Boasting the biggest selection of blackjack variations on the web, Microgaming has so far created forty or so authentic games in which players can crush the virtual dealers. One of those is European Blackjack, which is available in two distinct versions, the original variant and the Gold Series variation with augmented graphics and gameplay. In turn, each of those is available for single-hand and multi-hand play.
European Blackjack differs from other Microgaming blackjack variants in that no hole cards are in play here. As a general rule, the house edge increases by around 0.11% when no hole cards are in play.
In addition, some of the rules in European Blackjack are quite rigid, which further takes away from the advantage of basic strategy players. Other than that, this is a double-deck game where the virtual dealer stands on all totals of 17. According to Microgaming, the RTP of this variation stands at 99.60%, which makes for a house edge of 0.40%.
Hitting and Standing Decisions in European Blackjack
The improved gaming controls in the Gold Series version make European Blackjack exceptionally easy to play. You start by placing your preferred betting amount in the box on the layout and clicking the Deal button.
Then, you get two cards for your starting hand while the dealer initially receives one face-up card only. The dealer draws their second card after you are done playing your hand. Naturally, this prevents them from checking for blackjacks simply because there is no hole card to peek under.
Depending on the starting total, players normally face two decisions after the initial deal. They can either hit their hand to receive one or more cards or they can stand, which is to refuse additional cards. Late surrender is not allowed in this version.
When the player gets a blackjack, they automatically win and the round ends without the dealer drawing a second card to complete their hand unless the dealer’s first card is an Ace or has a value of ten. Blackjacks are the toughest hands to get, so understandably they offer the highest payout of 3 to 2, or 1.5x your original stake.
Even-money payouts are awarded to winning players who outdraw the dealer without busting. Of course, you can also win if the dealer exceeds 21 but you do not. In the case of ties when you have the same total as the dealer’s, the two hands push and you get your wager back.
Once bets are settled, the software reshuffles the cards and you are ready for another round. Microgaming caters to the needs of flat bettors with a Rebet button that enables them to wager the same amount repeatedly without having to adjust their bet size each time.
Splitting Pairs in European Blackjack
Players who get two cards of the same denomination can split them into two hands. For the purpose, they must commit with another bet to cover the second hand after the split. This bet should be equal to the original one. The player is then dealt one more card on each of the splits and again has the option to hit or stand.
European Blackjack allows you to split only a single time to a maximum of two hands. Note that ten-value cards can be split but only if they are identical like Q-Q, K-K, 10-10, and J-J. The software developers have compensated for these restrictions by enabling European Blackjack players to draw multiple cards on split Aces.
This move is rarely available in other variations created by this software studio. With that said, if a split Ace catches a ten-value card, the hand is treated as a regular 21 and returns even money instead of the enhanced payout awarded for blackjacks.
Doubling Rules in European Blackjack
The rigidity of the rules also extends to players’ doubling decisions in European Blackjack. You normally double when you are confident enough in your starting hand to draw only one additional hand in exchange for posting an extra bet.
Similarly to splitting, this additional wager is of the same amount as the original bet. Thus, if you win, you win twice your initial stake at even-money odds. In European Blackjack, doubling moves are restricted only to totals of 10, 11, and 9. The hands must be hard, too, as you cannot double on soft 9 through 11. Doubling down after a split is unavailable.
Players are offered to insure their hands whenever the dealer’s first card is an Ace. This is an option immediately after the draw before you have made any other hitting, standing, splitting or doubling decisions.
You “insure” your hand with an extra bet to half the amount of your initial wager. Insurance pays at odds of 2 to 1 if the dealer really obtains a blackjack but you lose your main bet. You lose the insurance bet against a dealer who fails to catch a ten-value card next to their Ace.
Insurance is a sly trick on behalf of casinos because it leads some players to the conclusion they are protecting their main bets this way. In reality, insurance is nothing more than a side bet that the dealer’s second card will have a value of ten for a blackjack. You should never accept this proposition bet when playing European Blackjack with basic strategy.