How to Play Australian Blackjack

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Australian Blackjack is quite similar to the versions played elsewhere in the world, but with a few uniquely “down under” twists. Also, there may be differences in House Rules from one casino to another, so it is important to check the specifics before playing.

As in Europe and Asia, Australian dealers do not take a hole card. At almost all tables, the dealer must hit on totals of 16 or less and stand on all totals of 17 or more. On the player’s side of the table, double downs are permitted only on two-card counts of 9, 10 or 11, but they are also allowed after splits. Surrender is not an option in Australian Blackjack.

Special rules apply should the dealer get a blackjack after the player doubles and/or splits. Although this will depend upon the particular casino, four possible hole-card rules may apply: dealer takes original bets only (OBO); European no hole card rules (ENHC); busted bets plus one (BB+1); and original and busted bets only (OBBO). Each of these deserves a bit of explanation.

OBO – Regardless of the player’s subsequent actions, the dealer may only take the player’s original bet. That means splitting or doubling down is possible without fear of losing additional amounts wagered—a great advantage for the player.

ENHC – If the dealer gets a blackjack, he or she takes the total amount of the player’s bet, including any wagers made in the course of splitting or doubling.

BB+1 – This rule levies a penalty on players when the dealer gets a blackjack. Not only does the dealer take all busted bets but also one extra unit must be paid for each non-busted hand on the table, including doubles and splits.

OBBO – This variation is almost identical to BB+1, except the extra unit penalty applies only to splits, not doubles.

As in all versions of blackjack, the game begins with players making their wagers in the designated betting box on the table surface. Each player then receives two cards, face up, while the dealer receives just one face-up card. Kings, Queens, Jacks and Tens count as 10 points. Aces count as 1 or 11 points, and the cards 2 through 9 count at face value.

An Ace and a 10-value card together on the first two cards is a natural 21 or so-called “blackjack,” which is paid at odds of 3-to-2 as long as the dealer does not also have a blackjack. Players without blackjacks continue to draw cards, attempting to obtain a total as close to 21 as possible without going over (busting). Busted hands automatically forfeit their wagers.

The two most basic choices a player is given are to “hit” by taking an additional card or “stand” by taking no more cards. It is also possible to “split” two cards of identical point value to form two hands. In this case, the original wager must be matched by a second ager of equal amount. A fourth option is to “double down” by matching the original bet made and receiving one more card only.

A special option exists for the players whenever the dealer’s card is an Ace. They have the opportunity to take “insurance” by making a wager equal to half the original amount bet. If, subsequently, the dealer gets a blackjack, the insurance bet pays 2-to-1. Should the dealer fail to get a blackjack, the insurance bet is lost. Players who are dealt a blackjack may choose to claim “even money” for their original wagers as opposed to 3-to-2 and thus avoid the possibility of winning nothing if the dealer gets a blackjack.

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