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Blackjack Gambling and 21 Game Variations

Blackjack Games - Blackjack GamblingBlackjack games are found in virtually every casino in the world. Blackjack is the most popular casino game there is. Not only does blackjack offer quickly played hands with easy to learn rules, but blackjack offers some of the consistently best odds of all casino games. Now you can play online blackjack for money at any of the online casino gambling sites listed on

Most anyone who has played cards is familiar with blackjack gambling. Most players who first take a look at the casino games tables will play a few hands of blackjack. For those few who haven't, let me give a basic introduction to blackjack games. I'll present an overview of classic blackjack and then cover variant rules for various blackjack games with minor rules variations.

Blackjack Rules

Blackjack tables form a semi-circle. On the flat side of the table, the dealer stands. On the circle side of the table, one to six blackjack players sit. Players who are going to play that hand will lay down a wager before the hands are dealt.

The dealer deals cards from his left to right around the table, with the cards placed face down. The dealer gets two cards, one of them turned face up. After each players see their cards, the players can choose to double their bet. If they don't like their cards, the player does not have to double the bet.

The dealer will begin to deal cards to each player going clockwise around the table. The dealer continues to deal cards to the first player until the player either "stands" or "busts". To stand is to ask the dealer to stop dealing cards. To bust is to have cards that equal more than 21, which is an automatic loss for the player. Also, when a player wants a new card, the player is said to want a "hit".

This continues until all players fill a hand. Then the dealer deals himself a hand. Usually, the dealer stands on 17 or more and hits on 16 or less. Ties between a dealer and a player are called a "push', and both side retains their bets for that hand.

As stated before, if a player busts, the dealer automatically wins the bet. The dealer does not have to risk busting before the player does. Since there are a certain number of hands where the player will bust before the dealer is at risk, this is how a casino holds a house edge in blackjack.

Card Ranks

In Blackjack, the number cards are worth the number that is printed on them. All face cards are worth ten. Therefore, the 10, Jack, Queen or King cards are effectively the same as one another in blackjack games. Because 4 of the 13 suits are worth 10 points, approximately 30% of all cards in a blackjack deck are worth 10. This should always be considered when asking for a hit.

The ace can be worth either 1 or 11, at the discretion of the player who holds the Ace. This makes the ace a highly prized card in blackjack.

Hitting a Blackjack

When a player or dealer is dealt a 21 in their first two cards, that player is said to have hit a blackjack. It is often misunderstood that any 21 in blackjack is a blackjack, though this isn't the case. A blackjack pays a player twice the odds on their original wager.

If a dealer is dealt a blackjack, then every player at the table automatically loses, even those players who filled a hand of 3 or more cards with 21. The only time that a dealer blackjack is not an automatic win is when a player also holds a blackjack. When this happens, the dealer and player push.

In America, if a dealer's face up card is an Ace or Ten, one of the two cards needed to fill a blackjack, the dealer checks to see what his face down or hole card is. If this makes a blackjack, then the dealer automatically wins the hand and takes the wagers for that hand. This happens before any player plays, so players do not risk doubling their bet before losing it. This occurs after players are asked to take insurance, though.


If a dealer is dealt a face up Ace, then all players have the option to take insurance. A player can place up to half his original wager in a side bet. Essentially, the player is betting that the dealer will fill a blackjack. If this happens, then the player wins 1-to-1 on the insurance bet, therefore losing less money on a dealer blackjack.

If no blackjack comes to the dealer, then the player loses the insurance bet. It is common knowledge that insurance should never be taken, that it is better for a player to risk a blackjack than to wager on the chance of winning back half a bet. With insurance, a player is certain to lose some money on the hand.

Splitting Pairs

If a player is dealt two of the same card, the player can double his bet by splitting the pair. Essentially, each card is used to fill its own hand, so that a player is playing two hands on the same round of blackjack. It is good strategy to split certain pairs that offer advantageous odds, while it is bad strategy to split certain other pairs.

Typically, a blackjack games player should always split Aces and Eights. The same player should never split Tens in blackjack. The other cards are split only under certain circumstances.

For instance, 2's, 3's and 7's should be split, unless the dealer is showing an 8 or higher. A 6 should be split unless the dealer is holding a 7 or higher.

4's should only be hit when the dealer is holding a 5 ot 6. 9's should be split when the dealer is showing a 2 through 6 or an 8 or 9. Fives should never be split.

In other words, blackjack players should learn a table for splitting pairs. Beyond the decision to split or not to split pairs, a player needs to know when to hit or stand and when to double (if allowed).

Blackjack Game Variants

Here are some of the most popular variations of Blackjack played in many casinos.

Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is the most popular Blackjack variant played in casinos at the present. Spanish 21 offers a set of rules variations which create a more dynamic blackjack experience than standard Blackjack does.

First of all, a Spanish 21 deck does not have the four 10 cards. The deck does have Jacks, Queens and Kings, all of which are worth the standard 10. This means you will hit a hit 25% less of the time than in blackjack, which isn't a good thing.

The player gets several advantages in Spanish 21, though. If you hit a blackjack in Spanish 21, you always win. If you fill out a 21 in Spanish 21, the player always wins. There are no pushes with the dealer in either case.

Also, certain 21 combinations pay out extra money. For instance, a hand of 6-7-8 to form a 21 pays out extra. A 21 comprised of a 7-7-7 also pays out more chips. A player who makes a 21 with 5 or more cards also wins bonus chips in Spanish 21.

The doubling down rules in Spanish 21 are also more liberal than in classic Blackjack. You can also choose to have a late surrender which isn't allowed in blackjack. As you can see, Spanish 21 is a game with lots of minor rules variations, which explain why it is a favorite of many blackjack players in casinos.

21st Century Blackjack or Vegas Style Blackjack

This variant offers the novel rule that a player bust is not always a loss. If a dealer busts with a higher number value than the player's bust cards, then the hand is considered a push. 21st Century Blackjack is played mainly in California casinos.

Double Exposure Blackjack

In this Blackjack variant, the dealer shows both of his dealt cards. This lowers the house edge, though this is balanced by paying out only 1-to-1 on blackjacks and requiring a player to lose on any tie with the dealer.

Double Attack Blackjack

The player is given a chance to double down after seeing the dealer's card. On the other hand, a Blackjack only plays even odds in Double Attack Blackjack.

Blackjack Switch

In Blackjack Switch, players are dealt two hands instead of one. If a player wants to switch cards from these two hands, he can. So if you receive a 10-7 and a 10-4 for your two hands, you can switch these to 10-10 and 7-4, which are much better starting hands.

The disadvantage is that Blackjacks pay only even odds, while the dealer still gets a push when dealt a 22.

Elimination Blackjack

This is a tournament style of Blackjack, where players are eliminated according to the smallest stack of ships. Elimination Blackjack is heavily influenced by the popularity of poker and Texas Holdem. Not only are there live Elimination Blackjack tournaments, but online casinos offer Elimination Blackjack games 24 hours a day.

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