How to Play Big 5 Blackjack: Rules, Strategy & Odds
Big 5 Blackjack is a variant of the classic blackjack game. The rules are very closely related to the original version, but there are a few twists that can make Big 5 Blackjack a lot of fun to play. Unlike many other blackjack variations, the house edge remains relatively low at just 0.47% with a seamless strategy applied.
Big 5 Blackjack gets its name from the fact that there are 5 standard decks of cards in the shoe. The most notable rule changes apply to splitting and the option to Surrender a hand in its infant stages. Also, there is a no-peeking rule in Big 5 Blackjack that states the dealer will not check his hand for blackjack if he has an Ace or 10 value card showing.
Variations in the rules of Big 5 Blackjack include the following:
- There are 5 standard decks of 52 cards used. Beware that in an online casino, card counting loses all effective purpose as the cards will be automatically reshuffled after each and every hand.
- Players are allowed to Surrender at the start of a hand, while they still have their two original cards. Surrendering a hand is to fold the cards, sacrificing half of the total bet, but reclaiming the other half. Late Surrender is not permitted, thus a player cannot surrender after taking any action (hit, split, double, etc.)
- A player is permitted to double down on any two cards, before or after splitting, but may only double down once per game. For example, if the player splits their cards, they may not double down on both new hands.
- The rules of splitting are enhanced in such a way that players can split any cards of equal value. This means that, along with exact pairs like 9+9, any 2-card combination of 10, Jack, Queen or King may be split as well. Then again, it’s exceedingly rare that any blackjack strategy would recommend splitting a hand that totals 20 to begin with, so I don’t suggest doing it. Aces may be split, but each new hand will receive only one card and must stand immediately thereafter. If a blackjack results from splitting Aces, it is not considered a natural blackjack, rather a standard hand of 21. In order to instigate a split, a second bet, equal to the original wager, must be placed on the new hand. A player may split up to four hands within a single game.
- The dealer will accord to the following rules: The dealer must hit a Soft 17 (any hand of 17 with an Ace valued at 11). The dealer will offer insurance if he has an Ace or 10 value card showing, but will not peek for blackjack. If the dealer reveals a blackjack at the end of the hand, all player bets are lost except for a player’s natural blackjack and insurance bets.
- A player’s natural blackjack beats the dealer’s natural blackjack
- Insurance cost half of the player’s original bet. When a player purchases insurance and the dealer does in fact have blackjack, the insurance bet is won, but the original wager, and any additional wagers for splitting or doubling throughout the hand, are lost.