Atlantic City Blackjack: Rules and Strategies Complete Guide

Atlantic City Blackjack: Rules and Strategies

Atlantic City Blackjack is a variation popularized by the gambling destination it’s named after. It offers some of the most liberal blackjack rules out there, with the most distinctive being that the dealer stands on soft 17 and an option to surrender.

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These tweaks give Atlantic City Blackjack a slightly lower house advantage, and are rooted in a marketing strategy from yonder year. In the mid 1970s, when New Jersey voted in favour of legalizing gambling, Atlantic City needed a unique way to compete with the bright lights of Sin City and lure gamblers east.

A strategy to make one of the most popular casino card games even more attractive to players, started with ‘surrender’. Early Surrender gave player’s an opportunity to minimize losses by bowing out of a hand and forfeiting half their stake before the dealer checked their hole card.

This experiment resulted in house losses, which obviously didn’t appease management, and was quickly adjusted to a Late Surrender version that allowed players to forfeit only after the dealer peeked for a natural blackjack. At today’s Atlantic City Blackjack tables, dealers must also stand on soft 17, denying the opportunity to snag a good hand when up against a player’s high card count.

Luckily, there’s no need to travel anymore to enjoy this game. Atlantic City Blackjack may have held onto its name to reflect its origin, but much to the delight of blackjack players, it can be found off the boardwalk, online and within select brick & mortar casinos. With such advantageous rules, we encourage card fans to keep on reading to learn the ins and outs of Atlantic City Blackjack!


The Basics of Atlantic City Blackjack

At its core, Atlantic City Blackjack plays with the standard rules and rounds of blackjack. A player’s goal is to simply get as close to 21 or hit 21, without going over (bust).

Atlantic City Blackjack commonly plays with eight card decks. Hand values are the sum of each player’s cards, using the following values:

  • Aces as 1 or 11, based on what works better for your hand.
  • Kings, queens, and jacks count as 10 each.
  • Numbered cards equal their face value.Let’s do an example tally. Say the two hole cards are an ace + 8. That equates to a hand value of 9 or 19. Most likely, the player is taking 19 and calling it a day - standing - regardless of what the dealer shows. Now, if a king + ace are in view, congratulations, as that’s a natural blackjack. But, keep in mind it’s not always that easy and as a player, you’ll often be faced with some strategic decision-making before emerging victorious!

And that’s where our next section comes in handy.

Atlantic City Rules and Gameplay

Playing Atlantic City Blackjack follows the same betting round flow as any other blackjack table. If you’re new to blackjack all together, we’ve got a guide for you - How to Play Blackjack. For those who simply need a refresh, we’ll help you out below, so let’s keep rolling.

Like most card games, you’ve got to ante up to be in on the action. Blackjack rounds begin with players placing bets on the table. Those in the game will be dealt two cards, face up - these are hole cards. The dealer also receives two cards, but one is served face down and the second face up for all to see.

Now, here is where an Atlantic City Blackjack rule can change things up. If the dealer is showing an ace or 10, the dealer will take a sneak peek at their hidden card to determine if they’ve hit blackjack. If the outcome isn't a blackjack (whew!), the card remains concealed and all bets are still in play. At this point, the Late Surrender rule provides an interesting ‘out’ for players showing a weak hand. If a player strongly feels their hand won’t cut it, given the one card clue they’ve been privy to viewing, Late Surrender gives them the option to fold out of the hand and only lose half their wager. Consider it a strategy move to wave the white flag and minimize losses, taking back half of the bet rather than risk losing it all.

Back to game play. If a player doesn’t choose to surrender, they’ll need to hit (add a card), stand (stay with what they’ve got), double (x2 their bet), or split (create two hands from a matching pair of hole cards). Check in with the rules of your table on this one, as many Atlantic City Blackjack tables let you split two cards of equal value, rather than require them to outright match.

Let’s unpack a few more rules that are often found playing Atlantic City Blackjack. Keep in mind, rules can vary table to table, so be sure to check-in with the specific game you’re joining.

  • Dealer stands on 17 - soft or hard.
  • Dealer peeks on 10 value cards and aces.
  • Played with six to eight decks.
  • Double down on any two cards.
  • Double down after any split.
  • Aces can only be split once.
  • Only one card to split Aces.
  • A split Ace + 10 counts as 21 not Blackjack
  • 10 value cards can be split (K/J, J/Q etc).
  • Late Surrender.

Atlantic City Variations and Side Bets

Atlantic City Blackjack has a few variations that can fall under its domain, just as there are many variations of classic blackjack. Rules, the number of decks used, side bets, and payouts can all vary from table to table, and casino to casino.

Just like any other blackjack game, Atlantic City Blackjack games can offer some enticing side bet action. Side bets require additional bets in order to qualify for their payouts or associated jackpots. But why play them?

Blackjack itself offers a low house edge. So, if you fancy yourself a gambler, you may wish to play side bets and take a shot at much larger payouts, albeit, with a much higher house advantage. Participate only if you have the extra bankroll to sustain losses for the thrill of maybe hitting a big payout.

The most common blackjack side bets are Perfect Pairs and 21+3, but like anything, they can really get creative and vary. Let’s dive into the most popular blackjack side bets.

Perfect Pairs - pays if player’s initial two cards form a pair of the same rank & suit.

  • Perfect pair (exact same rank & suit) 25:1
  • Coloured pair (same rank, different suit) 12:1
  • Mixed pair 5:1 (same rank) 5:1

21+3 - a player’s first two hole cards + the dealer’s up card are used to form a poker hand. Payouts are based on the poker hands strength (ie, flush, straight, etc).

  • Suited trips 100:1
  • Straight flush 40:1
  • Three of a king 30:1
  • Straight 10:1
  • Flush 5:1

Super Sevens - as the name suggests, you’re looking for 7s in your hole cards.

  • 777 - 500:1 (note, not all games will deal a third card if the dealer hits blackjack)
  • 77 (suited) - 100:1
  • 77 (unsuited 50:1
  • 7 - 3:1

Keep in mind that while blackjack side bets really add to the excitement of play, they also hold a much stronger house advantage. If you’re going to play, Perfect Pairs and 21+3 usually are your best bets!

Atlantic City Blackjack Odds and Payouts

In Atlantic City Blackjack, odds can vary based on specific house rules alone, however, the house edge typically sits around 0.36% to 0.44% or equivalent to an RTP of around 99.6%.

Let’s take a look at the payouts:

  • Player win pays 1/1
  • Player Blackjack pays 3/2
  • Tied Blackjack, dealer wins
  • Insurance Bet pays 2/1One of the bonuses of playing Atlantic City Blackjack, is the 3/2 blackjack payout. Many blackjack tables these days feature a somewhat diluted 6/5 payday, so if you can seek out an Atlantic City Blackjack table, go forth and play, we say!

Pros and Cons of Atlantic City Blackjack

One of the key differences that sets Atlantic City Blackjack apart from regular blackjack, in terms of house edge, is the rule whereby the dealer must stand on a soft 17. For most blackjack games, tables usually see the dealer hit on soft 17 and stand on a hard 17. While this change may seem minor, it greatly shifts the advantage to the player. In fact, it swings the edge in favour of the player by .22%.

Another pro to playing Atlantic City Blackjack is it offers a better payout for natural blackjack, typically paying 3:2 rather than a common 6:5. And for those strategy buffs, the more liberal rules for doubling down and splitting provides more opportunities and the potential for higher wins.

If the dealer peeks and doesn’ts proceed to flip over blackjack (what a buzz kill), and you don’t fancy your hole cards, Atlantic City Blackjack’s surrender rule gives you the option to ditch your hand and forfeit half of your bet. This can benefit your quest to minimize losses if you use it wisely.

But, as with anything, there are a few, although minor, downsides. The addition of these few flexible rules means that you’ve got to know your stuff! More liberal rules can often necessitate slight adjustments to your regular blackjack strategy in order to optimize opportunities.

To prevent disappointment, it's worth noting that due to its player-friendly advantages, securing a spot at an Atlantic City Blackjack table or finding an ongoing game in your local casino could prove a bit challenging. The game's slight edge in favour of the player can make it a sought-after option, potentially leading to higher demand and limited availability - if you can even find it in the first place!

Atlantic City Blackjack Strategy

Anytime you sit down at a blackjack table, virtual or live, you should pack your basic blackjack strategy. Basic blackjack strategy is never going to guarantee wins of course, but it will prepare you for game play. How? By employing a theoretical framework that encompasses all potential card combinations, offering recommendations for playing each conceivable hand that may come your way. In layman’s terms, it’s going to tell you when to hit, stand, split, or double down!

For the most part, blackjack strategy works well, but, given a few key rule changes in Atlantic City Blackjack, it will require a few tweaks. Now, if all our banter thus far about strategy is over your head, take a moment to read our LeoVegas Guide to Blackjack Basic Strategy as it serves as an excellent starter. Then c’mon back and join us here.

With basic strategy ingrained in our brain, it’s time to adapt it for Atlantic City Blackjack tables. Start with considering the unique rules in play.

Let’s start with the surrender rule. Make strategic use of it, surrendering when faced with a weak hand against a strong dealer up-card. This can help minimize losses in the long run, and even though you’ll be forfeiting half your stake, it’s better than saying sayonara to it all. That being said, don’t overuse surrender and consistently throw away half! Keep a little gamble in your gambling! All in all, the dealer peeking for blackjack is a benefit, allowing you to play more aggressively than usual especially when up against a dealer’s ace or ten.

Be more inclined to double down on favourable hands and consider doubling after splits as well. Atlantic City Blackjack often allows doubling on any hand, so if you’re in a good position, use it to amplify your advantage. We’re talking about liberal splitting and aggressive doubling, to the likes of:

  • Double with 9 vs dealer 3-6
  • Double with 10 vs dealer 2-9
  • Double with 11 - always
  • Double with soft 13/14 vs dealer 5-6
  • Double with soft 15/16 vs dealer 4-6
  • Split with 2s & 3s vs dealer’s 2-7
  • Split with 4s vs 5-6
  • Split with 6s vs dealer’s 2-6 and 7s vs dealer’s 2-7

Keep in mind that aces can only be split once, which impacts your choices on splitting and subsequent actions. And take your own bankroll into consideration if you’re looking to get aggressive with the lax rules of Atlantic City Blackjack.

Beyond basic blackjack plays, you’re not going to be able to pull in composition dependent strategies. As these strategies pull in other player’s cards and take the shoe into account, it’s tricky to take this route when six to eight decks are in play.

With your skills honed for Atlantic City Blackjack, you'll find yourself making more informed decisions and enjoying hopefully better outcomes.

Atlantic City Blackjack FAQs

What is Atlantic City Blackjack?

Atlantic City Blackjack is a variation of the classic blackjack casino table game that’s played with a few player-friendly rules including the dealer must hit on any 17 (soft or hard), and there’s an option to surrender a weak hand. The game originates in its namesake city, and was used as a way for Atlantic City casino resorts to attract more gamblers and compete with the lights and thrills of Las Vegas.

How does Atlantic City Blackjack differ from other variations?

Atlantic City Blackjack is a variation of blackjack with the inclusion of a few rules that are favourable to the player, including the dealer hitting on a soft 17, and a surrender option. The latter gives players the opportunity to bow out of a weak hand and forfeit half their stake, thus minimizing potential losses.

Can I count cards in Atlantic City Blackjack?

You can try, however Atlantic City Blackjack usually plays with six to eight decks. Mix this with counter measures like early shuffling, and you’d likely be hard pressed to put this strategy to good use.

Are there any side bets available in Atlantic City Blackjack?

This really depends on the Atlantic City Blackjack table you choose to play blackjack at, just as it does for any blackjack game. Some tables will focus solely on blackjack, while other tables may spice up game play by adding in side bet action like Perfect Pairs, Royal Match, or Super Sevens, to name just a few.

How can I improve my chances of winning in Atlantic City Blackjack?

Always join a table equipped with your basic blackjack strategy, but for Atlantic City Blackjack, use the lax rules to your advantage.

Is it possible to play Atlantic City Blackjack online?

Yes, Microgaming, an industry leader in online games of all kinds, offers an Atlantic City Blackjack online version, as do a few other notable providers. Check in and search for this variation or double check the rules of any online blackjack game you’re joining for advantageous switch ups.

Can I play Atlantic City Blackjack for free?

Not at LeoVegas Live Casino. Many online casinos offer Atlantic City Blackjack online games that feature a demo mode, using virtual coins for virtual wins. But at LeoVegas we only offer the real deal, so when you’re ready to give it a whirl and up the ante play any one of our online blackjack games.

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