Rare Blackjack Rules That You Might Not Know

by Tim | Oct 13, 2023

Rare Blackjack Rules That You Might Not Know

Blackjack, whether online blackjack or played in person, is one of the easiest and most exciting ways to gamble. This is why, even after hundreds of years, it remains one of the most popular games of chance. But over time the game has evolved. New rules were added while some of the oldest rules of the game are now almost forgotten. 

We take a look at 10 blackjack rules and blackjack rule variations that you might not know, either from standard blackjack or some of the thrilling variants of the traditional blackjack formula. 

1. 5-Card Charlie

In order to win in blackjack you typically need a hand value that is either 21 or just higher than the dealer’s. However, that’s not the case when the 5–Card Charlie blackjack is incorporated. With this rule active, all you need to do is have five cards without going bust and you automatically win! Even if the total value of your hand is as little as 11 and the dealer has a hand worth 18, reaching five cards will get you the win. 

While having another way to win is undoubtedly great, this rule is a double-edged sword. Many players who reach four cards will be tempted to go for a 5-Card Charlie and go bust, simply because the odds of you taking a fifth card that pushes you past 21 are much higher than the chance of you hitting a 5-Card Charlie.

2. Bust or Bust It side bet

This is a side bet where a player can choose to wager on whether the dealer will go bust or not. A player will be allowed to see the dealer’s upcard before deciding to wager on this side bet or not. The potential payout of this wager is influenced by the up-card. The higher the value of the up-card, the lower the potential payout the player might receive.

3. Blackjack Switch

Blackjack Switch mixes up the gameplay of traditional blackjack by providing players with two hands. Each of these hands requires two equal bets. Before the player decides to hit, stand, or split, they can choose to switch the second card of each hand. This takes a move that was once considered cheating and integrates it into the game. 

Once you’ve decided on whether to switch or not, the game carries on as normal. However, there are some minor differences with regards to the rules of this variant. Here are some of the most notable differences: 

  • If a player switches two cards and it would normally be considered a blackjack, it’s  instead valued as a 21 and does not give the player an automatic win. 
  • If a player has a hand worth 21 but a dealer has a hand worth 22, it still counts as a push, but this rule falls away if a player gets a natural blackjack.
  • Blackjack has a 1-to-1 payout.

4. Double Exposure blackjack

Much of the anticipation of traditional blackjack comes from the dealer having one upcard and one hole card. However, double exposure flips this rule on its head by having the dealer reveal both their cards. Of course, this gives the player an advantage, so there are some additional changes to the game to compensate for this. For example:

  • When a tie occurs, the dealer wins. However, the player will win when a natural blackjack occurs.
  • Players can only split once.
  • Blackjack has a 1-to-1 payout.

5. Multi-action blackjack

Two players presenting a natural blackjack with one 6 of the dealer’s hand visible.

This blackjack rule allows you to place between two and three wagers on a single hand, although at some casinos where this version of the game is offered, the player has to place a minimum of three bets. The player only has one hand, but the dealer uses his upcard to play out multiple hands depending on how many bets the player has made. 

Let’s consider a situation where the player has made three bets. In this scenario, the dealer and player are playing for the first wager made by the player. The dealer’s upcard is already revealed, and then the dealer reveals their hole card. If their hole card wins the hand, they take the player’s first wager and discards their hole card. If it doesn’t win, the dealer hits. The action continues until they win, lose, or draw, with the relevant actions applying to the player’s first wager. 

After the fate of the first wager is decided, the dealer’s first upcard remains in play. The dealer then takes another card from the deck. This is their new hole card. Just like the previous hand, they reveal their hole card. If the dealer wins, they take the player’s second wager and discard their hole card. If the dealer doesn’t win, they hit until they win, lose, or draw. Just like the previous hand, the action plays out until either the dealer or the player have won.

As with the previous wager, the dealer’s upcard from the first hand remains in play. Again, the dealer takes another card from the deck which becomes their new hole card, which they reveal. If they win, the dealer claims the player’s third and final wager. Again, if the dealer doesn’t win, they will hit until they win, lose or draw. Once the final bet has been decided, a new round of play begins with the player receiving a new hand.

6. Multi-hand blackjack

Multi-hand blackjack is another exciting variant which adds new rules that take the excitement of traditional blackjack to the next level. As you might have been able to tell from the name of this version of the game, multi-hand blackjack allows players to play and wager on more than one hand. Each hand is treated individually, with the only difference from a standard game being that a single player decides what to bet and whether to hit or stand.

7. Natural blackjack pays 2-to-1

An ace and a 10, or a natural blackjack, on a blackjack table near a player’s casino chips.

In most games of blackjack, a natural blackjack (an ace and a 10 in your first two cards) will pay out 3-to-2. This means that for every £2 you wagered you’d get £3 back. So a total wager of £100 would earn you £150. However, some blackjack games pay out 2-to-1 for a natural blackjack. So, if you wagered £100, you’d get £200 back! Keep an eye out for these versions of the game to stand a chance to claim a bigger payout.

8. Royal Match

If you enjoy side bets, you may want to take a chance with a royal match side bet. This side bet is a wager that you can take before you see your hand. When you place this bet, you’re wagering on whether your two cards are of the same suit, and if they’re a king and queen. If the player gets a hand that is the same suit, they’ll receive a small payout, while if their hand is both of the same suit and a king and queen, they’ll receive the maximum payout for this side bet.

9. Spanish 21 blackjack

Spanish 21 is very similar to standard blackjack. The major difference is that all the 10s are removed from the deck. This lowers a player’s chances of hitting blackjack. But there are some other additions to the game that may grab your attention:

  • A player that gets a hand total of 21 will always win, even if the dealer gets a natural blackjack.
  • You can double down multiple times.
  • You can split up to four times.
  • You have the option to surrender late into the game.
  • You get additional payouts based on a number of different criteria, such as making a 5, 6, or 7, or higher card 21.

10. Surrender

An ace and a jack, or a natural blackjack, next to stacks of casino chips.

In some blackjack games you’re given the option to surrender, which can have a dramatic impact on your blackjack strategy. There are many different surrender options, depending on the type of blackjack game you’re playing. Here are some of the different surrender options available.

Early surrender

After you’ve seen your first two cards, as well as the dealer’s upcard, and you think your hand is too weak to continue play, you can choose to “surrender” half of your winnings and start a new round of play. 

Late surrender

After you’ve seen your hand and both the dealer’s upcard and hole card, you can decide to surrender if the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack. If the dealer does have a blackjack, you can’t choose to surrender.

Surrender at any time

Some versions of blackjack allow you to forfeit half your wager at any time in order to reclaim the other half.

Surrender against a 10 or face card

If the dealer’s upcard is a 10, jack, queen, or king, the player is allowed to surrender and get half their wager back. This can only be done before the hole card is revealed.

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