Grand Blackjack is a live casino game launched by the highly acclaimed software supplier Playtech. The table is serviced by professional dealers in real time, giving players the opportunity to enjoy a realistic blackjack session on desktop computers and mobile devices.
The live dealers use eight pre-shuffled decks of 52 cards each. There are seven main betting spots at the live table but players also have the option to bet behind each other. The live dealers in Grand Blackjack play by fixed rules which require them to draw until they reach a total of 16 and stand on all totals of 17.
The game offers a very decent theoretical return percentage of 99.46% but this applies over the long run and only if you play optimally with basic strategy. A number of side bets are also on offer but they yield higher house edge of 4.1% for perfect pairs and 3.71% for the 21+3 side wagers.
Standing and Hitting Decisions in Grand Blackjack
A round of play begins with participants placing their bets in the corresponding betting circles on the virtual layout. The bets must be posted within 15 seconds after the last round of play has finished. After all bets are posted, the live dealer in Grand Blackjack deals the cards of the players face-up. This is a hole-card game, which means only the first card of the live dealer is exposed.
At this stage, the player must decide how to act on their hand. They can hit it and receive one or more cards to improve their starting total or stand, in which case they settle with their current result and decline additional cards.
If the player exceeds 21 by hitting, their hand results in an automatic loss but when they succeed in beating the live dealer, they receive even money on regular winning hands. Blackjacks pay at a ratio of 3 to 2. In cases when they both have the same total, they push and the original stake is returned to the player.
Payouts are also awarded for ten-card Charlies in Grand Blackjack. Provided that the player draws ten cards without busting, their 10-card Charlie is an automatic winner, except for the cases when the dealer has obtained a blackjack.
Splitting Decisions in Grand Blackjack
If the player’s starting hand consists of two cards of the same rank, they have the option to split those into two separate hands by posting another wager equal to the amount they have originally staked. One extra card is then drawn on each new hand and players again have the option to hit or stand.
Players can hit their split hands as many times as they wish unless they bust. An exception is made for split Aces, with each Ace receiving no more than one additional card. A ten-value card next to a split Ace returns even money as this is not considered blackjack. Resplitting is not allowed in Playtech’s Grand Blackjack.
Doubling Decisions in Grand Blackjack
Doubling down is an option for players who think they can beat the live dealer by drawing no more than one extra card on their starting hands. Similarly to splitting, doubling down requires you to post an extra wager to the same amount as your initial bet. Grand Blackjack players can double down on any hand total as long as it is made of two cards. Doubling following a split is allowed.
When the dealer exposes an Ace as their face-up card, players are offered to buy insurance. For the purpose, they must contribute a side bet equal to half the amount of their original wager. If the dealer’s second card really has a value of ten for a blackjack, the player wins their insurance wager but loses their main bet.
Insurance pays at odds of 2 to 1 which basically means the player neither wins nor loses money during this round. However, if the dealer does not have a ten in the hole for a blackjack, the insurance wager loses and play continues as normal.
Payouts for Grand Blackjack Side Bets
Grand Blackjack allows you to experiment with several side bets if you are feeling extra lucky. There is the option to bet on a dealer or a player perfect pairs. This side wager awards payouts of 6 to 1 for any pair, 12 to 1 for pairs of the same color, and 25 to 1 for pairs of the same suit.
You can also spice up your session with the 21 + 3 group of side bets where you earn additional money when your first two cards and the dealer’s exposed card form any of the following poker hands:
- 5 to 1 for a flush
- 10 to 1 for a straight
- 30 to 1 for an offsuit set
- 40 to 1 for a straight flush
- 100 to 1 for a set consisting of three suited cards
One final word of advice. These side bets may be interesting to experiment with but they yield a lower theoretical return of 95.90% for the player/dealer perfect pairs and 96.29% for the 21+3 wagers. Therefore, it is recommended to not overdo it with these wagers for the sake of preserving your live blackjack bankroll.