Blackjack variations that are most popular

Many patrons of online and brick-and-mortar casinos are familiar with the basics of blackjack, where the goal is to beat the dealer’s score without exceeding 21. The rules of North American casinos, which include dealers hitting on a soft 17, dealers peeking for natural blackjacks with aces and 10 value cards, players doubling down on any two cards, and players doubling down after splitting, are also familiar to those who do play blackjack. However, have you ever tried some of the other thrilling blackjack variants that are accessible globally? If not, read on as we cover the top 5 blackjack variants and explain which ones are the most advantageous for players.


In Asia, Australia, and the UK, pontoon has gained enormous popularity since the twelfth century, if not earlier. Due to the fact that neither game uses 10s in the deck, pontoon actually has rules that are very similar to those of Spanish 21. However, this game offers better blackjack payouts than Spanish 21, in addition to a few other variations that are listed below:

  • A natural blackjack variation known as pontoon results in an automatic win and a 2 to 1 payout.
  • Instead of a push, tying the dealer’s hand results in a loss.
  • The dealer’s two cards are both face down.
  • Only values of 15 or higher can be stood on hands.
  • For forming a five-card hand, you are paid out at a rate of 2:1.
  • Dealer hits a soft 17 and stays.
  • You may split up to three times or two hands.

As you can see, pontoon has a number of very unusual rules, such as the requirement that you hit until you are 15, and the requirement that both of the dealer’s cards remain face down until your betting is complete. The pontoon house edge typically ranges from 0.34% to 0.42% due to these differences in the rules.

Perfect Pairs

Perfect Pairs, a variation of 21 created by Australian dealer John Wicks, has gained popularity because it is identical to standard 21 but allows for side bets to increase your winnings. Before receiving any cards, the side bet is placed, and the following payouts are possible: two cards with the same rank but different colors, such as the jack of hearts and the jack of spades, are known as a red/black pair. A red/black pair has a 5:1 or a 6:1 payout option. Two cards with the same color and rank, such as the queen of diamonds and the queen of hearts, are known as a colored pair. Two cards with the exact same suit and rank are known as a perfect pair. In many casinos, this pays 30:1, but occasionally only 25:1. If you’re comfortable with standard 21 games, Perfect Pairs is a fun way to mix things up when you play blackjack. The side bet’s 6.76% house edge, which makes it a poor wager, is the major drawback.

Face Up 21

In the game Face Up 21, the dealer’s first two cards are displayed. You can make decisions without having to rely solely on one or no up cards, which is unquestionably to your advantage. The disadvantage is that some regulations have been altered to accommodate casinos, as you can see here: All ties are decided by the dealer. Dealer makes a hit on a soft 17. Blackjacks dealt naturally pay equally. Only a hard 9, 10, or 11 qualifies for doubling down. After splitting, you may continue betting. Some of these rules work against you, but being able to see the first two cards dealt by the dealer definitely works in your favor. Depending on the specifics of the rules, this can result in a house edge of anywhere between 0.69% and 0.85%.

European Blackjack

European blackjack originated in European casinos, as the name suggests. European blackjack is available at many online casinos, so you don’t have to be from this continent to play. However, as you can see below, there are a few significant variations that set European blackjack apart from standard 21 blackjack.

  • a game using two decks
  • No blackjack peaking by the dealer
  • Dealer hits a soft 17 and stays.
  • Only a hard 9, 10, or 11 qualifies for doubling down.
  • In some games, you can re-split, but not in others.
  • On natural blackjacks, the majority of games pay 3 to 2.
  • Aces cannot be split again.
  • On a push, you get your money back (tie)
  • You cannot surrender

If you’re not familiar with the various blackjack variations, European blackjack is a good game to try. The above-mentioned rules have a house edge of just 0.39%, which is relatively low compared to standard 21. Due to the fact that European blackjack only uses 2 decks as opposed to 6 or 8 decks in standard 21 in this case, it has an advantage over the latter.

Spanish 21

Spanish 21 was actually developed by the gaming company Marquee Publishing in Colorado, despite what the game’s name would have you believe. Even though it was only introduced in 1995, it has already migrated to casinos on other continents. The removal of all 10s from the decks distinguishes Spanish 21 from most other blackjack variants. Spanish 21 would typically be a game that players would prefer to avoid because 10-value cards reduce the house edge. However, as you can see, some of the following guidelines still permit you to play this game:

  • A natural blackjack results in an automatic win and a 3 to 2 payout.
  • Dealer hits a soft 17 and stays.
  • Up to three splits per hand will yield a total of four hands.
  • You can use any two cards to double down.
  • After splitting hands, you can place another bet.
  • a late surrender is acceptable
  • For some hands, bonus payouts are available.

Regarding the latter, if you don’t double down or split any hands, you can receive payouts of 2 to 1 on 6 card blackjacks and 3 to 1 on 7 card blackjacks. Even better, if the dealer has a 7 face-up and you draw three 7s in a row, you’ll receive a bonus of 40 times your wager. Depending on the specific bonus payouts being offered, Spanish 21 has a house edge as low as 0.34%.


Which of these variations ought you choose to play? European blackjack, Spanish 21 and pontoon are games that give you a good chance to win purely based on house edge. European blackjack, Perfect Pairs, and Face Up 21 are all very similar to regular 21 in terms of learning complexity.