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Updated: Apr 5


Many visitors to online and land-based casinos have a basic understanding of blackjack, in which you try to beat the dealer's score without going over 21.

And those who play blackjack are often used to the rules of North American casinos, which include dealers scoring for natural blackjacks with aces and 10-value cards, dealers hitting soft 17, players doubling down two cards, and players who double down after splitting.

But have you ever tried some of the other exciting blackjack variations available around the world?

If not, keep reading as we cover 5 of the most popular blackjack variations and discuss which ones are best for players.

1. European Blackjack

As the name suggests, European blackjack comes from casinos in Europe. However, you don't need to be from this continent to play, as European blackjack is available in many online casinos.

This game is largely the same as traditional 21 blackjack, but below are some key differences that make European blackjack unique:

✔Played with 2 decks

✔The dealer does not peak for blackjack

✔The desk has a soft 17

✔You can only double down with a hard 9, 10 or 11

✔Some games allow you to split again, others don't

✔Most games pay 3 to 2 on natural blackjacks

✔You cannot split the aces again

✔Get your money back on a push (tie)

✔Surrender is not allowed

European blackjack is a good game to try if you are new to the different variations of blackjack. The rules are quite similar to standard 21 and the house advantage is only 0.39% with the rules mentioned above. As for the latter, European blackjack has an advantage over the standard 21 because it only uses 2 decks instead of 6 or 8 decks.

2. Spanish 21

Generally, this would make Spanish 21 a bad game for players, as 10 value cards reduce the house edge. But you can see that some of the following rules still make this a playable game:

✔You automatically win with natural blackjack and get a payout of 3 to 2

✔The dealer stands on a soft 17

✔You can split hands up to 3 times for a total of 4 hands

✔You can double down on two cards

✔You can double down after splitting hands

✔Subsequent surrender is permitted

✔You can win bonuses on specific hands

As for the latter, you can win 2-to-1 payouts on 6-card blackjacks and 3-to-1 payouts on 7-card blackjacks, provided you haven't doubled down or split your hands. You can even get bonuses, eg. For example, 40x your bet if the dealer showed a 7 and you get three matching 7s.

Spanish 21 offers a house edge of just 0.34%, but it all depends on the exact bonus payouts on offer.

3. Pontoon

Pontoon has been around since the 12th century, if not earlier, and has developed widespread popularity in Asia, Australia, and the UK.

Pontoon is actually very similar in rules to Spanish 21, as neither game has 10 in the deck. But unlike Spanish 21, this game offers higher blackjack payouts and some other differences which you can see below:

✔Automatically win with a natural blackjack called Pontoon and receive a 2 to 1 payout

✔A draw on the dealer's hand results in a loss rather than a push

✔Both of the dealer's cards are face down

✔You can only stand on hands with a value of 15 or higher

✔You will receive a 2 to 1 payout for forming a 5-card hand

✔You can split twice or up to 3 hands

As you can see, Pontoon has some very unique rules such as that you have to play up to 15 and both dealers' cards remain face down until your betting actions are completed. Given these differences between the rules, the pontoon house advantage normally ranges from 0.34% to 0.42%.

4. Perfect couples

Invented by Australian dealer John Wicks, Perfect Pairs became popular because it's 21 as the standard, but you can place side bets to win extra money.

The side bet is placed before the cards are dealt to you and you can win the following payouts:

Red/black pair or two cards of the same rank but of different suits, eg. Jack of Hearts and Jack of Spades. A red/black pair can pay 5: 1 or 6: 1.

Colored pair or two cards of the same suit and rank, eg. queen of diamonds and queen of hearts. Perfect pair or two cards of exactly the same suit and value. This pays 30: 1 in many casinos, but sometimes only 25 to 1.

If you're already familiar with the regular 21 games, Perfect Pairs is a fun way to spice up your blackjack game. The big downside, however, is that the side bet has a house advantage of 6.76%, which makes it a pretty bad bet.

5. Face up 21

As the name suggests, Face Up 21 sees the dealer's first two cards face up. This is definitely to your advantage as you don't have to base your decisions on a single map or any map.

The downside, however, is that some rules have been changed to suit casinos, which you can see here:

✔The dealer wins all ties

✔The dealer hits with a soft 17

✔Natural blackjacks also pay money

✔You can only double down on a hard 9, 10 or 11

✔You can double after splitting

Some of these rules are unfavorable while being able to see the dealer's first two cards is easily in your favor. It all combines to create a house edge of between 0.69% and 0.85% depending on the nuances of the rule.


So which of these variations should you play?

Based solely on the house edge, European Blackjack, Spanish 21 and Pontoon are games that give you a good chance of winning. In terms of ease of learning, European blackjack, Perfect Pairs and Face Up 21 are all very close to normal 21.

I recommend visiting the 11ic website which offers lots of casino games, slots, lottery, and sports that I'm pretty sure you will enjoy so much! Enjoy and have fun bettors!

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