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American Blackjack


There are many different variations of Blackjack around the world, the 2 main ones are American Blackjack and European Blackjack.

The main aim of the game is always the same, get closer to 21 than the Dealer without going over and ‘busting’.

This article is about the rules for American Blackjack and also outlines the small differences between the 2 versions.

American Blackjack Basics

As stated above, the aim of American Blackjack is to get closer to the sum of 21 than the Dealer without going over.

You get 2 cards to start and then have a number of options open to you. It is worth noting at this point that although there may be other players at the table, you are competing against the Dealer only and don’t need to beat any of the other player’s scores in order to win.

First of all, you must place your bet. This is in the form of chips and should be within your budget. Many online sites have tables with different limits, the smallest of which is often $1 going right up to $000’s.

American Blackjack is played with between 6 and 8 decks of cards known as ‘Shoes’. All players get dealt 2 cards face up, and in American Blackjack, the Dealer is dealt 2 cards, the first face up and the second face down. If they have an Ace as the upturned card, the Dealer will check his other card to see if he has a 10 and therefore Blackjack. If they do, the hand ends there and then with any player that doesn’t have Blackjack themselves losing their bet and any that do ‘pushing’ and getting their stake back

If they don’t have Blackjack, once the cards have been dealt action starts to the left of the Dealer which each player having a number of options to try and get as close to 21 as they can without going over.

In all variations of Blackjack, an Ace can be valued at either 1 or 11 and all picture cards are valued at 10.

Players now have to choose one of the following actions:

Stand – Keep the cards you have and that is your final total.

Hit – Take another card which gets added to your score.

Double – Double your stake and take 1 more card. In American Blackjack, you can Double with any amount as your first and only action, after Doubling your hand is finished regardless of the total.

Split – In American Blackjack, you can Split if you are dealt any 2 cards of the same value. This effectively gives you 2 hands and means you need to add a bet of the same value as your previous one. You can Split up to 3 times if your new hand also contains 2 cards of the same value, each time adding a new bet. If you have a pair of Aces only one further card and can only Split Aces once. When your new hand is available you then have the option to Stand or Hit as above.

Surrender – In American Blackjack you have the chance to Surrender your hand after your first 2 cards are dealt and the Dealer’s upturned card is known. This results in your losing your hand but receiving half of your stake back so if it looks unlikely that you are going to win, you can minimize your losses by doing this.

Once all the players at the table have either Busted or Stood, the Dealer will turn over their face down card. They will Stand if they have a total of 17 or more and Hit if their total is 16 or less. This continues until they either have a total of between 17 and 21 in which case they Stand or if they Bust by going over 21 in which case all players remaining in the hand win.

Below is a typical American Blackjack online layout.

American Blackjack Layout

American Blackjack Returns

Returns are simple in all forms of Blackjack.

If the player wins with American Blackjack – a 10 and an Ace – they receive 3 to 2 on their bet. If the player wins without getting Blackjack, they get paid at 1 to 1. If the player and Dealer tie, the bet are returned to the player. If the Dealer wins, the bet is lost. This is the case for all hands if the player has Split or Doubled, each bet is treated separately so some can be won and others lost.

AspectAmericanEuropean
Decks in playBetween 6 and 8 decks are used2 decks are used
Dealer CardsDealer is dealt 1 card face up then 1 card face down before action startsDealer is dealt 1 card face up, then gets a 2nd card dealt once players have finished
DoublingPlayers can Double with any total. Players can Double after SplittingPlayers can only Double if they have 9, 10 or 11 after first 2 cards. Players cannot Double after Splitting
AspectAmericanEuropean
Decks in playBetween 6 and 8 decks are used2 decks are used
Dealer CardsDealer is dealt 1 card face up then 1 card face down before action startsDealer is dealt 1 card face up, then gets a 2nd card dealt once players have finished
DoublingPlayers can Double with any total. Players can Double after SplittingPlayers can only Double if they have 9, 10 or 11 after first 2 cards. Players cannot Double after Splitting

Differences between American and European Blackjack

The following are the main differences between the 2 versions:

American Blackjack Strategy

When playing online Blackjack, some sites offer bonuses. If you can get a bonus for use on the Blackjack tables this will give a good chance of finishing ahead even when turnover requirements are taken into account. Check out our casino reviews for some of the best bonuses.

Another good tactic is to try and count how many high-value cards are dealt until the Dealer reloads the ‘Shoes’. This is harder to do in American Blackjack as there are more decks in play though. It can still give you an idea of what percentage of cards left are of a high value though, and it is also worth counting the number of Aces that come out during gameplay.

The chart below shows the recommended play for each starting hand versus the Dealer card, please note that a Soft hand is one that contains an Ace which can be valued at either 1 or 11 whilst a Hard hand is one that doesn’t contain an Ace

American Blackjack Strategy

Dealers Face-up Card

Check out our Blackjack Strategy page for more in-depth information.

Summary

Along with Roulette, Blackjack is one of the 2 most popular casino table games. The American Blackjack version gives you more control over your play as you can Split more, Double whenever you want and Surrender if the odds are against you. However, as there are more decks of cards in play, it is harder to get a feel for how many 10’s and Aces are left in play.

Blackjack References:

Blackjack Odds
Blackjack Rules
How To Count Cards
European Blackjack


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