What is European Blackjack?
Preface: European Blackjack is one of many variations of blackjack, featuring a unique set of rules for players to abide by. European Blackjack typically has a higher house edge than American Blackjack (+0.05%), but it is nowhere near as unfavorable to players as the differences between American Roulette (5.26%) and European Roulette (2.70%). That being said, all blackjack games certainly have player-friendly odds at land-based casinos and online casinos alike.
For the most part, players can expect a house edge of approximately 1%, depending on the rules of the table. Casinofy experts are going to pull back the curtains on European Blackjack, to reveal the inner mechanics of this casino card game. We will explore the rules of the game, the tactics and strategies needed to play European Blackjack at the highest level, and betting-related issues necessary for keeping things under control.
What are the Rules of European Blackjack?
The objective of blackjack games is simply to beat the dealer’s hand total without exceeding 21. If you happen to hit blackjack (Ace +10-value card), you’re a natural winner and you will receive the highest payout in all blackjack games. European Blackjack sports a unique set of rules, most of which players are already familiar with.
This game is the most widely-played blackjack game at casinos around the world – online and at land-based venues. This game typically features just 2 decks of cards, and this is precisely why so many card counters prefer to play European Blackjack – it’s much easier to count cards in this variant of the game. Other blackjack games like Classic Blackjack can feature 1 deck of cards at certain online casinos, but this is a rarity nowadays.
The reason why players prefer European Blackjack with 2 decks of cards is that it’s much easier to get an accurate count. With 4 suits featuring 13 cards per suit, there are 4 x 10-value cards (10-Jack-Queen-King), and 9 cards between the value of Ace (1 or 11) and 9. Card counters actually divide the deck up into 3 basic components – high cards with a (-1) value, low cards with a (+1) value, and middle-of-the-road cards with a 0 value assigned.
- King, Jack, Queen, King, Ace – value of -1
- 7, 8, 9 – value of 0
- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – value of +1
Depending on the count, a player can quickly ascertain the statistical probability of high or low cards being dealt, and the ensuing betting actions that are likely to take place. In other words, if the count is high negative, it means there are many low cards in the deck. If the count is high positive, it means that there are many high cards in the deck. That’s when European Blackjack bettors place their bets.
- European Blackjack is played between a player and a dealer, not among players.
- While the minimum number of permissible decks is 2, up to 8 decks can be used with European Blackjack games.
- The objective of European Blackjack, like all variants of blackjack, is to beat the dealer’s hand total, without exceeding 21.
- Aces can assume a value of 1 or 11, and cards 2-9 assume their face value, and 10, Jack, Queen, King all have a value of 10.
- As soon as bets have been placed, the Random Number Generator (RNG), or the casino dealer will deal the cards. The player’s cards are dealt face down and the dealer’s first card is an open card and visible to everyone at the table. The dealer only receives the second card once the player has completed the hand.
- The dealer must stand on a soft 17 in European Blackjack. A soft 17 includes an Ace valued at 11.
- If the player’s hand value is 9, 10, or 11, the player may Double. Players are also permitted to Double after splitting their cards.
- In European Blackjack, the player must always hit if the hard hand total ranges between 5 – 8, regardless of what the dealer’s upcard is.
- If the player’s hard hand total is 17, 18, 19, 20, or 21, the player must always stand irrespective of the dealer’s card.
- For soft player hands totaling 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, the player always hits against the dealer, irrespective of the dealer’s up card.
- For soft hand totals of 19, 20, or 21, the player always stands against the dealer.
- If a European Blackjack player has a pair of 10s, the player must always stand against the dealer.
- In European Blackjack, the dealer cannot peek for a 10-value card if an Ace is showing.
- If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, players typically cannot surrender their hand.
- In European Blackjack, insurance bets pay 2:1, blackjack pays 3:2, and even money pays 1:1.
What Actions are Available to Players in European Blackjack Games?
European Blackjack, like all other variants of this casino card game, allow players to perform the following actions:
- Hit – take another card
- Stand – stick with your current hand without taking further action
- Double – double the size of your bet and take a final card
- Split – split pairs into 2 playing hands. No re-splitting is permitted.
- Surrender option – when available, the surrender option can save European Blackjack players lots of money. You forfeit your hand and lose 50% of your bet.
In European Blackjack, even money payouts are available if the dealer busts. However, if the dealer hand total and the player hand total are the same, the result is a push. This means that the player will receive his/her money back. One of the most glaring differences between European Blackjack rules and other blackjack game rules relates to the dealer’s second card. The dealer receives their second card only after the player has completed his/her hand.
As with other blackjack games, it is important to use a blackjack strategy chart to determine when you should hit, stand, double, split, or surrender. It is not necessary to have a strategy chart for blackjack insurance decisions. If the dealer’s up card is an Ace, players can decide for themselves whether they wish to take insurance. It’s a simple yes/no question. Typically blackjack insurance only pays 31% of the time, because there are 4 x 10-value cards in every suit of 13. Regardless of the number of decks in play, the percentages stayed the same, making this a sucker bet!