If you live in California you may have encountered a blackjack variation that is not found in other places. 21st Century Blackjack was created so that card rooms in California could add the game of blackjack to the poker games. The actual purpose of this blackjack game was to allow players to compete with one another instead of against the house.
Here is a closer look at 21st Century Blackjack. Remember, this is a game that you will find in live California casinos. If you want to play regular blackjack online, stick with the offshore online casinos that we have recommended.
About 21st Century Blackjack in California
Gambling in the United States is not new. Long before Las Vegas was established, gambling in the American West was conducted in saloons and even illegal gambling halls. California was one of the very first states to prohibit gambling games where players competed against the house. It made such games illegal in 1860.
In the modern era California chose to legalize poker rooms where players could play Texas Hold ‘Em and other games against one another. In these poker rooms the house only takes a rake, or a percentage, of what players wager against one another.
Players who visited the legal California card rooms wanted more. Specifically, they wanted to be able to play blackjack. 21st Century Blackjack was designed as a way to play the game which did not violate existing California law. It allows players to compete directly with one another instead of with the house.
The Basics of 21st Century Blackjack
At first appearance this variation of classic blackjack looks somewhat similar to the standard game. The goal is to make a total closest to 21 without going over. The player’s total must beat the total of the dealer. There is one notable exception to the 21 total.
2-8 decks are used in 21st Century Blackjack, and the cards are dealt from a shoe. This is not that different from how the classic game is dealt in a live casino. The biggest difference is that the decks include a joker, making them a 53-card deck of cards. As you might expect, the joker is wild. It is with the joker that a player can make the natural hand of 22, the best hand in 21st Century Blackjack.
Does this sound confusing? It probably does if the only version of blackjack that you have played is the classic one. With a few minutes of play, however, the mechanics of 21st Century Blackjack become crystal clear. Anyone that has an understanding of blackjack will pick it up with ease.
A DEALER button is used to indicate which player at the table is serving as the dealer of a given hand. The button passes around the table, with each player taking a turn at being the dealer. In this way the players are only competing with each other. The house takes its rake in exchange for providing the game.
Special Rules for 21st Century Blackjack
A game like this requires some special rules. Otherwise, players would not have much interest in it. Let’s take a look at the rules which make this game distinct.
The best hand is a 22, also referred to as a natural. The only way to make a natural is with 2 jokers, a joker and an ace, or two aces. This hand beats all other hands in 21st Century Blackjack.
The player must take a hit on any hand that totals 12 or less. Players must also stand on a total of a hard 20. The player also stands on soft or hard totals of 21 and 22.
Players are allowed to double down on their hand if they have an 11 or 12. They can then receive up to two additional cards.
The banker, or dealer, is required to hit any hand up to a soft 18. The dealer stands on a hard 18 or higher. If both the player and the dealer have a natural 22, this is a push.
Players are not allowed to hit their hand in 21st Century Blackjack if the dealer’s face up card is a joker. The player make split in this variation of blackjack.
The Rake in 21st Century Blackjack
The only way that a casino can make money by offering this variation of blackjack is to take out a rake or a fee from each hand. Instead of withdrawing a certain amount as one would in a poker game, the rake in 21st Century Blackjack is paid by the players and dealer according to a set rate.
The rate for the player is $1 for every $100 wagered. The dealer is asked to play a flat fee of $2 or $3 depending on the casino.
Player Actions at 21st Century Blackjack
After the cards have been dealt in 21st Century Blackjack the game proceeds much as it does in other variations. Players that have not made a natural hand are given the opportunity to execute a number of actions in the effort to improve the hand that they have been dealt.
These actions include:
- Hitting – requesting an additional card or cards
- Splitting – splitting two identical cards to form two hands
- Standing – holding on the present total
- Doubling Down – to double the original bet
- Surrender – the player gives up his hand and half his original wager
Surrender can be a very effective weapon in this game. It can save the player a lot of money. When the dealer is strong and the player is weak, surrender is recommended.
Can You Play 21st Century Blackjack Online?
At the present time there are no online casinos which offer this blackjack variation. It is a game that is unique to California.
You can play regular blackjack online at the casinos we recommend. Many of them accept players from California, and they even give bonuses to new players. Check them out and sign up today!