It’s not certain where blackjack originated. However, many historians believe the game has its roots in France, derived from the game known as Vingt-en-Un, which means twenty-one. This was in the 17th century. Shortly after, the game became a popular pastime for many Europeans and later crossed the Pacific into North America in the 18th century. 

The American blackjack version has evolved to become a darling among players who wish to play online blackjack for money. The rulesets may vary from one game provider to another, but players can be a bit more aggressive when playing this version. That means more options to improve your chances of winning. In this guide, we go deeper into the world of American blackjack. We look at how to play the game, its key features, payouts, and variations of the game.

Everything about American Blackjack

At face value, you won’t experience much difference when playing American Blackjack. The game follows the same basic gameplay and rules as the European blackjack game. Basically, you need to form a hand whose value is as close to 21 as possible without busting (going over 21). But even though this version follows the basic rules, several differences set it apart: 

  • The dealer will hit on soft 17. That is a hand with an Ace, and it will be counted as 1 or 11, totalling 17. This will give the house a better edge 
  • You are allowed to double down on your first two cards 
  • You can insure your bet if the dealer’s up card is an Ace 


When playing online blackjack for real money, you want to know the payouts in advance to understand what you’re getting into. Thankfully, the payout structure is simple, although some variations may offer different payouts. 

In many online casino blackjack games, if you win with a blackjack, you will receive a 3:2 payout. However, some games offer 6:5 for winning blackjack hands. 

If you beat the dealer in other ways, you will land a 1:1 payout. The other payout is based on the insurance bet, which pays 2:1. We’ll explore this side bet later in this guide. 

How to play American Blackjack

There’s not much to adjust when playing American Blackjack. The basic rules remain the same, and that is to beat the dealer by forming a hand whose value is as close to 21 as possible. Let’s go over the simple steps you can follow to play this exciting game:

  1. Start by finding an online casino that offers this game. You can do this by choosing one of the sites listed on this page. 
  2. Sign up, find your preferred game version, and load it.
  3. Place your bets and you and the dealer will get two cards each. 
  4. You’ll see both your cards, but you can only see one of the dealer’s cards. 

You then need to decide your next move based on this information:

  • One of the moves is hitting. This means asking for an additional card, but the total bet amount remains the same. 
  • Another possible move is to stand. This move allows you to play with the cards dealt to you and not ask for extra cards. The total bet will remain the same. 
  • Double down is another possible move; as the name suggests, your total bet is doubled. Furthermore, you will receive an additional card, and the player cannot take any further actions to alter their hand (i.e., no hitting after doubling down).
  • You can also split your hand, but the cards must be of the same value. This move will result in doubling your bet amount. 
  • Insurance is also an option in online casino blackjack. This bet allows players to place a bet if the dealer has an ace card. You will win the insurance bet if the dealer’s second card is a 10, which makes it 21. Otherwise, you will lose the bet. 
  • Finally, you can surrender, which is to end the game even before the final hands are revealed. Opting for this route means your bet will be reduced by 0.5 of the initial bet. However, the availability of this option depends on the game provider. Therefore, you want to read the rules before playing your preferred game. 

Differences between American and European Blackjack

Now that you understand the ins and outs of American blackjack, it’s time to learn the differences between this version and European blackjack. Understanding these differences is crucial for players looking to adapt and optimise their playstyle according to the variant they choose to engage with at the tables.

Dealing hole cards

When playing American Blackjack, the dealer will receive one face-up card and one face-down card (the hole card). You’ll also receive two cards and need to make the next move based on this information. But the difference here is the dealer peeks the face-down card for a blackjack before players can make their next move. 

However, in European blackjack, the dealer does not peek for blackjack at the beginning. This rule means players must make decisions (such as hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting) without knowing whether the dealer has a blackjack.

Dealer’s move on soft 17

In American blackjack, whether the dealer stands or hits on a soft 17 can vary depending on the specific rules of the game provider: 

  • Dealer Stands on Soft 17 (S17): This rule is generally more favourable to the player. It means the dealer must stop taking more cards once they reach a soft 17 (an ace counted as 11 plus additional cards totalling 6). With this rule, the house edge is slightly lower, which benefits the player.
  • Dealer Hits on Soft 17 (H17): Under this rule, the dealer must take additional cards even if they have a soft 17. This increases the possibility of the dealer improving their hand, which slightly raises the house edge compared to the S17 rule.

On the other hand, the dealer will typically stand on all 17s in European Blackjack. 

Doubling down

American Blackjack allows players to double down on any two cards. Sometimes, this is possible even after splitting. This provides more flexibility and aggressive play to potentially increase your opportunity for higher winnings. 

With European Blackjack, the rules are more stringent. Players can only double down when the total is 9, 10, or 11. 


American Blackjack is more liberal when it comes to splitting. Many game providers allow players to re-split multiple times, including aces. As such, you increase your chances to adjust your bets and strategies based on the dealer’s up-card. 

The European Blackjack rules are more restricted, with splitting pairs allowed only once. For ten-value cards, only two identical cards can be split in many cases. 

American Blackjack by Pragmatic Play

Launched in 2014, American Blackjack by Pragmatic Play is among the most popular online casino card games. The rules are simple here. Form a hand whose value is as close to 21 as possible without going over to beat the dealer. Another important aspect to consider is the game uses 4 decks of 52 cards. While using fewer card decks makes it a bit more risky, it also makes the gameplay more exciting. 

The game features a lucrative 99.60% RTP, and you can look forward to the usual payouts if you wish to play for real money. They are:

  • Win: 1:1
  • Natural blackjack: 3:2
  • Insurance: 2:1

Game features and betting options

If you’re playing for real money, the American Blackjack by Pragmatic Play allows you to play a round for as little as $1. If you’re a high-roller interested in high-stakes wagers, the game allows you to bet a maximum of $100 per hand. It’s also worth stating the game is available in over 150 currencies. 

Still on betting, you have an option of doubling up. With this option, you can increase your bet amount by 100% and deal you an additional card. 

You also have the option to increase the game speed by using the re-bet function. This button simply uses the same parameters in the previous round for the next round. If you wish to start afresh, click the “New Bet” button. 

The Strategy Card

If you’re stuck between hitting or standing, Pragmatic Play’s American Blackjack offers a strategy card. You can access the card at the bottom right of the page. This pop-up window offers suggestions on whether you should stand, hit, split, or double up based on the dealer’s face-up card and your hand count. 

American Blackjack by Betsoft

The rules used in this version remain more or less similar to what is considered standard. However, you will encounter some small changes. But first, you’ll need to form a hand whose score is higher than that of the dealer. This means getting as close to 21 as possible without busting. 

Getting 21 from your first two hands means you have a blackjack. In this version, you will play with 6 decks of 52 cards. 

Bet amount and features

Similar to the Pragmatic Play version, you can bet from as low as $1 per hand. On the other end of the spectrum, you have $100 per hand if you have deep pockets. 

This version also allows you to double down on your bets. Choosing this move doubles your current bet amount, and you can hit or receive another card. However, you can only double if the dealer’s hand shows 10 or 11. 

You can also split your hand if your first two cards are of the same value. Another option offered in this game is the insurance bet. This bet offers a 2:1 payout.

American Blackjack by Habanero

Again, there’s not much that separates the Habanero version from the two versions we’ve explained above. The biggest difference here lies in the table limits. Players can play a hand for as low as $20. The maximum bet amount allowed per hand is $1000, which should appeal to high rollers. 

The game uses four standard decks, and the dealer must stand on all 17s. Other rules to keep in mind are that you can re-split your cards, and there’s no surrender option. 

The version by Habanero features a slightly higher RTP of 99.65%. That means the house has an edge of 0.35%. A player may have 3 hands at a time. Doubling down is permitted on a two-card hand, totalling 10 or 11. The dealer stands on 17 but hits on soft 17. Splitting is made on two same-value cards. If splitting Aces, a player gets only one card per each hand. If a player and the dealer have blackjack, the game results in a push. 


After an in-depth exploration of American blackjack, it’s clear the key differences lie in the number of game variations. European blackjack offers the more basic version. However, in addition to the fun associated with the variations and different gameplay, American Blackjack offers a wide array of options to improve their winning chances. The hole card is one of the advantages of this version, where the dealer can peek to check for a natural blackjack before a player places their bet. If you’re a fan of the less plain sailing game, European blackjack is the best option. If you’re interested in improving your winning chances through aggressive gameplay, American blackjack offers the best playing ground.