Most blackjack players know well that there are hundreds of blackjack versions online but most of them fall under two basic types, American and European. US-based fans of the game would rarely come across a European-style blackjack and one of the few online versions available to them was created by RealTime Gaming. It can be accessed from RTG’s instant-play platform and also from its casino software for download.
The studio’s European Blackjack has rather flexible rules and it can be found with 6 standard decks in most casinos. Some gambling sites also offer variations with 8 or 2 decks. Although most versions do not allow Surrender, some casinos have added this feature. The rest of the rules are identical – as this is a European-style game, the dealer draws only one card at the beginning of the round. In comparison, the dealer draws 2 cards in blackjack games that follow the American style of play – one face-up and the other face-down.
In RTG’s European Blackjack, the dealer draws on 16 or less and stands on soft 17. The expected return of the game varies significantly, depending on the number of decks used and the small changes made in the rules. Typically, the theoretical RTP of the 6-deck game is around 99.37%. A game that uses only 2 decks would have an average return of 99.63%, while an 8-deck version would have a return of 99.35%.
Standing and Hitting Decisions in European Blackjack
Once players have placed their bets and the initial hands have been dealt, players are given the option to either Hit or Stand. To Hit means players want to draw another card, while if they Stand, they are signaling that they would like to play out the hand as it is. Blackjack players can Hit as many times as they want – if they reach 21, however, they automatically Stand, and if they go over 21, they automatically lose. When they Stand, their turn is over and it is time for the dealer to make his decisions.
Splitting in European Blackjack
Another great option when playing European Blackjack is to Split their initial hand if consists of the cards of the same rank. Such a hand is called a pair and when you choose to Split it, you make two single-card hands out of it. Of course, you also make a second bet, which is equal to the original bet.
The game allows up to 2 Splits, which means players can split to 3 hands in total. Aces cannot be re-split, however, and when you split them, you will receive only one card to each of the split hands. Then, you automatically Stand.
Doubling in European Blackjack
This feature is available only on hard hands that total 9, 10, or 11. The terms “soft” and “hard” in blackjack refer to hands with and without an Ace. As this card can be either 1 or 11, its presence means that the hand is much more flexible and it gives the player more freedom to decide how to play it out, hence the name “soft”. Hard hands simply do not have an Ace, thus, they have a fixed value.
When playing European Blackjack, players can, therefore, Double Down only on 9, 10 or hands without an Ace such as 6-3, 5-5, 4-7, etc. The option is available only at the beginning of the round or after a Split and in both cases, you can Double only on two cards. In addition, when you Double, you are dealt one card and your turn is over.
Buying Insurance in European Blackjack
Insurance is a kind of a side bet that is available in many blackjack games, including in RTG’s European Blackjack. Its size is exactly half of the original stake and with it, players bet that the dealer will have a blackjack. The payout is 2:1, which means that if you lose the main bet but you win the Insurance bet, you will not lose any money.
Insurance is available only when the dealer’s first card is an Ace. It cannot be taken later in the game. Of course, it is optional and players can choose to take or decline it. It does, however, offer a small advantage for the player.