How to Play Power Blackjack

Published: 03/08/2012

Most versions of Blackjack allow players to split cards and double down, but the circumstances under which such actions are allowed are rather limited. The game called “Power Blackjack” greatly increases the opportunities to split and double down, resulting in a lower House Edge and a greater likelihood of winning for the player.

Specifically, the player is allowed to split any “hard” two-card total of 15 or 16—two of the worst starting hands possible. In other words, if dealt a 9 and a 7 or a Queen and a 5, the two cards may be separated to form two new hands upon wagering an additional amount equal to the original bet. This is referred to as a “Power Split.”

Additionally, players who double down on totals of 9, 10 or 11 are allowed to take a replacement card if the card that is drawn does not prove satisfactory. For example, if a 5 is drawn to a total of 10, the player can elect to discard the 5 and draw once more. This is referred to as a “Power Double.”

These two rule changes give players a tremendous advantage that would tip the odds in their favour if not for one offsetting rule. It relates to what happens when the dealer busts. If the dealer’s bust total is exactly 22, all non-busted player hands “push.” There is no winner or loser and the wagers are returned.

As for the other rules used in Power Blackjack, they are quite similar to those used in traditional games, albeit with some differences in House Rules from one casino to another. Typically, the game is played with six standard 52-card decks. A winning blackjack (natural 21 on two cards) pays 3-to-2 and all other winners pay even money. Surrender is not permitted.

Almost all versions of Power Blackjack allow the player to double down after a split. Some versions may allow re-splitting up to four hands, but most do not allow Aces to be re-split and a few do not allow any re-splitting at all.

At most tables, the dealer must draw on totals of 16 or lower stand on totals of 17 or higher. At some Las Vegas casinos, dealers must draw on “soft 17”—a 17-point total that includes an Ace counted as 11. Reportedly, some online casinos have a Power Blackjack variant that follows the “European no hole card” rule (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.

Those who have researched the optimum strategy for Power Blackjack say the House Edge can be reduced as low as 0.23% through proper play. This requires adopting a specific methodology of using the Power Double in all cases except the following three:

  • Stand and do not Power Double on any total of 20 or 21.
  • Stand and do not Power Double on a total of 19, except a 2-card 11 facing a 10.
  • Stand and do not Power Double on a total of 18 facing a 7.

Power Blackjack is played at a number of Las Vegas casinos as well as at most online casinos that feature Wagerworks software. Play of the hand follows traditional Blackjack rules, with a round of betting followed by the dealing of two cards to each player, including the dealer who shows one card face up and the other facing down as the “hole card.” Actions that may be taken include hitting, standing, splitting and doubling down. Play follows a clockwise rotation from the dealer’s left.

Published on: 03/08/2012

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