How to Play Double Exposure Blackjack

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The desire to “peek” and see the dealer’s hole card is almost universal among blackjack players, so why not play a version of “21” that allows just that. The game is most commonly known as “Double Exposure,” although it can also be found in variations described as “Face-Up 21,” “2-Face Blackjack” or “Bottoms Up Blackjack.” It was invented in 1979 by gaming entrepreneur and marketing specialist Bob Stupak as a promotional gimmick for his new casino called “Vegas World.”

The Basic Rules

Double Exposure allows viewing of both of the dealer’s cards as all cards are dealt face up. That includes the dealer’s hole card, thus creating a huge advantage for players. Naturally, the House must maintain its advantage, so some of the other rules have been adjusted in order to keep the odds of the game tilted away from the player. One of those changes is to pay just 1:1 for a natural blackjack rather than the customary 3:2. Another rule change is that the dealer wins all pushes, except a natural blackjack, which results in the original bet being refunded.

Today Double Exposure Blackjack can be found all around the world, with rule modifications made to match the House edge required by the casino. Some tables restrict opportunities to double or split, such as permitting a double down only on hands totaling hard nine, ten or eleven. Many casinos do not allow doubling after splits. And in almost all instances, the dealer will have to hit soft 17.

On the other hand, some casinos have more liberal rules, allowing hands to be re-split up to three times. They may also permit the re-splitting of Aces. In most cases, cards are dealt from an eight-deck shoe. However, some tables offer six decks, and there are even a few double-deck games that require a fresh shuffle after each round of play. Occasionally, a version where the dealer stands on soft 17 can be found, too. On the other hand, even with the most favourable combination of rules, the House edge is generally no less than 0.66%, and it often reaches as high as 0.69%~1.47%.

Playing Strategy

Having the opportunity to see both of the dealer’s cards has a direct affect on playing strategy. Whenever the dealer shows a total of 17 or higher, players will be compelled to draw cards until they beat the dealer’s total or bust. At times, this will lead to such desperate tactics as hitting a hard 19 when facing the dealer’s 20. In the same way, having “ties lose” causes players to adopt some aggressive defensive plays, such as splitting 9’s when facing the dealer’s total of 18.

During the course of Double Exposure Blackjack play, some excellent opportunities tend to arise. For instance, players may wish to split a pair of cards valued at ten and then double down, if permitted, when the dealer shows 13~16. When doubling after a split is permitted, it may be the proper choice to split a pair of fives, too, especially when facing the dealer’s hard 16. Such a move would rarely be correct in other Blackjack games.

Sometimes players will encounter versions of Double Exposure Blackjack that award special bonuses, such as 2:1 for catching the A-J of hearts. That will improve the player’s chances of winning a bit. Another common bonus is to pay double for a suited 6-7-8. This makes hitting a suited 6-7, 6-8 or 7-8 a rational decision, even if facing the dealer’s 12~16.

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