Blackjack, the most popular casino game after slots, can be played in hundreds of online casinos but one of best live dealer versions is NetEnt’s Manual Shoe Blackjack. The game was recently added to the NetEnt Live portfolio and it as its name suggests, it uses a manual dealing shoe instead of the auto shuffler shoe Shufflemaster preferred until recently by the studio.
This version of live blackjack can be accessed from a large number of online casinos that offer software from NetEnt. Typically, several tables of Manual Shoe Blackjack are present and they are all hosted by professional dealers. The game allows for up to 7 players to be seated and the betting limits from €2 to €5,000 should appeal to most fans of the game. It comes with rather simple rules based on the European-style blackjack, where the dealer deals 2 cards to the player and draws only one for himself.
The game is played with 6 standard decks of cards. The dealer is required to draw on 16 and stand on 17. The screen displays the dealer’s last ten hands and the winning player percentage. The theoretical Return to Player percentage is around 99.50%.
Standing and Hitting Decisions in Manual Shoe Blackjack
After players receive two cards each and the dealer draws one card for himself, based on the cards they have, players have the option to either Hit – to request another card, or to Stand – to refuse any more cards and end their turn. Players can Hit as many times as they want until they get 21, when their hand automatically Stands, or until they bust by going over 21. There are, of course, additional options, which will be described below.
Splitting in Manual Shoe Blackjack
Players can take advantage of playing with two hands against the player even if they started out with a single bet. This is possible only when the two cards they receive at the beginning of the round are a pair – two Kinds, two 10’s, etc. When a pair is being dealt, the player is offered to Split it into two identical hands.
When they Split, one card will be dealt to each of the new hands. In addition, another bet equal to the original stake will be placed. However, players are not allowed to re-split hands, which means that only one split is allowed per round. After having their hand split, players can, of course, Hit or Stand, depending on which decision would be better based on their cards. There is an exception to this rule – when you split Aces, only one card will be added to each of the new hands and you will automatically Stand.
Doubling in Manual Shoe Blackjack
After receiving their initial cards, players have yet another option – to Double. Doubling down is preferred by some players when they believe they have a good hand such as 12 and their chances of the beating the dealer are great. The Double feature is available on any two cards and even after a Split. Players should know, however, that if they Double, one card will be dealt to their hand and they will automatically Stand. This is why it is a bad idea to Double Down on 19 or 20, for instance.
Buying Insurance in Manual Shoe Blackjack
Another rule to bear in mind when playing NetEnt’s Manual Shoe Blackjack refers to Insurance. This is a side bet, equal to half of the original stake, and with it, players can insure against a dealer blackjack. This option is not available throughout the game, however, but only if the dealer’s first card is an Ace. As in all blackjack games, Insurance here pays 2:1.
Side Bets in Manual Shoe Blackjack
NetEnt has added two types of side bets to most of its live blackjack games, including Manual Shoe Blackjack. Both are optional so players can decide to make them occasionally if they want to spice up the game a little bit. In addition, both side bets must be at least the table minimum.
The first one is Perfect Pairs and with, players bet that their first two cards will be a pair. Depending on whether the color, the suit, or just the face value of the two cards are the same, there are three different payouts:
- Perfect Pair – 30:1
- Color Pair – 10:1
- Mixed Pair – 5:1
This side bet allows players to bet that their cards in combination with the dealer’s card will form one of several possible poker hands.
- Suited Three of a Kind – 100:1
- Straight Flush – 40:1
- Three of a Kind – 25:1
- Straight – 10:1
- Flush – 5:1