Fans of the game of 21 have plenty of variations to explore whenever they join online casinos. Depending on the rules that you enjoy playing with, your budget, and your willingness to take risks, you may enjoy different variants of blackjack. One thing to keep in mind is that the house, i.e. the casino, always has an advantage over the player. This being said, if you find online blackjack variations with more advantageous rules, you may significantly improve your winnings chances.
While card-counting is popular among players at land-based casinos, when you play blackjack online, you will need to resort to different types of strategies. Looking for blackjack variations with the highest value may be a good start to a successful virtual blackjack journey. Combining a game with great rules and the right blackjack strategy may significantly tilt the scales in your favour.
To be able to spot the highest-value online blackjack variations, you will need to learn which rules are the most beneficial for the player. This way you will be able to recognize games that are worth betting on. While you can have a fruitful and fun experience playing most blackjack games available online, there are most certainly several variations that will offer you the best winning chances.
Rules Affecting the Value of Online Blackjack Games
If you are interested in playing blackjack, then you probably know the basic rules of the game. If you, however, are new to the casino classic, we will clarify players’ main goal in this card game. Blackjack is played against a dealer, with the player’s hand competing with the dealer’s hand. While face-cards carry the value of 10, the cards between 2 and 10 count as their pip value. The Ace is the one card that can have two different values, counting either as 1 or as 11.
When you are comparing online blackjack versions, there are several things to pay attention to. Different rules may have a negative or positive effect on a player’s potential return. Knowing the best rules to play with will allow you to spot the best online blackjack variant, giving you the best chances for fruitful results.
Numbers of Decks Used in the Game
When you play online, you can come across blackjack variations that use anywhere between one and eight decks. Even if two variants of the game of 21 implement the same rules but use different numbers of decks, you can be certain that the house edges of the two games will be different. The more decks are utilised in the gameplay, the better the house’s advantage becomes.
Naturally, if we draw a conclusion from the rule explained above, the best online blackjack variations to play will be those that use fewer card decks. If you come across a version that utilises only a single deck, you can expect to have better winning chances than playing with more decks. Of course, you should also check the rest of the rules of the game instead of simply comparing the number of used decks.
Let us assume that a blackjack game is utilizing standard rules such as dealer hitting soft 17, blackjack pays 3 to 2, dealer peeks on Aces or ten, players can double on any pair of cards, doubling after a split is allowed, players can resplit up to three times, there is no surrender. If the player uses a basic strategy, using eight decks will give the house an edge of 0.58%. Decreasing the number of decks will bring the house advantage lower, with a single-deck blackjack variant having a house edge of only 0.014%.
Some blackjack variations will have the dealer side draw a hole card, allowing peeking for a blackjack if the dealer’s facing-up card is an Ace or a ten. In the case when the dealer is indeed holding a natural, the player will lose their bet immediately, before making any further decisions. The only exception is when the player is also holding a blackjack.
Some blackjack variations may try to fool inexperienced players by offering a blackjack payout of 6 to 5. Keep in mind that the best payout for a natural is 3 to 2 and you should avoid variations that will pay 6 to 5 for holding a blackjack. Typically, this type of payout can be found on single-deck or double-deck virtual tables. As it was mentioned earlier, fewer decks give the player better winning chances. This is why the casino tries to gain some advantage by lowering the payout for a natural.
Although a 6 to 5 payout might seem like a better offering than being paid 3 to 2 for a blackjack, a simple example will prove otherwise. Let us assume you have placed a bet of $10 on the game and you obtain the best possible hand. A 6 to 5 payout will award $12 while the 3 to 2 blackjack variant will grant $15 for a natural. Clearly, the 3 to 2 option is much better and you should always look for variations with this payout.
The blackjack variations that offer a 6 to 5 payout for a blackjack raise the house’s advantage by 1.39%, significantly decreasing the player’s chances of winning. Usually, you can easily spot the blackjack payout when you play the game online as it is visible on the table design. If you see that blackjack pays 6 to 5, you better look for a 3 to 2 variation.
Doubling Down Rules
Another rule that often affects the house edge in blackjack is doubling down. While some variations of the game of 21 will allow players to double on any pair of cards, others will offer this betting option only if the two cards have a certain total. Most commonly, variants that have restrictions on doubling will allow players to double only on totals of 9, 10, or 11.
It is also beneficial to be able to make use of a double down after a split. If the blackjack variation that you play allows players to double down after they have split their initial pair, you can enjoy a game with a house edge that has been decreased by 0.14%.
Split and Resplit Rules
Splitting is also an important rule in blackjack, affecting the house edge under different circumstances. While some variations of the game will not allow players to draw more than one card to split Aces, other blackjack options enable players to draw initial cards to split Aces. If the online blackjack variation you have chosen to play allows you to draw multiple cards to split Aces, this will increase your advantage by 0.14%.
Resplitting is also a rule that may have different variations as some games allow players to split pairs up to three times, forming four hands. The most common exception to this rule are Aces, which can be split only once. This being said, there are a few blackjack variations that will allow resplit after the player has split a pair of Aces. This rule lowers the house edge by 0.06%, giving players more opportunities to start a hand with an Ace, which is the best possible initial card in blackjack.
Late Surrender Option
Having the chance to make use of late surrender while playing blackjack is another rule that is beneficial to the player. If the online blackjack variation that you play allows that rule, you will have the chance to surrender your hand after the dealer checks their down card. Some virtual blackjack games do not offer either early or late surrender. We advise you to avoid such variations as the surrender rule can significantly minimize your losses.
Having Side Bets in Online Blackjack
With online blackjack variations implementing different rules, there are plenty of factors that will affect the house edge of the game that you are playing. Meanwhile, many virtual blackjack options will also offer side bets that can also affect the house edge, giving the casino a bigger advantage. This being said, if you decide to simply play the base game without making use of the side bet options, the player’s return percentage will not be affected in any way by the side bets of the game. If you enjoy making riskier decisions, however, you can make use of some of the most popular side bets that can be found at various online blackjack games.
21+3 Side Bet
One of the most common side bets you can find while playing blackjack online is 21+3. In addition to the regular payout for a winning hand, players can significantly boost their winnings by making this additional side bet. The 21+3 bet is won when the player’s two initial cards and the face-up card of the dealer form a specific three-card poker combination.
The three-card hands that will win you this side bet include Flush (three cards of the same suit), Straight (three cards in a sequence), and Three-of-a-Kind (all three cards must be of the same value). Depending on the difficulty of getting the hands, Flush, Straight, and Three-of-a-Kind pay respectively 5 to 1, 10 to 1, and 30 to 1. You will also win the side bet if the three cards are in a sequence and of the same suit (40 to 1) or the three cards are of the same value and the same suit (100 to 1). The house edge for the side bet may be different, depending on the exact payout of every three-card hand and the number of decks used in the game.
Perfect Pairs is another very common side bet that you may come across while playing online blackjack variations. Unlike the previous additional bet, Perfect Pairs is concerned only with the player’s two initial cards. To win the side bet, your first two cards must be a pair, the type of payout that you will receive depends on the type of pair you have drawn.
If your pair is of different colours, you will enjoy a payout of 5 to 1, while a pair of the same colour but different suits awards a payout of 10 to 1. Provided you are holding a perfect pair, i.e. the pair is of the same colour and suit, you will be paid 30 to 1.
Other Side Bets
You can also find side bets like Lucky Ladies, Lucky Lucky, and Buster when you play different online blackjack variations. Lucky Ladies is won when the player’s initial hand is a pair of Queens or totals 20. If the pair is of Queens of Hearts and the dealer draws to blackjack, the payout for the side bet is 1,000 to 1.
The Lucky Lucky side bet is won when the player’s two cards and the dealer’s face-up card form a specific combination such as a total of 19, total of 20, unsuited total of 21, a suited total of 21, unsuited 6-7-8, unsuited three 7’s, suited 6-7-8, and suited three 7’s. The highest payout for the side bet is 200 to 1 and is won when there are three suited 7’s on the first draw.
Highest-Value Blackjack Variations to Play Online
You can have a wonderful blackjack experience online, especially if you find variations that offer the best winning chances one could enjoy. While the variety of options can leave you overwhelmed, there are several variants that utilise the most player-friendly rules, giving you better chances for fruitful outcomes.
There are several variations of Bonus Blackjack that you can come across while playing online. The one variation powered by 1×2 Gaming, however, has one of the lowest house edges you will come across when browsing through different virtual blackjack tables.
In 1×2 Gaming’s version of Bonus Blackjack, the game utilises six decks and the dealer stands on soft 17. It is allowed to double down on any two cards and you can also double after a split. Unfortunately, it is not possible to resplit Aces or draw additional cards to split Aces. In this blackjack version, the dealer peeks for a natural but there is no surrender option. Still, thanks to the peek, the losses of players could be minimized. The payout for a blackjack is the standard 3 to 2, with all rules of the game and the proper strategy bringing the house edge all the way down to 0.18%.
Single Deck Blackjack
As we have already mentioned, having fewer decks in the game gives players a bigger advantage. This is why many software companies have developed variations of single deck blackjack. You should not be too hasty to play any variant of the game, however, as some of the variations have further tilted the scales in favour of the casino with changes in certain rules.
When comparing different variants of the game, Single Deck by Cryptologic is the option with the lowest house edge. The reason for that is the various player-friendly rules implemented in the game. Of course, as the name of the game suggests, the game uses only one deck. The dealer is required to hit on soft 17 and there is a dealer peek for a natural. The player can double down on any total of two cards.
Unfortunately, players cannot double after a split and they can make use of only a single split of a pair. Aces cannot be resplit and you cannot draw additional cards to split Aces. This version of single deck blackjack does not offer surrender but it still has an extremely low house edge of 0.21%. To be certain that you have chosen the right single deck variant, make sure to always check the rules of every variation and play the one that gives the best chances for fruitful outcomes.
Atlantic City Blackjack
Another blackjack variation that can give players better chances for lucrative results is Atlantic City Blackjack. Popularised by land-based casinos across Atlantic City, this game has multiple variations online. This being said, the version by certain providers offer better odds, with Microgaming known to offer the option with the lowest house edge.
The dealer is required to stand on soft 17 and there is a peek for a blackjack. Players can double on any total, including on a total of more than 2 cards. In addition to that, doubling down after a split is also allowed, with players being allowed to split up to three times, forming a total of up to four hands. Unfortunately, Aces cannot be resplit and players cannot draw additional cards to split Aces. Atlantic City Blackjack by Microgaming also offers a surrender option. All of these rules contribute to a very low house edge of 0.35%. The blackjack payout is the standard 3 to 2, giving players the best possible outcome for a natural.
Blackjack Surrender is another variation that is commonly seen at numerous online casinos, with various software providers offering the game. The one variant that is worth playing, however, is the one created by Playtech as it offers pretty good odds for players.
When it comes to design, Playtech has made sure that players will have the same classy experience as they would in any major land-based casino. The rules of Playtech’s Blackjack Surrender allow players to play with an extremely low house edge of only 0.35%. The game utilises six decks. The dealer is required to stand on soft 17 and they also peek for a blackjack when holding an Ace or a ten-valued card.
If you are holding a blackjack, you will enjoy the best possible payout of 3 to 2. You will be allowed to double on any 2 cards but you will not be allowed to double after a split. The game allows just a single split and you cannot resplit Aces. You cannot also draw any additional cards to split Aces. As the name of the game suggests, you will have the opportunity to make use of surrender.
Vegas Single Deck Blackjack
As you play online, you might come across plenty of blackjack variations inspired by the blackjack tables you can see on casino floors in Las Vegas. Provided by different software companies, some of the options you can enjoy include Vegas, Vegas Blackjack, Vegas Downtown, and several versions of Vegas Strip Blackjack. If you want to play with the highest odds for a win, however, you should try Vegas Single Deck Blackjack by Microgaming.
Players are not allowed to double down after a split and they can double only on totals of 9, 10, and 11. The game allows to split a pair only once and there is no resplit of Aces or drawing additional cards to split Aces. There is no option for surrender but you will be paid the standard 3 to 2 payout if you get a blackjack.