European Blackjack is a very similar game to standard Blackjack. The biggest difference in the rules is that in European Blackjack, the dealer only has one face up card until the player makes all of their decisions.
You can find European Blackjack in many online casinos. Bovada Casino has a great version of the game that can be played in both the download version and the flash, no download casino. In the download version, you can play two hands at a time at Bodog Casino if you choose.
As stated, the first thing you will notice when playing European Blackjack is that the dealer only has one card, face up, until you play out your hand. This makes for some interesting decisions to be made.
When playing standard Blackjack, if the dealer has an Ace face up, you may be offered insurance. Then the dealer will check for Blackjack and will win immediately if he has it (and pay off your insurance if you purchased it).
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However, since in European Blackjack the dealer only has one card, you have to play your hand out not knowing whether or not the dealer will make Blackjack. This can cost you more money in some cases. For instance if you decide to split your hand. You are doubling your bet, and if the dealer has Blackjack, then you lose twice instead of once.
There are a few other key differences as well. In European Blackjack, you may only double down on a hard 9, 10, or 11. You are however, allowed to double down after splitting your hands. If you decide to split your hands, they play as normal. Unless you split Aces, then you only receive one additional card to each hand.
Most casinos will play with between 6 and 8 decks. Online, though, there is normally a continuous shuffle anyway, so it does not matter all that much. The house edge at European Blackjack is quite small versus a very good player. It can be as little as less than 1%, which makes it a very good game if you can become proficient at playing it.
As with any form of Blackjack, there is an optimum strategy. And just like optimum strategy in Blackjack, it requires some memorization. It can be very complicated and for most people it is not worth trying to remember everything. Here are some basic strategy tips that can help in common situations however.
If you are dealt a hard 9, you should double down if the dealer shows 3, 4, 5, or 6. Otherwise just hit. A hard 10 and 11 should double down if the dealer shows anything except a face card or an Ace.
You should always stand on a hard 17 or better. If you have a soft 13 through 17 though, then you should always hit.
A hard 13 through a hard 16 should stand if the dealer’s up card is a deuce through a 6. If the dealer shows a 7 or better, then you should hit.
Soft 18 should stand unless the dealer shows a 9 or better and soft 19 or better should always stay.
There are a few ways to play pairs of course – you can stand, hit or you can split them. If you have a pair of twos or threes, you should split them if the dealer is showing a two through a seven. Otherwise you should just hit. Fours should only be split if the dealer shows a five or a six, all else should hit.
A pair of fives should double down unless the dealer shows a ten or better, in which case you should just hit. Sixes should split if the dealer also has a six or worse and likewise with sevens, split if the dealer has a seven or worse. Eights can be split unless the dealer has a ten or better, then you should hit.
If you are dealt two nines, they should be split if the dealer has a deuce through 6, or an 8 or 9 showing. Otherwise, you should stand. Two tens should always stand, and Aces should always split unless the dealer also has an Ace, then hit.
By following these basic rules, you can significantly lower the house’s edge in European Blackjack versus a player with little or no strategy. This can make for a lot of fun and a lot of winning sessions when things go your way.