Due to sheer popularity of the blackjack franchise, there are now a range of variations available to play online. One such example of this is European Blackjack online. Whilst the game takes on vast similarities to other variations, the European version of blackjack has some notable differences.
European Blackjack Overview
Ultimately, the aim of the game is to finish a round of blackjack with a higher score than the dealer. The game allows a maximum score of 21, which if breached, means that a ‘Bust’ has occurred – subsequently rendering the round over. In the next section we are going to explain how to play it in more detail.
How to play
Much like in the case of other blackjack variations, European Blackjack online begins with the dealer dealing two face up cards to the player, as well as one face up card for themselves. This is fundamentally different to American Blackjack, which instead sees two cards given to the dealer. As a result, European Blackjack online does not allow the dealer to check whether or not they have blackjack until the player(s) has finished their turn.
Once all of the cards have been dealt, the player must then decide whether they want to ‘Stick’ or ‘Hit’. If the player chooses to ‘Stick’, then they receive no more cards and their current score remains in place until the round is over.
By choosing to Hit, the player is dealt another card. They can keep on doing this until they choose to Stick, or they have a total score that exceeds 21. If this does occur, then the player ‘Busts’, meaning that they lose their stake to the dealer.
In blackjack, a 10-value card is also represented by any picture card, covering the Jack, Queen and King. When it comes to the Ace, this can be utilised as either a 1 or 11. For example, if the player lands a 9 and an Ace, as this amounts to a total of 20 when using the Ace as an 11, this is the most obvious move to make.
Ultimately, if the player manages to outscore the dealer, then they win the round at odds of Even money. Moreover, if the player lands ‘Blackjack’, then this pays out at 6/4. Blackjack is determined by landing an Ace and any picture card on your first two cards.
Whilst the player can stick or hit on any combined value, this is not the case for the dealer. If the dealer has a total hand of 16 or less, then they must continue to hit until this occurs. If the dealer has 17 or more, then they are forced to stick. This decreases the house edge, insofar that the player retains full control over their hand.
So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the rules of European Blackjack online in more detail.
Rules of European Blackjack
Although the vast majority of rules are virtually identical in European Blackjack online with that of other variations, there are some key differences to note. Let’s break this down below.
Firstly, unlike American Blackjack, which can have 6 or 8 decks, the European alternative only has 2. This offers the player a slight decrease in house edge, not least because there is less variation to contend with.
Doubling down is the act of doubling the player’s bet, on the proviso that only one more card is dealt. This is done before any moves are made, and requires the player to match their original stake.
Unlike American Blackjack, which allows the player to double down on any starting hand, European Blackjack only allows players to double down when their combined hand amounts to 9, 10, or 11. To understand the double down rule, consider the following example.
Let’s say that you are dealt an 8 and a 2, giving you a combined value of 10. At the same time, the dealer has a 7. Due to the sheer strength of your position, alongside the possibility of landing a 10-value card when choosing to Hit, it would be a good idea to double down. By doubling down, you double your original stake and receive 1 card, and 1 card only.
For those unaware, splitting is the act of splitting your original hand in to two separate hands. Once the dealer splits your original two cards, they then deal additional cards, creating two new hands. In order to do this, you are required to double your original stake.
To split your cards in European Blackjack online, the two cards must be identical in value. Moreover, unlike American Blackjack, which allows players to split any 10-value card, the cards must also be the same. For example, whilst splitting two Jacks would be acceptable, splitting a Jack and a Queen would not.
Players can only split their cards once, whereby American Blackjack allows this up to 4 times per hand. Finally, it is also important to note that European Blackjack online only allows the player to take one card when they have split a pair of Aces.
Unfortunately for those that play the European variation, the ‘Surrender’ option is not available. In the American alternative, players can surrender their hand and subsequently receive 50% of their stake back. This is great when you have a hand that looks all-but-certain to lose.
In summary, although the main rules of blackjack remain valid, there are some clear differences in European Blackjack that must be considered. Essentially, the player is far more restricted in comparison to the American version. The key reasons for this are with regards to splitting and doubling down.
The European version does not allow a split on unmatched 10-value cards, which the American variation does. Moreover, players can only split when the total value of the cards amount to 9, 10 or 11. It is also a shame that the European version does not allow players to surrender their hand.
On the flip side, the main advantage that this particular segment of Blackjack has over its counterparts it the fact that only 2 decks remain in play. This means that the player is afforded a greater chance of understanding how many potential cards remain in play, subsequently lowering the house-edge.