Atlantic City is one of the largest gambling hubs in the United States, so it’s not too surprising to see a form of blackjack named after the city. That said, it would probably be wrong to refer to Atlantic City Blackjack as a “variant,” as it follows all of the normal rules of blackjack to the letter.
However, in online play, Atlantic City Blackjack definitely refers to a very specific game with a certain rule set. This makes it easy to understand exactly what you’re jumping into whenever you see an Atlantic City Blackjack game offered at a casino site. These games are generally used as a way of giving players multiple online blackjack options, while still offering a familiar style of gameplay that’s only very slightly different from a casino’s “standard” blackjack game.
Atlantic City Blackjack Rules
The basics of Atlantic City Blackjack should be familiar to anyone who has played any blackjack before. The object of the game is to make a hand that totals as close to 21 in order to beat the dealer. Aces may count as 1 or 11, face cards are worth 10, and all other numbered cards are worth exactly their number.
Players begin each hand by making a bet, and then receive two cards face up. The dealer receives one card face up, along with a “hole card” that is face down. The dealer checks for blackjack before any players get the chance to play their hands, with a dealer blackjack beating everything but a player blackjack (which pushes). Players normally have all of the same options as in regular blackjack, including doubling down or splitting their hand when appropriate.
As we mentioned earlier, Atlantic City Blackjack is more about playing with a specific set of rules than any weird rule changes that dramatically effect gameplay. With that in mind, here’s a list of the rules you can expect to see in an online Atlantic City Blackjack game.
Dealer Stands on All 17s: This rule is slightly advantageous to the player compared to the alternative, where the dealer will hit soft 17s.
Blackjack Pays 3-2: While we’ve heard that more and more blackjack games in the actual Atlantic City are resorting to the practice of paying just 6-5 for blackjack (yuck), all of the online versions we’ve seen offer 3-2 on their blackjacks, as they should.
Late Surrender: Players are given the option to surrender hands when it is their turn to act, which can give you an easy way out of some of the worst blackjack situations at the cost of half of your bet.
Double on Any Two Cards: This is common in all American-style blackjack games, but differs from many European games where doubling down is only allowed on totals of 9, 10 and 11.
Eight Deck Shoe: This is fairly standard among Atlantic City Blackjack games, though this is one area in which you might see some variation, with some games using six-deck shoes.
Splitting Rules: Players are allowed to split any pair, and may resplit up to four hands in most cases. Players may also play their hands as normal after splitting, including doubling after a split. The one exception to this is that players only receive one card after splitting aces, and may not resplit aces. If the player receives a blackjack after splitting, it is normally considered a normal hand of 21 rather than a blackjack that pays 3-2. If players wish to split tens (which they shouldn’t), they can split non-identical cards as long as they are both worth ten (in other words, you can split a jack and a queen).
Atlantic City Blackjack Strategy
Atlantic City Blackjack should be played with the same strategy you’d use for any game where the dealer does not hit on soft 17. While full basic strategy charts should be determined based on the exact rules of your game, the fairly standard rule set for Atlantic City Blackjack does at least lend itself to a simplified strategy that will get you very close to playing optimally with very little effort.
Players should, of course, hit with any hand of 11 or less in all cases, as players cannot go bust with these hands. However, if you have a nine and the dealer is showing something in the 3-6 range, or if you have a ten or 11 and are currently beating the dealer, you should double down instead.
With a hard hand of 17 or more, always stand. If you have between 12 and 16, stand if the dealer is showing a low card (6 or lower), and hit if the dealer has a high card (7 or higher).
With soft hands (that is, hands that contain an ace that still counts as 11), always stand on hands of 19 or more. Always hit with hands of 18 or less, with one exception: double down if the dealer has a low card and you have a soft 16, 17 or 18.
Finally, always split your pairs of eights and aces. Never split fours, fives, or tens. For other pairs, split only if the dealer is showing a low card.