Blackjack Variations

Though the essentials of the blackjack game are the same everywhere it is played, there are minor variations from country to country, from city to city, from casino to casino and sometimes from table to table within the same casino. Two blackjack variations are significant and need detailed explanation.

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The first blackjack variation is the no hole card rule. Normally the dealer deals two cards to himself, the first of which is face up and the other face down. In blackjack parlance the face down card is known as the hole card. If the dealerís face up card is an ace then the dealer immediately checks for blackjack. If his hole card has a value of ten then all players lose their bets. Under the blackjack rule of no hole card the dealer deals only one card to himself, which is face up. Even if the face up card is an ace he does not deal a second card to check for blackjack. The players make their moves and only after all players have either busted or are standing does the dealer deal additional cards to himself. The no hole card rule is disadvantageous to blackjack players. Players who place additional wagers for the double down or split blackjack moves lose double if the dealer gets a blackjack. Under normal blackjack rules the doubling or splitting moves take place after the dealer checks for blackjack. Most European blackjack casinos play the no hole card rule.

The second important blackjack variation concerns on what hand value should the dealer stand. Normally the dealer draws on 16 and stands on 17. However some blackjack casinos play with the dealer drawing on a soft 17. A soft 17 in blackjack parlance is a hand value in which the ace is valued at 11. Under the blackjack rule of drawing on soft 17, if the dealer busts he can convert the ace to a value of 1. Let us say that the dealer has an ace and a six totaling to a soft 17. He has to draw another card under the soft 17 rule. If the card is a seven, the dealerís hand value is not 24. The ace takes the value of 1 and the hand value becomes 14. Hence the dealer does not bust but draws yet another card. Some casinos in Las Vegas and Nevada play blackjack under this rule.

These rules seriously alter the optimal blackjack strategy and therefore players must verify the exact rules the game is being played under. Normally the rules are prominently displayed, but if not there should be no hesitation in checking out with the dealer.