As we are all well aware, I’m not a big fan of blackjack variations. They usually have a rule or two that is to the player’s disadvantage. But I’ve found one that is worse than the rest: Face Up Blackjack, also known as Double Exposure Blackjack.
Under either name this variation can be found in brick-and-mortar casinos and in online casinos.
In Face Up Blackjack, both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face up. You would think that this makes the game so much easier, regardless of whether you’re playing in a casino or online. But you would be a tad wrong.
For one thing you would have to re think your whole basic strategy. Basic strategy is built around seeing only one of the dealer’s cards, not both. How you play against one card, such as a six would vary if faced with a two hand total. On the upside if you have a hard hand you know what you’re up against and don’t have to wonder whether to hit or stand. If you have a hard 16 and the dealer has a hard 17, you know you have to hit or you will definitely lose.
But the loss of a key piece of blackjack strategy isn’t enough for this game.
If the dealer’s hand is higher in point value, you have to hit until you win or until you bust. There’s no way out of that one. So you can add to the reasons not to play this game you lose some player control, a big reason why many people play blackjack.
As for doubling and splitting you are limited to doubling on hard 9, 10 and 11. That’s it. That eats away at the power double downs have in lowering the housed edge. Although splitting is pretty basic. You can split any pair and keep hitting, except with Aces. With Aces you can only have one more card.
Also against blackjack players is that the dealer can hit a soft 17. And we know that actually increases the house edge by 0.2%. This is because it gives the dealer a chance to rebuild their hands and possible winding up with a hand total that’s better than 17. Hitting on a soft 17 let’s a dealer win more than if he would have to stand on the soft 17.
But then to top it all off a natural blackjack only pays even money. Forget how bad a 6-5 payout is. An even money payout is worse than a 6-5.
With all the rules about this game—the loss of basic strategy and player control, the limits on doubling down, the hitting on a soft 17 and the even money—this is, in my eyes, one of the worst blackjack variations that I have seen. Any shrewd blackjack player should avoid this variation if they see it. Even with the better payout percentage offered by online blackjack, this game is still to be avoided.