Understanding Online Blackjack Variants

Published: December 27, 2011

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After online slots, online blackjack is the most popular game at Internet casinos. It is a fast paced game with a very high average return to player and a colorful land casino history. Many online blackjack variants exactly replicate the rules and payouts of land casinos in Europe, Atlantic City and The Strip in Las Vegas. These games are preferred by players intimately familiar with optimum blackjack strategy who want to take advantage of the high returns. However the less skilled online blackjack players find these games less interesting because of their monotonous nature. Therefore online casino software developers have created innovative blackjack variants.

These games offer some apparent advantage to the player in different ways. Players get attracted both by the newness and the seeming advantage of the online blackjack variant. One such game is Double Exposure Blackjack by Microgaming. In the usual blackjack variant only one of the dealer’s cards is dealt face up. The other is hidden from the player till he completes his moves. In Double Exposure Blackjack both the dealer’s cards are dealt face up and are known to the player before he starts playing. Therefore the player can fine tune his moves more accurately. Playtech offers a blackjack variant at its online casinos titled Blackjack Switch. In this game players have to play two hands against the dealer hand. The benefit is that they can switch the top card dealt to each hand. This way it is possible for them to convert two weak hands to two strong hands. Another interesting online blackjack variant is Power Blackjack from the software provider WagerWorks. The advantage offered is in a player’s move known as double down. When the player makes this move he can take one and only one additional card. In the normal online blackjack variants the player is stuck with the dealt card. However, in Power Blackjack under certain conditions the player can replace the dealt card once after the double down.

The important thing for online blackjack players is to realize that these benefits come with a cost. The costs are often down played in the game descriptions. It is for the players to be aware of the costs involved and to understand the net impact of the benefits and the costs on the average returns. The most common way of introducing a cost is by reducing the payout for a blackjack from 3 to 2 to even money. Another way of leveling the playing field is by giving the ties to the dealer instead of pushing. The third way used in online blackjack variants is making the bet push if the dealer ends up with a hand value of 22. In normal case the dealer would bust with this hand value. Both Double Exposure Blackjack and Blackjack Switch reduce the blackjack payout to even money. In Double Exposure Blackjack tied hands are won by the dealer, except for tied blackjack hands that push. In Blackjack Switch the bets push if the dealer has a hand value of 22. In Power Blackjack the only disadvantage is that the bets push if the dealer ends with a hand value of 22.

Double Exposure Blackjack can be played at Microgaming online casinos like Platinum Play and 32 Red. Blackjack Switch can be played at Playtech online casinos like Mansion Casino and Omni Casino. Power Blackjack can be played at WagerWorks online casinos like Virgin Casino.


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