Double Exposure Blackjack

Blackjack is played all over the world as it is a casino game which offers players the opportunity to turn the tables and win by applying an appropriate strategy. Over the years, many professional gamblers have come up with different suggestions for new rules and moves which resulted in the appearance of more than 100 variations.

This huge diversity allows them to enjoy the game in many different forms and decide which one suits them best. Many of the casinos offer the classic game along with its most played versions as they have become a huge part of Blackjack. Some of them increase the house edge, others are in favour of the players which is the reason why prior to playing it is always best to double check the rules before you play.

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Double Exposure Blackjack is a variation which is extremely interesting and it appeals to a great number of players globally. The reason why is that as the name hints, in this version the dealer’s cards are exposed, meaning that the players on the table are able to see them. This capacitates them to make wiser decisions about their bets and moves.

This can be a huge advantage for them. Due to this, players should pay attention to the additional rules of the game as the latter were established in order to increase the house edge and make the game more challenging.

Brief History

The inventor of this variation is Richard A. Epstein. He came up with the idea of a similar variant he called Zweikartenspiel. He is a game theorist and a prominent casino consultant who has assisted many successful players. The loose translation of Zweikartenspiel from German is something among the lines of “a two-card game”.

Epstein discussed this innovative take on blackjack in his must-read Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic, where he also suggested a suitable strategy for the game. Unlike Geoff Hall, who invented and patented his Blackjack Switch variation, Epstein did not patent his bespoke creation.

It appears that Mr. Epstein’s book attracted the attention of Las Vegas gambling operators since a similar game, called Double Exposure 21, was installed in Vegas World Casino in October 1979. Shortly after, four other gambling venues in Sin City added it to their floors.

Casino patrons must have disliked the trademark name of the game because everyone called the variation “double exposure” regardless of where they played. Eventually, one of the executives of the Vegas World caught word about this. He decided to give his written permission for the generic use of Double Exposure 21, which led to this brand name losing its trademark status.

Ever since the version appeared, it has become one of the most famous ones because of its extraordinary rules. It is also commonly known as Dealer Disclosure or Face-Up Blackjack due to the fact that the dealer’s cards are no longer hidden from the players involved in the game, which is the thing that distinguishes it from the rest of the variations.

Another essential thing to bear in mind is that playing conditions might vary vastly depending on where you play Double Exposure. Rules are important because they affect the best strategy plays for this game. Speaking of strategy, it is also worth noting that Julian Braun, programmer and blackjack enthusiast, was the first person to develop an accurate strategy for Double Exposure.

With that in mind, his suggested plays are accurate for one-deck variations where the dealer must stand on soft 17 and players are permitted to double down following pair splits. This strategy was first published in Mr. Epstein’s book Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic. The correct playing strategy for this fascinating variation is affected by deck number, whether you can double after you split, and by the drawing rules of the dealer.

Double Exposure continues to enjoy undying popularity, so much so that some of the industry’s largest software studios have adapted it for play on desktop computers and mobile devices. You can find online versions of Double Exposure in casinos that run on software provided by Microgaming, Pragmatic Play, and Play’n GO. Respectively, there may be discrepancies in the rulesets based on the supplier.

Rules of Double Exposure Blackjack

As already mentioned, this variation is very enticing because both dealer cards are dealt face-up. Knowing the total of the dealer is extremely beneficial for the players and it changes the whole course of the game.

However, it is worth mentioning that there are some additional rules that favour the casinos. This is to compensate for the great advantage the exposed cards of the dealer give to the participants at the table.

The main principle and object of the game remain the same as after all, this version uses the basis of classic blackjack. In other words, players’ chief goal is to beat the dealer. Apart from the difference regarding the dealer’s cards, another crucial rule is that the house takes all ties. This applies in all cases except those where the dealer’s natural ties with the player’s blackjack. Instead of pushing with the dealer, the player’s blackjack wins at even odds in this instance.

Splitting is allowed only once and the payout for Blackjack is 1 to 1 instead of the standard 3 to 2. Most variants prohibit resplitting and drawing to split aces as well. One of the few exceptions is Microgaming’s version of Double Exposure where players can resplit aces. Additionally, some casinos prohibit splitting unlike ten-value cards like J-K, or 10-Q.

Also, players are deprived of surrendering and taking insurance because they are already aware of the dealer’s cards. The absence of insurance is nothing to cry about if you use only basic strategy, though, since this is a bad bet for basic strategists. Players should also bear in mind that most variations of Double Exposure do not support side bets but this is hardly a disadvantage, considering the huge house edge these wagers yield.

Card counters should take into account the fact that usually this variation is played with at least six decks, most often with eight. Some online variations, like Pragmatic Play’s version, use five decks of cards. The dealer usually hits on soft 17 but players need to bear in mind that this rule can differ in some casinos.

It is worth mentioning that it is best to opt for a casino where the dealer stands on soft 17 instead as this move decreases the house edge. We suggest you look for Play’n GO-powered casinos since the version developed by this supplier requires the dealer to stand on all 17.

Another rule that can vary depending on the place is whether players are allowed to double down after they split. The best option in such cases is if they are as this works in their favour. Most landbased and virtual variants of Double Exposure altogether disallow doubling after pair splitting, which adds 0.32% in their favour.

In this vein, it is worthwhile noting that doubling is generally restricted solely to two-card hands that total 9, 10, or 11. These limitations increase the casinos’ advantage by a little over 1%. As you can see yourself, playing conditions might fluctuate tremendously across different online and landbased casinos.

To help you make a better-informed decision, we present you with this table where we compare the rulesets of the three most popular online Double Exposure variants side by side. The impact of the rules is reflected in the games’ RTPs.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Double Exposure Online Variations
Ruleset Pragmatic Play Play’n GO Microgaming
Number of Decks 5 decks 6 decks 8 decks
Dealer Drawing Rules Hits soft 17 Stands on soft 17 Hits soft 17
Blackjack Odds 1 to 1 1 to 1 1 to 1
Late/Early Surrender N/A N/A N/A
Doubling Down Only on 9, 10, and 11 (soft and hard) Only on hard 9, 10, and 11 Only on hard 9, 10, and 11
Doubling after a Split (DAS) N/A N/A Available
Resplitting Pairs N/A N/A Up to 3 times
Resplitting Aces N/A N/A Available
Hitting Split Aces N/A N/A N/A
Resplitting Unlike 10s N/A Available Available
Multi-Hand Play Up to 3 hands Up to 3 hands 1 hand only
Return to Player (RTP) 99.69% 99.59% 99.30%

Basic Strategy for Double Exposure Blackjack

Like in all blackjack variations, players can minimise the casino advantage in Double Exposure by using a basic strategy that fits the unique ruleset of the game. A different approach is required since you get to see the dealer’s starting two-card total, i.e. you have more information to base your playing decisions on. By contrast, the basic strategies for hole-card blackjack variations are based only on the dealer’s upcard and the player’s current hand total.

This leads to many strategy discrepancies. One prime example is a dealer holding of 7-K versus the player’s hard 17. As we hope you know after reading our previous strategy-related articles, this is a stand in multi-deck games where the dealer’s second card is hidden, i.e. you only get to see the 7 as the King is in the hole.

However, standing on 17 vs. 17 is not strategically correct in Double Exposure where the dealer takes all ties bar blackjack pushes. In other words, if you decline to draw, the dealer’s hard 17 will beat your 17. The correct play for this card holding in Double Exposure is to take a hit in an attempt to outdraw the dealer.

Another good example is when the player is dealt 8-8 against a dealer who has 19. Under normal circumstances, basic strategy recommends you to always split your 8s. Nonetheless, the odds in Double Exposure favour hitting rather than splitting against strong dealer totals like 19, 20, and 21.

The strategy chart for Double Exposure looks different compared to those for conventional basic strategy as it contains all possible player totals versus all possible dealer totals. As usual, the playing moves are influenced by various factors, including the availability of doubling after pair splits, deck number, and the dealer’s standing total.

To use the chart, you simply must check the correct play in the box where the dealer’s starting total and your current total intersect. The plays suggested below coincide for a standard multiple-deck variant of Double Exposure where the dealer draws to 16 and stands on all totals of 17 or higher.

Basic Strategy for Standard Multiple-Deck Double Exposure Blackjack
Player’s Total Dealer’s Two-Card Total
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 A-A A-2 A-3 A-4 A-5 A-6 A-7 A-8 A-9
Hard Totals
5 H H H H H H H H H H D D D H H H H H H H H H H H H H
6 H H H H H H H H H H D D D H H H H H H H H H H H H H
7 H H H H H H H H H H D D D H H H H H H H H H H H H H
8 H H H H H H H H D D D D D H H H H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D H H H H H D D D D D H H H H H H H H H H H H H
10 D D D D D H H H D D D D D H H H H H H D D D H H H H
11 D D D D D D H H D D D D D H H H H H D D D D H H H H
12 S S S H H H H H S S S S S H H H H H H S S S H H H H
13 S S S H H H H H S S S S S H H H H S S S S S H H H H
14 S S S H H H H S S S S S S H H H H S S S S S H H H H
15 S S S H H H S S S S S S S H H H H S S S S S H H H H
16 S S S H S S S S S S S S S H H H H S S S S S H H H H
17 S S S S S S S S S S S S S H H H H S S S S S H H H H
18 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S H H H S S S S S S H H H
19 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S H H S S S S S S S H H
20 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S H S S S S S S S S H
21 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
Soft Totals
A-2 H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H
A-3 H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H
A-4 H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H
A-5 H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H
A-6 H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H
A-7 S S S S H H H H S H H H H S H H H H H H H H S H H H
A-8 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S H H S S S S S S S H H
A-9 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S H S S S S S S S S H
A-10 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
Paired Cards
2-2 P P P H H H H H P P P P P P H H H H H H H H H H H H
3-3 P P P H H H H H P P P P P P H H H H H H H H H H H H
4-4 H H P H H H H H P P P P P H H H H H H H H H H H H H
5-5 D D D D D H H H D D D D P H H H H H H D D D H H H H
6-6 P P P H H H H H P P P P P P H H H H H S S S H H H H
7-7 P P P H H H H S P P P P P P H H H S S S S S H H H H
8-8 P P P P P S S S P P P P P P H H H S S S S P P H H H
9-9 P P P S P S S S P P P P P S P H H S S S P P S P H H
10-10 S S S S S S S S S P P P P S S S H S S S S S S S S H
A-A P P P P P P P H P P P P P H H H H P P P P P P H H H
H = Hit; S = Stand; D = Double down; P = Split

Pros & Cons of Double Exposure Blackjack

In general, Double Exposure Blackjack is considered to be a variation which favours the players more than the casino. This is one of the biggest advantages as it gives them moderately good chances of winning as long as they have the needed strategy and skills.

Another great benefit is that they are able to see both cards of the dealer and thus, make their moves and bets according to them. This variation is also offered online by most of the reputable casinos which makes it great for players who like to play on the go.

One of the major drawbacks in this version is that the dealer wins all ties, meaning that if players find themselves in a situation where they and the dealer push with anything else but blackjacks, they won’t get anything.

Moreover, prior to playing, it is compulsory to adjust your basic strategy as its suggested moves are based on the probability of the dealer’s two-card total. Since players will be aware of them, a new approach is required. They should also bear in mind that the payout for blackjacks is even money which affects their profit in the long term.

Player is dealt a 20 Hand and Dealer is dealt a 13 Hand. Player decided to Stand. Dealer draws a 7 and ties with Player. Because of Double Exposure rules Dealer wins.

Conclusion

Double Exposure Blackjack is one of the most well-known variations of Blackjack due to the fact that it offers one different way of playing the game, providing that players are able to see the dealer’s cards.

This directly affects their decisions regarding their moves and bets as this valuable information gives them a general idea of the outcome of a particular situation. However, they should take into account the fact that there are a number of imposed rules which aim at decreasing the players’ advantage.

It is one very interesting version of the game which players have the chance to try not only in brick and mortar casinos but also online. It is recommended prior to playing to always get familiar with all of the rules and game specifications beforehand as they vary depending on the casino they are played at. Moreover, they should also take their time to adjust the basic strategy in order to manage to reduce their money losses to minimum.