American Blackjack Guide | LeoVegas Blog

American Blackjack: Complete Guide


American Blackjack is a popular variation of the classic card game, originating in the United States in the early 1800s. In this version, players aim to reach a total of 21 without exceeding it. Unlike European Blackjack, the dealer receives both cards immediately, one facing down and the other facing up. Players can take actions like hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting pairs. American Blackjack typically uses six decks of cards, and players have the option to make side bets such as perfect pairs or 21+3 for additional payouts.

Table of Content:

What is American Blackjack?

In American blackjack all players will need to get 21, without getting over that number. The dealer will also receive two cards but, in the American variation, the dealer gets both cards right away: one is hole card that faces down while the other faces up. The dealer is able to make some actions, such as hit, stand and more. Players can also choose to draw more cards to get closer to 21, if they want to.

This game appeared in the United States in the early 1800s, brought over to the US by French immigrants. The very first rules were that, for example, only the dealer was allowed to double.

It was completely successful and also accessible for people to play blackjack or, as it was called, Vingt-et-Un. Even gambling halls were built in New Orleans for people to come and play there.

Ving-et-Un effectively became known as blackjack as a marketing strategy, in order to become more popular, and it definitely managed that. Nowadays, most people know what online blackjack is and at least the very basics basic strategy of the game.


What is the difference between American and European Blackjack?

There is a huge difference between American and European blackjack games, which is that the dealer in American blackjack receives their cards right away – one facing down and the dealer's face up card the other facing up. In European blackjack, the dealer gets his first card in the beginning of the game and then his second card after the players have done their moves. This has huge results when it comes to the house edge.

There is also another variation of the game called Atlantic City Blackjack - check out our guide to learn more about it.

American Blackjack Rules

The normal 52-card deck is used in American blackjack. However, in most casinos there are 6 decks of cards shuffled together so that players can’t count cards. The goal is to reach 21.

This could be done with two cards (if you are dealt an ace and a King, for example), but there’s the possibility of obtaining more cards to add to your total too. If a player gets over 21 then he busts. This means that they’ll lose immediately to the house.

When it comes to the value of the cards, an Ace can have the value of 1 or 11, depending on the need and number of decks of the player. A Queen, King and the Jack are worth 10 and the rest of the cards in the deck, from 2 to 10, are worth their own value. So, for example, a 6 is worth 6.

There are some actions players can take during the game itself:

  • Hit – This means that the player wants another card from the deck.
  • Stand – The player wants to keep playing without receiving any other card from the dealer.
  • Double Down – After being dealt both of their cards, the player can choose this action. They will have to double their bet, but they will only be able to receive one card.
  • Split – Usually players do this when their hand forms a pair. By splitting their hand – or their pair – they create two different hands with their own bets. It’s recommended that players only do this when they have either a pair of 8 or Aces.
  • Insurance – This action is more like a side bet. This is when the dealer’s up card is an Ace and, therefore, there’s the chance for the player to put an insurance on that card if the dealer actually wins.

American Blackjack Payouts and Odds

There are only three types of payouts available: the one blackjack pays, one that’s called a natural blackjack payout, other wins payouts and insurance payout. A natural payout is when a player gets 21, no more and no less than that. It’s very important to understand that 21 it’s the highest payout someone can get in blackjack.

These pay:

  • Natural payout pays 3 to 2
  • Insurance bet pays 2 to 1
  • Winning over the dealer pays 1 to 1

American Blackjack Side Bets

Players are accustomed to making their bets in a dedicated place in front of them. Sometimes, blackjack side bets are available and they will show up in smaller places which sometimes can’t be seen right away. In order to make a side bet, you need to add additional chips before the cards are dealt and wage on creating a more chances of winning the hand with your first two cards or a combination of your cards and also the dealer’s card.

The most common side bets are perfect pairs or 21+3. The first bet is all about your two cards and they truly need to be at the same value (a pair), however, the payout split aces will always depend on the following:

  • Mixed pair: The colour is not the same. The payout is of 5/1
  • Coloured: If you have a pair that is the same colour but not suit, then the payout is of 10/1
  • Perfect Pair: This is where you get the best payout possible, since it is of 30/1. You need to have two cards from the same suit and colour.

The 21+3 is different, since you can get a great payout with three cards – your two cards plus the third card counting dealer’s one. The better your hand is, then the better the payout. Even though you can still lose some money, with this side bet you can still win so much more money.

The 21+3 requires the player to create any of these combinations:

  • Flush – Three cards of the same suit. It’s usually the winner and its payout of 5/1.
  • Straight – Three cards that have a sequence such as 6, 7 and 8. The payout is of 10/1.
  • Three-of-a-kind: All three cards need to have the same number and face card value. The payout is of 30/1.
  • Blackjack Straight Flush: Three running numbers of the same suit and it pays 40/1.
  • Suited three of a kind: This is the highest paying hand since it pays 100/1. All three cards have to be the same number and suit too.

How to Win at American Blackjack

To have higher probabilities in winning at American blackjack, you will need to have some strategies. The most used is the basic blackjack strategy since it’s very simple and easy to use. There’s also the perfect blackjack strategy, which is also known and common among American blackjack players everywhere.

Learning these basic rules and strategies will definitely give you an advantage regarding the casino. But you also need to memorise them very well if you want to become an expert. This should become your priority.

American Blackjack Game FAQ

What is the difference between American and European blackjack?

The difference american blackjack the dealer has is that while the dealer will receive both of his cards immediately in American blackjack, giving players a huge advantage since they will be able to see their face up card. The same doesn’t happen in European blackjack. The dealer will receive only one card in the beginning and then after the first betting round, they receive the second one.

Is the American or European blackjack better for the player?

European blackjack limits the situations where players can double down only on certain values like 9, 10 or 11. House edge of American blackjack casino games can be slightly lower depending on the specific rules of the table, however, in the end, it is up to players' preference to choose the blackjack casino game.

Can I play American blackjack for free?

There are many free demos of American blackjack you can play completely for free. At any online blackjack casino you’ll be able to play some demos just to get a hold of how this game works, so there is nothing to worry about if you don’t want to start playing with real money right away, especially if you are a beginner.

Can I play American blackjack with a live dealer?

Yes, there are many options to do that. You just have to look for the live casino tab on your casino and then you will find this variation, surely. It’s highly popular and it has many blackjack players, as well. Playing with a live dealer is completely different than just the traditional blackjack since it is like you are at a physical casino. Something that feels amazing.

Does European blackjack have better odds?

American blackjack games have slightly better odds, however, the difference is not that huge to play only at American blackjack tables.

What is the minimum bet in American blackjack?

Most tablets have minimum bets such as $10 but it will depend on the variant. If you want to play Strip in Vegas, then you can find tables with the minimum being only $2.

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