Start with American Blackjack, give it some interesting tweaks, and you come up with European Blackjack. In both variations, the goal is to beat the hand of the dealer without busting by reaching 21.
Basic Differences in European Blackjack
1) Before the player has completed all hand decisions, the dealer will receive only one card face up.
2) The option to surrender allows the player to salvage half their bet. There is no surrender option in European Blackjack.
3) Only with a combined hand total of 9, 10 or 11, can a player Double Down.
4) On soft 17, the dealer must hit. Soft 17 is comprised of a 17-point hand including an 11-point Ace.
American Blackjack contrasted
1) Before the player has completed all hand decisions, the dealer is dealt one card face up and another face down.
2) At any time during the hand, the player can surrender.
3) On any hand total, the player can Double Down.
4) On soft 17, the dealer must stand.
In American Blackjack, players have more flexibility. There is less tension, as the hole card peek lets all players know whether the dealer has Blackjack. That hole card gives players less influence on the outcome of the game, further relieving some of the tense player responses found in European Blackjack.
The variations of Blackjack generally involve the number of decks, whether the dealer peeks and whether the dealer hits on soft 17. Some of the variations include Vegas Strip Blackjack and Atlantic City Blackjack. Four versions that involve substantial rule changes, are Multi-Hand Blackjack, Double Attack Blackjack, Spanish 21 and Super Fun 21. The purpose of the various versions is to add to the challenge and excitement of the game.
Vegas Strip Blackjack
The most popular Blackjack played in Las Vegas is Vegas Strip Blackjack. This version is popular around the world, not only in land casinos, but also online. The following are the elements that define Vegas Strip Blackjack.
1) Four standard decks
2) Dealer peeks for Blackjack on 10s and Ace up-cards
3) On soft 17, dealer stands
4) Double Down is permitted on any two cards
5) Double Down is allowed after splitting
6) Splitting three times is permitted, resulting in up to four hands
7) The player can split an Ace only once
8) Only one card can be used to split Aces
9) Reaching 21 on a split Ace does not make Blackjack
10) Unlike 10-value cards are allowed to be split
11) The usual Blackjack pay is 3:2, and at times it is 6:5
Atlantic City Blackjack
Atlantic City Blackjack differs very little from Vegas Strip Blackjack. In the former, eight standard decks are used and late surrender is permitted.
European Blackjack contrasted with Vegas Strip Blackjack
1) Two standard decks
2) Dealer does not peek for Blackjack
3) Double Down is permitted only on hands totaling 9, 10 or 11
4) Splitting can be done only once
5) Only like-valued 10 cards are allowed to be split
Playing Strategies Resulting from Continental Variations
In American Blackjack, since the players know from the peek whether the dealer has Blackjack, the playing strategies are more aggressive. In European Blackjack, where there is no hole card, the players are in the dark as to whether the dealer has Blackjack. Therefore, European Blackjack is played more conservatively. For example, where a player’s 11 is against the dealer’s 10: In the American version, the player would double in light of the common knowledge that the dealer does not have Blackjack; in the European version, the player would hit.
While playing European Blackjack, it is not unusual for players to scream at another member of the Blackjack table. Such behavior is hurled against the last gamer who raises their bet, when that action results in the dealer getting a card that yields dealer Blackjack. While yelling does from time to time occur with the American version as well, it is not as prevalent as that which occurs while playing the European version. Another strategy that changes with the continental variations, involves the splitting of the 8s. In the European game, players do not split a pair of 8s against a 10 or Ace. In the American game, the maxim is: Always split Aces and 8s.