealer’s up card is an Ace or a ten and the dealer hits a blackjack with the second card, only the original wager is forfeited and the split and double down wager is returned. The surrender option is still available unless the dealer is showing an Ace. The house edge for European Blackjack is less than .05%, making it a very player friendly game. Continue reading