Save for slot games, all casino games take at least some amount of skill to master. The top of the line, of course, are the deck-based games. However, there are so many that average player proficiency varies wildly. There are a bazillion ways to play poker and just as many ways for rummy. In comparison, there are not all that many different variations for blackjack games. Out of all the ‘skill-centric’ card games, blackjack and baccarat are probably the highest recommended gateways. But what type of blackjack should you play first as a complete beginner? Here we will discuss all the types, which one is the most beginner-friendly, as well as some general tips that will help you on the road.
The Several Types of Blackjack
To understand the variations in blackjack, one must be familiar with the rules. So if you are a new player, here is a quick rundown of the important things. The aim of blackjack games is to score the highest hand without exceeding 21. If you go beyond 21, you go ‘bust’ and lose all your money. This can also happen to the dealer, in which case, all players win money. The Ace, to this end, can be valued at both 1 and 11. So the most ideal scenario is that you get an Ace and a 10 in the first hand, netting you a natural 21 and a win for that round. Now let’s get to the different types of blackjack and what separates them.
Atlantic City and Vegas Strip Blackjack
By far, most online players commonly play Atlantic City and Vegas Strip Blackjack. In both cases, the big three conditions are similar. Firstly, the dealer can peek at his hole card. Secondly, the dealer can stand on a soft 17 (as in many other modes). But most importantly, there is the distinctive American blackjack trait: you can split your hand up to three times. In case of Atlantic City blackjack, it also features a late surrender option (as well as insurances in some places).
Many experts consider Spanish blackjack (also known as ‘Spanish 21’) the more challenging version. Like classic blackjack, it has 8 decks, but without all the 10s – naturally increasing the house edge ever so slightly. Moreover, if both the dealer and a player hit blackjack, it is a tie with no extra payouts. To balance the risks, Spanish blackjack allows insurances on bets and surrendering even after doubling down.
Pontoon is more or less Spanish 21 house rules, with fancy name changes to traditional blackjack terms. For example, ‘stand’ is ‘twist’ and ‘hit’ is ‘pontoon’. Like Spanish 21, Pontoons also lack 10, making it impossible for anyone to score a natural blackjack (‘stick’) in the first 2 cards.
Super Fun 21
‘Super Fun 21’ is not available as a blackjack option in all casinos. But for what it’s worth, it is an extremely fun way to learn blackjack. It has user-friendly rules – the biggest one being that your 21 will always override the dealer’s 21 in the same round. The payout rate is also somewhat better than usual. It pays 3:2 like most average blackjack reward tables. (That means you win $15 extra on $10 worth of chips. However, certain special hands such as the Diamond Blackjack have a 2:1 prize pool.
Depending on the casino itself, many of these blackjack house rules can also include a progressive mode. Progressive blackjack is basically like classic blackjack, the sole difference being that you put in an extra amount of money over the bet to keep your claim on the progressive jackpot. This extra bet is usually just an additional $1, so many pro gamblers love progressive blackjack for some extra money
So, which of the many blackjack variants should a beginner play?
The answer will vary depending on what you want. Usually, classic blackjack is a good starting place to learn the ropes. American blackjacks such as Vegas Strip are also great because the rule nuances do not give due advantage to the house. But other than all that, one of the best types of blackjack games for a beginner is European. To clarify: European blackjack is more or less just classic blackjack in gameplay rules. The big defining factor is its deck. Most variants of blackjack will generally have a shoe built of eight decks on average. European blackjack can have as little as two decks in a round. So it is a great segue to get started with one of the most indispensable skills in blackjack. Namely, card counting.
For the uninitiated, card counting is basically keeping a tally of the cards in play to understand whether the next cards will be favourable (high-value) for the player. With only two decks, you can predict more accurately, making European blackjack a great environment to learn card counting.
Ultimately, though, one should remember that the different types of blackjack all pose a similar level of challenge. To get good, you have to practice methodically and learn from your mistakes – no matter which type of blackjack you are playing.
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