In life, there’s an exception for every rule ever made. Similarly, in Blackjack, there is a variation for every rule ever constructed. Why is this even worth mentioning? Because the variation determines the house edge – and by default, also the player’s own odds.
As over-dramatic a statement this may sound to be, it’s always true – only sometimes more so than other times. While a single variation would probably not make too much of a difference to the edge and odds, a combination of a few thrown together on a single Blackjack table can cause a snowball of problems for the ignorant or naïve player.
In Blackjack, there are favourable games, and then there are unfavourable games. The trick is as simple as learning to tell the one from the other.
Then Vs Now
Many moons ago, there existed only a single set of rules governing the Blackjack played on the tables of casinos. Each game consisted of a single deck of cards, the pay-ratio was always 3:2 for a natural hand, and doubling was allowed on any two cards. Plain, simple, and exceptionally profitable form the casino’s point of view.
But only until it no longer wasn’t. When in or around 1962 casino managers started noticing suitcases bursting with cash leaving their gaming floors, they instantly knew that something was up. And what was “up”, they discovered not too long after, was a book titled “Beat the Dealer”, written by one math professor Edward. O. Thorp. That was when they knew: the jig was up. The Blackjack cat had been let out the bag.
The message was clear; something had to be done to level the playing field. And so were introduced born several “new” ideas: multiple decks, hitting on a soft 17, doubling allowed only on 10 or 11, etc.
Variation Determines Game-Plan
Every good player knows that the type of strategy to be followed depends on the specific variations being played. And lucky for every player hoping to one day become a good player, there really is a strategy for every variation under the sun.
Common Blackjack variations include playing according to the rules of Spanish 21 (soft hands as well as hard hands), Double Exposure (both the dealer’s card are exposed – not as easy to beat as naturally assumed), 21st Century Blackjack, as well as a world of clever marketing ploys trying to lure players into losing more money per hand by indulging in all sorts of side bets and insurances.
What About Counting Cards?
While its true that very few people ever really end up successful card counters, it is not entirely a thing completely unheard of. And since most legal justice systems regard card counting to be the skill that it most definitely is, casinos aren’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for those who have mastered the art.
Instead, operators have had to come up with a couple of cunning ploys aimed at deterring people from counting cards. And the first and foremost of these, is a game played with multiple decks of cards.
Variations matter – even when counting cards.