Just as the name implies, European Blackjack draws much inspiration from land-based casinos in Europe. Like its American counterpart, it ranks as one of the world’s most popular blackjack variants. The game’s goal is the same, which is to beat the dealer, and with a general knowledge of blackjack, that should be easy. However, not everything is as it seems.
European Blackjack has a lot of limitations and impositions on players compared to other versions. So, if you are particularly interested in playing this variant of the game for fun or for real money, this guide is for you.
In the subsequent sections, we will cover everything about European Blackjack, including the specific rules, house edge, gameplay, and strategies to help you become a better player. So, read on to find out more.
What is European Blackjack, and how does it differ from American Blackjack?
This is the trendiest comparison between two variants of the same game, and the reasons are apparent. American and European Blackjack are arguably the most common of their kind, so you will most likely encounter these two before any other variants. Hence, it is crucial to understand how they compare to one another.
In European Blackjack, the player gets two cards dealt face down. On the other hand, the dealer gets one card face up, and that’s it. The second card is dealt only after the player has made a move to stand, hit, double down, split or surrender. Among the other differences, this is one of the most notable; the way the cards are dealt. Afterwards, the dealer is dealt the second card and makes a move to decide the game’s outcome.
Another significant difference between American and European Blackjack is the number of decks which invariably affects the house edge. The former uses two standard decks, while the latter uses between two to eight decks. This smaller deck size makes card counting easier, thus offering a higher house edge.
Furthermore, limited options exist for splitting and doubling down in European Blackjack. With the exemption of Aces, which can only be split once, players can split other similar cards up to three times for American Blackjack. In the European variant, splitting can only be done once for a selected value of cards (for example, two kings), depending on the casino rules. The same restrictions are applicable when it comes to doubling down. European Blackjack only allows this for selected high-value cards, whereas there are no restrictions for American Blackjack when the player decides to double down.
Above all, like every other blackjack variant, the focus is on the dealer irrespective of the number of players. Any player that hits a blackjack or gets closest to the number when compared to the dealer’s hand wins the game.
How to play European Blackjack – Game Rules
In typical gameplay, the player gets two cards first. Then, the dealer receives one card and opens it so the player can also see the card. This process is the same irrespective of whether you are playing at an online or land-based casino. However, look for slight variations in the game rules inherent in different platforms.
The next step is for the player to select a betting option that applies to European Blackjack. If the player’s total hand is a blackjack afterwards, then the game comes to an end. Otherwise, the dealer gets the second card and takes a turn to select a betting option. This game is straightforward to play as long as you know the rules, which will define the betting options available to every player. Below is an overview of the game rules as it applies to European Blackjack:
- All cards are worth their face value except for a few. Aces can have a value of 1 or 11, depending on the situation.
- The payout for typical gameplay is 1:1, meaning the winner can double his bet for winning the hand. However, if the winning hand is a blackjack, the player receives 3:2 the bet amount, which translates to 1.5 times more.
- There is no option to surrender. Once you are in, there is no going back.
- When the dealer’s hand is an Ace and the player has a Blackjack, the resolution is Even money.
- After splitting, players can or cannot double their bet. It is safest to find out from the casino before you start playing.
- If you split an Ace, the card value when you have a 10 is 21, not a Blackjack.
- Players can double any two starting cards. However, the permitted cards vary depending on the casino. For example, some casinos only permit the double on cards worth 9, 10, or 11.
- Players can only split two cards (selected cards depending on the casino rules or game provider) of the same value once in the entire gameplay. However, this does not apply to Aces.
- The most valuable hand is a blackjack (an ace plus a 10 or Jack, king, or Queen), and this beats a 21-value hand as long as it is not a blackjack
- The dealer cannot peek at their hole card until the player’s hand is complete.
- The game ends (stand) when the dealer’s hand is 17.
- If the dealer’s card dealt face up is an Ace or 10, he cannot check for a blackjack.
- Players cannot split cards with values of 4, 5, and 10.
- The player is busted once the dealer’s hand is blackjack and loses all bets to the casino.
- A draw is the only available move when the dealers’ hand is 16.
- Players can split two Aces in a game of European Blackjack. However, the player only receives one card for each split hand afterwards and nothing more.
European Blackjack Card Value
Every card dealt has a value that could correspond to the face value. Usually, this is the same across the different variants of blackjack. So, knowing the value of your hand is crucial to the next action.
- Face value cards: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are valued on the card.
- Aces: Valued as 1 or 11 depending on the situation in play
- Kings, Jacks, and Queens are worth 10
European Blackjack Betting Actions and Payouts
Depending on the value of your hand, many actions can follow in a game of European Blackjack as follows:
- Hit or Stand
- Doubling down
- Splitting hands
Your next move is a function of your understanding of the game and the strategy you have in mind to use. Once you win, the payout depends on the action you have taken, as described in the table below:
|S/NO||Betting Action/Hand Type||Payout|
|2||Hand of 21||1:1|
|4||Blackjack, after a split||1:1|
|5||Any other wins||1:1|
What are your chances of winning in a game of European Blackjack – House Edge?
European Blackjack has a slightly higher house edge than the American variant, and that’s because there is no hole card, and the dealer can only receive his second after the player’s hand. This only takes the margin from 0.35% to 0.40%, which is not too significant. However, another thing that can significantly affect the house edge is the number of card decks used in the game.
Usually, European Blackjack uses two decks as compared to American Blackjack, which uses 2 to 8 decks. However, as we already mentioned, the number of card decks can vary depending on the casino. When that happens, the house edge increases significantly as the decks increase from 2 to 8. Card counting becomes very difficult, and it can also affect your strategy.
While the focus is usually centered around winning to get a blackjack hand or get closest to 21, the chances of a bust are just as high. The table below gives an overview of the possibilities of winning depending on the value of your hand.
|Card/Hand Value||Odds of being busted if you decide to HIT (%)|
|11 or lower||0|
European Blackjack Strategies
How do you decide on your next move considering the value of your hand upon receiving the two cards from the dealer? If you can answer this question best, you stand a good chance of beating the dealer. Remember, you get the opportunity to take this shot before the dealer is dealt the second hand. The table below gives an overview of the best decisions to take depending on the value of your hand.
|Players Card Value||Best Move|
|An 8 or less (2,3,4,5,6,7)||Your best move is to HIT|
|9||If the dealers’ card is a 6 or less, the best move is to DOUBLE. |
If otherwise (above 6), HIT.
|10||If the dealers’ card is a 9 or less, the best move is to DOUBLE. If otherwise (above 9), HIT.|
|11||If the dealers’ card is a 10 or less, the best move is to DOUBLE. |
If otherwise, HIT.
|12||Suppose the dealer’s hand is a 6 or less, STAND. If it’s more, HIT.|
|13||Suppose the dealer’s hand is less than 6, STAND. |
HIT if it is more than 6.
|14 – 16||STAND if the dealer’s hand is less than 6, and HIT if otherwise.|
|17 – 21||Your best and only move is to STAND|
Paired Hands Strategy
Knowing when to split your hands is among the first things to consider after receiving your cards. Of course, you can decide not to split, but the moment you choose to, this tip is for you.
In American Blackjack, you can easily split any two pairs as you see fit. However, that is not the same with European Blackjack, as the game is packed with many rules, as we already discussed. Below is a table to guide you on the best splitting decisions when you receive a paired hand.
|Card Value||What you should do/Strategy|
|2s, 3, 7s||When you have any of these pairs, opt to split ONLY if the dealer’s hand is anywhere between 2 and 7|
|4s||Split this hand only when the dealer has a 5 or 6|
|5s and 10s||Splitting is NOT an option at this |
|6s||Only split when the dealer card is either a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6|
|8s||Owing to the no peek rule for European Blackjack, you can only split this hand if the dealers’ card is between 2 and 9|
|9s||Splitting a 9 against a 7 is a NO for European Blackjack. The only time splitting is permitted is when the dealers’ card is 2,3,4,5,6,8 and 9.|
|Aces||Split an Ace when facing any card except when the dealer has an ace. This is the only time splitting or doubling against an ace is permitted in European Blackjack|
Considering that the payout for a split is 1:1, you might want to think twice before splitting, as the strategy requires a lot of mastery.
From getting two cards and the dealer getting just one face up, European Blackjack has peculiar features that make it different from the other variants. Although the basic game features, actions, and goals are the same, that is, you can hit, stand, split and double down or up as you see fit. Likewise, the goal is to get a blackjack or be closest to 21 more than the dealer to win. However, European Blackjack is considered very strict and has some rules you cannot afford to ignore. For example, you cannot surrender in a game of European Blackjack. There are cases where you cannot hit split aces; double specific numbers or double down after a split. Having these rules at your fingertips is as important as playing the game. Even more, with a few tricks and strategies up your sleeve, you can make some cool money while having fun each time you hit the table.
How is European Blackjack different?
While the game’s goal is the same, European Blackjack has stringent rules. For example, players cannot split more than once in a round, and many other restrictions exist.
What is the difference between European and American Blackjack?
There are many differences in terms of the game rules. However, the most notable is in how the cards are dealt. There is no hold card, and the dealer cannot peek at his closed card during gameplay.
Is European Blackjack better than American Blackjack?
It depends on personal preferences. American Blackjack has a surrender option which is not available in the European variant. Also, fewer decks in European blackjack means that card counting is possible and less tedious.
Are there strategies for European Blackjack?
Yes, many strategies can improve your chances of winning. It is crucial to test these strategies either when you have bonuses to spare or with a low bet amount before playing with a large sum.
Do the same rules apply to both online and land-based casinos?
In most cases, the rules are the same. However, it is vital to get more information from the casino before you start playing. For example, the number of decks can vary, affecting the house edge and strategy.