Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world, with much of that popularity owing to its simplicity. It is played by celebrities and newcomers can get the gist with relative ease, while experts and novices alike enjoy the game’s decision making process and quick pace. If you are new to the game, you can read our introduction to blackjack article, which goes over the basic rules of the game.
Another attractive element of the game is its favourable player odds. Though the house always has an edge, a skilled blackjack player has nearly a 50/50 chance of success.
For many, blackjack is the perfect game, plain and simple. But for those who seek a greater variety in their gaming experience, there are some cool online variations worth checking out.
Perfect Pairs / 21+3
This version of blackjack is great for side bet enthusiasts, because players have not one, but two side games to play, and both offer decent odds. Let’s take a look at the two side bets separately.
The first side option is Perfect Pairs, which involves the two cards you’re dealt. If both cards have the same value – e.g. both are 5s, Ks, Js, etc. – you win. The suit of each card also matters because it determines the size of the return.
A “perfect pair,” which includes two cards of the same suit – e.g. two queen of spades – pays more than a pair of mismatched suits. The full payout table is:
Perfect pair – 30:1
Same colour pair – 10:1
Mixed colour pair – 5:1
A Perfect Pairs wager is independent of the main wager, and is entirely optional. This means you can play a regular hand without making the side bet. If you do choose to make a Perfect Pairs wager, you have the option of betting an equal amount, more or less than your main bet.
21 + 3
This side bet can be made instead of, or in addition to the Perfect Pairs bet. It uses the initial three face-up cards from every hand – the two cards you’re dealt, and the dealer’s up card – to make poker hands. If your hand makes three of a kind or better, you win.
The 21 + 3 payout table is as follows:
Suited three of a kind – 100:1
Straight flush – 40:1
Three of a kind – 25:1
Straight – 10:1
Flush – 5:1
You’re paid out for this bet at the beginning of the hand. The outcome of the main bet has no bearing on the outcome of the 21 + 3 wager.
Just as it sounds, multi-hand blackjack lets players face off with the dealer several times simultaneously. Though you can’t mix and match your cards, playing multiple hands does let you hedge your bets. If, for instance, you double down and look to be in good shape on your first hand, you can approach your second hand more conservatively.
The strategic implications of multi-hand cut both ways, but one unquestionable benefit is the speed. PartyCasino’s multi-hand blackjack table, for example, allows you to play up to five hands at once. For maximum efficiency, select the turbo option, which lets you forego the dealing animation.
This simple side game allows you to bet whether your second card will be higher or lower than your first. For example, if you choose HI and are dealt the three of clubs and then the queen of clubs, you win. If the cards come in the reverse order, and you received the queen of clubs before the three of clubs, your HI bet would lose. The payout for a correct HI-LO wager is 2:1.
With a success rate just shy of 50% (because two cards of equal value usually results in a loss) the HI-LO bet is an ideal testing ground for the Martingale system.
Because aces can either be one or 11, they have a distinct set of rules that all players should check out before sitting down at one of HI-LO blackjack tables.
As with the other variations, the main objective of Charlie 7 is to score 21, or to get closer than the dealer without going over. The added wrinkle is that if you’re dealt seven cards that total 21 or less, you automatically win the hand. This provides an additional chance to win, especially in times you’d otherwise be staring at long odds.
For example, say you start out with an ace and a two, while the dealer is showing a king. You hit, and get another deuce, then hit again and get a three. At this point, your total is either eight or 18. While 18 isn’t a bad score, your opponent is seated in a position of strength with a king showing, leaving you with a difficult choice. This is where the rules of Charlie 7 play to your advantage.
Whereas you may normally be inclined to stand, tapping the felt becomes a win-win. You’ll either move even closer to 21, or get an additional card enroute to a hand of seven.
The rules of Charlie 7 don’t come into effect frequently, but they offer a saving grace when you can’t get a high card to save your life.