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Blackjack or 21

Variations of Blackjack (21)

As can be seen just from reading the basic rules and specific rules of Blackjack, there are variations even among casinos in the same town with regard to various aspects of the game. These variations affect the ultimate odds of a player winning or losing over time, though not usually by more than a few percentage points. Keep in mind, no matter the rules, the odds are always at least slightly in favor of the house.

Some casinos will not allow a player to double down when a hand is split. Being able to double down, especially on aces is a big advantage to the player. A not unheard of option is called surrender where a player may choose to discontinue play after seeing the cards dealt (but not yet having received a card). Early surrender means the player must give up before the dealer declares a blackjack.

A particular casino may also determine that the dealer will draw a card on soft 17 (where the dealer has an ace and a six). This actually slightly increases the odds of winning for the house.

At Home Variations

As there is obviously an advantage in being dealer, most of the variations in Blackjack occur around who gets to be dealer in a home game and how the deal is passed from one player to the other. Generally, it is understood that the deal passes when a player gets a "natural 21" and it is this person who receives the deal. Should two players get a "blackjack" then the deal would pass to the player closest to the left of the dealer. Should the dealer also get a "blackjack" he or she would keep the deal. Perhaps a more equitable way to pass the deal is to simply continue to pass it left every time the decks run out.

Sometimes in home games ties are considered to go to the dealer. However, this skews the advantage perhaps too severely in favor of the dealer. Another variation that is often played at home is that a player who gets up to 5 cards in his hand is payed double.

In home games any twist can be added at the whim of the players, but before this is done, all players should be made aware of any deviations from the standard rules.

Next Page: Odds in Blackjack


Remember blackjack is a gambling game. Players should never gamble more than they can afford to lose.

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