European Blackjack vs. American – The Difference & How to Play

european blackjackWhen coming across Blackjack games online, you’ll see two main variants. The first will be called “Classic” Blackjack – otherwise known as American Blackjack. The second will be European Blackjack.

So what is exactly is the difference between these two variations?

Well, as it turns out, not a whole lot. Both still require the player to calculate their card values and take hits until they reach 21. Or, until they get as close to 21 as they can.

The main difference has to do with the dealer’s hole card.

American/Classic Blackjack

At the beginning of the game, the dealer deals 2 cards to each player. Then, in American Blackjack, the dealer deals themselves 2 cards.

One is face-up, and referred to as the “upcard”. One is facedown and called the “hole” card.

If the upcard is an Ace, then the dealer is obligated to check the hole card to see if they have a Blackjack. (For beginners: a Blackjack is a winning hand, involving an Ace and a ten-value card like the Jack, Queen or King.)

If they do indeed have a Blackjack, then they have to announce this to the players. The round is then over, and the players lose their bets.


If the dealer deals themselves an Ace, players are allowed to “insure” their bet before the dealer checks the hole card.

This means that you can place a bet on whether the dealer actually has a Blackjack. You’ll place your bet on the “Insurance” line on the table.

This is a way for you to win something whether the dealer has a Blackjack or not. If they do, then you lose your main bet but you get paid 2:1 on your insurance.

If they don’t, then you lose your insurance, but you get to keep playing with your main bet.

European Blackjack

In European Blackjack, the dealer deals 2 cards to each player as normal. But, the dealer only deals one card to themselves.

The dealer will deal the second card, or the “hole” card, only after all players have played that round. This means the players can split their decks, double down, or bust even before the hole card is revealed.

In this situation, you do not have the option of insuring your bet. It’s an overall riskier way of playing, as you could stand to lose much more if the dealer does have a Blackjack.

This is the reason why European Blackjack is also known as a “No Hole Card Game”.

Which One is Better?

As we mentioned, American Blackjack can be seen as more advantageous because players won’t add more to their initial bets, and therefore won’t lose more.

The insurance policy in American Blackjack also allows the player to win at least something if the dealer wins with a Blackjack.

But there is certainly the “exhilaration” factor to take into account with European Blackjack. You’re counting on your own calculations, odds and sheer luck when you play against a dealer with an Ace.

In the end, it’s down to you, whether you want to play for fun or if you want more adrenaline and risk in your Blackjack game.