Splitting Open the Key Differences Between European and American Blackjack

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A top-down photograph of a blackjack dealer dealing cards at a full blackjack table.
BetMGM Sep 26, 2023, 12:15 PM

Blackjack, often referred to as the king of casino games, is a classic casino game that, thanks to its simplistic and strategic nature, has been popular for centuries. It originated in France in the 18th century and quickly spread throughout Europe and America. Today, it remains one of the most beloved casino games featured in the best casinos worldwide.

The two most common blackjack variations are American and European, played with minor differences depending on the region. Blackjack has even made its way onto online casinos equipped with live dealer blackjack, offering the convenience of playing from the comfort of your home and the opportunity to play with players from all over the world.

Why Is Blackjack So Popular?

Blackjack has become so much more than just a casino game. It’s a cultural phenomenon that has inspired movies, books, and songs and has become a symbol of the glitz and glamor of the best-designed casinos in the world. The game’s popularity can be attributed to several factors, including its simple rules, fast-paced gameplay, and the fact that it’s a game of skill. Unlike other casino games, where luck plays a significant role, blackjack variations give players the opportunity to use their skills and strategies to increase their chances of winning.

Regional Blackjack Variations

Although American and European blackjack are the most popular variations, there are many other regional variations of the casino game. Every region has its own gambling traditions, unique rules, and gameplay. For instance, Spanish 21 is a popular blackjack variation that’s played with a Spanish deck. The number of cards in the deck is reduced to 48 by removing all the 10 cards. Another popular variation is Blackjack Switch, where players are dealt two hands instead of one and can switch the top cards between them.

What’s the Difference Between the American and European Versions?

While European and American blackjack are two popular variations of the game, there are significant differences between the two versions. Although the game’s core rules remain similar, they differ in several key aspects, including the number of decks used, dealer actions, and splitting options. Understanding these differences is crucial for players to develop effective strategies and improve their odds of winning.

Number of Decks Used

One of the primary differences is the number of decks used in each game. In American blackjack, the game is typically played with 6–8 decks, while in European blackjack, only two decks are used. The variation in the number of decks affects the game’s odds and player strategies. American odds are slightly lower than European odds due to the increased number of cards in the deck, while the strategy in European blackjack is more conservative due to the smaller number of cards in the game.

Dealer Actions

In American blackjack, the dealer is dealt two cards. One of the cards is face up, and the other is face down. If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, they can peek at their face-down card to see if they have a blackjack. If they do, the game ends, and the player loses. 

In European blackjack, the dealer is only dealt one card face-up before the player’s turn. The dealer only receives their second card after the players have made all their moves, making it more challenging to determine the dealer’s next move.

Doubling Down and Splitting Options

In the American version, players can double down on any two cards, while the European version allows players to only double down on a hand with a value of 9, 10, or 11. In American blackjack, players can split up to three times, resulting in four hands, while in European blackjack, players can only split once, resulting in two hands.

Impact on Odds and Strategy

The differences between these blackjack variations have a significant impact on the casino game’s odds and player strategies. Players who understand these differences can tailor their strategies to increase their chances of winning. For instance, in American blackjack, it’s more common to hit and split, while in European blackjack, it’s more conservative to stand and double down. In other words, in the American variation, players can afford to be more aggressive, while they need to be more cautious in the European variation.

Raise Your Bottom Line and Gain the Upper Hand With BetMGM

Both blackjack variations remain immensely popular among players. The thrill of the game, combined with the potential for big wins, keeps players coming back for more. Whether you prefer the complexity of American blackjack or the simplicity of European blackjack, mastering the unique rules and nuances of each variation will enhance your overall blackjack experience. 

Ready to test your skills and try your luck at live dealer blackjack? Register for BetMGM’s online casino games. Join the excitement of world-class gambling from the comfort of your own home.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.