Blackjack Variations

Since the day it was introduced to casinos, blackjack hasn’t gone through many changes. The rules of play are still the same. In order to make the game more challenging, land-based and online casinos have invented numerous blackjack variations.

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The blackjack variations differ slightly from the standard version, just like the odds, which results in a nice new challenge for players.

The Many Variations of Blackjack

Depending on the casino you’re playing at, you can expect different variations of blackjack. Most blackjack variations have been devised for online casinos, as their possibilities are virtually endless.

Online casinos are slowly taking over the business from land-based casinos and have already become the favorite place to be for thousands of players. Plus, they offer a great number of variations for almost any casino game, something land-based casinos don’t have in their portfolio.

Blackjack variations
Everything about blackjack variations

Among the most popular blackjack variants are Spanish 21, Blackjack Switch, Pontoon, Multihand Blackjack, and Single Deck Blackjack, which is an homage to simpler times when the game was played with only one deck.

Each of these (and other) variations differ from the original game in many ways and all of them breathe new life into blackjack, keeping it exciting and interesting for players.

Which Blackjack Variations are There?

Spanish 21 was originally introduced to casinos in 1995 and has since become one of the most popular blackjack variants. The major difference between the standard version and this one is that the game of Spanish 21 removes 4 out of the 16 cards with a value of 10 from a deck, leaving only 25% of the 10s in the shoe.

The game is played with 6-8 48-card decks and follows almost all the rules of standard blackjack. However, a player’s 21 always beats the dealer, even if he has blackjack. The payout is always 3:2 and some casinos allow players to double up to 3 times.

After getting and splitting an ace, players can draw several cards instead of only one, with the dealer hitting on 16 and standing on 17. It’s a fun take on standard blackjack with a house edge that can easily be reduced by using simple blackjack strategies.

Read more about Spanish 21

Pontoon is the name of two blackjack variants – the first one is popular in Asian and essentially similar to Spanish 21, while the second is a form of traditional blackjack that is highly popular in Europe. The biggest difference between them is in the terminology – pontoon players use Twist instead of Hit and Stick instead of Stand, while also calling Buy when they want to double (not double down) the bet.

Of course, the set of rules is a bit different as well. The dealer has no hole card, players can see one card before making a bet and can alter their bets in play. The dealer doesn’t reveal his second card until the end of the round. When a player forms a hand of 21 or less with 5 cards, he wins double.

Pontoon is highly popular in UK casinos as well as Australia and Asia.

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Blackjack Switch is one of the newest variants of the game, patented by Geoff Hall in 2009. As the name suggests, players are able to switch cards between two hands, forming much better combinations that can end up defeating the dealer.

When the game starts, players place two bets for both the hands they’re being dealt. They can switch one card between the hands, which allows the player to form hands that can get them closer to 21. A natural blackjack in Blackjack Switch pays even money, while a dealer’s 22 is considered a push, no matter the total a player has.

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This blackjack variant is one of those with the lowest house edge, and as such, it is quite popular among players. As the name clearly suggests, double exposure blackjack exposes both dealer cards before players take action. This gives the player advantage over the casino, which means no insurance bets, multiple splits or surrendering.

The dealer hits on soft 17s, though, but even then, the house edge is very close to zero. If you’re a beginner and want to test your skills at a blackjack table, we suggest trying this variant first.

Read more about Double Exposure Blackjack

European Blackjack is very similar to traditional blackjack except for the fact that it’s always played with two decks. The dealer stands on soft 17s and doesn’t check for blackjack until the hand ends. Players aren’t able to re-split hands and can double down on point totals of 9, 10 or 11.

Players aren’t allowed to surrender, while a push results in the player getting his stake back. The blackjack payout for this variation is 3:2, while the house edge is very close to zero (circa 0.39%).

Read more about European Blackjack

Bonus blackjack is a fun variant of the game which gives the player a chance to really cash in in case of a blackjack hand. In this version, players can place a side bet which pays a hefty bonus if they get a blackjack on their first two cards. Bonus Blackjack is played with two decks and usually pays out even if the dealer has a blackjack as well.

Of course, you get nothing if you don’t get a blackjack, but if you’re lucky, you can potentially win huge sums of money. Bonus Blackjack is one of the favorite blackjack variations of pros and card counters.

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Due to the fact that this variant is played with only one deck like in the good ol’ days, online casinos will almost always have a set of rules that will swing the house edge back in their favor and fight card counters. When playing single-deck blackjack, you should know that the dealer always chooses to hit on soft 17.

Depending on the game developers behind each single-deck variant, the house edge and rules can differ. If you’re playing blackjack in an online casino, we strongly recommend reading the rules of your game of choice carefully.

Read more about Single Deck Blackjack

The multi-hand variation of blackjack can be seen in most version and is especially popular for fans of single-deck blackjack as it offers them the chance to play several hands simultaneously. It’s a much more fun take on blackjack played at a much quicker pace.

Multihand Blackjack has a house edge of 0.63% and follows most of the rules of standard blackjack. The dealer stands on soft 17 and the minimum betting limits are pretty low so as to encourage the player to play all hands.

Card counting is almost made impossible in this variation considering the fact that the multiple decks are shuffled by the computer. This blackjack variant is aimed at the players who crave action and fast pace, which is the opposite of what traditional blackjack offers.

Read more about Multihand Blackjack


Although the game itself didn’t change that much, the variations described in this article give enough flavour to the famous card game to continue playing and never get bored. In contrast to landbased casinos, the casinos in the online gambling world offer much more variations. In lots of online casinos you can try them for free. Why not give it a shot?

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