Blackjack Rules and Variations - Details

This page assumes that you know the basic Blackjack rules. 97 common & oddball variations of Blackjack rules and play are described. (See Basic Blackjack Rules for the standard rules.) All advantages are quoted as percentages of your initial bet. These rules are supported by Casino Verite Blackjack. For the effect of the common rules, see Blackjack Rules Calculator.

Blackjack RulesDouble Down Rules

  • Double down on 10, 11 - Almost universal, this rule allows doubling down on two cards totaling 10 or 11 without using an Ace. On extremely rare occasions, you might find a casino that only allows double down on 11. These games should be avoided as the penalty is .45-.52.
  • Double down on 9 - This Blackjack rule adds two cards totaling nine to the double down opportunities. Player advantage of .08-.13.
  • Double down on 8 - This rule adds two cards totaling eight to the double down opportunities. The gain is minimal.
  • Double down any hard count - This rule adds all other totals without an Ace. The gain is minimal.
  • Double down after split - This rule allows doubling down on hands that have been created by splitting a pair. This is common in Atlantic City, fairly common in Las Vegas and available at about 30% of the world's casinos. This rule has an advantage of .12-.14.
  • Double down on soft count - This common option allows doubling down on any first two cards, even if one of the cards is an Ace. This rule has an advantage of .08-.13.
  • Double down on three cards - This rare option allows doubling down on two or three cards.
  • Double on any number of cards - This rare Blackjack rule allows doubling down in almost any circumstance. Advantage of .23.
  • Redouble - Here you can double and then double again after drawing a card on the first double.*
  • Hit after Double Down - This rule does not actually exist. However, in some casinos Surrender after Double Down does. Inexperienced dealers will sometimes allow you to Hit after a Double in these casinos. This is very valuable.

Insurance and Surrender Blackjack Rules

  • Insurance - This nearly universal rule allows an insurance bet against a dealer face up Ace. Note: Not allowed with Double Exposure.
  • Insure Blackjack only - Some casinos in Europe allow insurance bets only when the player has a Blackjack.
  • Insurance for full amount - This unusual Blackjack rule allows an Insurance bet equal to the value of the original bet. It is a good bet for card counters.*
  • Insure against Ten - Here you bet the dealer has a Ten in the hole.*
  • Late Surrender - The common form of insurance. The player can Surrender a hand (throw it in) for half of the bet after the dealer has checked for Blackjack. If the dealer is not allowed to peek and does not know if there is a dealer Blackjack then the Surrender occurs only after the dealer checks for Blackjack and finds that it does not exist.
  • Early Surrender - This less and less available rule allows Surrender of a hand before the dealer checks for Blackjack. If you can find a casino that allows it, this is one of the most valuable options in the game. Advantage is about .6-.7.
  • Early Surrender vs. 10 - This Blackjack rule is the same as Late Surrender, except that you can also Surrender against a dealer up card of ten even if the dealer has a Blackjack.
  • Macao Surrender - This, currently obsolete, rule allows Surrender of an unbusted hand with five cards.`
  • Surrender any number of cards - With this rule, the player can surrender a hand after any number of draws.
  • Surrender after Double - A new rule that allows a Surrender even after you have doubled down. Also called Double Down Rescue.
  • Surender after Split - As it says, this Blackjack rules allows a Surrender even after Splitting hands. You can still play the second hand.*

Split Rules

  • Resplit - This very common rule allows splitting pairs in one hand, usually, up to three times. As a result, up to four hands can be created from one.
  • Resplit Aces - Adding this rule allows resplitting of a pair of Aces. This rule is fairly rare. Advantage is 0-.1.
  • Multiple draw after split Aces - Most casinos will only allow one card drawn to each split hand after splitting Aces. A few allow additional draws. Advantage is about .1.
  • Split tens must be same value - In most casinos, Tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings all count as ten and can be considered the same for splitting rules. In other words, you can split a Jack and a King. A few casinos demand that the cards be exact pairs.
  • No Ace Splits - Some casinos do not allow a split of Aces. This Blackjack rule is fairly rare and should be avoided.
  • Split any time - This allows you to Split a hand after drawing additional cards as long as you have two cards of the same value touching each other. For example, draw 10,2,2 and you can Split the Deuces.*
  • Split any 16 - Such as A5, 97, T6. Great rule as it gets rid of the worst hand.*

Unusual Blackjack Games

  • Over/Under 13 - This rule, very slowly gaining popularity in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, adds a side bet to the game. You can bet that your first two cards will total 14 or you may bet that the first two cards are under 13. The house wins all totals of 13. Aces count as one for this side bet only. The bets are resolved immediately after the dealer up card is shown and pay 1:1.
  • Red/Black - This side bet is very like Over/Under 13 except that you bet on whether the dealer upcard is red or black by placing a bet in the "R" or "B" circle. The dealer wins on all twos. Play is the same as with Over/Under 13 described above.
  • Royal Match - Available in only a few casinos, this rule allows a different side bet on the first two cards. You can bet that your first two cards are in the same suit. If they are, the bet pays 3:1. If they are the Queen and King of the same suit, this is a Royal Match which pays 10:1. The bet is resolved as soon as the dealer up card is shown.
  • Super 7's - This option exists in a few casinos with a few variations. The version included here appears to be the most common. You can make a side bet of only $1 that you will be dealt consecutive sevens. If you are dealt two sevens, you will be dealt a third card, even if the dealer has a Blackjack. If you split sevens, you will be paid for only the first two sevens. Payoff occurs after the second or third card is dealt according to the following table:
      • First card any 7: $3
      • First two cards any 7's: $50
      • First two cards 7's same suit: $100
      • First three cards any 7:'s $500
      • First three cards 7's same suit: $5000
  • Double Exposure - In this unusual game, both dealer cards are dealt face up. Obviously, this gives the player an enormous advantage. To counteract this advantage, the "No Blackjack bonus" and "Dealer wins ties" rules usually accompany this rule. Also, there is no Insurance bet in Double Exposure. This is a very different game with entirely different playing strategies. I would not suggest this option in a casino if you have not fully studied the game.
  • Multiple Action - This game is very slowly appearing in various forms in additional casinos. In this game, the player can place two or three bets. Three betting boxes exist for this purpose for each seat. You must place bets in at least the first two boxes. Relative bet size rules vary by casino. Your play is normal, except that the dealer has no hole card. After you have made all of your playing decisions, the dealer gets three hands. First, the dealer hand is finished and the first bets for all players are resolved. All dealer cards except for the first are then discarded and the dealer hand is again completed using the original first dealer card as a start. All player hands remain as they were. Then the second bets are resolved. This process is repeated again for the third dealer hand. If you double down or split your hand, double down and split bets are added in all three bet boxes. If you take insurance, then the insurance bet is placed in the normal spot and resolved dealer hand by dealer hand. If you Surrender, then Surrender bets are resolved hand by hand.
  • Bust out - This Blackjack side bet is rather like insurance. After the dealer turns over the hole card, and before the dealer hand is finished, this bet is available if the dealer has a stiff hand. A dealer stiff hand is a hand that must be hit and will bust if the dealer draws a ten. (Hard 12 through hard 16.) If the dealer then draws a ten, you will be paid two to one. This game can be easily beaten by card counters and, therefore, appears to have disappeared.
  • Seven and 1/2 - Seven and 1/2 is not really a variation of Blackjack, but an entirely different card game developed in Sicily. However, as it has appeared in Nevada and Atlantic City, and it is similar to Blackjack, it has been included. Seven and 1/2 is played like Blackjack with the following modifications:
      • The card deck has 40 cards with no eights, nines or tens.
      • Aces always count as "1" and face cards count as "1/2".
      • The goal is to get as close as possible to 7 1/2 without busting instead of 21.
      • The dealer and the players are each dealt one card face up instead of two cards.
      • Each player, in turn, can hit, stand, surrender, or double-down just as in Blackjack.
      • If the player draws a pair of three's, two's or Aces, they may be split.
      • The dealer must draw to 4 1/2 and stand on 5.
      • The dealer wins all pushes (ties).
  • Super Fun 21 - This is a new variation of single deck Blackjack adding several new Blackjack rules. You may hit and double split Aces, double or surrender on any number of cards, and Surrender after doubling. Several bonuses exist: player 21 with five or more cards pays 2:1, player hand of 20 or less with six cards automatically wins, player BJ always wins and a diamond BJ pays 2:1. However, all other Blackjacks pay even money. This last rule is very expensive. The game requires a quite different strategy to play correctly.
  • Spanish 21 - This Blackjack variation has been around for a few years and is lately becoming more popular. Six or eight decks are used. A player 21 always wins, player Blackjack always wins, player can hit and double split Aces, may surrender after doubling and double any number of cards. Bonuses include: 678 pays 3:2, 2:1 if same suit and 3:1 in Spades; suited 777 against a dealer 7 pays $1,000. However, all tens are removed from the deck. This last rule is very expensive. The game requires a quite different strategy to play correctly. A strategy devised by Michael Shackleford ( has been included.
  • 21 Madness- Yet another new bonus. This is a $1 side bet. If you get a Blackjack, and the dealer doesn't, the side bet pays somewhere between $5 and $1,000 by chance. The average payoff is $13.90.
  • Blackjack Switch - The player plays 2 hands and places 2 identical bets to allow for this. The main element of the game is that the player is allowed to 'switch' the second cards around, if desired. To compensate for this powerful feature, the dealer will 'push' players' hands on a dealer's total of 22. However, Blackjacks will still win but Blackjacks pay even money.*
  • Super Match - A Blackjack Switch side bet. This is an optional bet which does not have to be the same amount as the 'Blackjack Switch' wager. It can be higher or lower, if desired. Players who place this bet are aiming to be dealt a pair or better from the initial 4 cards dealt out.*
  • Blackjack Side Bet - At the Copa Casino in Gulfport, MS, several of the tables have a sidebet available only on the first hand of a shoe. The player can bet that the dealer will receive a natural and/or that the player himself will receive a natural. A correct wager with a single natural pays 17:1; if both the player and dealer receive naturals, then the payout is 25:1 (for either or both bets).*

Unusual Game Variations

  • Side bets not limited to main bets - Normally, a side bet (e.g. Royal Match) cannot be larger than your main bet. Rarely, a casino will allow a larger side bet.
  • Multi-Action variations - Some casinos demand that you bet all three spots in a Multi-action game and some allow only one bet.
  • Pair of Aces pays 7 to 1 Under bet - With this rule, a pair of Aces will pay 7 to 1 on an Under 13 bet. This rule exists in Britain and greatly improves the value of the Over/Under 13 side bet.

Win/Play Variations

  • Player 21 ties dealer 10 up Blackjack - If the dealer has a ten up and an Ace down and the player has any 21, there is a push.
  • Dealer wins tied 17 - This awful option causes tied 17 hands to be lost instead of pushed.
  • Dealer wins ties - With this option, you lose your bet on a tied hand. This awful rule sometimes is added to counteract another unusual option that heavily favors the player.
  • Five cards unbusted wins - With this rule, the player always wins when five cards have been drawn without busting.
  • Six cards unbusted wins - With this rule, the player always wins when six cards have been drawn without busting.
  • Seven cards unbusted wins - With this rule, the player always wins when seven cards have been drawn without busting.
  • Player 22 counts as 21 - When set, the player does not bust with a total of 22.
  • Dealer ten up exposes hole card - If this option is set and the dealer up card is a ten, the dealer flips over the hole card. This is a very valuable option and is not likely to be found in a casino without some other option which hurts the player.
  • Dealer Blackjack wins all - This option worsens the players' chances. If the dealer does not peek and then discovers a dealer Blackjack after all players have played, all player split hands and double down bets lose. Without this rule, splits and double downs are considered as never having occurred and the player retains the bets. This is common in casinos with No Hole Card.
  • Dealer wins tied 17, 18 and 19 - This awful rule causes tied 17, 18 and 19 hands to be lost instead of pushed. This lousy rule exists in Swedish casinos.

Card Handling Variations

  • Cards dealt face down - Typically, the cards are dealt face up in five deck and larger games and face down in four deck and smaller games. Exceptions exist.
  • No dealer hole card dealt - With this option, seen generally outside the U.S., the dealer does not receive a second card until after the players have played their hands. With this option, the dealer cannot peek to check for Blackjack. When you select this rule, one of four variations must also be selected to describe how bets are handled when the dealer gets a Blackjack:
    • Blackjack Wins All - This lousy option means that all split hands and DD bets will be lost if the dealer has Blackjack.
    • Original Bets & Busted - OBBO means that if you split, the original bet will always be lost and the split hand will be lost if it busts. Double-Down bets are not lost.
    • Original Bets Only (OBO) - The best version. Only your first bet is lost. DD and Split bets are returned.
    • Busted Bets + 1 (BB+1) - This Australian rule means that you will lose all busted bets, plus one other bet if it exists.
  • Double Down dealt face up - More and more casinos are dealing the double down card face up as this can reduce cheating.
  • Dealer shows burn cards - Some casinos discard (burn) one to five cards off of the top of the deck after shuffling. Some of those casinos show them and some don't. In some cases, you can ask a casino to show them when they normally don't.
  • Dealer peeks on 10 - In many casinos, the dealer will peek at the down card to check for Blackjack when the dealer up card is a ten. This option is becoming more common as newly developed optical devices for peeking at the down card are being installed on casino tables.
  • Dealer peeks on Ace - Normally, the dealer will peek at the down card when an Ace is showing as there is a good chance that a Blackjack exists. Some casinos do not check to prevent cheating.
  • Burn card before each round - Some Asian casinos discard one card before each round begins. This is not a good rule for card counters.

Play Variations

  • Insure then Surrender allowed - In some situations, depending on the options set above, you may want to insure a hand and then Surrender the same hand. In a casino, this can cause some interesting conversations with the dealer or pit boss. Casinos will often argue that a hand that has been insured cannot be surrendered because it no longer exists. You might argue that Insurance is purely a side bet.
  • Dealer hits soft 17 - With this option, the dealer will hit a soft 17 (e.g. Ace, 6 or Ace, 3, 3). With the option off, the dealer stands. This option is common in downtown Las Vegas and at about 50% of the world's casinos. It lowers the player's advantage by .19-.22.
  • Double low limit with 2 hands - Generally, casino rules insist that the minimum bet be doubled if you are playing two hands at once. However, casinos do not seem to be enforcing this rule as much as they once did.

Bonus Blackjack Rules

  • Suited AJ pays 2:1 - With this favorable option, an Ace and a Jack in the same suit pay 2:1 instead of the normal 3:2.
  • Ace, Jack of Hearts pays 2:1 - As it says, an Ace, Jack of Hearts Blackjack pays 2:1 instead of 3:2.
  • 777 pays 2:1 - In the highly unusual case that you receive three sevens, you get a few extra dollars.
  • 777 pays 3:2 - Even lower bonus than above.
  • Suited 777 pays 10:1 - Three sevens of the same suit pays 10:1. Good luck!
  • Blackjack pays 2:1 - This valuable bonus pays 2:1 on Blackjack instead of 3:2. Advantage is 2.25-2.32.
  • Five card 21 pays 2:1 - Five cards totaling 21 pays 2:1. Small gain; but, keep it in mind.
  • Six card 21 pays 2:1 - Six cards totaling 21 pays 2:1. Even smaller gain.
  • No Blackjack bonus - Blackjack pays 1:1, not 3:2. This is a very painful option sometimes used to counteract options favorable to the player. Be careful, this option is highly disadvantageous to the player.
  • Split tens then draw Ace is BJ - When this option is set and you draw an Ace after splitting a pair of tens, the Ace/Ten counts as a Blackjack and receives the appropriate bonus.
  • Split Aces then draw ten is BJ - When this option is set and you draw an ten after splitting a pair of Aces, the Ace/Ten counts as a Blackjack and receives the appropriate bonus. This bnlackjack rule can be found in South America.*
  • Blackjack ties are paid one-half the bet instead of pushing. Another South American rules.*
  • Suited 678 pay 2:1 - When this option is set and you get a six, seven and eight in the same suit, in any order, the payoff is two to one.
  • Suited 678 pay 2:1 if wins - This is the same as above, except that the bonus is earned only if the dealer does not have 21 also. This rule is found in some Atlantic City casinos.
  • Blackjack pays 6:5 - One of the worst Blackjack rules evet invented is starting to appear at many casinos. Blackjack only pays $6 for a $5 bet. Run don't walk away from this game.
  • Blackjack rounded up - A Blackjack often results in a half dollar as a part of the payoff. At a few casinos, the dealer will round the payoff up to the next dollar instead of bothering with coins.

Tournament Blackjack Rules

  • Rotate Deal - With this common tournament rule, the dealer starts dealing the cards to a different player each hand.
  • Rotate First Bet - With this common rule, players must bet in order and the first player to bet rotates clockwise each hand. This removes the seat advantage which otherwise would have existed if one player could always see the bets of the other players before making a bet.
  • Secret Bet Allowed - This option allows each user to make one bet per round where the amount bet is not known to the other players. Generally, you would save this bet for near or at the end of a round.
  • Two Players Advance - With this rule, the two players with the largest bankrolls advance to the next round instead of just one when a round has completed.
  • Two Players First Round - This is the same as the above except that two players advance to the next round only in the first round. This is more common than the above option.
  • Re-entry Allowed - In some tournaments, if you lose a round, you may re-enter once by paying the entry fee again.
  • Keep Bankroll - In most tournaments, every player starts each round with the same number of chips. In some tournaments, your bankroll moves from one round to the next.
  • Timed Tournaments - In some tournaments, each round lasts a set number of minutes. This is less common, but such tournaments do exist.






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