Blackjack is blackjack. Your goal is to beat the dealer whether you play in casinos in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Caribbean, or any other part of the world. But playing blackjack abroad has some differences compared to playing in the States (see Table 1), and my aim is to examine these differences more closely in this column.
UNITED STATES: Mostly six-deck games, also single and double deck games.
ABROAD: Mostly six-deck games with poorer rules.
UNITED STATES: Dealer takes hole card before players play their hands.
ABROAD: No-Hole-Card-Rule in effect. Dealer does not take a hole card until all the players play their hands.
UNITED STATES: If you double down or pair split and lose to a dealer’s blackjack, you lose only your initial wager
ABROAD: European No-Hole Card Rule (ENHC): If you double down or pair split and lose to a dealer’s blackjack, you lose all wagers.
UNITED STATES: Common form of surrender is late surrender. You can surrender your hand only after the dealer has checked for a blackjack and doesn’t have it.
ABROAD: Some casinos offer early surrender. You can surrender your hand before the dealer checks for a blackjack.
UNITED STATES: Insurance: In most casinos you are offered insurance only when the dealer shows an Ace upcard. Some casinos also allow players to take insurance when the dealer has a 10-value upcard.
ABROAD: In some casinos in Europe, in particular, England, you can only make the insurance bet when you have a blackjack (which is the same as Even Money).
UNITED STATES: Card counting is less tolerated in the U.S.
ABROAD: There are often better games for card counters abroad than in the U.S., and in general, bigger bet spreads are more tolerated.
UNITED STATES: If you travel abroad and win large sums of cash, upon entering the U.S. you must declare more than $10,000 in currency or “monetary instruments.”
ABROAD: U.S. citizens have to deal with currency exchange going abroad and returning home, and also must often carry large sums of cash in foreign countries (currency laws can vary from one country to another).
UNITED STATES: You can legally be rated for comps using an alias.
ABROAD: You usually have to show your passport for identification. Obtaining passports with false names is a crime.
UNITED STATES: You’re more likely to find single-deck games that pay 6-5, games dealt with continuous shufflers, blackjack variants (like Superfun 21 and Spanish 21), and side bets (like Royal Match and Lucky Ladies).
ABROAD: You’re more likely to find traditional blackjack games that pay 3-2 for an untied blackjack, with no side bets and few blackjack variants except the popular Pontoon.
The No-Hole-Card rule often concerns players, who mistakenly believe that the casino gets an extra advantage when the dealer receives her second card after players complete their hands. (They believe the dealer is less likely to bust when the cards are dealt consecutively, rather than when the dealer’s second, and possibly additional draw cards, are dealt after the players have drawn their cards).
Mathematically, it makes no difference in the long run whether the dealer takes her second card before players act on their hand, or she waits and takes the second card after the players act. The no hole card, per se, has no effect on the odds of the game, or on the basic playing strategy. So if you hold a 16, you play it the same way regardless if the dealer has a hole card or not).
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