Blackjack Games

Today, there are numerous blackjack games played worldwide. From classic blackjack to Pontoon and Spanish 21, players can try different variants, either for free or with real money.

There are definitely more blackjack games than we’ve covered here. We are going to point out the core differences between them. Let us assure you that all of these types of blackjack are available at legal US online casinos.

In addition, you will also find out what is the best blackjack game to play!

These blackjack games follow the same underlying rules. However, the small seemingly insignificant differences play a vital role.  They affect the overall returns you get in the long run. In addition, because there’s a change in the returns, players apply different strategies.

Classic Blackjack

Decks1 to 8 decks
Payout on blackjack/natural3:2
Players1-3
Special Features/RulesNo Special Features

Referred to as “Classic Blackjack”, it’s the simplest form of blackjack that’s available at online casinos and traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. The rules are simple, the payout on a natural blackjack is within the norm and the number of decks is quite flexible.

Most blackjack games derive from the classic blackjack. As you will see, they usually come with a twist, a difference in the rules. If you’ve played blackjack before, you can play all blackjack games. Then again, without proper preparation, you will probably play them inefficiently.

Blackjack Switch

The first “special” blackjack game is Blackjack Switch. On the surface, it doesn’t look like it’s bringing a lot of novelties, but the difference in payout and deck number cannot go unnoticed.

Decks4,6, or 8
Payout on blackjack/natural1:1
Players2-7
Special Features/RulesPlayers get dealt two hands, having placed identical bets. You can switch the top cards for the two hands to turn one or both into better hands. A classic instance of this would be a player dealt Ace-5 in one hand and 6-King on the other. By swapping the top cards (5 and King), you have one blackjack hand and a total of 11 on the other. Now you can double down depending on the dealer’s card.
Available at legal US casinosYes

The Switch Option

Blackjack switch is one of the first variations of blackjack to be introduced in 2009, by the veteran player Geoff Hall.

Here, players have the chance to exchange the top cards for the two dealt in what is known as the switch. Natural blackjacks have a payout of 1:1 rather than the usual 3:2.

Strategy to Win After the Switch

Blackjack Switch strategy under the 8-deck rules depends on what your card totals are and the dealer’s upcard. Players are supposed to stand with a hard total of 17-20 no matter the dealer upcard's value. A pair of Aces typically gets split, and you stand with a couple of tens.

You’re advised to hit with pairs of six and below. Soft totals often require you to stand or hit. Players stand with a soft total of Ace-8 or Ace-9 and hit with soft totals of Ace-6 and below.

Blackjack Multihand

To meet the need for faster paced games, casinos introduced Blackjack Multihand. The purpose of the game is not to showcase additional rules or constraints. Instead, it just allows players to play several hands at a time.

Decks2
Payout on blackjack/natural3:2
Players2-7
Special Features/RulesPlayers can play multiple hands on the same game.
Available at legal US casinosYes

Play Multiple Hands

Blackjack Multihand is one of the blackjack games that gives you the chance to play up to three hands simultaneously. Players are required to place wagers for every hand as each is considered a competing one. This raises your winning stakes and means you would lose more per hand if the dealer outdraws you. 

You can split your top cards between hands but cannot resplit. Pairs are also split, but with prudence, as a split could easily ruin a good hand. Some versions require the dealer to hit on a soft 17. At other casinos, the dealer stands on all 17s. 

Multihand Blackjack Strategy

A strategy card will help you figure out your next move when playing any blackjack game. Following the right strategy lowers the house edge significantly but does not entirely do away with it. Thus, even the best plan does not guarantee constant wins on a standard blackjack card game. Players are advised to split face cards whenever they draw two for a better chance of hitting blackjack. 

You should also consider the insurance bet when the dealer’s upcard is a face card. That way, you have better chances of securing your bankroll in case the dealer draws a blackjack. Savvy players also ensure to have a single no-burst hand in the hands they play, thus using other hands to get the best card total for this hand.

Spanish 21

Spanish 21 breaks all conventional blackjack strategies. It literally requires different strategy charts, because it’s not the number of decks that’s different, but the number of cards in those decks.

Here are the details:

Decks6-8
48-card decks (Spanish decks)
Payout on blackjack/natural3:2
Players2-7
Special FeaturesSpanish 21 is a type of blackjack online game played with fewer cards in a deck with all face cards removed to make Spanish decks. The game also differs from classic blackjack in that a natural blackjack always wins no matter what the dealer draws.
Available at legal US casinosYes

Many blackjack players avoid Spanish 21 just because they are not comfortable with the different deck size. It certainly comes off as unorthodox, but it can definitely make for a fun gaming experience.

By some, it’s not even considered blackjack. We think it fits the basic description of blackjack, and because of that, we’ve included it here.

Play with Smaller Decks of Cards

Spanish 21 applies all the standard blackjack rules.. The most significant difference between this blackjack game and the classic version is that you play with 48-card decks with all tens removed.

The game also uses six to eight decks, making it harder for card counters to apply the strategy when playing this version of the game.

The removal of all tens makes it harder to attain a natural blackjack and has been reported to raise the house edge by 0.40%. Players are allowed to double down at any point of the game, unlike the classic version, where you can only double down with your first two cards. 

Winning Strategy for Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is one of the more lucrative blackjack games you can play online. You are advised to hit on a hard 8 or lower. That’s because the 10 cards are not used, and you are highly unlikely to go bust if you hit. It would be best if you always stood when you have a hard 17 or anything higher. The reason is, hitting at this stage will most likely lead to busting. 

A strategy card will come in handy for players looking to learn the more nuanced tricks of playing Spanish 21.

Blackjack Surrender

Blackjack Surrender is a distinct type of blackjack because it gives you the opportunity to save half of your bet. It is considered by many as the game that gives the most advantage to the player.

Here's a brief overview of the game's basic rules.

Decks6
Payout on blackjack/natural3:2
Players2-7
Special FeaturesIn this blackjack variant of the card game, you have a chance to surrender and reclaim half of your bet before the dealer shows their cards. The game includes early and late surrender, which distinguishes it from other blackjack games with the option to surrender.
Available at legal US casinosYes

The ‘Surrender Bet’

Blackjack Surrender gives players the option to save their wager when they don’t trust the hand dealt to win. The move to surrender is meant to save your bankroll when your weak hand is likely to go bust or fail to match the dealer’s card total. The distinct gameplay has won many fans among novice players. The reason being, they can give up a bad hand before losing everything.

When to Surrender

Blackjack Surrender gives two possibilities of when you can surrender half of your bet. Players new to the game might never understand the use of the surrender rule, but strategists know that the move could save a player many losses when the game is not in their favor. 

Early surrender lets you quit your hand before the dealer checks their cards, in which case you pay half the bet you placed. 

With late surrender, players quit their hand after the dealer reveals his/her cards. The late surrender bet is only valid if the dealer does not get a blackjack on their hand. New players interested in playing blackjack might find this version more suitable because all you have to do is surrender whenever the game is not going your way. 

There are two apparent situations when to call the surrender bet. 

  • When your hand totals 16 and the dealer’s upcard is a 9, 10, or an Ace. 
  • When your hand totals 15, and the dealer’s card is a 10.

Pontoon

Decks1-2
Payout on blackjack/natural3:2
Players3-10
Special FeaturesBlackjack card game with the five-card trick in which players can make Pontoon using five cards. The five-card blackjack beats a regular one.
Available at legal US casinosYes

Buy Cards For a 5-Card Hand

A British version of blackjack games played online; Pontoon has two main rules differentiating it from classic blackjack

The first is the five-card trick. This rule lets players buy up to five cards to make a hand that totals 21. However, you can only buy the fifth card if they have a card point of 12 or higher.

Twisted cards get dealt face-up, and players that take twisted cards cannot buy cards after. Furthermore, participants have to announce when their hand is a bust. 

The second most important rule is the fact that the dealer does not have a hole card. As a result, players will not know if he has a natural Pontoon until they have made their moves and the croupier draws his second card.

The Five Card Trick

In Pontoon, a soft 19 with three cards requires you to double down. You can hit even with an Ace or 2, which gives you a soft 20 or 21, making it hard to bust.

The five-card trick is also available if you need more cards to make a better hand. The only time you stand with four cards is when you have a hard 18 or higher, we hit all other times and double down with a hard 16. Some online casinos give the option for surrender, which you should take if your hand is not likely to beat the dealer.

Progressive Blackjack

While not as popular as progressive jackpot slots, we have seen Progressive Blackjack games. However, they are still not a thing at US online casinos. In all honesty, we expect to see these available only at the biggest casinos.

The game rules can be any of the ones mentioned on this page. The jackpot trigger, however, occurs rather rarely. As long as it's not a “random win” the trigger, we can see how a progressive jackpot variant of blackjack can be enticing.

Decks6-8
Payout on blackjack/natural3:2
Players2 and above
Special FeaturesA progressive jackpot that players compete for as they play blackjack.
Available at legal US casinosYes

A Progressive Jackpot

Players have the chance to win money by placing side bets for the progressive jackpot. A typical $1 side bet on a progressive jackpot would win you money for bets like; if you get a 7 in your hand, if you get two 7s of the same suit or three 7s of spades, which would be the jackpot-winning bet. 

Different bets carry specific amounts depending on the likelihood of the bet winning. 

Best Blackjack Games to Play Online

Blackjack games are popular because they have the right mix of luck and strategy to keep it exciting. That small degree of control players have puts blackjack games aside from other types of casino games.

Savvy players choose casino sites that offer a variety of blackjack games to choose from. If you are limited to a specific blackjack game, that’s not necessarily your favorite, make sure you prepare well before placing your wagers. 

Blackjack Switch

Regarded as the first variant of the game to be officially offered as a unique version of blackjack; Blackjack switch varies from the original by an utterly ingenious tweak to how the game gets played. Playing two hands, you have the choice to switch the top cards between the two hands to give themselves a better chance at a natural blackjack. 

Spanish 21

This version of the blackjack card game gets played worldwide, with most players picking it over other blackjack forms due to the game’s friendly rules. The range of rule changes gives you a better chance of winning. For instance, a player’s 21 always wins against the dealer’s 21. The game also adopts jackpot-style gameplay, rewarding players with cash prizes when certain scenarios occur. 

Next Steps

All in all, there is a lot more to blackjack than meets the eye. We highly encourage players to take some time to try out all of the different variations and see which one is the best for you.

Now that you know the basics, take a step further in your blackjack journey and check out which online US casinos are the best for blackjack players of all levels.

Blackjack Games FAQs

Should I play single-deck or multiple-deck blackjack games?

Single deck games like Pontoon give the player more chances of winning.

Multiple decks increase the house edge. By increasing the number of decks, the risk is increased. Ergo, it is statistically harder to predict the odds of the cards that are to follow.

Should I always surrender when I have bad cards?

The surrender option is always better than losing your whole stake. However, you should consider going forth with the game if you are playing versions like Blackjack Switch and Pontoon because you have more chances of improving your hand.

Can other players affect my chances of winning with the way they play?

No. Your strategy and chances of winning are not affected by other players in the game. Even so, some players like to think about the cards other players pick that they wouldn’t have used if they did not play.

Can I play blackjack online for real money?

Yes, online casinos offer real money blackjack, where players wager real money with the chance of winning real money. However, you can also play blackjack for free. It’s a great way to test strategies and practice the basic strategy, for example. Consider playing with casino bonuses to further increase your odds of winning real money.

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