European Blackjack – Strategy, Rules, Tips and Free game to play

Introduction

European Blackjack is a unique blackjack variant. It is considered the game from which blackjack evolved to its current form in the US and across the world. It is quite like the standard blackjack game you get at casinos today, except for some basic rule changes.

Playable European Blackjack game:

European Blackjack Basics

The game of European Blackjack has the same basic structure as other standard blackjack games.

  • The game is between the dealer and the player.
  • Each game uses between 2 and 8 card decks without the joker.
  • The objective is to get a hand of 21 or as close to that number as possible to win.
  • Cards from 2 to 9 are valued at their face value.
  • Cards from 10 to Ace are valued at 10 points each.
  • The Ace has a value of 1 and also 11.

One basic difference is in the deal itself. Once the bets are placed the dealer/RNG deals out the cards.

  • The player gets two cards, both face down.
  • The dealer gets the first card, which is an open card and is face up. At this point that is all he gets. His second card is dealt after the player has played his hand.

How to play European Blackjack

We have already discussed the start to the game of European Blackjack in the earlier section. Once the cards are dealt, it is time for the player to make his move to try and win the hand.

  • The player wins straightaway if he has a blackjack hand – a 10-value card and an Ace.
  • If the dealer also has this hand then the game goes into ‘push’ mode.
  • The player or dealer straightaway loses if the value of their hand goes over 21; this is called a bust.
  • If the player has a hand valued lower than 21, he can choose one of the following standard options:
    • Hit: He asks for another card to try and improve the value of his hand.
    • Stand: He retains his existing hand and does not opt for an additional card.
    • Double down: He doubles his original bet and gets another card; he has to stand once he gets the card.
    • Split: He splits his hand into 2 hands if it had 2 cards of the same value. Each hand has an individual bet and is played separately.
    • Surrender: He quits after being dealt the original hand and retains half his original wager.

The dealer now gets his second card and then plays his hand.

  • The player wins even money if the dealer busts.
  • The player’s and dealer’s hands are compared if the dealer opts to stand and the higher hand wins.
  • If both hands have the same value the game is pushed and the player gets his money back.

How European Blackjack is Different to other blackjack games

We have seen how European Blackjack is different in terms of something as fundamental as the deal structure itself. The dealer getting his second card after the player has played his hand changes quite a few things in the game.

  • The dealer cannot check for blackjack if his first card is an Ace or a 10-value card.
  • This means the player has no way of knowing if the dealer has a blackjack until his hand is actually over.

The impact on a player’s strategy is obvious.

  • If in the standard blackjack version the player stood to lose only his initial wager based on the dealer’s hand, here he stood to lose more.
  • If his play strategy was to double down or split a hand he would also lose the additional money placed as wagers for those hands.

The way the game changes because of the basic difference in the deal can be seen in the next section, where we discuss the rules of European Blackjack.

European Blackjack Rules

The rules of European Blackjack are slightly different compared to the rules of the standard blackjack game. This is, as mentioned, because of the difference in the way the deal progresses.

  • The game is played using between 2 and 8 decks. Each deck is re-shuffled after each round.
  • The dealer cannot peek for blackjack.
  • The dealer’s blackjack is an automatic winner over a player’s hand with a value of 21.
  • The game is pushed if both the player and dealer have blackjack hands.
  • The dealer must hit for a hand value of 16.
  • The dealer must stand on a soft 17.
  • The player may split only once per hand.
  • The player cannot split 4s, 5s, or 10-value cards that are not alike (e.g. 10-J, Q-K, J-K, etc.)
  • Players cannot re-split.
  • Players can double down on 9, 10, or 11 only.
  • Players can double down on split cards.
  • Players cannot usually surrender if the dealer’s face card is an Ace. Some casinos allow surrender if the dealer’s face card is not an Ace but a 10-value card.

The following are the basic rules relating to payouts on wins.

  • Even money pays out at 1:1.
  • Blackjack pays out at 3:2.
  • Insurance bet pays out at 2:1.

European Blackjack Strategy

The house edge for European Blackjack using between 4 and 8 decks is at around 0.42%. The change in rule requires an adjustment in the strategy to adopt for this variant of blackjack. Players will tend to play in a more conservative fashion.

  • This becomes true especially when the dealer’s first card is an Ace or 10-value card.
  • The player will have no way of knowing until his hand is complete what the dealer’s hand is.
  • That makes moves like splitting or doubling down risky, especially given that the dealer’s blackjack beats the player’s hand of 21.
  • Doubling down is also reduced because of the following 2 rules:
  • Doubling down only for hands of 9 to 11.
  • No doubling on 11 against a dealer’s 10.
  • Splitting is also reduced because of the rule related to splitting: no splitting of 4s, 5s, or 10-value cards that are not alike.

The following charts outline the strategy to be adopted in this game for European Blackjack; there is a slightly different strategy for UK Blackjack that we will see next.

 Player                                   —————————–                Dealer’s cards——————————–

Hard 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
5 to 8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H H
17-21 S S S S S S S S S S

 

Soft 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
13-17 H H H H H H H H H H
18 S S S S S S S H H H
19-21 S S S S S S S S S S

 

Pairs 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2, 2 P P P P P P H H H H
3, 3 P P P P P P H H H H
4, 4 H H H P P H H H H H
5, 5 D D D D D D D D H H
6, 6 P P P P P H H H H H
7, 7 P P P P P P H H H H
8, 8 P P P P P P P P H H
9, 9 P P P P P S P P S S
10, 10 S S S S S S S S S S
A, A P P P P P P P P P H

In the charts above, the terms represent the following:

  • H: Hit
  • S: Stand
  • D: Double if permitted, else Hit
  • P: Split

The following are strategy charts for European Blackjack in the UK.

Player                                   ————————————Dealer’s Card———————————–

Hard 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
5-8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H H
17-21 S S S S S S S S S S

 

Soft 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
13 H H H D D H H H H H
14 H H H D D H H H H H
15 H H D D D H H H H H
16 H H D D D D D D H H
17 P D D D D H H H H H
18 S D/S D/S D/S D/S S S H H H
19-21 S S S S S S S S S S

 

Pairs 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2, 2 P P P P P P H H H H
3, 3 P P P P P P H H H H
4, 4 H H H P P H H H H H
5, 5 D D D D D D D D H H
6, 6 P P P P P H H H H H
7, 7 P P P P P P H H H H
8, 8 P P P P P P P P H H
9, 9 P P P P P S P P S S
10, 10 S S S S S S S S S S
A, A P P P P P P P P P H

In the charts above, the terms represent the following:

  • H: Hit
  • S: Stand
  • D: Double if permitted, else Hit
  • D/S: Double if permitted, else Stand
  • P: Split

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