One of the most popular casino games in the world is blackjack, the classic game that pits the player against the dealer in a battle to see who can make a hand worth closer to 21 points. Blackjack’s popularity stems from several factors: the fact that the game has a very low house edge, the deep strategy that keeps the game interesting even during long sessions, and the fast action that means the next hand is always right around the corner.
But even as fun as blackjack can be, sometimes you might feel like you want a change of pace. This is why casinos around the world have created dozens of different blackjack variants, each of which has a different take on blackjack. With blackjack variants, you can enjoy the familiar gameplay elements that make blackjack so enjoyable, while still feeling like you’re playing an entirely different game.
What is a Blackjack Variant?
A blackjack variant is any game that uses the fundamental ideas of blackjack, but mixes in new rules to make the game unique from the original. In some cases, these variants use the same rules as blackjack, but offer side bets that give players something additional to wager on. These games are essentially standard blackjack, but offer players extra choices to keep things fresh.
In other cases, blackjack variants completely change the rules of blackjack in order to deliver an entirely new experience. These games usually have a few things in common with blackjack: you’ll need to beat the dealer, and the goal will still be to make a hand as close to 21 as possible. But the rules dictating how hands are scored, what the payouts are, and how and when you can request new cards may be entirely different. We’ll cover both of these types of variants below.
Blackjack Games With Side Bets
Side bets are often considered “sucker bets,” but that’s not always the case. The house edge on blackjack side bets can range from reasonable to enormous, but most of them are fun – and since they can usually be played for as little as $1 (or less, at many online casinos), that may be more important than their long term profitability. Here’s a rundown of a few of the most common blackjack games with side bets:
Super Sevens/Lucky Sevens: In games of this type, the goal is to hope you get dealt sevens in your opening blackjack hand. Typically, players will earn more money based on the number of sevens they receive in a row, with additional bonuses if they are suited. For instance, if your first card is a seven, you might receive 3-1 on your bet; however, if you can hit three sevens of the same suit to start a hand, the payout will be an incredible 5,000-1 instead.
Perfect Pairs: This popular side bet is based entirely on the contents of the player’s first two cards. Players are hoping to make pairs — and the more “perfect” the pair, the better. For instance, two kings of any suit will score a win, but two kings of the same color are worth more, and two kings of the same suit will award the largest prize.
Bonus Blackjack: In this game, players may bet on either the player or the dealer will receive a blackjack (or both). Often, there is a progressive jackpot that will give players the chance to win additional money should the player make both bets and receive a blackjack in spades on the same hand.
Most Popular Blackjack Variants
Online blackjack casinos offer numerous variants on standard blackjack that allow you to play games with only a passing resemblance to the original version. A few of the most popular of these games are as follows:
Double Exposure Blackjack: Also known as Face Up Blackjack, this game features most of the same basic rules of blackjack with one twist: both of the dealer’s cards are face-up to begin the hand. While this would normally give the player a massive advantage over the casino, other rules have been made more favorable for the dealer to balance out this advantage.
Blackjack Switch: In this very fun and engaging variation, players must play two hands at the same time against the dealer. However, players also have the option of switching cards between their two hands in an attempt to optimize their chances: either by making one very strong hand, or by balancing the strength of their two hands. Again, some rules are altered to balance out this player advantage.
Super Fun 21: In this blackjack game that is commonly found at live casinos as well, players have numerous different ways to win. While standard blackjacks only pay even money, players can instantly win at 2-1 odds if they make a five-card hand that hasn’t busted, and player blackjacks in diamonds are also worth 2-1. In addition, players have the ability to double down at any time, and still have the ability to surrender even after doubling down.