Even the most casual blackjack player might not be aware that there are American and European variations of the game. The two games appear to be identical on the surface, and they are the versions that are the norm in both live and online casinos.
However, once you understand how the two differ, you can see why American blackjack would be better than its European cousin because it makes more sense that it would be more profitable. Don’t get overly excited, though; different casinos may have their own modifications on other rules that could make a difference in the win rate.
Rules of American Blackjack
The critical European vs. American blackjack difference is in how the dealer’s cards are dealt. In the American version, the dealer receives two cards, one face-up. The dealer peeks at his down card if the face-up card is an ace. The hand is over, and all players lose if the final card is a 10 or a picture card that results in blackjack. The player benefits by not having to play out their hand initially and maybe losing more chips due to a split or double down on their cards.
The dealer in European blackjack receives his card face-up and doesn’t examine any further cards. Once every player has used their hand, the face-down card will be revealed. In this variation, you might split your hand or go all-in to put additional chips on the table with a hopeful opening hand, only to watch helplessly as the dealer turns over a blackjack hand. When the dealer displays an ace, you will be offered insurance before he peeks at his second card under American rules. If the dealer has blackjack, you lose your initial bet but receive a 2:1 return on insurance. If there is no blackjack, you win your insurance bet. While that sounds great, supporting insurance is not a good idea in the long run because the move will result in a loss.
U.S. blackjack tactics
The fundamentals of your European blackjack technique will also apply to American blackjack. You take appropriate action based on your understanding that there is a strong likelihood that the subsequent card will be valued at 10 because all picture cards are worth ten.Open up your double-down and splitting betting ranges if the dealer shows a weak-up card to place more chips on the table. In the same way, you should also double down if your hand appears promising—possibly eight and nine, but undoubtedly ten and eleven. However, if the dealer shows a strong card, such as an eight, nine, or ten, you shouldn’t double down until you have a ten or an eleven, and you should be more daring about accepting a free card.
However, because of the American version’s numerous variants, there are some minor variations between European and American blackjack.
We won’t bore you with explanations for each, although there are a few slight variations:
- how many decks are used (usually six to eight)
- If the dealer must stand on a soft 17, yes or no
- Payouts in blackjack are 3:2 or 6:5.
- After dividing aces, you can make blackjack or you can’t.
- After a split, one may continue.
- You can split up to six hands total, many times.
- You can only split aces once, and you only receive one card.
- Selecting a late surrender option
Some of these adjustments lower the house edge while others raise it. Blackjack continues to boast one of the lowest house edges of any casino game, giving you the best opportunity of turning a quick profit.