When people think of casinos and gambling, the tension of a blackjack hand and the iconic wheel of roulette are often the two most well-known concepts etched in our minds. It can be very hard to pick between two of the most popular table games, so we take a look at the differences between the two titles including their house edge, number of variants available, as well as the atmosphere each game attracts, so you can decide which game you are better suited to.
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This is an interesting battle when it comes to roulette and blackjack, as blackjack ends up having a lower house edge, but only if you use basic strategy.
Blackjack’s house edge can be lowered quite significantly by using the basic blackjack strategy (a chart which tells you the best move statistically in association to the dealer’s upcard), whereas roulette relies on pure luck and the house edge cannot be influenced by playing a certain way.
The house edge of classic blackjack titles, such as Microgaming’s Classic Blackjack title, can be as low as 0.2% to 1% with the basic strategy. Without it, it can be anywhere from 4% to 5%.
When it comes to roulette, you cannot change the house edge by playing a certain way, but you can play the lowest possible house edge by avoiding American roulette, which has the highest house advantage at 5.26%. European roulette on the other hand has a house edge of 2.70%, while French roulette with the ‘La Partage’ rule offers a house advantage of 1.35%, which you will find with NetEnt’s European and French roulette titles.
When it comes down to the house edge, blackjack is the better option if you know how to play the basic strategy, otherwise European and French roulette wins this battle.
Diversity in rules
With blackjack and roulette, there are quite a number of variants each with differing rules associated with the titles. However, the blackjack variants do outnumber the roulette variants in this category.
There are three main variants for roulette, specifically French, American, and European roulette. The rules do vary here, in that the American table has a double zero and a single zero, while the French and European variants have just one zero. There is also the inclusion of the ‘La Partage’ and ‘En Prison’ rules that are included in the French, and even some European variants, which are quite favourable to the player. This is generally the extent of the differing rules, with the exception of perhaps a speedier variant such as BetSoft’s Zoom Roulette.
Blackjack on the other hand offers a huge array of variants, each featuring different rules that can suit a wide range of players. We detail some of the most popular variants and their diverse rule sets.
European Blackjack Gold
Created by Microgaming, European Blackjack Gold only has slight rule differences to traditional 21, which is perfect for the traditional blackjack player who is looking for something new. It is played with two standard decks of 52 cards, the dealer must stand on a soft 17, players can only split once, players can only double down if their first two cards total nine, 10, or 11, or after splitting, and surrender isn’t allowed.
There are a few variants by the name of Pontoon, including the Australian version and the British version. We are talking about the British version here, but this only emphasises our point that there are event variants of blackjack variants. A popular online version created by Net Entertainment has a predominant rule difference in that you cannot see any of the dealer’s cards, so any strategy via the dealer’s hand goes out the window. Pontoon involves getting a hand containing an Ace and a 10, and the dealer checks if they have Pontoon before you make your move on your hand. Pontoon pays 2:1 in Pontoon Pro, and the words ‘Twist’, ‘Stick’ and ‘Buy’ is substituted for ‘Hit’, ‘Stand’, and ‘Double Down’, respectively.
Single Deck Pro
The less decks, the better, which is why NetEnt’s Single Deck Pro is a great variant. The dealer must stand on a soft 17, insurance is available and pays 2:1, splitting is available, double down is only available on the first two cards with a hard value of 10 or 11, and surrender isn’t allowed.
Spanish 21 Gold
The biggest different with Spanish 21 to a standard blackjack title is that the deck is made up of 48 cards rather than the standard 52, with all 10’s removed. Microgaming’s version in their Gold Series sees a payout of 3:2 for blackjack, the dealer hitting a soft 17, the ability to bet on up to five hands, a player’s blackjack beating the dealer’s blackjack, and the addition of surrender, late rescue, and Bonus 21 combinations.
Other variants include:
- Blackjack 5 hand
- Blackjack Double Exposure
- Caribbean 21 Blackjack
- Super Fun 21
- Multiplayer Blackjack
- Progressive Blackjack
- And many more variants
We think it is quite obvious that blackjack wins in terms of the number of variants and differences in rules out of the two games.
When you play either roulette or blackjack online there isn’t really a social atmosphere, though some variants offer a chat box, while you can also play either games in a live dealer format where a human dealer is streamed directly to your screen in real time to create a social ambience.
At land-based venues however, you may find roulette offers a more social atmosphere as it is a game based on luck rather than strategy so players are generally louder and as the ball rolls around the wheel you will often find punters yelling in anticipation.
Blackjack on the other hand generally involves concentration since it is a strategy-based game and you will find that many players prefer to play in silence so they can focus. However, this ultimately comes down to who is playing at your table.
Blackjack vs roulette players
We recommend blackjack to players who are willing to take the time to learn the basic blackjack strategy as this will allow to get the best house edge. Additionally, if you enjoy a more diverse range of rules blackjack is better suited to you, though you do need to learn the strategy associated with the variant’s rules, but you can easily look these up online.
If you aren’t one for strategies however, and prefer to play a game of luck, then roulette is for you. Just be sure to stick to European or French roulette for the best house edge.