Blackjack table rules can vary from one casino operator to the next. It is imperative to understand the rules before you play. This will allow you to use the most appropriate strategy, improve the fun you have, and hopefully win more hands than you lose!
I will focus on Live Dealer Blackjack specifically because that’s the best way to play the game of blackjack.
However, these rules are universal to the game, so if you learn them, you’ll be able to use them online or even if you manage to make your way to the tables in Las Vegas.
I will start by giving you a list of the best live blackjack tables for rules that favour the player the most. If you want to know more, read the rest of the article.
Also, check out my Best Live Blackjack Casinos and Blackjack Basic Strategy pages.
|Game||Developer||Favourable Rules||Play At|
|Live Blackjack||Betconstruct||DDAS, Surrender||Vbet Casino|
|Live Blackjack Early Payout||Visionary iGaming||Early Payout||Dublinbet Casino|
|Infinite Blackjack||Evolution||6 Card Charlie Rule||Leo Vegas Casino|
|Oracle Live Blackjack||Portomaso||DDAS, Split Up To 4 Hands|
|Live Seven Seat Blackjack||Ezugi||DDAS, Surrender||Leo Vegas Casino|
As you can see in the table above, some of the most favourable rules you can get are Double Down After Split (DDAS), the ability to split your hand more than once, Surrender, Early Payout, and Six-Card Charlie.
This is in addition to the usual stuff: Vegas rules, Dealer Peeks for Blackjack, and Dealer Stands on Soft 17.
Now let me explain each blackjack table rule in detail and how they affect the bottom line.
In an ideal world, you want to play single deck blackjack. Because it’s easier to calculate the odds, and the game favours the house the least.
All online live casinos reviewed on Live Casino Comparer use 6 or 8 decks.
The general standard for Live blackjack is eight decks. If you see a 6-deck game, such as Playtech Live Quantum Blackjack Plus, know that it has a house edge that’s reduced by about 0.03%.
As a general rule of thumb, shuffles s occur when there is 50% penetration in the dealing shoe. This means the shoe will be re-shuffled after four of the eight decks are used.
Manual Shuffling is performed either by a human, generally to the side of the table, or by a machine. The human process takes about five minutes, while the device can shuffle eight decks in thirty seconds. Once mixed, the cards are cut and placed in a manual dealing shoe. Re-shuffles occur when half the shoe has been used.
Automatic Shuffling is where a mechanical dealing shoe is being used. The discarded cards are placed back into the shoe before each new hand, where they are shuffled, effectively giving a brand new shoe for each game round. An Auto Shuffler is popular with the casinos as it speeds up play, meaning more hands per hour.
For all practical purposes, blackjack card counting won’t work with these shuffling methods.
After the shuffle, the dealer removes several cards from the top of the deck before they start dealing.
It’s a practice being phased out across all the live casino providers and one that I’d like to see removed altogether.
It’s done to help counter card counting and shuffle tracking. It also demonstrates the shoe hasn’t been tampered with.
The first card of the deck is removed from the shoe before each new hand is dealt.
The dealer receives one card face up in European Blackjack and gets the second card after all players have completed their hands.
This type of dealing prevents the dealer from Peeking for Blackjack, a favourable feature for players. With the peek, if the Dealer has a Blackjack, the game round is ended, preventing players from building potentially losing hands.
European Rules prevent this from happening. It’s also more likely to tempt players to take Insurance which is a poor bet.
No Hole card (European Rules) hurts the player’s return by 0.11% (courtesy of wizardofodds).
That’s why it’s almost always better to play blackjack with Vegas/American rules.
In American blackjack, or blackjack with Vegas rules, the dealer receives two cards, one face-up and one face-down (the hole card).
The dealer can peek at this card if Blackjack is a possibility – if the face-up card is an Ace.
If the hole card makes a Blackjack, the hand will instantly end, and the dealer collects all players’ bets.
This is beneficial for the player as it stops you from splitting and doubling down – spending more money – on what is already a lost hand.
Although, there is a special rule that might be in effect, depending on the software you’re using, that says you only lose your original bet if the dealer had Blackjack.
Peeking for Blackjack under Vegas rules isn’t available everywhere, so check the game rules before you start playing.
The most common payout for blackjack, although you sometime find in land based games 6:5 or even 2:1!!
The payout for insurance. The bet is normally half your initial stake.
In Playtech Live Blackjack, played under Vegas rules, the dealer never checks for Blackjack, but if you double when the dealer is showing ten, and you lose your hand to a Blackjack, you get half of your stake back. This essentially means you only lose your original bet.
Also, in Playtech Live Blackjack, the dealer will offer Insurance if his up card is an Ace.
Insurance pays 2:1 and is generally a losing bet to make. It’s called the suckers bet for a reason.
In Evolution Live Blackjack, also played under Vegas rules, the dealer will always peek for Blackjack and offer Insurance if his up card is an Ace.
Infinite Blackjack is the one game that’s an exception and where you can win even if the dealer has Infinite Blackjack. The Six-Card Charlie rule comes into play, explained in more detail below.
The Six-Card Charlie rule mentioned above is the only way to beat the dealer’s Blackjack.
This is present in Evolution Infinite Blackjack. You will automatically win your hand if you accrue six cards without busting – even if the dealer has Blackjack.
Accruing six cards without busting is expected to happen once every 400 hands. This rule reduces the house edge by 0.16%.
It is favourable for the player if the dealer must stand on a Soft 17, as it means he can no longer improve his hand.
A Soft 17 is a hand that totals 17, where one of the cards is an Ace, which is counted as either 1 or 11.
In almost all cases, the rule will be the dealer must Stand on Soft 17. However, have a quick peek at this rule whenever you join a new table. You want to be sure you’re not playing a game in which the dealer can draw more cards on a soft 17, which increases the house edge by 0.21%.
Doubling the bet is allowed on any first two cards in live blackjack games.
I’m mentioning this because you shouldn’t play a blackjack game that only allows you to double on 9-11 only or 10-11, as that increases the house edge by 0.19%.
Being allowed to double the bet after splitting the cards is particularly favourable for the player.
Only Double Down After a Split (DDAS) when playing conditions are favourable and Basic Strategy says you should.
Four live blackjack games that offer DDAS are Betconstruct Live Blackjack, Ezugi Live Seven Seat Blackjack, Playtech Live Quantum Blackjack Plus and Portomaso Oracle Live Blackjack. Do note that your strategy for these games will differ.
When you’re allowed to Double Down after Split, you will split 2’s and 3’s when the house has upcards of 2 through 7 (as opposed to splitting at 4 through 7 if DDAS isn’t available).
You’re going to split 4’s when the house shows 5 or 6 (as opposed to not splitting 4’s at all without DDAS) and will split 6’s when the house shows 2 through 6 (as opposed to splitting at 3 through 6).
This is where you are able to split a pair into two separate hands.
You have to replicate the bet of your first hand to do this. You go on to play both hands as independent hands.
If you’re allowed to split more than once, the house edge is reduced by 0.05%, and then another 0.01% if you’re allowed to split one more time for four hands.
The only live blackjack game that allows you to split up to 4 hands is Portomaso Oracle Live Blackjack.
In all other blackjack games I mention on this site, you can only split once for two hands.
Splitting the Aces is so beneficial for the player that some land-based casinos go as far as to limit your ability to do so.
In live blackjack, you can always split Aces; then there’s whether you’re allowed to resplit them and how many cards you get.
You will always get precisely one card per split Ace in live blackjack and can’t get any more.
If you could, the house edge would be reduced by 0.19%.
A split Ace and a ten is counted as 21, not as a Blackjack, and would lose to a dealer Blackjack.
This again emphasises how important the Dealer Peeks for Blackjack rule is.
Aces can be split in all cases; the question here is what happens if you get another Ace after splitting the original pair of Aces.
If you’re allowed to resplit again, that’s favourable for you and bad for the house.
If the player splits his hand and the dealer shows a Blackjack, the player will have their split bets returned to them.
The initial bet will be lost.
As it says, if after the player has doubled his hand the Dealer draws a Blackjack when showing a 10, the player will have half his stake returned to him.
If the dealers up card is an Ace he will offer any players with a Blackjack even money (as opposed to 3:2).
Where you are able to play at multiple tables at the same live casino.
Where you can play multiple hands at the same table.
Side bets are additional bets that can be placed alongside the main Blackjack bet.
These include Bet Behind (betting on someone else’s hand), Perfect Pairs (betting that your hand or the dealer’s hand is a pair) & 21-3 or Rummy (where you bet that your two cards and the dealer up card form a poker hand).
You can read more about these side bets and where you can play them here.
If the Dealers up card is an Ace the player may be able to surrender their hand for half their stake back.
Surrender is a beneficial option to control your losses when you’ve got a weak hand and are up against a strong dealer up card.
With Late Surrender, you can surrender your hand after the dealer checks his down card and before you draw a 3rd card.
This rule is very, very rare.
Visionary iGaming has blackjack games that allow Late Surrender if the dealer doesn’t have Blackjack. Specifically, Live Blackjack Early Payout lets you surrender your hand for a payout before the dealer completes their hand – which may be greater than or less than the original bet. This particular game has an RTP of 99.50% for a house edge of only 0.50% if you use a basic strategy, and you can play it at Dublinbet.
Ezugi Seven Seat Live Blackjack will allow you to surrender your hand if the dealer’s up card is an Ace. Play the 99.50% RTP game at Vbet or Dublinbet.
Playtech offers Cashback Blackjack, where the hand is given a cashout value depending on the cards dealt.
Finally, Betconstruct has the most favourable set of live blackjack rules I’ve ever seen, and a big part of it is the Surrender. The RTP is between 99.52% and 99.60%. You can play Betconstruct Live Blackjack at Vbet or Dublinbet.
|Number of Decks||8||8||8||8||8||8||8||8||6||8|
|Shuffle / Deal||Manual||Manual||Manual||Manual||Manual||Manual||Manual||Manual & Auto||Manual||Manual|
|Burn Cards on Shuffle||Multiple|
|Burn Cards before hand|
|European Rules (No Hole Card)|
|Vegas Rules (Two Cards)|
|Dealer Stands on Soft 17|
|Dealer Peeks for BJ|
|Surrender Hand when dealer showing Ace|
|Double on any card|
|Double on 9/10/11 only|
|Double Bet Returned after Dealer BJ with 10 Showing.|
|Split after a Split|
|Double on a split|
|Cards on split Aces||One||One||One||One||One||One||One||One||One|
|Split Bets returned on Dealer BJ|
|Half Stake returned on double if Dealer BJ with 10 showing|
|6 Card Charlie|
|Even money for Player BJ if dealer showing Ace|
|Side Bets||Bet Behind|
|Bet Behind||Bet Behind|
|Free Bet Blackjack|
(Free Doubles & Splits)
|Multipliers on Payout|
| Go To|
| Go To|
| Go To|
| Go To|
| Go To|
| Go To|
| Go To|
| Go To|
Playtech Blackjack Casinos
| Go To|
Visionary iGaming Casinos
| Go To|
You’ll notice there are several live blackjack games such as Live Quantum Blackjack that offer something beyond the classic game of blackjack, such as win multipliers.
These games are best avoided if you’re looking for a game that has the lowest house edge and a favourable set of rules,
The same goes for blackjack side bets, which have a very high house edge.
Sometimes, the main thing that determines where and what game you play will be the stake size.
Maybe you want to play low limit live blackjack to test your strategy or you’re a high roller who wants to play high stakes blackjack.
In American blackjack, or blackjack with Vegas rules, the dealer receives both cards right away, one face-up and one face-down.
If the face-up card is an Ace, the dealer will peek at the other card to check if he has Blackjack. If he does, the hand ends.
The dealer only receives one card in European blackjack before the players get their two cards, which means the dealer can’t check for Blackjack.
Being able to resplit hand, resplit Aces, and draw to split Aces are very favourable for the player. So is the Surrender rule that lets you give up half of your bet if you see you aren’t likely to win it.
House edge of any specific blackjack table is a combination of its rules, each giving a more minor or more significant advantage to the player or the dealer.
Generally, theoretical RTP on a good blackjack table will be at or above 99.50%, which would mean the house edge is 0.50% or less.