Understanding the Blackjack Five-Card Charlie Rule

min read
An ace of spades and a queen of hearts leaning against stacks of casino chips.
BetMGM Jan 02, 2024, 9:37 AM

There are many exciting casino table games to enjoy at a casino, but there’s no doubt that blackjack is one of the games that keeps casual and experienced gamblers coming back for more. This is because blackjack offers an experience that’s easy for casual players to get into while offering a greater degree of depth for more serious gamblers. 

However, there are also less common blackjack variations with rules that sometimes catch both less and more experienced players off-guard. One of these variations is the five-card Charlie blackjack rule. 

Here’s what you need to know about this blackjack five-card rule when you play at a casino online or at a traditional brick-and-mortar casino venue.

The Standard Rules of Blackjack

The first thing you need to do to ensure you understand how the blackjack rules in five-card Charlie work is to have a clear understanding of the standard blackjack rules, which will allow you to play blackjack online with confidence.

In blackjack, the aim of the game is to get a hand that is higher in value than the dealer’s hand, but you must not go over a total of 21. If you do, you will go bust and immediately lose the game. If you get a total of exactly 21 from an ace and a 10 in your starting hand, this is known as a “blackjack,” and you immediately win the game, making this the ideal hand to have. This rule is also applicable to the dealer. In the rare situation where both the dealer and player have the same value hand, a “push,” or tie, is declared, and the player’s bet is returned. 

Should neither the dealer nor the player receive a blackjack, play will continue with the player deciding on what action to take. During this phase of the game, a player can decide to:

  • Hit: Ask the dealer for another card.
  • Stand: Keep the current hand as is.
  • Double down: Double the bet, receive one more card, and then stand.
  • Split: You can only split if you have two cards that have the same value. A split works by taking your single hand and making it two hands, with an additional bet that matches your original wager being placed on your second hand. You can learn more about how to split in blackjack here.

In the past, there was also the option to surrender in blackjack, which saw you forfeiting half your wager to end a hand. This rule has mostly been phased out of most blackjack games.

Once all players in a game of blackjack have finished their turns, the dealer will play their hand. The dealer must hit until they have a hand that is worth a minimum of 17, after which their hand ends. 

At this stage of the game, the players with higher value hands than the dealer all get paid out, while those with weaker hands than the dealer lose their wagers.

How the Five-Card Charlie Rule Works

Assuming you have a good grip on essential blackjack terms and now clearly understand the basics, you’re set to learn how the five-card Charlie rule works. 

So, what is five-card Charlie? In a typical game, players will receive five cards in blackjack until they stand or go bust. When the five-card Charlie rule is in effect, a player who has five cards but whose hand’s total value is still less than 21 will receive an automatic win. 

Suppose you currently have a four-card hand worth a total of 8 (you have four 2s). Then you receive a fifth card and it’s a 3, bringing your total hand value to 11. Regardless of whether the dealer has a stronger hand or not, the player will win because they have reached the five-card goal without going bust. 

However, if a player manages to achieve a five-card Charlie, but the dealer has blackjack (a 10 and an ace), the dealer will still win. This is the one exception to this rule. Regardless, it still gives players a slight advantage compared to the typical house edge in blackjack. The only downside is that this rule might encourage a player to draw on four cards, which might lead to them going bust more often if they don’t hit in the right situations.

Why Five-Card Charlie Is a Good Rule

There are a few reasons why five-card Charlie is a good rule in blackjack, and these are also the reasons why it can be tricky to find a game that includes these rules. Firstly, it gives you another way to win a hand, which is always an added bonus. Secondly, it simply adds another blackjack strategy to your repertoire that you can use to win. Having more options when it comes to strategy is never a bad thing. 

Other Interesting Blackjack Variations

Of course, five-card Charlie is one of many blackjack variants that exist. There are many other twists on a typical game of blackjack that you might enjoy, just as there are many different types of blackjack tables to choose from. 

Here are three interesting blackjack variations you may want to try in person or when playing live dealer casino games online. As always, it’s important that you begin with a solid blackjack strategy for the best chance of success.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack

Perfect Pairs blackjack is a simple side bet where a player can place a bet that a player will receive one of three different pair variations in their starting hand. These variations are as follows.

Mixed Pair

This is when a player receives two cards with the same value but from different suits. For example, 2♥ and 2♠. The payout odds for this wager are +500.

Colored Pair

With a colored pair, a player receives two cards of the same value and the same color but from different suits. For example, 2♥ and 2♦. The payout odds for this wager are +1,200.

Perfect Pair

This is when a player receives two cards of the same value and from the same suit. For example, both cards are 2♥. The payout odds for this wager are +3,000. This is only possible in blackjack games where more than one deck is used; however, this is fairly common to reduce the chances of a player counting cards.

Blackjack Switch

Blackjack Switch switches things up by giving the player two hands with two cards, requiring the player to make an equal wager on each hand. In this variation, the usual actions of hit, stand, double down, and split are now joined by an additional gameplay option: switch. As you may already have guessed, the switch action allows you to switch two cards between each of your hands. If you want to switch cards, it must be done before making any other decisions. After you switch two of your cards, the game plays out as normal until a winner is decided.

Vegas Strip Blackjack

At a glance, Vegas Strip blackjack might seem to play like regular blackjack, but it offers the player several options they don’t get in a regular blackjack game. This game differs from regular blackjack because players can split up to four hands of pairs and double down after a hand is split. Cards with a value of 10 can also be split even if they are not the same card type. For example, you can split a king and a queen, but when it comes to aces, players are only allowed to split once per ace. If you split an ace and get a 10, it is not a blackjack but a 21, which means you don’t get an automatic win.

Enjoy Live Dealer Blackjack and More at BetMGM

If you’re interested in the best online blackjack, whether it’s the live dealer or digital versions of the game, BetMGM has you covered. From live dealer blackjack games like Infinite Blackjack, Lightning Blackjack, and Live Blackjack to digital blackjack titles like BetMGM Blackjack Pro, Platinum Blackjack Pro, and New York Jets Blackjack, there’s a wide variety of blackjack variants to keep you entertained. 

And if you like to mix it up, there are other exciting online casino games for you, including online slots, roulette, variety games, and more.

Register at BetMGM to find the perfect online game at your casino of choice.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.