23 Oct

European Blackjack Rules (Microgaming’s 99.6% RTP Edition)

How to play European Blackjack with the best house edge.

How to play European Blackjack for the Lowest 0.4% House Edge

European Blackjack rules don’t really belong to a single game. In general, this name applies to a standard set of rules commonly found in European casinos. However, since the rise of online gambling, the name has become so synonymous with that generic rule-set that both land-based and online casinos have chosen to name some of their tables after it.

Games are being called European Blackjack in casinos from here to Timbuktu! Nearly a dozen online casino software brands thought the title appealing enough to use it, too. But only one chose to invoke a set of rules that would cut the house edge back to a player-friendly 0.40%, and that was Microgaming. Other providers present a house edge scaling anywhere from 0.52% to 0.67%, and as any blackjack strategist will tell you, every hundredth of a percentile counts!

How to Play European Blackjack

Assuming you were paying attention to that last paragraph, you already know the first step is to log into a Microgaming-powered online casino. From there, you’ll be scouring the games menu for a 21 variant called “European Gold”. Only this edition will present the most favorable 0.40% house edge; equivalent to a 99.60% RTP.

The rules of Microgaming’s European Gold Blackjack are as follows:

Specific Rules of Play

  • Decks: 2
  • Soft 17: Dealer Stands
  • Doubling: Yes, on 9 to 11 only
  • Splitting: Yes, 1x
  • Double after Split: No
  • Resplit Aces: No
  • Draw to Split Aces: No
  • Surrender: No
  • Dealer Checks for Blackjack: No
  • Blackjack Pays: 3 to 2

Strategy for European 21

If you’re playing by the rules above, applying perfect strategy for European Blackjack will provide a long-term RTP of 99.60%. Below are three charts, segmented by the type of hand held by the player – hard hand, soft hand, or pairs.

It’s worth noting that European rules do not require the dealer to peek for blackjack. In fact, the dealer is only dealt a single card, face up, until all players are done and it is his turn to act. There is no Early or Late Surrender rule either. Thus, a player who increases their bet with a double or split is risking the entirety of that bet should the dealer end up with blackjack. The following strategy charts take this into consideration.

How to Decide a Hard Hand

Hard totals include any hand that does not contain an Ace calculated as 11 points. These hands can bust with one hit, calling for a stricter strategy based on the dealer’s face-up card.

Hard Total Correct Action by Situation
8 & Under Hit
9 Double against Dealer’s 2-6; otherwise Hit
10-11 Double against Dealer’s 2-9; otherwise Hit
12 Stand against Dealer’s 4-6; otherwise Hit
13-16 Stand against Dealer’s 2-6; otherwise Hit
17-21 Stand

How to Decide a Soft Hand

Soft totals include any hand that does contain an Ace calculated as 11 points. These hands cannot bust in one hit, therefore the strategy is less restrictive.

Soft Total Correct Action by Situation
13-14 Double on dealer’s 5-6, otherwise Hit
15-16 Double on dealer’s 4-6, otherwise Hit
17 Double on dealer’s 3-6, otherwise Hit
18 Hit against 9-A; Double on 3-6; otherwise Stand
19-21 Stand

Conditions for Splitting Pairs

The next chart details how to play European Blackjack when faced with a chance to split pairs.

Pair Correct Action by Situation
Ace-Ace Split against 2-10; Hit against Ace
2-2 Split against 4-7; otherwise Hit
3-3 Split against 4-7; otherwise Hit
4-4 Hit
5-5 Double against 2-9; otherwise Hit
6-6 Split against 2-6; otherwise Hit
7-7 Split against 2-7; otherwise Hit
8-8 Split against 2-9; otherwise Hit
9-9 Split against 2-6 and 8-9; otherwise Stand
10-10 Stand

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