Australian Blackjack: How to Play All the Different Variations of It
While its origins are murky at best, in present day, there is no doubt of the impact that blackjack has had in shaping the gambling industry, or indeed, the way people spend their spare time.
A staple card game in most, if not all casinos, blackjack is the ideal game for everybody, from beginners to experienced punters. The rules in blackjack are easy to understand, but when it comes to learning its strategies, even the most seasoned gamblers would have to take some time to completely master perfect blackjack strategy.
Being such a popular game, it’s no wonder that there are countless variations of this card gameamong the more well-known versions is Australian Blackjack. If you’re curious about how to play Australian Blackjack, or have never even heard about it before, here is your chance to learn everything you would like to know about the version of blackjack from down under.
Australian Blackjack Rule Variations
Australian Blackjack is largely played by the same rules as the rest of the world, so the core objective of the game remains the same, which is to get a hand that’s as close as possible to 21, and beat the dealer’s hand.
In a way, blackjack played in Australia is similar to blackjack played all over the world, in the sense that every game has different house rules. These following variations in blackjack are practiced all over the world, not just Australia, and are important for anyone who would like to calculate the house edge or their chances of winning. These include:
The number of decks of cards used in every game. This will affect the house edge and the chances of players getting the cards they want.
Whether the cards are shuffled after every round, which will affect the house edge and the chances of players getting the cards they want.
Whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17, which will affect the house edge and the players’ chances of winning against the dealer.
Whether players are allowed to surrender their cards, which means that they are not allowed to give up their hands when there is little chance of winning. (This rule increases the house edge.)
Players are not allowed to double down on their two-card hands, the only exception being if they get a value of 9, 10, and 11. This means that they cannot double their original wager in exchange for an additional card, and immediately after that, the player would have to stand on the card hand, regardless of what their card hand will be.
Typically, players are able to split their cards and still double down on their cards after splitting. Players can split their cards after getting two cards of the same value, which means that their card hands will be separated into two different hands, and each hand will be dealt a new card.
Players would have to ascertain these facts every time they play a game of blackjack as the house rules could change from game to game, which is important to those who would be card-counting, or who would like to know the house edge.
Besides that, there are a few rules that are exclusively applied in most games of blackjack in Australia. These rules are applicable only when a player splits or doubles down on their hand, only to find that the dealer has received a blackjack. Depending on the rules of the game, there are four possible outcomes after that, namely:
Original Bets Only (also known as OBO): Under this rule, the house will only take the player’s original Ante bet, so players wouldn’t have to worry about losing additional money if they double down on their cards or if they split (and resplit) their cards. This rule is the closest to the rule in American Blackjack when the dealer is allowed to peek for blackjack, and if the dealer gets a blackjack, the dealer would only take players’ original bets.
European No Hole Card (ENHC): When this rule is applied, the entirety of the player’s bet is claimed by the house. This is inclusive of every hand that is split (and resplit) or doubled down on. ENHC got its name from being similar to the game rules in a game of European Blackjack.
Busted Bets Plus One (BB+1): With this rule in place, the house will collect all the busted bets, the ante bet of every player who has not busted, as well as an extra unit from every split, replit, and double that the player may have put down. This rule is typically the rule that players dislike the most, as they would have the most to lose from it.
Original and Busted Bets Only (OBBO): Under this rule, the house would claim every bet that has busted, the ante bet of every player who has not busted, as well as any additional bets from when players split and resplit their cards, but not when they double down. This rule is essentially the same as BB+1, except for the fact that it does not collect players’ doubled down bets.
As opposed to American and European Blackjack, both of which have only one commonly accepted rule when a dealer gets a blackjack, Australian Blackjack has four different sets of rules and outcomes. Of these four rules, there are two that are the Australian equivalent of its American and European counterparts, but with several changes.
These rules are arguably the biggest differentiating factor of Australian Blackjack to other types of blackjack. So, if you plan on playing in Australia and are not familiar with the rules, you may want to first observe a few rounds of blackjack or have somebody with better experience in Australian Blackjack to explain everything clearly to you before starting to play yourself.
Strategies to Be Applied in Australian Blackjack
It may not seem like too big of a difference whichever set of rules are applied to a game, but the fact is every little change has the potential to either increase or decrease your chances of winning against the dealer.
It’s no wonder then that the type of strategy one uses during a game could be the determining factor in winning or losing a round. To counter different sets of rules, blackjack strategists have come up with various different charts on the actions a player should take when they receive certain cards. These charts are drawn up based on the players’ chances of hitting a win or, where that’s not possible, getting a smaller loss.
At first glance, you would notice that Australian Blackjack strategy charts strongly resemble both American and European Blackjack strategy charts. The biggest differences would naturally be when players are encouraged to split and double their cards, and even then, the Australian chart is rather similar to the strategy charts for European Blackjack.
For more information about Australian Blackjack strategies, it would be recommended that players look to sites that specialize in calculating game odds, as the strategies stated there would be of higher accuracy. Among the better known sites is Wizard of Odds, the owner of the Australian Blackjack strategy charts shown below, for the rules OBBO as well as BB+1.
Australian Blackjack Players There are plenty of professional blackjack players from Australia, and among the more well-known is Zeljko Ranogajec, or otherwise known as John Wilson. Known as the world’s biggest professional gambler, and even dubbed as ‘The Joker’ by the Daily Mail Australia, Ranogajec originally started his gambling career in blackjack, but has since branched out into various other types of gambling, such as Keno and horse racing.
It was while he was studying finance and banking when he started card-counting, and from then on, he had continued playing blackjack. In 2011, Ranogajec was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame, and later was included in the Financial Review Rich List 2019, where his estimated net worth was at AU$600 million. Ranojec however, has since disputed those claims, saying that they were greatly exaggerated.
He has given little to no interviews, and is a naturally reclusive person, but that hasn’t gotten him out of the spotlight entirely.
Australian Blackjack provides a great twist for players who would like to play a different version than they are used to. As with most other card games, to master perfect Australian Blackjack strategy, players would need to keep on practicing and always look out for better strategies to be applied to their gameplay.
Another good tip would be to brush up on your mathematics, as a large part of many casino games are highly dependent not only on chance, but also one’s ability to calculate probabilities of getting the cards that are needed for a win.
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