Double Attack Blackjack

There seems to be a new blackjack variation surfacing in casinos. As of yet I have not heard that this new variation has made it over into the world of online blackjack, but there is always the chance it will happen, after all other variations have crossed over. The new variation that has popped its head up is called Double Attack Blackjack.

The basic principle behind this variation of blackjack is that players make their wagers, the dealer’s up card is then dealt at which point players can make an additional wager up to being equal to their round wager; then the player’s starting hand is dealt. Yes, you read all of that right; the dealer’s up card is dealt first which allows players to then increase their wager if the dealer’s up card is in favor to bust.

There are some other really nice player favorable rules in this blackjack variation. For starters players can double down on any number of cards, including splits. Late surrender is also offered, which is a very nice blackjack play. And the dealer has to stand on all 17’s, hard or soft.

But like any blackjack variation that offers some really nice player favorable plays and rules, there are also the downsides. Natural blackjacks only pay even money. But one of the biggest kickers is that this game is played with 48 card Spanish decks which means the 10 cards have been removed leaving only the face cards to count for 10.

Overall this blackjack variation has a house edge of 0.62 when using a modified version of basic strategy. Those modifications include hitting a hard 12 and hard 13 against all dealer up cards. As for hard 14, instead of standing against a dealer 2 or 3, you will hit just like you do against a 7 or up. No doubling down against soft hands with less than a total of 16.

If you are in a casino that is offering Double Attack Blackjack give it a try, but start out wagering small until you become accustomed to the run of Double Attack. And if you really want to make the most of the modified basic strategy and the rules of this game, do not take the second increased amount bet and stick with playing Double Attack on one wager.

Blackjack Side Bets: 21 + 3

Today we are going to look at another variation of blackjack. Thankfully this one is rarely found in the online blackjack sections of online casinos. Today’s variation of discussion is 21 + 3.

The idea behind this one comes from an attempt to combine blackjack and poker, to somehow bring two of the most popular casino table games together. In 21 + 3, the 21 stands for the blackjack side of the marriage and the game’s main highlight, while the 3 represents the Three Card Poker variation of poker.

When playing, the blackjack player has to place a side bet, which is usually around a dollar on average, as well as place a wager for the actual game of blackjack. Once all wagers are made the dealer will deal the cards. In order to win the side 21 + 3 wager, the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card must make up a flush, a straight, a straight flush or a three of a kind. So long as those three cards make up one of those poker hands, the player receives a 9-1 payout.

It sounds simple enough, but like all side bets in blackjack variations, there is no way for the player to impact the outcome of the side wager—the part in which the two player cards and dealer’s up card make one of the hands from Three Card Poker. It is all chance. As a result the house edge is higher.

In blackjack the house edge, if you are playing according to basic strategy, is 0.5%. That makes it the lowest house edge on the casino floor. But the side wager portion of 21 + 3 is 3.2% in a six deck game. Since the two portions of the game are separate from one another they have separate house edges. The difference between 0.5% and 3.2% is harsh. It is for reasons like the difference in house edge that I say to avoid blackjack variations with side bets.

Blackjack Players vs. Side Bets

Side bets are one of the evils of blackjack—both blackjack online and blackjack in a brick and mortar casino. It does not matter where you play blackjack, if you are playing with side bets you are going to lose more money. Check it out:

Perfect Pairs. For all intents and purposes this is played exactly like regular blackjack except for one minor detail: players make a separate, side bet on that they will be dealt a pair in their first two cards. If you are dealt a pair of twos then congrats, you win the wager; and if you are not dealt a pair in your first two cards you lose the wager. That is it, end of story.

The problem with this is that side bets are against the nature of blackjack. Blackjack is a game of skill in which players can use strategy—strategy they can practice and improve upon for better results—to improve their edge against the house. But with side bets there is no strategy possible that can improve the odds of being dealt a pair in your first two cards.

Side bets are simply a bad bet.

Let’s look at this side bet example a bit closer. The house edge on blackjack prior to strategy is 4-5%. In a game of Perfect Pairs that house edge increases by 1.76% up to 6.76%. Now you can apply something as simple as basic strategy to the game portion of blackjack and drop the house edge to 0.5% if you stick to basic strategy and do not deviate. But if you are in playing Perfect Pairs, the lowest you can bring the house edge down to is 2.26%.

And that is only one blackjack variation with a side bet. But use this example as guidance when thinking about playing in a blackjack game with a side bet, and take this away with you: do not play with side bets.

Online Blackjack Variations and Payouts

Okay, so I went a little nuts yesterday over Panamanian Blackjack. But really it is the best variation of blackjack that I have seen to date. A software developer needs to pick up that game and make it into an online format so that we can all have Panamanian Online Blackjack. But there is one thing that I did not talk about in yesterday’s post was about payouts.

Payouts are a big reason why I do not like the majority of online blackjack variations. That and side bets, but that is a whole other discussion.

The traditional payout of a natural or two card blackjack is 3-2. Meaning you are being paid $3 for every $2 that you wager. And standard online blackjack games do offer a 3-2 payout. But those online blackjack variations! Most of them are offering an even money or 1-1 payout.

The problem with even money payout on a blackjack is that you are not getting nearly the amount of money that you should be getting for you blackjack. Not to mention what it does to your edge. Even money payouts knock 2.27% off of your edge and gives it back to the house.

House edge is about how much you can expect to lose on a wager. So if you are playing in an even money paying online blackjack variation, you can expect to lose an extra 2.27%. So if you were wagering $10, that’s another $2.27 you can expect to lose just from playing in an even money paying online blackjack variation. That is on top of the standard 4-5% house edge per strategy.

And that is a big reason why I do not like online blackjack variations. So seeing a variation, even if it is not online yet, that does not stiff players with an even money payout made me excited.

Panamanian Blackjack

I have heard tell of a new blackjack variation. Well, it is one that I was not originally familiar with, but know that I know about it and have looked into it, this is probably the best blackjack variation I have seen to date. They need to get this into an online blackjack format so that more people can play it!

Where do I start on the player favorable rules? There are so many to choose from!

Well for starters if a player doubles or splits a pair on their hand and the dealer is dealt a natural blackjack, the player only loses the amount of the original wager, not the doubled amount. Panamanian Blackjack just improves the reasons for doubling down and splitting pairs—the risk factor of losing more money in a single round is gone. But this is especially good for doubling down: players can only lose their original wager but can win a payout off of the doubled amount.

And speaking of doubling down, players can double on ANY first two cards. They can also double on any three card totals of 9, 10 or 11. Players can also double down after splitting. The double down possibilities in Panamanian Blackjack are sky-high compared to those in a normal game of blackjack.

Oh and splitting pairs, since we already mentioned it—players can split any pair, no limitations, to form up to four hands. Panamanian Blackjack just keeps getting better and better.

Early surrender is allowed. This is when a player can give up half of his wager and exit the round before making any plays and before the dealer checks for blackjack. This is essentially the folding of blackjack, but it is better than the poker equivalent because only half the wager is given up whereas in poker the entire wager is lost.

Now there does have to be some rules that are not player friendly otherwise the game would not have any challenge and the casinos might was well just hand money over. In Panamanian Blackjack the dealer hits a soft 17 and does not take a hole card. Those two increase the house edge 0.22% and 0.11% respectively.

But when you compare the player favorable rules in Panamanian Blackjack to the dealer friendly ones, there really is no contest. Panamanian Blackjack has got to be the best blackjack variation I have heard of yet. The house edge on it when using basic strategy is 0.14%. That is outstanding.

Spanish 21 vs. Blackjack

Think Spanish 21 is not all the different from standard blackjack? You would be a tad on the wrong side.

They have different names for a reason. And while I would take blackjack over Spanish 21 any day, Spanish 21 can make for a nice break now and again. It is certainly a better blackjack variation to play with compared to others out there. I am talking to you, Perfect Pairs.

But like with any variation, it pays to learn some about a new game before diving in. That is unless you feel like losing more money than you plan on. Same goes for Spanish 21.

To begin with, Spanish 21 does not have as many cards in play. The 10 cards have been removed from the deck. Rest assured that the face cards, still worth 10, are in the playing deck; only the cards with 10 printed on them are not to be found.

Now this removal of 10 cards does impact your odds a bit. In traditional blackjack high cards, the 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces, are the cards that favor the player. So removing twenty four cards from a six deck shoe is going to impact your odds. This would have a similar effect to a shady dealer removing any ten value cards from a deck.

So right from the start you have to play Spanish 21 knowing that the odds are stacked higher against you since none of the low cards, 2s, 3s, and 4s, that favor the dealer have been removed. True there are some payouts that offer better than average odds, but those do not happen every hand while the card removal does. Keep that in mind.

Also do not go in with the idea that what basic strategy does for standard blackjack will do the same in game of Spanish 21. Because of the removal of the 10 cards, basic strategy is thrown off. Because of such differences in deck makeup and the subsequent throwing off of normal blackjack strategy, playing Spanish 21 with any degree of seriousness requires study of the game.

Reverse of Blackjack Introduced at Vegas’ Golden Nugget

Have you heard of Rupert from ‘Survivor?’ I am sure you have, everyone who watches TV has at least heard of the shaggy, be-tie-dyed-shirted guy. After three spins on ‘Survivor’ Rupert Boneham has found his way to Las Vegas…with a new casino game in hand. The game, which is called Rupert’s Island Draw, is something of a reverse of blackjack.

We are all familiar with the concept of blackjack. The whole point is to beat the dealer without going over a hand total of 21.

Now there is Rupert’s Island Draw. Well, it is at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas for its 45 day to 180 day trial that was approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which Boneham went to in order to present his card game for approval.

It was after the NGCB’s approval that Boneham made a visit to Rich Lemon, the Casino Manager of Table Games at the Golden Nugget. Lemon was quickly impressed and says of the game, “There really is not another game like it on the casino floor. It is totally different.”

Rupert’s Island Draw is played with sixteen decks of cards made up of Aces, 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s. The objective of the game is not to beat the dealer, but to obtain a total less than the dealer’s. There are side bets in Rupert’s Island Draw, so I can classify it as the reverse of a blackjack variation. But beyond the side bets and the objective, there have been no other reports of the rules of Boneham’s card game.

Already the card game is a hit in the Golden Nugget, but that might be a result of Boneham being on hand to kick the game off. Now whether this reverse on blackjack will have staying power or any longevity in a casino and whether to continue to offer the game will be determined at the end of its trial.

Some Blackjack Things Never Change

And what would be something about blackjack that does not ever change? Ever. One more ever just in case you missed it. And by never ever change I mean it is the same for blackjack in brick and mortar casinos, in online blackjack and in the mobile blackjack that is one the rise.

One such thing is insurance. Yes, insurance is the same. Not only does the rule not change, but a blackjack player’s strategy for insurance does not change no matter what format he or she is playing the game with.

Insurance is a bad bet all around mostly because it is a side bet on whether or not the dealer has a 10 for a hole card. The house makes you feel like you are making a big mistake when you do not take insurance, but the mistake lies in taking insurance. This is because there are less cards that have a value of 10 than there are cards with other values. This means that the odds of the card not being worth 10 are higher.

And speaking of side bets, they are another thing about blackjack that does not change no matter how you play it. Other than insurance, side bets are found in blackjack variations whose sole purpose is to take your money and drag your odds down.

Take Perfect Pairs for instance. Before the cards are dealt, players wager on whether or not their first to cards will be a pair or not. The problem with this is that there is no strategy that can help a player here. Being dealt a pair at the start is sheer luck and that is all.

Blackjack is a game of strategy, of skill. This is one casino game in which a player can shift the odds that are against them and lessen them. But playing in a blackjack variation with a side bet is the fastest way to turn the odds against you. And this holds true no matter where you are playing blackjack, be it in a casino, online or on your mobile device.

Mis-advice About Looking for a Place to Play Online Blackjack

I have seen it time and again. Those informational websites that are full of articles on how to do something that the person who wrote said article probably has not done themselves. I take for evidence an article I found on what to look for when looking for a place to play online blackjack which had a piece of advice that was very not correct.

This particular article advised players to not register at an online casino that offered less than 10 variations of blackjack. I had to laugh at this because this does not exist. There is no online casino that has 10 variations of online blackjack available, and the reason is because there are not 10 variations that are all played popularly today. You do not believe me? Here, I will show you:

Online Vegas: 4
Millionaire: 4
Rushmore: 7
English Harbour: 4
Aladdin’s Gold: 6
Cherry Red: 7
Go Casino: 4
Silver Oak: 7
Silver Dollar: 3

As you can see right there half of the online casinos listed have less than half of that particular article’s “required” amount of blackjack variations necessary for it to be a good place to play online blackjack. As for the two online casinos that offer 7 variations of online blackjack, they are the same variations: Blackjack, Face Up 21, Blackjack Perfect Pairs, European Blackjack, Match Play 21, Pontoon and Super 21.

And of those variations most of them are true variations in which the rules have been restricted for doubling down and splitting pairs, along with side bets being added, to increase the house’s edge and win more money off of the players. So why would you want to play them anyway?

The number of variations of online blackjack that are offered by an online casino is not indicative of whether it is a good place to play online blackjack or not. There are other more important factors to consider when looking for a place to play online blackjack and tomorrow I will share them.

Difference Between Blackjack and 21 Games

Perhaps on the surface there is no discernable difference between blackjack and 21 games. But obviously there is. Or I would not be about to tell you about the differences now would I?

So, yes, there is a difference between blackjack and 21 games. Actually there are only two differences, but they are very glaring when you stop to think about them. In fact, once you know them you can never un-know them and they will be forever in your mind’s eye.

Ready? Here we go.

Think about blackjack for a moment. Only blackjack. The very basic game that you first learned when you decided that you wanted to make money from a casino game. You know that you wager on one hand. You know that the only plays you have are to hit, stand, double down, split a pair or surrender. You also know that a ‘blackjack’ is made up in the first two cards you are dealt: a card with a value of 10 and an Ace. You also know that you are given a 3-2 payout for being fortunate enough to be dealt 21 in your first two cards—the price tag on luck for the casino.

That is blackjack at its very essence. And that is the only blackjack game. Ever.

Everything else is a game of 21.

Think about it. There are some games out there that have many of the same rules, but you are not paid 3-2 for a natural blackjack. You might get a 6-5 or a 7-5 pay out on a natural blackjack. And this is a problem because you are not getting the traditional payout on a two-card 21. And since the entire point of blackjack is to be dealt a natural and receive a 3-2 payout, changing the payout ratio changes the game.

Hence any change to the payout for a two-card 21, otherwise known as blackjack, a natural or a natural blackjack, is a change to the very essence of the game of blackjack. And changing the essence of a game makes it not that game anymore. In this case, changing the essence of blackjack no longer makes it a game of blackjack and it must be called a game of 21.

And that, folks, is only one difference between blackjack and a game of 21.