Blackjack Variations

Posted by Joe Ellison .

Did you know casinos have created a wide variety of game variations based on the old time favorite of blackjack?

Over time many blackjack players learn the best way to play, reducing how fast the casino can take their money.

When the casino introduces a new game based on blackjack, the players want to try it out but suddenly don’t know the best way to reduce the house edge.

You should still see if any of the popular blackjack variations listed below look like fun, but be careful not to play too much before you understand all the rules.

Software Considerations

All of the popular casino software platforms offer blackjack and different variations of 21 games. Some of them offer the same games under different names.

Here’s an example. Some casinos have a game called Face Up 21 and others have one called Double Exposure. Basically they’re the same game using a different name.

You can also find online variations of popular blackjack games found in your local casino, but often they use different names as well. Many games found in your local casino have names protected by the developers, so to avoid complications online casinos change the name.

A common table game example of this is Let It Ride. Most online casinos offer the same game, but the name Let It Ride is owned by Shufflemaster so the casinos call it Let Em Ride or some variation.

I recommend trying the blackjack variations offered by at least two or three different software platforms.

I’ve included overviews of the most popular variations you can play online. Each section includes the basics of each game including how the game is the same and different from regular blackjack.

Perfect Pairs

Perfect Pairs is not an actual blackjack variation. It’s a side bet available on a normal blackjack game. The reason I include it here is because you’ll see it offered by many online casinos.

To play the Perfect Pairs side bet you place your regular wager and then a side bet.

The side bet payout is based on your first two cards. It only pays if you have a pair.

A common pay table is 25 to 1 for a suited pair, 12 to 1 for a pair of the same color (a heart and diamond or a spade and club), or 6 to 1 for a pair with different colors. The payback percentage using the payouts I just listed is only a hair over 96% so you should avoid playing the side bet.

In comparison, most standard blackjack games offered online offer payback percentages of over 99% when using a perfect blackjack strategy.

Super Fun 21

Super Fun 21 has most of the rules that are favorable to the player, but blackjacks only pay even money. Using the best strategy offers a payback percentage of just over 99%.

The rules include the ability to split and re-split aces, the ability to split to up to four hands, the player can double down on any number of cards, may double down after split, may surrender after doubling down or splitting, and the player wins on all blackjacks, even if the dealer also has a blackjack. The dealer does hit on a soft 17, which is the only unfavorable rule other than the even money blackjack payouts.

You can also find a variation where you can only split hands other than aces up to a total of three hands. This version reduces the pay back percentage to under 99%.

Spanish 21

While Super Fun 21 has many favorable rules for the player, Spanish 21 has even more. It also has bonuses for certain hands.

The tradeoff is all tens have been removed from the deck. All the face cards are still in the deck, but tens have been removed creating a 48 card deck called a Spanish deck.

Ten valued cards are better for the player so the removal of the tens increases the house edge to level out all of the rules favorable to the player.

Here’ a list of common rules and bonuses for Spanish 21.

Any player 21 wins, even if the dealer has a blackjack. Players can surrender late, double down on any two cards, can split up to four hands, double down on any number of cards, can double down again once after doubling down, re-split aces, can hit aces after splitting, and can double down on split aces.

Three suited 7’s when the dealer has a 7 pays a bonus of 50 to 1. A 6, 7, and 8 of spades or three 7’s in spades pays 3 to 1. A 6, 7, and 8 suited other than spades or three 7’s suited other than spades pays a bonus of 2 to 1. A mixed suit 6, 7, and 8 or three 7’s pays a 3 to 2 bonus. A Five card 21 pays 3 to 2, a six card 21 pays 2 to 1, and a seven or more card 21 pays 3 to 1.

The correct strategy for Spanish 21 isn’t the same as standard blackjack, but if you learn the proper strategy the house edge is less than 2/5% (.4% or .004). Standard blackjack usually offers an edge of around a half percent, so Spanish 21 offers a better game than most normal blackjack games.

Face Up 21 – Double Exposure

Both Face Up 21 and Double Exposure are dealt with all cards face up, including the dealer’s hand. You’ll find different house rules creating slightly different house advantages depending on where you play. The average pay back percentage is around 99%.

The standard rules include blackjacks only paying one to one and the dealer wins all pushes except if the player and dealer both have a blackjack. The player wins all blackjacks.

Blackjack Switch

When you play Blackjack Switch you receive two hands of two cards each. You may switch the two second cards between the two hands or leave them alone. Once you decide, you play the rest of the hand with the two hands separate.

This grants the player a large advantage so to balance the scales the dealer pushes on 22 instead of busting unless the player has a blackjack and blackjacks pay one to one.

Blackjack switch offers one of the lowest house edges in an online casino. When you play perfect strategy the payback percentage is over 99.8%.


If you’re getting tired of the same old blackjack rules take a few minutes to check out one of the popular variations. Some of the variations offer a fun change of pace to regular 21 and decent odds. Just make sure you learn the correct strategy before playing too much because most variations require a different plan than regular blackjack.


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Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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