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It is impossible to discuss the subject of blackjack without touching on the part of the world where blackjack was born. European blackjack is the predecessor of blackjack as it is known in the United States and other areas. Over the years European blackjack has evolved into something which closely resembles the more standard variety, but there are still a few aspects of blackjack in Europe which differ from the game in the States. Anyone who is considering playing blackjack in Europe should be aware of these rules differences before they attempt to play.

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The History Of European Blackjack

Blackjack, as we have said, was actually born in Europe. Although the exact origins of the game of blackjack are unknown, the first written reference to the game can be found in the writing of Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes is most famously remembered as the author of Don Quixote. Cervantes was a gambler himself, and in one of his novels he recounts the story of two card players who were very proficient at cheating in the game of 21. Since his story was written in either 1601 or 1602, we can successfully establish that blackjack was being played in Spain at this early date.

It was the French and Germans, however, who truly popularized the original form of the game. In these areas it was called Vingt-et-un, and the game was popular throughout the 1700’s and 1800’s. All of those who play blackjack today owe a debt of gratitude to these cultures for creating the foundation of blackjack rules which still exist today.

Modern European Blackjack

Blackjack is still a highly popular game in the countries of Europe, but the rules of European blackjack have retained some of the original aspects of the game. Here are the basic rules of European blackjack:

  • 8 decks of cards, re-shuffled after each round of play
  • Dealer must draw to 16
  • Dealer stands on soft 17
  • Blackjack pays 3:2
  • Insurance pays 2:1
  • Even Money pays 1:1
  • Double Down on 9, 10, 11
  • Double Down on Splits
  • No splitting 4s, 5s, or 10-valued cards
  • No re-splits
  • Early surrender half of bet on non-dealer ace
  • No Peek – Player loses total bet on dealer blackjack, including splits and double downs

As you can see some of the rules of European blackjack are the same as in American blackjack, but the rules that are different have a huge impact on the game and strategy. Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.

Reshuffling In European Blackjack

In European blackjack eight decks of cards are used. In addition, all eight decks are shuffled after each round of play. This is a nightmare for card counters, and it practically makes card counting impossible in European blackjack. To accomplish the shuffling after each round, an automatic shuffler is used similar to the ones used at casino poker tables.

It is very difficult to establish a count in European blackjack because there are never enough cards dealt in a single round of play to establish an accurate estimation of whether the deck is favorable or unfavorable to the player.

No Splitting Of 4’s, 5’s, Or 10’s In European Blackjack

This rule isn’t such a big deal to professional blackjack players and card counters, because these pairs of cards are almost never split. However, we know that when a casino makes a blackjack rule it is always to their benefit. The European casinos know that expert card counters will sometimes split these pairs when the dealer is weak and likely to bust. This is yet another element of European blackjack that is strictly designed to foil professional card counters.

No Peek In European Blackjack

Perhaps the most significant rule difference in European blackjack is the rule that prohibits the dealer from looking at their hidden card until after all players have acted on their hands. This means that the dealer will not check to see if they have blackjack until all decisions have been made. Why is the no peek rule a big deal?

In American blackjack, a blackjack by the dealer is revealed immediately and all players at the table without a blackjack of their own lose their bet. They are not given the opportunity to double down or split. In European blackjack a player must do all of those things which involve increasing the original bet without knowing if the dealer will reveal a blackjack. As you can see, this is a huge advantage to the casino.

It is also impossible to pick up any dealer “tells” because the dealer does not know if his cards equal a blackjack.

For these reasons, playing blackjack as a business is far more advantageous in the United States and other areas which subscribe to the standard rules of 21.

European Bj At Online Casinos

You will need to check the blackjack variants that online casinos offer. Most offer many variants in order to satisfy the needs of blackjack players. Furthermore the games are becoming available more and more on mobile phones (iphone/android) and on tablets such as the IPad or other android powered tablet.

The number of people who use Mac and Windows to play online has been in decline so it will be interesting to see if anyone still plays on the computer in 10 years. If you play online you have the option to deposit real money and win real money or play with a free bonus and possible win real money if you meet the Wagering requirements.

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