The original blackjack is a tough game to beat in terms of entertainment value. It’s the “America’s Team,” “Super Mario Brothers,” “Titanic” of casino games. Everyone loves it, and it’s accessible, a good starting point for all casino gamers.
But there are actually better options in the blackjack realm. And we’re not talking the amount of decks like some casino offer. We’re talking European Blackjack.
Many of the rules in European Blackjack are just like the ones in every version: The objective is for a player to come as close to 21 without going over, while still having a higher total than the dealer. Prior to receiving any cards, the player must place a wager. Once the wager is made, the player is dealt two cards face up. The dealer is dealt one card face up. The dealer does not receive a second card until after the player has made all his decisions, including doubling and splitting. If the total value of the player’s cards is closer to 21 than the dealer, the player wins as much as was wagered. The player also wins if the dealer goes over 21 and the player has not busted.
Where European Blackjack begins to differ from its North American cousin is in the “hitting” and “standing.”
In European Blackjack, you’ll find that the dealer must “stand” on soft 17. Meaning even if the dealer has an ace and a six (which could equal seven or “soft” 17) he has to stand. This decreases the house edge to an average of less than .50 percent.
In the North American version the dealer must “hit,” no matter what, when he has soft 17.
At first, new players may think forcing the dealer to hit in this situation would help them; increasing the chances of the dealer busting. But keep in mind “soft 17” means the dealer has an ace, and can use it as 11 or 1 when trying to make 21. On average the house edge using this rule with optimal blackjack strategy hovers above .50 percent.
Online and offline casino vets have known that European Blackjack is the best way to make money playing the game.