With the number of different types of Blackjack available worldwide, it can be difficult to know which to choose and what the differences are. The 2 main ones found in Casinos both online and offline are European Blackjack and American Blackjack.
All versions have roughly the same rules, the aim is always the same – to obtain a score nearer to 21 than the Dealer without ‘Busting’ by getting 22 or more – but some of the choices available to you and how the Dealer acts differ in the 2 versions.
This article covers the European Blackjack version and includes details on how this differs to the American version.
The Basics European Of Blackjack
As previously mentioned, in all variants of Blackjack, the aim of the game is simple – get nearer than the Dealer to 21 without going over.
Although when playing Blackjack there can be other players at the table with you, as each player is playing directly against the Dealer, you don’t need to worry about bettering other players scores. As long as you beat the Dealer, you win the hand.
All players are dealt 2 cards face up to start and then have a choice to make as to what they do next.
Before any cards are dealt, a bet must be placed. You receive chips when playing which can be of different values depending on the table limits. Ensure you play within your budget and have some chips held back in case you decide to Double or Split, further details of those are below.
European Blackjack is played with just 2 decks of cards which is the first difference between this version and its American counterpart which uses between 6 and 8 decks. All players that have placed a bet for the hand receive 2 cards face up whilst the Dealer gives themselves 1 card face up.
Once cards are dealt, the player to the left of the Dealer acts first.
Below is a screenshot of a standard European Blackjack game at this point.
In all forms of Blackjack, Aces are valued at either 1 or 11 whilst all picture cards, Jack, Queen, and King are valued at 10.
Players now have a decision to make depending on the cards they were dealt:
Stand – Means you are happy with your total and wish to keep it to compare with the Dealer.
Hit – If you think you need to improve your total and get closer to the magical 21, you can get dealt a further card. If you don’t go over 21 after this card, you get to make a further decision as before.
Double – In European Blackjack, if your total is 9, 10 or 11, you can Double. This means you need to pay a bet equal to your initial bet and then receive 1 further card after which you will be forced to Stand no matter what your new total is.
Split – If you are dealt 2 cards of the same value, you can Split them into 2 hands. This means you pay a further bet equal to your initial one, one for each hand and you are dealt a new card for each giving you 2 new hands. In European Blackjack, you can only Split once even if your new hand gives you a pair as well. You then get to make the same decisions as above for each of the new hand unless you Split Aces, in which case you will be forced to Stand with both new hands.
Insurance – If the Dealer is showing an Ace, all players get the choice of taking Insurance. This is essentially a bet that the Dealer will get a 10 with their 2nd card and therefore Blackjack. If Insurance is taken, a bet worth half your initial bet is needed, this wins at 1 to 1 if the Dealer gets Blackjack, it is lost if they don’t.
When all players have completed their actions, so all have either Busted or Stood, the Dealer deals themselves one further card face up. They don’t have a choice in what they do next even if all players have a low total. If they have 17 or higher, they will Stand. If they have 16 or below they will Hit. This continues until they either Stand with a total between 17 and 21 or Bust by going over 21 – in this case all players that Stood as opposed to going Bust win.
Returns European Blackjack
Returns are easy to work out in all versions of Blackjack.
If the player gets 21 with their first 2 cards – known as Blackjack – they win at odds of 3 to 2 on their stake unless the Dealer also has Blackjack in which case the bet is pushed and stake returned. If the player gets higher than the Dealer they win at odds of 1 to 1. If the player and Dealer have the same value hand, the bet is pushed and the bet returned to the player. If the Dealer has a higher value hand than the player, the Dealer wins and takes the players stake. Differences between American and European Blackjack
The following are the main differences between the 2 versions:
Between 6 and 8 decks
Dealer is dealt 1 card face up only. Once all players have finished their actions, a 2nd card also face up is dealt
Dealer dealt 1 card face up and 1 card face down before action starts, 2nd card is revealed after players finish their actions
Players only have choice to Double if they have value of 9, 10 or 11 after initial 2 cards. No Double is allowed after Splitting
Players can Double irrespective of their total and are able to Double after Splitting
Players can Split just once even if the new hand contains a pair
Players are allowed to Split a hand up to 3 times when new hand contains a pair
No Surrender option is available
Surrender option allowed – players lose half their stake and can be done once 1st 2 cards are dealt
European Blackjack Strategy
We have a section on an in-depth Blackjack strategy, but the below table gives you a good idea of what you should be doing for each starting hand versus the Dealers card. This will give you a good chance of making a profit when playing European Blackjack and other versions.
Blackjack is considered one of the most popular table games in casinos and is very easy to play. The payouts aren’t as big as some games such as Roulette, but if you have the patience, a nice profit is possible.
One advantage of European Blackjack over American Blackjack is that as only 2 decks of cards are used, it is easier to keep track of how many Aces and 10’s have been dealt and therefore change your strategy accordingly.
However, American Blackjack does give you more control over your play as with European Blackjack, you can only Double when you have a 9, 10 or 11, you can only Split once and you cannot Surrender a bad hand.