12 Nov

Rules of Sonya Blackjack by Yggdrasil

How to play Sonya Blackjack, Yggdrasil’s original 3D 21 that melds the best of RNG and live dealer 21 games.

How to Play Sonya Blackjack, the Original 3D Live-RNG 21 by Yggdrasil

Sonya Blackjack was the very first 3D game of 21 to utilize motion-capture technology. With it, Yggdrasil has challenged the iGaming industry in ways never before imagined. It is a beautiful rendering of graphic animation in which the dealer is as realistic as any Hollywood animated character. In fact, the motion-capture technology used to create Sonya is the same type of CGI rendering that brought Woody, Buzz and all their Toy Story friends to life in the 1995 blockbuster film.

Sonya (a.k.a. Sonja) is the original version of this 3D blackjack game, released by Yggdrasil in mid 2018. Her Irish cousin, Lucky – host of the platform’s second 3D edition, Lucky Blackjack – came along in January 2019. For the most part, these are the exact same games, with two very different themes. Sonya is an adorable red-head with a cute British accent and an impeccable talent for flipping cardboard, while Lucky is a petite blonde with an Irish dialect and a pair of high-edge side bets to choose from.

How to Play Sonya Blackjack

What sets these games apart from the internet’s live dealer and RNG-based blackjack games is the way their best qualities are merged into one. Sonya’s realistic movements give the impression of a live dealer, without the use of physical cards. The 6-deck shoe is reshuffled by an RNG between hands, dealing cards via software that is certified fair, unpredictable, and just as random as any real, professional shuffled deck of cards.

Favoring the live play scenario, Sonya Blackjack offers seating for up to 3 live players at once. Like other multi-player games, each participate is subject to a game timer for betting and making decisions. These qualities ensure the games move quicker than the average live casino tables.

The game also provides the common live casino ability to ‘Bet Behind‘ other players. So long as you are not the only player at the table, you can Bet Behind any active player at the table. In fact, you don’t have to play a hand of your own. So long as someone is playing a hand, you can Bet Behind, wagering on the outcome of their hand versus the dealer’s. Such tactics are pretty popular among players who recognize a high-rolling strategist when they see one.

Specific Rules of Play

  • Decks: 6
  • Soft 17: Dealer Stands
  • Doubling: Yes, on any 2 cards
  • Splitting: Yes, 1x only
  • Double after Split: Yes
  • Resplit Aces: No
  • Draw to Split Aces: No
  • Surrender: No
  • Dealer Checks for Blackjack: Yes
  • Blackjack Pays: 3 to 2

By these rules, Sonya’s 21 tables present a theoretical return to player (RTP) of 99.54%, equivalent to a house edge 0.46%. While that’s slightly below average compared to the iGaming industry’s best online blackjack games, countless fans of the 3D experience agree that the entertainment value and semi-live ambiance is well worth the ‘one-tenth of a percentile’ trade off.

Sonja Blackjack Side Bets

Sonya did not originally feature side bets, but Yggdrasil thought it best to throw a few in for good measure. Players have the option of placing the standard 21+3 and/or Perfect Pairs side bets.

21+3 Side Bet

21+3 is a very common side bet in which the player’s first two cards, plus the dealer’s up-card, are combined to make a three card poker hand. If the hand ranks high enough, the bet wins. Note that the house edge is a steep 6.29%.

Player’s First 2 Cards + Dealer’s Up-Card Pays
3 of a Kind, Suited 100 to 1
Straight Flush 40 to 1
3 of a Kind 25 to 1
Straight 10 to 1
Flush 5 to 1
House Edge = 6.29%

Perfect Pairs Side Bet

Perfect Pairs is an optional bet that the player will be dealt two of the same card, such as two Aces, two Jacks, two 5s, etc. The payout for receiving pairs is determined by their colors and suits. A ‘Perfect Pair’ is two of the exact same card (i.e. two Queens of Hearts). The pay table is as follows, offering an unfriendly house edge of 6.11%.

Player’s First 2 Cards Pays
Perfect Pair (same suits) 25 to 1
Colored Pair (same color, different suits) 12 to 1
Mixed Pair (one red, one black) 6 to 1
House Edge = 6.11%

Sonya Blackjack Strategy

The strategy for this game is pretty straight forward. Following the decision-making advice on the charts below will afford you the highest possible RTP of 99.54%. Deviating from the strategy in any way will only decrease your odds of winning.

I’ve divided the strategies into three distinct sections, detailing how to base every decision on two main factors; the dealer’s up-card and the type of hand you’re holding – a hard hand, a soft hand, or a pair.

How to Decide a Hard Hand

Hard totals are hands that do not contain an Ace that can be valued at 11. Q-2-A, for example, is a hard total of 13. Similarly, 9-7 is a hard total of 16. Hitting either of these hands can result in a bust, therefore you must be more careful, following this hard hand strategy precisely to maximize your odds.

Hard Total Correct Action by Situation
8 & Under Hit
9 Double against Dealer’s 3-6; otherwise Hit
10 Double against Dealer’s 2-9; otherwise Hit
11 Double against Dealer’s 2-10; 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 are hands in which the value is made up of an Ace that is valued at 11. For example, 6-A is a soft 17. Hitting this hand cannot result in a bust. Even if dealt a 10, it would drop the Ace’s value from 11 to 1, resulting in a hard 17.

Soft Total Correct Action by Situation
12 & Under Hit
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; Stand on 7; otherwise Hit
18 Double on dealer’s 3-6; Hit on 9-A; otherwise Stand
19-21 Stand

Conditions for Splitting Pairs

As the old saying goes, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. That’s how pairs work in 21. As tempted as you may be to split a pair of 10s, you should never, ever do it. Likewise, splitting 5s is a big no-no, but it’s usually a great hand to double down on.

Use this last chart to determine how to play Sonya Blackjack when dealt any pair of cards. The rules only allow players to split a hand one time. Should you be faced with a situation that calls for a split, but you are unable to do so, you’ll have to refer to the hard/soft hand strategy charts above.

Pair Correct Action by Situation
Ace-Ace Split
2-2 Split on dealer’s 2-7; otherwise Hit
3-3 Split on dealer’s 2-7; otherwise Hit
4-4 Split on dealer’s 5-6; otherwise Hit
5-5 Double on dealer’s 2-9; otherwise Hit
6-6 Split on dealer’s 2-6; otherwise Hit
7-7 Split on dealer’s 2-7; otherwise Hit
8-8 Split
9-9 Split on dealer’s 7 or 10-A; otherwise Stand
10-10 Stand

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