Per data from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, twenty-one betting actions were responsible for 77% of all casino gambling activity in 1985 in the US. However, in three odd decades, this percentage experienced a decline of 27.85%, something that industry experts believe contributed to the rise of other table games and the fact that operators, over the years, have tweaked blackjack’s rules, modifying its payout structure. Its simplistic ruleset often gets credited as the top reason why this game still ranks at the top of the table genre, and along with its low default house edge of 2%, it is why this option gets preferred by veteran players.
A bit of trivia that many laypeople don’t know is that various twenty-one variants exist. And most of them are also available when you play blackjack online at top-end gambling sites. Each has its refinements, catering to different crowds and attaining a foothold in specific regions. Below, we mention some of the most popular versions of the world’s most established dealer gaming picks while highlighting sections of the globe where they get played the most.
Blackjack Surrender – Macau
As most gaming-savvy people likely know, Macau, China’s particular administrative region, is the largest casino gambling jurisdiction on the planet, pulling in over $13 billion in annual revenues. At least, those were this territory’s gaming numbers pre the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. While Macau boasts a reputation as a baccarat high-roller hot spot, its venues also offer blackjack. The Surrender variation enjoys tremendous popularity on this little island, with early surrender always available, except when the dealer has an ace. Other stipulations featured on these tables are that dealers must stick on soft seventeens, and players can split up to three times but can only split aces once.
California Blackjack No Bust – California, USA
California No Bust lets players win on busted totals if they are lower than the dealer’s busted hand. Learning to play California Blackjack No Bust is simple because it uses the standard fifty-two dec, the joker serves as a wild card, and the rest of the cards hold their traditional values. Aside from the potential to win on busted totals here, the primary difference is that several hands outrank traditional blackjack ones, and surrender is possible.
Spanish 21 – Malaysia
Despite what its name suggests, this blackjack variant is not particularly famous in Spain. It is a proprietary version owned by a Colorado gaming company, Masque Publishing. The game was first introduced in 1995. Insurance here pays 2:1, while blackjacks produce payouts of 3:2. The game’s defining feature is that it gets played with forty-eight card decks, not the fifty-two French ones.
Pontoon – Australia
Pontoons are what Australians call blackjack. For a while, the Brits also referred to this game as this. Know that in the past, this version’s rules were almost identical to the French Vingt-et-Un. That is the game many consider blackjack’s predecessor. Nevertheless, the stipulations of modern Pontoon products vary widely. The most common difference between them and standard blackjack is that the Pontoon variant allows gamblers to double down before hitting, and it implements the five-card trick. With the latter in play, gamblers can win the round if they have yet to exceed a hand total of twenty-one with five cards in their hand. Also, most Pontoon games pay 2:1, not the usual 3:2 or 6:5 blackjack payouts.
Atlantic City Blackjack – New Jersey, USA
Without argument, Atlantic City is America’s second most famous and visited gaming hub. It started to mount its evolution in the 1970s as a resort city that would morph into an area that would become famous for its casinos instead of its legendary boardwalk. Since gambling activity is what this city most gets recognized for, it should come as no surprise that it has its variation of blackjack. In it, gamblers can split their hands up to three times when they get dealt two cards of equal value, and aces can only get split once. Gamblers can double on any hand here, including performing this action after splitting. Dealers must also check for blackjack when they show a ten-card or Ace, stand on soft seventeen, and insurance and late surrender are available in Atlantic City Blackjack.
European Blackjack – United Kingdom
European Blackjack gets played with two to eight decks with the joker removed. What players must remember about this variant is that they can split just once in a round. They are only allowed to split ten-value cards of the same value and double down on hands with a value of nine, ten, or eleven. Betsoft has a terrific online real money RNG version of European Blackjack that it released in 2015.
Blackjack Switch – Las Vegas, USA
In Switch, a version patented by Geoff Hall in 2009, gamblers get dealt two hands, and they can switch the second card to each one. Natural blackjack in Switch also gets paid 1:1.