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Top 8 player-favorable blackjack rules

17 September 2000

Most recreational blackjack players mistakenly believe that blackjack rules are the same from one casino to another. This is not necessarily the case. Although the objective of the game is always the same (to beat the dealer!), casinos do modify the playing rules depending upon competition from other local casinos and how liberal casino management wants to go to give players a "better game." What's important from the player's perspective is to understand that some rules tend to increase the casino's edge over blackjack players, while others have the potential to lower the edge. To achieve the latter, it is important to not only know which rules are more favorable, but also to know the correct playing strategy for those rules.

The following are the best blackjack rules for players. Some are available in most casinos while others are only offered in a limited number of casinos. Still, it's important to know what the best rules are should they become more readily available.

Best Rule #1 - Blackjack Hands Paid at 2 to 1

This is not a common rule in casinos. Why? Because most casinos would go broke due to professional players taking advantage of this very favorable rule. If a casino pays 2 to 1 on player blackjacks, as compared to the standard 3 to 2 (or 1.5 to 1) payoff, the casinos edge is reduced by a substantial amount (about 2.2 percent, all other rules being equal). Generally, casinos that offer 2 to 1 payouts on blackjack do so during a limited time promotion. If you hear or read about such a promotion, you better run (not walk) to the casino, because once the word gets out to the network of professional blackjack players, they will descend upon these games with large bankrolls. In some of these past promotions, casinos were hit so hard by the pros that the promotions were abruptly ended.

Best Rule #2 - Early Surrender

When a player surrenders his hand, he gives up half of the initial bet and forfeits the right to play out the hand. When Atlantic City casinos initially opened in the late 1970s, they allowed players to surrender their hands before the dealer checked his hole card (and potential blackjack hand). This surrender is known as early surrender (see best bet #8 for the late surrender rule). This is a very favorable rule for players (0.6 percent reduction in the casino's edge). Unfortunately, early surrender is no longer offered in Atlantic City and is rarely offered by casinos in other gambling jurisdictions in the USA (it still is offered in some European and Asian casinos). Most casinos nowadays that allow surrender offer late surrender (see best rule #8).

Best Rule #3 - Single-Deck Games

Over the years, casinos have migrated to dealing blackjack with six or eight decks of cards. There are several reasons for this, but one of the major reasons is that the casino's edge is increased by about 0.5 percent compared to a single-deck game (again assuming the playing rules are the same). Fortunately, there is a resurgence of single-deck games in Las Vegas casinos and elsewhere. Given a choice, a single-deck game with standard rules is a better bet than a six- or eight-deck game with similar rules.

Best Rule #4 - Doubling on Three or More Cards

Historically, casinos allow players the option of doubling down only on their initial two-card hand. If you asked for additional cards, the double down option was no longer allowed for that hand. Nowadays, some casinos allow players the option to double down not only on the initial two-card hand, but also on three or more cards. This option reduces the casino's edge by about 0.2 percent.

Best Rule #5 - Double Down Allowed After Pair Splitting (DAS)

I am always amazed at the number of players who do not take advantage of DAS when it's offered. If it is, by all means take advantage of this player-favorable rule and double down after you split a pair according to the basic playing strategy. This is a fairly common rule in most casinos and it will lower the casino's edge by about 0.14 percent when used correctly.

Best Rule #6 - Draw To Split Aces

Normally when you split aces, you are given one and only one draw card to each ace. You can't draw additional cards. Some casinos, however, will allow players to draw additional cards to each split ace (like you do when you split any other pairs). This player-favorable rule decreases the casino's edge by 0.14 percent.

Best Rule #7 - Resplit Aces

Most casinos will not allow you to resplit aces. In other words, if you split a pair of aces and draw another ace, you are stuck with a hand of 12 (ace, ace). Nowadays, some casinos allow players the option to resplit the aces. In the above example, you could make another bet and resplit the aces. This rule lowers the casino's edge by about 0.06 percent.

Best Rule #8 - Late Surrender

This is the more popular form of surrender offered by casinos. Essentially, you can surrender your hand but only after the dealer checks his down card. If he has a blackjack, you automatically lose (i.e., the option to surrender is not available). By using the correct basic playing strategy for late surrender, the casino's edge can be decreased by about 0.08 percent.

Here is a summary of the better and worse playing rules for blackjack. It behooves you to seek out blackjack games with the greatest number of better rules and the least number of worse rules.

BETTER RULES WORSE RULES
2 to 1 BJ Payoffs No DAS
Early Surrender Dealer Hits Soft 17
Single Deck 6 and 8 Decks
Double on 3 or More Cards     Double on only 10 or 11
DAS Double on only 9, 10 or 11
Draw to Split Aces Resplits not Allowed
Replit Aces
Late Surrender

For more information about blackjack:

Blackjack: Take the Money and Run by Henry Tamburin
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
Recent Articles
Best of Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin