The Internet gives us access to the many variations of blackjack games that have been played throughout history. Let us take a look at some of the more common variations from the traditional game and how they can either work in or against our favor.
Shoe size refers to the number of decks a dealer uses. This was traditionally one or two but later increased to six. Online, it’s not uncommon for shoes to have 8, 10 or more decks. Each time the house adds a deck, it decreases the player’s odds. While there are advantages to a multi-deck shoe in person, those advantages aren’t as evident online.
For the gambler playing more than one hand a time, the cut point or the point at which the dealer reshuffles are very important. Traditionally, the average is about 75 percent and falls closer to 50 percent if we look at just one- and two-deck games. Online, technology allows for shoes to be shuffled each hand, which can greatly reduce the skill element of the game.
No Shuffling Cue or Unreliable Shuffling Cues
There’s also the matter of shuffle cues. Playing in front of a live dealer, you can see him or her shuffle the cards. Many variations of blackjack games online provide no indication at all, so you never know. Even worse, some provide what we call an unreliable cue. This is when the game will indicate shuffling at some points but not others, which will greatly disrupt most systems.
Blackjack side bets aren’t new to the online space, but advances in technology have certainly made them more prevalent here and at any other point in gambling history. A side bet lets you add a dollar or five during any hand for a random chance at a prize, and the odds are notoriously low.
The exception to this is a side bet on a progressive pot, which grows with each non-winning side bet placed. These progressive jackpots can grow large enough that it eventually becomes a good bet to place a dollar or whatnot for a chance to win that big prize.
Unfavorable House Rules
House rules are as old as the game itself, but Web-based games have afforded us a greater selection of these variations. The problem is that many house rules favor the house. A common house rule is blackjack pays 6:5, which is actually worse than the traditional 3:2. In fact, it raises the house edge all the way up to 1.40.
Favorable House Rules
Not all house rules are bad bets. Any game that lets you double down on a pair actually works in your favor if you play you cards right and can lower the edge by more than 10 points. Another variation that works in the bettor’s favor is late surrender, which lets you bail out on a hand.