How to Play European Blackjack: Rules, Strategy & Odds
European Blackjack has one of the most basic rule sets of all blackjack variations, and, as you may have guessed, is the most common version of 21 found in land-based casinos across most European countries. Its popularity can be attributed to its vast regional availability, as well as its favorable house edge of just 0.42% when a proper strategy is applied.
European Blackjack is available at just about every online casino in the business, as well as many land-based casinos; not just those in Europe either. The low house edge has a lot to do with the fact that only two standard decks of cards are used. When it comes to playing blackjack, the fewer decks used, the lower the casino’s house edge becomes.
In a land-based casino, European Blackjack’s 2-deck rules creates a much easier environment for card counters, who can easily turn the edge to their own advantage. However, in an online casino, while the house edge is still constructively low, card counting is no longer an option. Every online casino’s software is designed to reshuffle the cards before each new hand of blackjack is dealt.
Variations in the rules of European Blackjack include the following:
- Players are only permitted to double down on a hand that totals 9, 10 or 11. Doubling can be done before or after hitting a hand, and after splitting. To double down is to double the current wager on the hand and accept one more card, immediately standing on the total.
- European Blackjack only allows players to split their hand one time, creating a maximum of two hands per round. The cards being split must be an exact match (i.e. Jack + King cannot be split). Aces can be split and, contrasting from most blackjack rules, players are allowed to hit the resulting total if desired up to however many card they wish. However, if a split Ace is dealt a 10 or face card, the resulting total is 21, not a natural blackjack.
- The dealer will accord to the following rules: The dealer is required to hit any hand total of 16 or below. The dealer will stand on any total of 17 or above, including a Soft 17 (any hand of 17 with an Ace valued at 11). European Blackjack is a hole card game, but in this version, the dealer will not peek for blackjack. If the dealer’s exposed card is a 10, Face Card or Ace, he will offer optional insurance bets to each player. Insurance can be purchased for an additional bet of half the original wager. However, the no-peek rule means that if the dealer does in fact have blackjack, the player will not know it until they have completed their own hand.
- If the dealer has a blackjack at the end of the hand, all insurance bets are paid 2 to 1, but all other bets are lost. Only a player’s blackjack will not lose to the dealer’s blackjack. If player and dealer both have blackjack, it is a push.
European Blackjack Pay Table
- Natural Blackjack Pays 3 to 2
- Insurance Pays 2 to 1
- Beating the Dealer Pays 1 to 1
- All Tied Hands are a Push