12 Best Online Blackjack Variants Explained

Online Blackjack Game VariantsOnline casinos have more blackjack options than your average land-based casino. That presents a challenge of its own because players face a wild array of new rules and often-bloated odds. When you play a new version of blackjack online every night, it’s hard to play optimally.

In the short space below, we review the most common versions of online blackjack you’ll encounter in the US gaming market. Because blackjack players tend to be smart, the most common versions often are the best versions of online blackjack. Let us start with the basic games you’ll encounter when playing at US online blackjack casinos.

American Blackjack: Classic Blackjack Online

Often called “Classic Blackjack” in online casinos, this is the basic game US players have played most of their lives. It is a simple and fun game for new players. The dealer stands on soft 16 and hits on soft 17. The number of decks affects the house edge.

That does not apply to blackjack online. The software reshuffles the deck each hand, so finding a smaller deck of Classic Blackjack is negligible. The house edge of Classic Blackjack is around 2% in most casino sites.

European Blackjack: No Early Peak for Dealers

This game is like American Blackjack with a few exceptions. The dealer stands on soft 17, while a dealer blackjack wins. If the player and dealer get a blackjack, it’s a push. The player can double down when his or her cards total 9, 10, or 11. If the player holds a 10, he or she can split.

European Blackjack allows players to split two Queens, but not a Jack or a 10. The dealer does not peek for blackjack, which can hurt players who are aggressive with their bets.

Vegas Strip Blackjack: Pay Attention to Blackjack Payouts

Vegas Strip Blackjack uses four decks. The dealer stands on soft 17. Players can double down before or after splitting cards, while they can split up to four hands. Aces can be split only once, though.

In most versions of Vegas Strip Blackjack, the blackjack pays 3-to-2. Some games stipulate a 6-to-5 payout. Tip: Read the rules before playing for real money. If it has 6:5 blackjacks, avoid this game.

Progressive Blackjack: A Payout and A House Edge Like Slots

Progressive Blackjack has a side bet with a progressive jackpot between $10,000 and $50,000 in most cases. A portion of any bet, including the side bet, goes to feed this progressive jackpot. To win the jackpot, you will need suited or royal pairs. A royal flush wins the progressive.

Otherwise, the game plays like American Blackjack. While the main game has a 2% house edge, remember that the progressive side bet has a much higher house edge. It’s the price you pay for a chance at a huge jackpot while playing blackjack.

Atlantic City Blackjack: Late Surrender, Fewer Splits

This game is quite like American Blackjack but with a slight tweak to the rules. You can double down on any two cards while splitting pairs up to three times (4x in American Blackjack). Aces can be split only once, like it most 21 variants.

One rule is much better than other variants. Players can divide 10-point cards in any combination, so a Jack and a King can be divided. Also, players have the option for late surrender, so they can recoup half of their bet when it looks like the dealer might hold a natural blackjack.

Play this game is your like options when splitting pairs and if you like late surrender rules.

Multi-Hand Blackjack: More Is Not Always Better

This is a multiple-hand version of Classic Blackjack. Since the game has a 2% house edge, Multi-Hand Blackjack exposes the player to that house edge more times in a gaming session. If you play this game, lower your bet size accordingly or you are likely to lose more money in a session. (Obviously, you could win more, too, but we are talking about odds here.)

Players who play Multi-Hand Blackjack — let’s say 4 hands at once but with bets one-quarter of what they usually make — thus face a less volatile game. They likely won’t lose a lot, but they’re less likely to win as much. In short, this favors the casino, as well. We don’t recommend playing Multi-Hand Blackjack, because it only favors the casino for you to do so.

Double Exposure Blackjack: See Both the Dealer’s Cards

Double Exposure Blackjack is just what it sounds like: you can see both of the dealer’s cards throughout the hand. This is a tremendous advantage, so the dealer receives several advantages in exchange. One key advantage is the ability to win ties, so there are no pushes in Double Exposure.

All in all, Double Exposure Blackjack has a higher house edge than Classic Blackjack. Play this game if you want a different challenge or want to see what it is like to play twenty-one when you know both of the opponent’s cards. Otherwise, it is best to play Classic Blackjack.

Single Deck Blackjack: Read the Rules Closely

Single-Deck Blackjack is a player favorite in brick-and-mortar casinos. It is the game that favors a card counter the most because it lets them get the most accurate count. For that reason, land-based casinos often insert rules that favor the house more, such as the 6-to-5 blackjack payout. Smart players learn to scour the rules closely to see if the fine print gives the casino an advantage.

In online casinos, Single-Deck Blackjack often is not the advantage one would assume it is. If the casino software reshuffles the deck on each hand, card counting is meaningless. If you choose to play this game online, learn whether the deck gets reshuffled each hand. And if so, treat this like Classic Blackjack.

Blackjack Switch: Two Hands and Two Bets

Since 2009, Blackjack Switch has been a popular game in many US online casinos. Players might have encountered this game as Blackjack X-Change, but the rules are largely the same. The player is dealt two hands and can switch the two top cards between hands. This lets you build a stronger hand with better odds of winning.

The catch is the fact both hands require the same bet. If you switch a 10-8 hand with an Ace-8 hand, then you’ll get a 21 hand matched with a 16 hand. You are probably going to win a hand and lose a hand, so nothing changes. And if the dealer holds a 21, then you have nothing to show for it.

Some versions allow players to buy new cards, which greatly enhances your shot at winning. Cards cost money, of course. Blackjack Switch is a lot of fun and it certainly adds a new challenge. In Las Vegas, the house edge can be as low as 0.58%, so it is one of the better exotic versions of blackjack you’ll find.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack: A Fun Side Bet

Perfect Pairs has a fun side bet that pays a small jackpot if you receive a pair in the original deal. A pair is good, while a same-color pair is better. A suited pair is a perfect pair, which offers the maximum payout. As you might have guessed, Perfect Pairs requires a multi-deck shoe to work properly.

As always, blackjack games with side bets have a higher house edge. The main game plays like Classic Blackjack, while the side game offers a payout as high as 40x the bet (or more). If you play this game, keep in mind that the side bet lowers your chances of a winning session.

Pontoon: The 5-Card Trick

Pontoon is the game famous for the 5-card trick. If you are dealt five cards that total less than 21, then it’s the 5-card trick. This beats any 3-card hand in the game. Also, a natural blackjack is called a Pontoon, which also beats any 3-card hand.

In land-based casinos, this game is played with 2 to 8 players and requires a banker. In online casinos, Pontoon is played dealer-versus-player and the casino covers the bets. Playing Pontoon in an online casino takes away a lot of the game’s charm, so players should search for a live dealer version of the game called Live Pontoon (a rare thing in US live dealer casinos).

Spanish 21: Remove the 10 Cards

Spanish 21 might be the first version of twenty-one ever played. Miguel de Cervantes described the game in a novel published in the early 1500s. It is distinctive because it removes the 10 cards, making a blackjack harder to attain. Also, the player always wins with a natural blackjack, even if the dealer also holds the same cards.

Spanish 21 usually is played with 6 or 8 decks. The game allows players to double down on any two-card combination. They also can double-down after dividing cards. In Australian and Asian land-based casinos, you will find a similar game called Australian Pontoon. Only some US online casinos offer Spanish 21, so if you do not find it at your favorite online casino, you might search for Australian Pontoon instead.


These are the best twelve versions of online blackjack that most US online players will find. It might sound repetitive, but the best online blackjack variant you will find is Classic Blackjack or American Blackjack. Games are popular for a reason and, usually, that reason is it is the best version of the game. (Except in slots and lotteries, where it is the game with the biggest jackpot.)

Still, one reason that online gambling is so fun is that players can seek out different rules with different challenges. If you want to play Multi-Hand Blackjack, Progressive Blackjack, or Perfect Pairs – enjoy it. Just remember that the house edge is higher than in most games of blackjack you have played. Since it’s online blackjack gambling, though, you’re saving on expensive dining, expensive shows, and other travel expenses. Splurge on a fun night of alternative online blackjack and see what the buzz is about.

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