Blackjack Rule Variations

There are many rule variations in the game of blackjack. If you are planning to play an optimal strategy then you should know these specific rules before you start playing. All of the rules are usually not posted, so you should ask the dealer (or other players if you trust them) right after you buy in.

  • Dealer hits soft 17. Each casino has a rule about whether or not the dealer hits soft 17, a rule which is printed on the table itself. If the table indicates "S17", then the dealer stands on all 17s. If the table indicates "H17", the dealer hits all soft 17s. Either way, the dealer always stands on hard 17s.

  • Number of decks. Blackjack is played with 1, 2, 4, 6, or 8 decks. The house edge goes up as the number of decks goes up (although the marginal house edge after four decks is negligible).

  • Surrender. Some casinos may offer surrender, which allows a player to surrender half his bet and not finish the hand. Surrender is often referred to as "late surrender" because the player is allowed to surrender only after the dealer has checked his hole card for a blackjack. Occasionally, an "early surrender" option may be offered where a player is allowed to surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack.

  • Resplitting. Some casinos allow an unlimited resplit of pairs, while other casinos limit the number of times a player can resplit a pair. Aces are usually an exception to the rule and usually have separate rules.

  • Hit/resplit split aces. Most casinos don't allow players to resplit Aces, but occasionally some casinos do.

  • Double after split. Some casinos allow a player to double down on a hand that was split ("double after split", or "DAS").

  • Double on 10 and 11 only. Some casinos restrict the player to doubling down only on an initial hand total of 10 or 11 (and sometimes 9).

  • European no-hole-card rule. In most casinos outside of the US, the game is played without a hole card, which means that the dealer is not dealt until after the players have completed playing their hands.

  • Lowered payout for blackjack. Some casinos pay only 6-to-5 or even 1-to-1 instead of the usual 3-to-2. Stay away from these games.

  • Dealer wins ties. This is not a common rule. Stay away from these games too.

  • Insurance.

  • Side Bets. Some casinos offer side bets to blackjack players where the player puts up an additional bet next on his main bet and can win or lose the bet regardless of the outcome of the hand. Side bets could be based on three 7s, a pair, or another random hand. Side bets are usually bad bets for the player.


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There are two blackjack systems used by casinos popular where I live in Tulsa, OK. The first is a game called Super Fun 21. Briefly, it allows for DD's AFTER hitting, DD after splitting (including aces), surrendering after hitting, and surrendering after splitting. However, it pays 1 to 1 on blackjacks. The other is more standard BJ rules-DD's, no surrenders, doubling after splitting except on aces, dealer hits soft 17. They both use six-deck shoes, the latter often played deep and they both allow for mid-shoe entry. Are these games good for counting??

CardSharp on August 13, 2009