Blackjack has been a formally organized card game since the 1700s, though it has not always been called by that name. Today there are still a wide range of names for the game of “21”. It can be called “Pontoon”, “Vingt-et-Un” and “Hokkien”. There are even some online casinos that offer Live Blackjack, which has live dealers via webcams.
The rules for these games all revolve around the number twenty-one. This is the score required for a player to win. They reach this goal by receiving cards from a dealer in specific and varied ways. The cards tend to be valued according to the same schedule:
The Ace is worth eleven, unless it will “bust” a player at which time its value is converted to one
Face cards of the Jack, Queen and King are worth ten
Cards two through ten are worth their face value
Some games such as “Triple 7s” and “MatchPlay 21” make special rewards for specific cards, such as the sevens. For these games a player who receives three sevens, either in matching suits, in Spades or in any combination will win a higher payout than for standard Blackjack – which is usually a three to one payout ratio on the initial wager.
Some games such as “Double Exposure” and “Blackjack Switch” present players with better odds of winning by revealing the dealer’s full hand, or by allowing a player to switch out cards from two hands.
Other varieties rely on older methods of play such as “Pontoon” and “Chinese Blackjack”. These games have some additional or more formalized rules and offer a unique “take” on the commonly played casino versions of the game. The tremendously popular “Spanish 21” version of Blackjack removes all of the “tens” from the decks of cards and makes it much more challenging to win against the “house” or dealer.
Some varieties of Blackjack allow the player to increase their chances at financial benefit by purchasing “insurance” against the dealer’s hand or by placing side bets on the games. For example the “High Streak Blackjack” game rewards players who win consecutive games with larger and larger returns against their initial side bets. The “Bonus Blackjack” game lets the player wager on specific hands to increase their winnings. For example, the player can estimate their chances for a specific outcome and place a bet against their own guess.
Other variations on Blackjack just rely on the traditional rules to expand the winning opportunities of the game. “Super Fun” Blackjack expands the rules and allows a great deal of flexibility in the game, while “Double Blackjack” is the method of “doubling down” on an initial hand in order to increase overall winnings.
Finally, the popularity of Blackjack has created an environment favorable to tournament competition. These events either allow players to use up to five hands at a time, such as “Multi-Hand Blackjack” or they pit professional players, and large sums of money, against one another in formalized competitions. Usually referred to as “Elimination Blackjack” these games rely on standard Blackjack rules with some variations favorable to longer and aggressive play strategies.