The Best Variants of Online Blackjack

, updated , Comment regular icon0 comments

Discover the top variations of online blackjack that offer exciting gameplay and unique features. From classic blackjack to multi-hand and live dealer options, find the perfect variant for your gaming preferences.

Edit Article

By Cliff Spiller

The best online casinos feature a dozen or more variants of blackjack. Given the variety, it can be confusing for new players when choosing which game to play. Below, we go over the most common variants of blackjack you'll encounter, along with key rules and each variant's odds.

Classic Blackjack

Sometimes known as American Blackjack, this is the basic game you'll play in most online casinos. It's played with a standard 52-card deck with a natural blackjack paying 3:2, so you get $1.50 for every $1.00 wagered. The dealer hits on a soft 17. Unless house rules change the odds, the house edge is 0.68%.


European Blackjack

This game is like Classic Blackjack, but uses the rules traditionally used in Monte Carlo. The game is played with two 52-card decks. The dealer doesn't hit on a soft 17, but also doesn't have early peak, so you might be playing a losing hand from the start due to a natural blackjack. When the blackjack pays 3:2, the house edge is a quite low 0.39%.

Spanish 21

Spanish 21 might be the original version of blackjack. Miguel de Cervantes’ 1613 novel, Rinconete y Cortadillolink outside website, mentions a card game called veintiuna ("21") with rules much like those of Spanish 21. This game has the 10 cards removed for a deck of 48 cards, while face cards have the value of 10. A blackjack pays 3:2, while a player's blackjack always beats a dealer's blackjack.

A myriad of other payouts are involved in Spanish 21, including special payouts for 5-card, 6-card, and 7-card hands of 21. Depending on the pay table, the house edge is around 0.40%. This game is much like a version of online blackjack called Australian Pontoon.

Face Up 21

Also known as Double Exposure, this game lets the player see both the dealer's cards. This is a tremendous advantage for the player, so it comes with several rules that balance out the advantage. A tie isn't a push, but instead gives the dealer a win. Also, blackjacks only pay out 1:1, so the resulting house edge is 0.85%.

21 + 3 Blackjack

A version of blackjack with a side bet. The bet is based on the two cards dealt to you and the dealer's upcard. If the three cards form a flush, it's a 5:1 payout. A straight is a 10:1 payout, while a three-of-a-kind is a 30:1 payout. A suited three-of-a-kind pays out 100:1. Unfortunately, the house edge on the side bet is between 6.29% and 8.78% depending on the pay table, so 21+3 does not have the nice house edge that most blackjack variants enjoy.

Perfect Pairs

Another blackjack variant with a side bet. In this case, you receive high payouts if you're dealt a pair. Any mixed pair receives a 5:1 payout, while a colored pair receives a 12:1 payout. If you receive a perfect pair - a pair of the same suit - you receive a 25:1 payout. Like other blackjack games with a side bet, the house edge is high. In fact, the house edge on the Perfect Pairs side bet ranges from 2% to 11%. Those with a free spins bonuslink outside website or a welcome bonus from an online casino might consider playing Perfect Pairs; due to its high house edge, it is one of the table games that might apply to the wagering requirement.

Blackjack Switch

In this game, the player receives two hands instead of one. The player can switch the top cards in both hands, helping them build a better hand. If you have a 10 and 3 in one hand and a 9 and Ace in the other, you can switch to having a 10-Ace and 3-9. Of course, each hand has the same size bet placed on it, so you can't simply neglect one hand for the sake of the other. The house edge in Blackjack Switch is 0.58%.


Live Dealer Blackjack

Online casinos now feature Live Blackjack in the live dealer section of their websites. Here, real-life dealers deal cards from a brick-and-mortar casino studio somewhere in the world. The dealers use real cards instead of random number generators. Classic Blackjack and European Blackjack are the common games. The game is live streamed to your computer. Because different studios have different rules, the house edge varies between 0.49% and 0.72%.

Basic Strategy in Blackjack

The house edges of the card gameslink outside website listed above are based on optimal strategy. For each variant, players should study a basic strategy chart to optimize their decisions. Players who don't use basic strategy see the house edge increase by as much as 1.50% for any given game. Casinos depend on players not learning the rules, so study a blackjack basic strategy chart before playing.