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American vs European Blackjack

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While there’s still debate about the true history of blackjack, many think it started out as European blackjack in the French casinos around the year 1700. The words Vingt-et-Un were used for this game and translate to 21. You could find it being played by the French Royal Court during King Louis XV. 

If you’re someone who enjoys blackjack, then you might be surprised to find out there are differences between American vs European blackjack.

European vs American Blackjack

This article will explore the differences between these two. Read on to explore the similarities, differences, and get started playing your best hand at blackjack today!

American Blackjack Rules

While the origin of gambling is unknown, the first account of it dates back to China in 2300 B.C. Many believe that gambling has been present in almost every area since. 

American blackjack differs from European blackjack since it has several variations instead of one standard form. This means that the consistency of the rules also changes across game variations.

You can find Spanish 21, Vegas Downtown Blackjack, Vegas Strip Blackjack, and Atlantic City Blackjack

The standard American Blackjack rules include: 

  • Payouts are 6:5 or 3:2 
  • Dealer has to stand on a soft 17
  • Split hands up to 3 times
  • You can surrender late
  • Double down after a split
  • Split aces once 
  • 10-value cards can be split 
  • Dealers can peek on 10s and ace-up cards

Keep in mind that Vegas Strip Blackjack uses 4 decks of cards. If you play it online, you’ll instead find games with 6 or 8.

As far as a blackjack strategy, you’ll want to keep the rules of doubling down in mind. 

This means that you have a more aggressive play when it comes to doubling or splitting. If you’re looking to practice, find online play with less than 6 decks. 

American Blackjack Variants

Atlantic City Blackjack is similar to Vegas Strip Blackjack. The differences are that late surrender is allowed, and Atlantic City Blackjack always uses 8 decks of cards. 

You can use late surrender in order to show defeat after the 2-card hand is dealt. If you go this route, half of your stake is returned to you. You can choose late surrender in many variants of American Blackjack, and all types of Atlantic City Blackjack. 

European Blackjack Rules

In European blackjack, you use 2 decks of cards. The payouts are 3:2, 2:1, and 1:1. 

2:1 occurs when you take insurance against the dealer.

1:1 is when there’s a tie and the stake is returned (known as a push).

3:2 is when you receive a payout of 1 1/2 times the stake plus your stake. 

European blackjack rules

  • Dealer has to hit for a hand value of 16
  • Players can’t surrender if the dealer’s face card is an ace
  • You can only double down on a hard hand of 11, 9, or 10
  • You can’t split 10, 4, or 5-value cards that are different
  • The dealer wins over yours at the sum of 21
  • The dealer can’t peak since there’s no hold card
  • Dealers have to stand on a soft 17
  • Players can only hit a hand once

Hole Cards

European Blackjack has no hole card. The dealer receives one card face up and deals the player’s hand. Once you receive your hand then they receive their second card. 

American Blackjack has the dealer receive 2 cards, one is face up and the other is face down. When a card is face down, it’s called a hole card. 

The dealer can peek at it if blackjack is an option. This means that the face-up card is an ace. The dealer gets to look at the hole card, and no one else gets to see it. 

For instances where it’s blackjack, then the game is over, and the dealer wins. The player’s bets are collected by the dealer.

One benefit of American Blackjack is that when the dealer has blackjack, it stops you from having additional losses due to splitting or doubling. 

Doubling Down

This is when you can double your wager if you think you’ll beat the dealer.

If you’re playing European blackjack, you can only double down if the hands have a value of 11, 9, or 10.

In American blackjack, you can double down on any total. You can also double down after splitting. 


If you have 2 cards of the same value, you can split them into 2 hands. This means that each hand will have an individual bet, and be played separately.

If you choose to stand, that means you don’t choose an additional card and stick with the existing hand. When you hit, that means you ask for another card in order to improve the value of your hand. 

Here is a summary of the main differences between American and European Blackjack:

European BlackjackAmerican Blackjack
Card Decks26 to 8
Payout3:23:2 or 6:5
Late SurrenderNot AllowedAllowed
Double DownAllowed on 9, 10 or 11 total hand amountAllowed on any hand
Double Down after SplitNot AllowedAllowed
Blackjack RulesStandard Blackjack RulesDifferent rules depending on the variation

Why version is better?

This depends on personal preference. Some blackjack players love to play the different blackjack variations that American Blackjack has to offer while other players like the consistency of European.

If you’re looking to focus on strategy and go at a slower pace, then European Blackjack is for you. Most live dealer blackjack tables that you can find online are European Blackjack.

Your other choice is to go with RNG blackjack games instead of live blackjack games. This is a regular online blackjack experience but is nowhere near as good as the live dealer one. 

After exploring the similarities and differences between American vs European Blackjack, you should have a better idea of what to expect. Check out our live casino reviews and pick one of the best online casinos where you play blackjack today. 

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