Based on classic European blackjack, Big 5 Blackjack is an interesting and rewarding version of blackjack that was launched by Microgaming several years ago. Unlike most variations of 21 that are played with 4, 6 or 8 decks of cards, this game uses a 5-deck shoe, hence the name.
Big 5 Blackjack was released as part of Microgaming’s Gold Series and now, it can be found in most online casinos that offer software from this gaming studio. The game is available in both single and multi-hand versions and is rather popular among blackjack players for its favorable rules. Along with the unconventional 5 decks that are used, Big 5 Blackjack is played the European way – the dealer draws a single initial card so he cannot peek for blackjack. There is also Insurance, as well as early Surrender.
However, the game also follows the rule that the dealer must hit on soft 17, a rule that favors the casino, not the player. Overall, Big 5 Blackjack is a smooth, visually appealing variation of blackjack that is easy to play and it offers the potential for decent winnings as it has a theoretical Return to Player of 99.55%.
Standing and Hitting in Big 5 Blackjack
As this game follows the standard blackjack rules with only a few exceptions, all of its features and options are quite standard, as well. Once players receive the initial two cards, they are given the option to Stand or to Hit and their decision would depend on the ranking of their hand. If they want more cards to reach a value of 21, they need to select Hit. If their cards are high enough, however, they Stand and end their turn.
Splitting in Big 5 Blackjack
When players’ first two cards form a pair, i.e. two cards of the same rank, players are also given the option to divide the pair into two separate hands. When the pair is split, one card is dealt to each of the new, identical hands and another bet equal to the original stake is placed on the table. Note that any 10-value cards can be split such as a King and a 10.
Up to three splits are allowed per round, with the exception of Aces – they can be split only once. Moreover, when you split Aces, only one card is dealt to the two hands and they automatically Stand. Another important thing is that when you have an Ace and a 10-value card in a split hand, they are not considered blackjack and simply count as 21.
Doubling in Big 5 Blackjack
Players who consider their initial cards good enough to beat the dealer can Double their bet to maximize their potential winnings. The Double Down bet is, of course, equal to the original bet and is available only on the initial two cards or after a Split. Note that when you opt for it, one more card is dealt and the hand automatically Stands.
Buying Insurance in Big 5 Blackjack
When the dealer’s first hand is an Ace, the chances of him getting blackjack increase significantly. This is where the Insurance comes in – it works as a side bet and with it, players insure against a dealer blackjack. The Insurance bet is exactly half of the original stake and if it wins, it pays 2:1. This means that if you buy Insurance and the dealer has blackjack, the side bet wins, bringing you a payout that is equal to the original stake that you have just lost.
In terms of funds, a winning Insurance bet is identical to a push. However, if you take Insurance but the dealer does not have blackjack, this side bet loses.
Early Surrender in Big 5 Blackjack
Surrender is an interesting feature in many blackjack games, including in Microgaming’s Big 5 Blackjack, although it is rarely chosen by players. With it, they can surrender half of their bet and effectively not play out their hand if they believe the dealer has a much higher chance of winning this round.
The rule in this game is particularly interesting – it offers Early Surrender, which means that players are given the chance to surrender and end the round even on their first two cards. This option is available when the dealer’s first card is from 2 to 10 (this includes all 10-value cards). It cannot be used, however, when the dealer’s first card is an Ace.