Blackjack Variants

All the details you need about Blackjack variations

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in New Zealand. The rules are simple, and the number of blackjack variations makes it suitable for all levels of players.

Choosing a variation may seem difficult. With our handy guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make the best decision for your playing style.

Most Popular Blackjack Variants

While traditional Blackjack is known around the world, regular players may look to try their hand at other types of blackjack. Here’s a rundown of the most popular online blackjack variations.

1. American (Classic) Blackjack

The dealer receives two cards, one delivered face up. If this up-card is an Ace, he looks at the hole card, dealt face down. If this is a 10 or a picture card, the hand is over, and the dealer wins.

2. European Blackjack

In European Blackjack, the dealer receives his up-card but only deals his hole card when everyone at the table has played out their hands. This can result in larger losses than in the traditional American variant.

3. Vegas Strip Blackjack

The main differences with this blackjack variant are in doubling and splitting. Both actions are more liberal than in other versions, with players splitting as many as four hands. Doubling is allowed on any initial hand, as well as after splitting.

4. Progressive Blackjack

In a Progressive Blackjack game, players place side bets that contribute to the progressive jackpot. The size of the jackpot increases as players place more side bets. If you choose not to place a side bet, you have no chance of winning the progressive jackpot.

5. Atlantic City Blackjack

In Atlantic City Blackjack, you can split a maximum of three times and double down on two initial cards. It also allows you to use a late surrender option where you withdraw from the game and sacrifice half your bet but retains the other half.

6. Multi-Hand Blackjack

As the name leads you to believe, you can play multiple hands simultaneously in this variation. It adds to the game’s excitement and allows it to progress faster than many other blackjack variants.

7. Double Exposure Blackjack

Double Exposure is a very different blackjack variation, played with either six or eight decks of cards. The dealer receives both his cards face-up, so all players have the advantage of seeing what he has.

However, this variant only pays out 1:1 if a player gets blackjack (a hand total of 21), and the dealer wins all ties. Another difference between this and other types of blackjack is that neither insurance nor surrender are available.

8. Single Deck Blackjack

You play Single Deck Blackjack with just one deck of cards, making it popular with players due to the increased chance of a winning hand. The main advantage is that, in theory, it has the lowest house edge. However, some casinos adjust the rules slightly to increase this, for example, paying 6:5 instead of 3:2 for blackjack.

9. Blackjack Switch

In Blackjack Switch, you get dealt two hands to play simultaneously. The difference between Blackjack Switch and standard Multi-Hand Blackjack is that you can switch the second-dealt card in each hand for the other, thus giving yourself a better chance of winning hands.

However, to make it less advantageous, the house pays even money for blackjack and a 22-hand for the dealer results in a tie.

10. Super Fun 21

Super Fun 21 is a player-friendly blackjack variant, but to offset this, it only pays 1:1 unless you get blackjack with two diamonds. In this instance, it pays 2:1. Other hands with a 2:1 payout are 21 in five cards and a six-card 21. You automatically win the hand with an even money payout if you don’t bust after six cards.

11. Pontoon

In Pontoon, both of the dealer’s cards are placed face down so there’s no advantage to the players. After receiving your two cards, you must hit until your card total is 15. Pontoon is 21 with an ace and a face card and pays 2:1 instead of the standard 3:2. Reaching 21 in five cards is called a five-card trick and pays out at 2:1.

12. Perfect Pairs Blackjack

Perfect Pairs Blackjack is named after the side bet, Perfect Pairs. It’s a bet on your first two cards being the same value, and you place it at the start of each hand. This variant allows you to double down once and split pairs. You are also able to play up to five hands at a time.

13. Spanish 21

The main feature that sets this game apart from others is that all the 10s are removed before the game begins. While this may favour the house, the house imposes other rules that balance the game sufficiently.

A couple of the significant rules are that a player’s blackjack wins the game regardless of the dealer’s cards, and you can double down after splitting and hitting.

Which Blackjack Variation Should You Choose?

Basic knowledge of the online blackjack variations is the first step in selecting one to get stuck into. However, simply knowing the different types of blackjack isn’t sufficient to make an informed decision. You should also base your decision on more technical aspects such as the odds, payouts, how betting works and, of course, the game rules. 

Each variation differs from the others in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. A variant with simple rules and a lower house edge suits a beginner player. One with more complicated betting and a higher house edge may suit an experienced player who is knowledgeable on different blackjack strategies. Although the game is easy to pick up, some blackjack variations require out-of-the-box thinking, and strategies can work in your favour.

Blackjack variants with the lowest house edge

The table below indicates how the variations differ with regard to the house edge. The house edge may vary very slightly between casinos.

VariantHouse Edge
American (Classic) Blackjack0.56%
European Blackjack0.39%
Vegas Strip Blackjack0.35%
Progressive BlackjackVaries according to the type of side bet
Atlantic City Blackjack0.35%
Multi-Hand Blackjack0.63%
Double Exposure Blackjack0.69%
Single Deck Blackjack0.15%
Blackjack Switch0.17%
Super Fun 211.30%
Perfect Pairs Blackjack0.42%
Spanish 210.38%

Blackjack variations that payout the most

For most blackjack variants, the standard payout for hitting a blackjack is 3:2. However, the rules of some variations allow for higher or lower payouts depending on the cards making up the blackjack hand. 

We’ve based the following list on standard payouts.

  • Pontoon pays 2:1
  • American Blackjack pays 3:2
  • European Blackjack pays 3:2
  • Perfect Pairs pays 3:2
  • Spanish 21 pays 3:2
  • Atlantic City Blackjack pays 3:2
  • Multi-hand Blackjack pays 3:2
  • Super Fun 21 pays 1:1
  • Blackjack Switch pays 1:1
  • Double Exposure Blackjack pays 1:1

The best variants to try when you’re new to a casino

Although blackjack is a pretty simple game with rules that are generally easy to follow, some variations are more complicated than others. They may have additional rules about when you can split or double down, making it harder to get to grips with the basic gameplay. 

These are the most favourable variants to try your hand at if you’re a beginner at online blackjack.

  • American (Classic) Blackjack – This is the simplest variant with no twists and turns, so it’s easy to follow and easy to play. The aim is to beat the dealer by producing a hand of 21 or as close to 21 as possible.
  • Single Deck Blackjack – Single Deck Blackjack uses only one deck of cards which means that it has a low house edge giving you a better chance of winning. The drawback of this is that some online casinos lower their payouts from 3:2 to 6:5, but you have a good chance of hitting a winning hand even with smaller payouts.
  • Super Fun 21 – This variant’s entertainment factor makes it popular with beginners and experienced players. There are also plenty of winning options, most notably if you score 20 on six cards or more.

Types of blackjack to play if you’re a pro

When you’ve mastered the basics of blackjack and are a more experienced player, you can take your gameplay to the next level. Why not try these blackjack variations favoured by the pros?

  • Multi-Hand Blackjack – Playing more than one hand at a time increases your winning chances and adds excitement to the classic game. Beginners to the game may struggle to manage more than one hand, but experienced players are better equipped to juggle several active hands simultaneously.
  • Spanish 21 – Spanish 21 has plenty of options for splitting and doubling, and experienced players can use these rules to their advantage. This variant also has special payouts for several card combinations that regular players will be aware of during play, but novice players may miss.

Blackjack variations you should avoid

While all blackjack variants are entertaining and enjoyable, there are some that you should think twice about before joining the table. 

  • Double Exposure – Although you have the advantage of seeing the dealer’s cards, you may be inclined to play more recklessly than usual to beat the dealer’s total. Additionally, the dealer wins all ties, and blackjack only pays even money. 
  • Blackjack Switch – In Blackjack Switch, blackjack only pays even money, and a dealer bust on 22 is a tie. These rules make it difficult for you to make money on this game.

Frequently asked questions

Classic American Blackjack is the most popular and played at online casinos worldwide.
Pontoon pays out at 2:1, which is the highest, but several variants, including American Blackjack, European Blackjack and Spanish 21, follow closely with 3:2 payouts.
If you’re just starting out, it’s best to choose one with the most straightforward rules like American Blackjack or Single Deck Blackjack.