At Counting Edge we like to keep you informed about the latest online blackjack variations. A game that is beginning to make its way to online casinos is called Zappit Blackjack. This game has been available in live casinos for a little over a year. Now, it could be coming to your favorite online blackjack casino.
About Zappit Blackjack
The inventor of Zappit Blackjack is Geoff Hall. You might be familiar with Hall as the creator of another popular online and live blackjack game called Blackjack Switch. Hall sells his blackjack games to Scientific Games, a company that supplies live casinos around the world.
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Zappit Blackjack first made its appearance in live casinos like those in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. It has now started to appear in online casinos like Bovada. The game introduces a variation that allows the player an opportunity to “zap” their existing hand when they hold certain cards. The player’s hope is that getting two new cards to begin will improve the chance of winning.
If a player is dealt a starting hand that totals from 15-18, the Zap It option comes into play. If a player elects to “zap” the hand two new cards are dealt. The player must then accept the new cards and play continues as normal.
Another interesting rule of Zappit Blackjack is that the dealer is given a push on a total of 22. This means that when the dealer busts with a 22 the player only ties and receives no winnings. This rule is in place to counteract the advantage the player receives when using a zap.
In terms of excitement the game is a fun variation on traditional blackjack. It will appeal to long-time blackjack players that want to experience something new. The beginner can enjoy it as well because the rules of the game are easy to understand.
But, as with all variations of traditional blackjack that show up in the online casinos, the devil is in the details. Always remember that casinos do not willingly give up their massive house advantage. A new variation of blackjack is usually created to increase the house edge, not reduce it.
The Basic Rules of Zappit Blackjack
You should first understand that Zappit Blackjack is played according to the standard rules of blackjack in many respects. This means that the dealer is restricted to certain actions based on their total, and that all the standard options for players are present. The player can hit, stand, double, or split. Insurance is also offered.
Beyond this there are three specific rules which define Zappit Blackjack. These are:
- When the total of a player’s original two cards fall within a specific range, usually between 15 and 17, the player can “zap” the hand and receive two new cards. Some casinos also allow a zap on a total of 18.
- The player cannot zap a hand after a zap or after splitting.
- If the dealer busts with a total of 22, all player hands remaining are considered a push.
The fine details of the rules as the game is played at Bovada and other online casinos are:
- Six decks are used.
- A zap is allowed before the dealer peeks for a blackjack.
- A blackjack before a zap pays 3/2. After, the win is paid at 1:1.
- Surrender is allowed.
- There is no doubling after splitting.
- Dealer hits a soft 17.
Let’s look at some of these specific rules. Number three above is worthy of attention. Many of you that are reading this Counting Edge blackjack article were thinking that a zap could give you a second chance to hit a blackjack. This is true, but hitting the blackjack after a zap will only pay you even money. This is a protection for the casino.
Also note that the dealer is allowed to hit a soft 17. This means that the house edge goes up. Hitting a soft 17 gives the dealer a chance to improve his or her hand without the risk of busting.
Why the Casino Wants You to Play Zappit Blackjack
The online casino has a vested interest in you playing Zappit Blackjack instead of a regular version of the game. They are counting on the player’s gambling nature to kick in. When this happens the temptation to zap a hand might override sound blackjack betting strategy.
Here is an example. Let’s say that you have been dealt a 15 against the dealer’s 6. Basic blackjack strategy in this case dictates that you should stand and hope the dealer busts his weak hand. In most cases, you will be correct in standing and win.
But in Zappit Blackjack the player is seeing an opportunity to get a better starting hand that has a better chance of being a winner. They reason to themselves that they can’t do any worse by getting two new cards to start. This is not true.
The player can easily be dealt another 15 or 16, and now the Zappit option is gone. Worse, the player can take a card that would have busted the dealer if they had stood on their hand. In a live casino this could turn the entire table against the player.
It also helps to remember in the above example that the dealer has a better chance of not busting the hand. Remember, the dealer ties all players if they bust with a total of 22.
Should You Play Zappit Blackjack?
At Counting Edge we only recommend that you play Zappit Blackjack as a fun alternative when you need a break from the regular game. You will be much better off playing the basic version of blackjack if you want to make a profit.