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.

Even Money Payouts in Blackjack

It does not matter if you play blackjack online or in a brick and mortar casino, you will come face to face with blackjack variations in either one. Variations are presented as a fun alternative to standard blackjack: Why play boring old blackjack when you could play something like Perfect Pairs or Super Fun 21?

Variations such as Perfect Pairs and Super Fun 21 have special rules and side bets worked into them. Perfect Pairs for example features a side bet for wagering on whether your first two cards will be a pair or not.

Along with additional features, better known as money sucking side bets, blackjack variations will also have some differences in their basic house rules. Super Fun 21 will allow players to double down on any number of cards, not the first two like in a standard game of blackjack. Such changes in rules are there to increase the player’s blackjack odds and to make them feel more enticed and secure about playing the variation.

But you do not want to get lulled in by that false sense of security. What online casino or brick and mortar casino will actually allow players to get the edge? None.

Not all of the rule variations in these variations of online blackjack and casino blackjack are good for a player. One of the most common differences to be found in blackjack variations are changes in the payout for a natural blackjack.

Many blackjack variations will only pay a 1-1, or even money, payout for a natural blackjack instead of the 3-2 payout. So if you were wagering $10 on a round, not including a side bet, and were dealt a natural blackjack, you would be paid $15. But in a blackjack variation you would only be paid $10.

Ultimately it comes down to odds. An even money payout for a natural blackjack lowers your blackjack odds by 2.27%. That is an incredibly big hit. But then you are losing out on the biggest opportunity to make money from blackjack, hence the really big hit to your odds. Your best bet is to stay away from blackjack variations be they in online blackjack or in a brick and mortar casino.

Blackjack Payouts and Blackjack Odds

Have you ever thought about the payouts you receive in a game of blackjack?

Oh I am sure you have thought about it in terms of money. You know not to play in a game of blackjack if the payout for a natural is 6-5 because it means you will receive less money.

But have you thought about blackjack payouts in terms?

Probably not.

Another reason not to play in a 6-5 payout blackjack game is what that payout does to your blackjack odds. That so-called payout takes 1.39% off of your blackjack odds. In fact, the only payout worse than a 6-5 is an even money—that knocks 2.27% off.

The reason for the hit to the odds is because a smaller payout is an opportunity to make less when winning. Blackjack odds are based on opportunities for the player to make money. If a house rule or payout provides the player with an opportunity to make more than the standard amount given simply for beating the dealer, then that house rule or payout increases the player’s odd.

On the other hand if the house rule or payout takes away from the opportunity to make money, that house rule or payout decrease the player’s chances.

So is there are a few payouts that decrease a player’s blackjack odds—not to mention money. Are they are payouts that increase the player’s odds?

There is. A 2-1 payout for a natural blackjack increases a player’s blackjack odds and money.

For a 3-2 payout a player receives $1.50 for every dollar that they wager. For a 2-1 payout a player receives $2 for every dollar wagered. It does not sound like much but in terms of a standard $10 wager, you would receive $20 instead of $15.

As for odds, a 2-1 payout increases a player’s blackjack odds by 2.27%, which is quite a nice increase.

So if you can find a game with a 2-1 payout play in that game since that blackjack payout will increase your blackjack odds.

Insurance and Blackjack Strategy—Some Things Do Not Mix

Have you ever tried to combine oil and water in the same container? It does not work so well does it? Sure, you can shake the container up again and again, but the oil and water will always separate. This is nature’s way of telling you that those two do not go together.

The same can be said about mixing insurance with blackjack strategy.

You might try mixing your blackjack strategy up a bit to take insurance, but the two will always separate. Insurance just does not feel right when playing blackjack. And so the two should always be separate.

The reason for this is you know that insurance is not your friend. It does not help your blackjack odds. For one thing you are putting out money to guard your money. Just say that out loud: Insurance is putting out money to guard your money. Does not sound right does it? That is because it is not right.

More often than not casinos and online casinos will collect either your original wager or your insurance wager. So you are losing money no matter what. If you won the round but lost your insurance wager, you lost money you did not have to.

Oh, and insurance and a natural blackjack—that is a big mistake. See, when you have a natural blackjack and the dealer has an Ace showing he will not offer you insurance. Instead he will offer you even money—which is just another way of losing money. Only this time you are losing it in your payout.

Insurance even money payouts are 1-1 payouts rather than the standard 3-2 payouts. And that hits your blackjack odds for 2.27%.

The point here is that if insurance is so bad for your blackjack odds, why mix it in to your blackjack strategy—which is supposed to increase your odds. Why do something to decrease your odds when you are trying to increase them? Insurance just seems so counterproductive to a strong blackjack strategy.

Low on Money: Blackjack Betting Strategy

It happens from time to time. Okay, perhaps it happens more often nowadays with an economy that is not so great. Whether you might be a bit low on funds because of the economy or because you had to put new tires on your car, it does not mean that you have to give up your blackjack playing.

In fact you can work some low stakes options into your blackjack betting strategy just for those times when money is a bit harder come by.

First off, there is no blackjack rule that says you have to play the game at $25 per hand. There are a good many blackjack myths out there, but the correct playing minimum is not one of them.

If you are playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino look for the blackjack tables with the lowest table minimums. There is no shame in playing at them. Often people will play at them for fun, to save a few bucks or to keep their bankroll in check.

The only thing to watch out for on tables with low table minimums is the house rules. You do not want to play at a table that is offering an even money payout on a blackjack, or one that allows the dealer to hit on a soft 17 or any of the major house rules that hit your blackjack odds hard.

For example, if you are faced with a $5 that offers even money on blackjacks or a $10 table with regular house rules, you will want to play at the $10. Part of playing low stakes blackjack is playing smart. Playing at a table with blackjack odds eating rules you will lose more money faster, thus defeating the purpose of having a low stakes portion to your blackjack betting strategy.

Thankfully playing low stakes in online blackjack is a bit simpler. For one thing the house rules are pretty standard, meaning you are not going to find a standard game of blackjack with funky rules like an even money payout on blackjack or a dealer hitting on soft 17. The blackjack variations will have those, but you know to avoid those.

So all that is left when playing low stakes online blackjack is to control your wagering—wager the lowest amount possible. Many online blackjack games offer several wagering options ranging from $1 up to $100 per hand. Obviously if you want to go with some low stakes online blackjack, your strategy should be to make $1 wagers.

The point of working some low stakes options into your blackjack betting strategy is so that you can still enjoy the game when your bankroll is on the low side.

Blackjack Games: Blackjack Switch

Oh goody! It is time for more talk about blackjack games and blackjack variations. This morning I have chosen Blackjack Switch as my variation to compare to good ol’ blackjack.

This blackjack variation can be found scattered throughout brick and mortar casinos, and it is beginning to show its face in some online casinos.

Switch works a little bit differently from other blackjack games. For one thing you are not playing one hand per round, you are playing two. There is no way out of this. If you want to play Switch then you have to play with two hands per round.

The reason players have two hands to play is because they can switch the top two cards.

In fact that is the first playing decision a player makes—to switch or not to switch. When it is time to play out his hand he can switch the top two cards of his hands. This has the benefit of giving players the opportunity to improve their hands.

Let’s say that you are playing Switch and you are dealt a 4/10 on one hand and a 10/6 on the second. When your turn to play comes you can switch the 10 from the first hand with the 6 from the second because they are the top two cards. Once the switch is made you then have a 4/6 and a 10/10, both of which are good hands as you can double down on the 4/6, and the 10/10 is a strong hand to stand on.

While that example is the ideal for what you want to happen in a round of Switch, it does not always happen that way. Sometimes switching the top two cards only improves one hand. Or maybe you only switch them for a shot at minimizing your losses.

But while switching your top two cards seems like an advantage—and it is—there are, like in any blackjack variation, some major down sides.

The most obvious is that if you are playing with two hands per round, you are wagering twice as much per round. On top of the extra wagering, blackjacks on pay even money in this game, which is a 2.27% hit to your blackjack odds.

And for extra fun the dealer does not bust at 22 like he would in any other blackjack game. Instead it becomes a push. So you are not losing money, but you certainly are not winning anything extra.

So once again we have another blackjack game—yet another variation—that on the surface seems like it could be advantageous but really is not. Like with Face Up 21, Switch should be played for very low stakes or just for fun if you are playing online.

Blackjack Games: Face Up 21

While blackjack is one of the most popular casino games both in online casinos and in brick and mortar casinos, sometimes you want something a little bit different. A little spice. A little variety. You like the game of blackjack but sometimes it just needs…something to shake the game up a bit. This is where blackjack variations came from.

Blackjack variations are still blackjack games, but they are blackjack games with a bit of a twist. In some form or another.

For the most part basic playing is the same and the objective is still the same: to beat the dealer without getting a hand total that tops 21. The spice, the twist, the variation comes in the form of some rule changes and a side bet.

Typically I am not a fan of blackjack games that are variations. This is because these variations have worse odds owing to changes in payout and the addition of side bets. By the way, a side bet is a second wager made on some aspect of the game; you can win the round of blackjack but lose a side bet and vice versa. Side bets are independent of the actual playing of a round of blackjack.

One such blackjack game that is a variation is Face Up 21. This variation can be found in brick and mortar casinos, but also in some online casinos as it is a fairly popular blackjack variation.

As for the game itself, all cards are dealt face up—including the dealer’s hole card. This revealed hole card is part of what makes this game such a draw. Players think that they have an edge on the dealer because his hole card is no secret.

But in truth the changes in the house rules on this game actually hurt your odds. And while seeing the dealer’s up card seems advantageous, it does not have an impact on your odds. It is just an illusion.

Now the house rule changes. In Face Up 21 all payouts are even money payouts, and this includes natural blackjacks; and pushes got to the dealer too. Your double down chances are limited to 9, 10 and 11. The even money payouts on blackjack knock 2.27% off your blackjack odds; and the limited double down knocks another 0.18% off your blackjack odds.

I understand that everyone needs a little variety from time to time, but when it comes to blackjack variations play should be limited to playing for fun in practice modes in online casinos. If you are playing blackjack games like Face Up 21 in brick and mortar casinos keep your wagers small to minimalize losses.

Another Name for Insurance

Insurance has an alias, did you know that?

I am willing to bet that you are a smart blackjack player, be you an online blackjack player or one who plays in a brick and mortar casino. You most likely know what the alias of Insurance is.

Well this deceptive little choice that gives edge to the house also goes by the name of Even Money. And you will only be offered a shot at even money when you have been dealt a natural blackjack and the dealer has an Ace showing.

And that is exactly how the dealer will put it to you, making even money sound like something special that you have earned for being dealt a blackjack.

The truth of the matter is that even money does not earn you anything since you are actually giving part of your odds over to the house if you accept.

You know you are offered insurance when the dealer has an Ace showing, but with a natural blackjack you really do not need to insure it. So the casinos thought they would be smart and offer players the same thing with a different name. Hence even money.

Even money is when you receive a 1-1 payout. And that is exactly what you get if you accept even money. They want to scare you into taking a 1-1 payout so that there will be no risk to the house to pay you a 3-2 payout should the dealer not have a natural blackjack.

And that is the trouble with even money—players accept a lower payout and reduce their own blackjack odds when the dealer may not even have a blackjack. He is showing an Ace while you have one of the ten value cards he needs in his hand. That is already one shot at a blackjack that he does not have.

Just because the dealer is showing an Ace does not mean he has a blackjack. That is what you have to remember. Being scared and accepting even money only hurts you in the long run. Remember your blackjack odds increase as your opportunities to make money increase; and they decrease when your opportunities decrease.

So if you accept a payout that reduces your chance of making money, you are reducing you blackjack odds as well.

The point is to know what even money is and what it does to your odds so that you know why to decline even money. Even if the dealer has blackjack too you will only have to push, which is not as bad for you odds. Do not be afraid of a dealer’s Ace. Just decline even money and hold out—you just might get that 3-2 payout.

Blackjack Variations: Double Exposure

Double Exposure is one of those seemingly deceptive blackjack variations. It sounds pretty good for a player but in the end there are always rules that eat away at the player’s blackjack odds. And the thing with this blackjack variation is that it can be found in online blackjack and in brick and mortar casinos.

So what makes Double Exposure so deceptive when it comes to blackjack variations? The main in-your-face rule of Double exposure is that all cards are dealt face up, including the dealer’s hole card. So there are no surprises here. Yes, it does add to the player’s blackjack odds by 8.80% but there are other rules that lessen its impact.

The other rules in Double Exposure Blackjack are that the dealer wins all ties except on a tie with a natural blackjack—that becomes a push. And a player’s blackjack only plays even money. In other words you are only receiving a 1-1 payout for the best hand in this game. And players can only split pairs once. It breaks down in odds like this:

House wins ties: -9%
Blackjack pays even money: -2.27%
Only split once: -0.10%

So let’s add that up and we have a negative hit to our blackjack odds of 11.37%. That is a very hard hit to a player’s blackjack odds. And this is exactly why I do not like blackjack variations. They try to trick players, luring them in with one or two really great rules and then hitting them hard with sneaky rules. Although the house winning all ties should be a dead giveaway not play this blackjack variation. In fact when it comes to casino games and their variations, the variations should probably be avoided.

So while having all of the dealer’s cards showing can add 8.80% to your blackjack odds, this variation’s other rules not only take it away, but they hit you for -2.57%. So you gain nothing and lose even more.

Blackjack Myth—Always Insure a Blackjack or 20

The only time that this myth would come up is when you are dealt a natural blackjack or a 20 and the dealer has an Ace showing. In fact, the only time you are offered insurance in blackjack is when the dealer has an Ace showing.

The belief on this blackjack myth might sound reasonable, but it is in fact not practical. Here are the reasons these myth-believing blackjack players will insure their blackjacks and 20s:

– If you insure your blackjack you will get an even money payout no matter what even if the dealer has a blackjack.

– If you insure your 20 and the dealer does have blackjack you will wind up with the equivalent of an even money payout because you will lose that round’s wager, but will collect on the insurance bet.

The belief in this myth is that you are protecting your hand. The problem is that when you are protecting it you are costing yourself more money.

When you insure your blackjack you are losing out on your potential profits. By ensuring a blackjack you are taking a payout of 1-1 and giving up your 3-2 payout. Breaking that 3-2 down looks like this: 1.04-1. And 1.04 is greater than 1-1. Taking insurance, ergo even money, on a blackjack is costing you 4% of your potential profit. So while insurance might feel safer, it is more expensive in the long run to your profit.

As for insuring your 20, that is just not practical. What is a hard twenty made of? It is made up of two 10s. It is one of those pairs that you do not split. Think of this: you are holding two of the cards the dealer needs. This lessens the dealer’s chances of having a blackjack, and it lessens your chances of collecting on your insurance bet because you need him to have a 10. So put all of your chances on yourself and do not take insurance.

Part of your blackjack strategy is playing smart. Not all the tips you hear on the casino floor and in online blackjack forums are good ones. Take some time and think about the blackjack tips you find, maybe even do a little bit of research one them, before putting all your belief behind them. You might even try them out in a free-play mode of an online casino to see how they work.