Blackjack has many variations, more so if you play blackjack online. In the case of American blackjack, there are general rules that you should adhere to. However, some aspects of the game may vary depending on where you’re playing. For example, an Atlantic City blackjack game would have different rules compared to the Vegas style of playing. But in this mini course, we’ll take a look at American blackjack as a whole.
Basically, a player of American blackjack will be dealt two cards on which s/he will play against the dealer. This is the basic concept of the card game, but it will have different ruling when it comes to splitting and the maximum hands someone can place a wager on. Real online blackjack games will also have varying regulations.
American blackjack vs. European blackjack
If we are to compare, the American blackjack has more flexible rules than its European cousin. Still, there are pros and cons in these two variations.
In American blackjack, both the player and the dealer will be dealt two cards each. As for the dealer, the second card will be face-down, also known as the ‘hole card’. In case the up card is an Ace, the dealer will offer insurance bets to players before checking his face-down card by default. In the event of a blackjack, the house wins except if it’s a push with a player’s 21 hand.
But when it comes to the European variation of blackjack, there would be no ‘hole card’. The dealer will deal each player two cards and only one for him or her. Only after the players have their hands completed by hitting or standing that the dealer will deal the supposed hole card.
The difference is that the players of European blackjack will have the chance to double down or split which opens the possibility for more potential losses. Even the best online blackjack players can succumb to losses.
Still, European blackjack is played with two decks compared to the American version of up to 6-8 decks. This offsets the disadvantage of the hole card’s absence since card counting is easier and the house edge is lower with fewer decks.
The rules of American blackjack
When playing the American blackjack, the player will be dealt two up cards while the dealer gets one up card and one hole card. Depending on the value and composition of your hand and the dealer’s up card, you can stand or hit. Later on, I’ll discuss an effective strategy in playing American blackjack to win more money.
Your goal here is to inch close to 21 as a way to beat the dealer. Still, you can defeat the dealer with a low-value hand by analyzing his up card and the possibility of him or her getting busted.
However, if you’re the one who got busted (going over 21), the round is over and the dealer will retrieve the cards and wager. This is regardless if the dealer busts too.
Once you and the other player stands, therefore satisfied with the hands, it’s the dealer’s turn to play his own cards. Depending on the setup, the dealer will be required to stand at a specific hand value. The most common casino setup is S17 for the dealer. When the dealer gets an A-6 hand, he has to stop drawing cards for himself. After that, all the hands will be checked for winners and losers.
Betting and payouts
A winning hand in American blackjack pays 1:1 while a blackjack gets a 3:2. Still, some casinos will have a 6:5 payout system. Always ask about this first before playing, especially if you play blackjack online.
When it comes to online blackjack gambling, there might be added rules for betting. Wagers can be lower too so your bankroll can be used for a longer period.
Splitting and doubling down
As for American blackjack, you can split hands up to 3-4 times depending on the limits of the casino. Any pair of the same rank can be split; however, Aces can only be split once. This is a good way to exploit your advantage in the event that the dealer’s up card is weak.
Since you’ll be branching out your original hand to another hand, you’d have to place another wager to it. It pays 1:1 as well.
In the case of doubling down, each casino would have their own rules. For example, not all casinos will allow you to double down after a split (DAS) while some would. You can always double down in any total and after a split, if allowed to.
This is a major difference with the European version where you can only double down on 9, 10, and 11 hands. Also, in the American version, you can surrender anytime, a rule which isn’t allowed in the European variation of blackjack.
Playing real online blackjack
If you decide to play blackjack online, there would only be one player for every dealer. Also, the cards are played in a single shoe which will be shuffled each round. Almost all the rules of the casino blackjack will apply but with more lavish bonuses and perks.
Also, online blackjacks offer the ‘turbo’ feature where the rounds are sped up by skipping the animations of the dealer. This allows you to play more rounds per hour to maximize your gains over your losses.
You can also encounter the Premium American blackjack where bets can be as high as $10,000. If you’re a high-roller, this will be the best online blackjack for you.
Best playing strategy for American blackjack
As far as expert gamblers are concerned, the basic strategy works best for American blackjack with 3:2 payouts. Also, most house edges of casinos are calculated based on the basic strategy, thus giving you a truer percentage of your advantage.
If you’re a newbie in American blackjack, there’s a chart of moves that you can use. This may sound bookish, but memorizing this chart by heart will increase your chances of winning. In fact, it can slash the house edge by as much as 0.2% if you do it right.
But what if I’m playing a different variation of American blackjack? Will the basic strategy still work? Yes, it would. Fortunately, blackjack variations are no strangers to this strategy. If the dealer stands at S17 and the house allows doubling down after splitting, you’ll have a good chance of winning using the basic principles.
Of course, the basic strategy won’t always win your hands. Like any styles of playing blackjack, you’re still bound to lose something along the way. It’s just a matter of minimizing the risk while increasing your odds of winning, especially if you’re playing the best online blackjack.
How to use the basic strategy for American blackjack
If you’re not a card counter, the basic strategy is your best suit. Here are some of the basic tenets to adhere to if you’re planning to use the American blackjack:
➕Splitting. Always split aces. An ace is a promising hand which can even land you a blackjack if the odds are in your side. Do split in almost every pair except two 10s.
➕Side bets. There’s one rule to follow here: never put an insurance wager. This side bet is unlikely to come into fruition. Your dealer has a very low chance of hitting a blackjack and even if he does, it’s more profitable to focus on your original stake than to waste your enthusiasm on side bets. All side bets are sucker bets since it has a high house edge.
➕Surrendering. Do surrender if you have a hard 15 hand of 10-5 and the dealer has a 10 up card. Also, surrendering is the best option if you have a hard 16 and the dealer has at least a 9 to Ace up card.
➕Doubling down. Given that you have the upper hand based on the total dependence of your hand, doubling down is a good way to milk money from the casino. The basic strategy states that you should double down whenever you have an 11 hand. There’s a chance that you’ll have a nice standing hand here even at online blackjack gambling.
In this video, Shawn shows how to win using the basic blackjack strategy:
Strategy for 4-deck to 8-deck games
As said earlier, American blackjack will likely have 6-8 decks. Since your odds of winning lowers as the decks increase, it’s crucial to have a solid strategy. Based on the basic strategy, the following should be your moves in splitting, doubling down, and surrendering as well as hitting or standing.
In this event, we will follow the recommended sequence for the basic strategy: surrender > split > double down > hit or stand.
Surrender only if you’re dealt with a hard 16 hand except if it’s two 8s which you’re supposed to split. Do this if you’re up against a dealer’s up card of 9, 10, or Ace. Surrendering is also recommended if you have a hard 15 against a dealer 10.
If the dealer is to stand at soft 17, you should surrender a hand of 15 even if it consists of two 8s whenever the dealer has an Ace. It’s never worth it to risk your wager at this point regardless if you prefer to play blackjack online.
If your hand isn’t viable for surrendering, your next move is to split in the event that you’re dealt with two cards of the same rank. As a rule of thumb, always split Aces and 8s (as long as the dealer doesn’t have an Ace). Aside from that, here are more splitting rules to follow:
➖Split two 9s if the dealer has an up card of 2-6 or 8-9
➖If the dealer has 2-7, split your 7s.
➖Split your 6s if the dealer has 2-6. Do the same if double after a split (DAS) is allowed and the dealer has 2.
➖Split your 4s if the dealer has 5 or 6 and double after split is allowed.
➖If you have 2s or 3s, split it if the dealer has 4-7. If you’re up against dealer 2 or 3 and DAS is allowed, split as well.
➖Don’t split your 10s and 5s. These pairs can yield great hands that can either bust or defeat the dealer.
Doubling down can both be a weapon to empty your bankroll or a key to racking up more dollars. It’s important that you know when the right time is to push twice your original wager. Here are the rules of the basic strategy, be it for online blackjack gambling or in an actual casino:
➖If the dealer has 3-6, double down if you have a soft 17 or 18
➖If the dealer has 4-6, double down a soft 15 or 16
➖Double down a soft 13 or 14 if the dealer has 5-6
➖Double down a hard 11 except for a dealer Ace or 10
➖If the dealer has 3-6, double a hard 9
➖If you have hard 10 double except if the dealer has Ace or 10.
➕Hitting and standing
If your hand isn’t fit to surrender, split, or double down, hitting or standing is the last decision. Remember that a wrong move can bust you out of the game. Also, even an ugly hand of 13 can win over a busted dealer. This applies even to online blackjack gambling. It’s a matter of knowing when to ask for another card and when to stop. Here are some of the solid rules you may follow:
➖Stand on soft 19 and up
➖Stand on soft 18 except if the dealer has Ace, 9, or 10
➖Hit at soft 17 or less
➖Stand when you have hard 17 and up
➖If you’re up against dealer 2-6, stand on hard 13-16. If not, hit.
➖Stand on hard 12 with the dealer 4-6. Otherwise, hit.
➖Hit at hard 11 and less
These are some of the metrics players follow when using the basic strategy in American blackjack. If you’re about to play blackjack online or in an actual casino, always ask for the rules. It will affect your game plan as well as your chances of winning.