Blackjack Variations

Regardless of which online or brick-and-mortar casino you decide to visit, there is a good chance you will be faced with numerous variations of the classic card game of blackjack. The basic rules of these variants coincide for the most part but there are differences in terms of the details. It is precisely these dissimilarities that give each blackjack variation its own distinctive twist, rendering it more appealing to fans of the game looking to spice up their gaming experience.

That being said, blackjack aficionados often transition from landbased to online play for the simple reason interactive casinos offer a greater choice of options variation-wise. Ever since online gambling first became a thing two decades or so ago, players have witnessed an unprecedented explosion of blackjack games, each one with its own oddities and twists.

More importantly, these new variants helped revive the interest in this centuries-old casino staple by lending it an extra level of excitement. In this article, we take a look at some of the most interesting blackjack variations and explain what the differences between them are. Take a peek if you are looking to diversify your blackjack sessions a tiny notch.

Classic Blackjack

basic rules imageThe roots of all curious blackjack variations can be traced back to the classic game of blackjack as after all, this is where they have borrowed their basic rules from. Classic blackjack offers some of the best odds a player can possibly find on casino floors. Additionally, the game is fairly easy to learn as opposed to more complicated card mainstays like poker, for example.

The number of decks in play varies depending on the gambling venue or the software the online casino runs on. Generally, the number of decks can vary between one and eight. In online multi-deck varieties, the decks are all shuffled together before each hand is dealt. The object of the game is to get a hand value higher than the dealer’s that equals or comes close to 21 without exceeding it.

Differences between Blackjack Variations

variations imageWhile all blackjack variants follow roughly the same basic rules, various differences can be observed when it comes to payouts, rules on splitting and doubling down, and the side bets players are allowed to make.

The good news for those who engage in the game online is that they will rarely encounter virtual tables where the payouts for blackjack are reduced from 3 to 2 to 6 to 5. Then again, in some variants where both cards of the dealer are exposed, the payouts for naturals are further reduced to compensate for this. There may be discrepancies in the rules concerning pushes as well. There are varieties of the game where the dealer takes absolutely all ties. In other games, the same applies to all ties with the exception of naturals where dealer and player push.

Differences can be observed in the rules regarding the dealer’s peeking for naturals. Most of the time, the dealer would check for a blackjack when they show an Ace only. There are exceptions to this rule, however, as becomes evident by Playtech’s variation of Blackjack Surrender where the dealer takes a peek for naturals when showing Aces as well as ten-value cards.

Popular Blackjack Variations

The massive popularity blackjack enjoys has caused dozens of variations to spring into existence in recent years. Some of these games are unique to specific software providers and can be found only at online casinos running on their platforms. This enables interactive casino operators to attract a greater number of players, looking for a unique blackjack experience. We have outlined in brief some of the most appealing variants of the game below. Check them out yourself to see which one offers the most fun.

Blackjack Switch

blackjack switch screenshotBlackjack Switch is one of the most interesting variants of blackjack one can engage in online and rightfully so – it features a range of side bets that further boost its entertainment value as well as bespoke rules which allow players to switch cards so as to improve the strength of their hands. The game was created and patented by Geoff Hall in 2009 and quickly gained popularity among online casino fans.

Double Exposure Blackjack

double exposure screenshotDouble Exposure was invented by American game theorist Richard Epstein and first appeared on the floors of the Vegas World casino in October 1979. The game was initially called “Zweikartenspiel” but later on, the name Double Exposure was adopted by customers as it better reflected what this variation was all about.

European Blackjack

european blackjack screenshotEuropean Blackjack is among the most popular versions of the game and for the most part, follows the rules of classic blackjack. This game is played in landbased casinos across the Old Continent but tables with similar rules can be found in American gambling venues as well.


pontoon screenshotThis variation is widespread in the United Kingdom and borrows most of its basic rules from the traditional game of blackjack. The objective in Pontoon coincides with that in standard blackjack since the players aim at acquiring a hand total higher than the dealer’s but without going over 21. The values the cards are assigned are also the same. The game is usually played with a single deck but sometimes multiple decks are used to accommodate a greater number of players. Online variants of Pontoon would normally utilize multiple decks.

Atlantic City Blackjack

atlantic city blackjack screenshotThis commonly played variation of blackjack borrows its name from the rules which apply in casinos throughout Atlantic City. Most of the standard blackjack rules are in force, with a few differences. In Atlantic City Blackjack, there are eight full decks in play although some online casinos offer double-deck variants of the game as well. The objective remains the same – beat the dealer with a higher hand total.

Multi-Hand Blackjack

multi hand blackjack screenshotPlayers looking for extra action are presented with the opportunity to engage in a number of online variations where it is possible to play anywhere between one and five hands at a time. Multi-hand blackjack varieties increase one’s chances of prevailing over the dealer and provide players with more opportunities to turn profits. This is so because even if the player loses one of their hands, the other four can potentially result in wins and thus, offset the previous loss. Of course, it is allowed to play multiple-hands in landbased casinos as well if there are free betting boxes, but online multi-hand variants can offer a number of great features to the benefit of players.

Spanish 21

spanish21 screenshotSpanish 21 is one of the most interesting variations of blackjack as there are many modifications and differences in terms of rules. This game is perfect for fans of Twenty-One who have grown tired of standard blackjack and are looking for greater excitement and more thrills. In some parts of the world, like Malaysia and Australia, this game is referred to as “Pontoon”.

Choosing a Blackjack Variation

blackjack21 logoMany players struggle to select a blackjack game simply because the number of options is so overwhelming. There are several things your choice should be based on. Of course, it is important to pick a game which best corresponds to your style of play, but before you proceed with more unusual varieties like Blackjack Switch, you absolutely need to master the rules and oddities of standard classic blackjack. Study the game in detail and practice at no charge in Fun mode – something most online casinos support.

Once you have mastered the game completely, you need to consider which real-money blackjack variation will provide you with the highest value for your bets. It makes sense that your decision should be primarily based on which game offers you the most favorable conditions. Therefore, it would be best to pick a table which returns 3 to 2 on naturals. The good news is most online variants have adopted this standard payout and you can rarely find a game where the return on naturals is reduced to 6 to 5.