The term Australian Blackjack is a catchall used to describe the peculiar arrangement of rules which govern the game of blackjack Down Under.
This page was written with the goal of guiding new players into the world of blackjack as the game exists in Australia, either for those intending on visiting the gorgeous locale sometime soon or for anybody who enjoys brushing up on all things blackjack. First, you’ll find a detailed review of the rules which are specific to Australian Blackjack, along with a comparison between rules which are standard there and those which are variable based on region. Next up is a guide to locating the best offerings found within Australia’s bustling blackjack scene, followed by an introduction to the basic strategies which have been developed based on the country’s particular gameplay structure.
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Pontoon vs Australian Blackjack
The game of blackjack is widespread throughout much of Australia, but depending on the region you happen to find yourself in, slight variations on gameplay and rules can be found. This is similar to other gambling meccas like Las Vegas, Nevada – where rules can differ depending on whether you’re playing on The Strip or in Downtown – or any of the hundreds of casino properties operating throughout Europe.
Further complicating matters is a game known as Pontoon, which is a blackjack variant popularized in Australia. This game plays more closely to another blackjack variant called Spanish 21, but for many people, the term “Australian Blackjack” can reasonably be believed as referencing Pontoon.
For the sake of clarification, the information found on this page will cover traditional blackjack, and the various rules used in Australia for that classic game, and not Pontoon or any other variants.
Rules and How to Play
For the most part, real money blackjack games in Australia are played out in much the same way as you’re accustomed to already. The underlying structure of the game remains intact, so if you’re unfamiliar with traditional blackjack on a fundamental level, we recommend starting on our blackjack page and brushing up on the basics before returning here to see how the game’s compare.
Australian Blackjack is heavily influenced by the rules used in Europe, which means the first major point of difference between American forms of the game is based on the dealer’s hand.
Single Card for Dealer Rule
In Australian Blackjack, as in European versions of the game, the dealer will only distribute themselves a single up card at the start of each hand. In American versions of the game, the dealer begins the hand with one card face down, along with an up card which reveals information to the players and informs their eventual decision making.
Under this format, the dealer will wait until all player actions have been completed before dealing themselves the second card and continuing on with the hit/stand process.
Other Rules to Consider
Other rules which are consistent across the spectrum of Australian Blackjack are as follows:
Players Can Double Down when Holding a 9, 10, or 11 Total Only
Unlike some forms of blackjack which allow players to double down on any total, Australian Blackjack limits the double down option to three specific totals: 9, 10, or 11. In effect, this rule doesn’t change things all that much, as most players employing optimal strategy will only be doubling down on these advantageous totals anyway.
Players Can Double Down after Splitting
When a player has previously opted to split a hand, turning a paired two card combination into two separate hands at the cost of an additional wager, they may then elect to double down on one or both of the new two card hands. Once again, though, this double down option is restricted to 9, 10, and 11 totals only.
Players Cannot Opt to Surrender
Some blackjack games include the surrender option, in which a player forfeits their hand immediately in exchange for half of their ante bet being returned. In Australian Blackjack, however, the surrender option has been taken off of the table entirely, meaning you’ll need to take your cards, however, inferior they may be, as far as you can in order to win.
Common Australian Table Rules
When it comes to the basic rules of blackjack which can be variable, depending on your location throughout Australia, the following guidelines apply:
The Number of Decks in Play
Every house has its own rules dictating the number of decks used in its blackjack games. Typically, you’ll find four , six , and eight deck shoes being used, as well as the occasional game of single deck blackjack.
Dealer Hits or Stands on Soft 17
This rule is variable in every casino in the world, with some opting to force dealers to hit when holding a soft 17 total, and others forcing the dealer to stand. So called “American” style blackjack games have the dealer hit their soft 17s, while “European” versions of the game mandate that the dealer stands. Players benefit ever so slightly when the dealer stands on soft 17s, so you should generally look for tables with this rule when playing Australian Blackjack.
Limits on Splitting Hands
Some houses will allow you to split identical cards into new hands a second time (or third, or even fourth) after you’ve already split your first two cards. This option can only be exercised when the new hands you receive also contain paired cards.
On occasions when you receive two aces to begin a hand, the correct play is to split them and form two new hands, each with one ace and a high likelihood of making blackjack. Of course, you may receive another ace to complete one or both of your new two card hands, and when you do, the natural inclination will be to re-split the aces for another time. Under the rules of Australian Blackjack, some houses will allow you to re-split aces, while others will prohibit the move.
One of the most important rule changes between Australian Blackjack and the versions of the game found elsewhere concerns the dealer’s hole card.
Dealer Blackjack Rules
On rare occasions, the player will elect to split or double down, only to see the dealer produce a blackjack upon dealing themselves the second card. When this occurs, one of four actions will then occur, depending on the regional rules being used in your Australian Blackjack game. The four possible dealer blackjack options are as follows:
Original Bets Only (OBO)
When the OBO rule is in place, the house will claim a player’s original ante bet only – even if they placed additional bets to split and/or double down – when the dealer makes a blackjack. In essence, this rule provides the same conditions as the “dealer’ peeks” rule in American blackjack (when the dealer uses a scanner to check for blackjack before players begin their action). Under the OBO rule, players can only lose their original ante bet when the dealer makes blackjack, which is the same construct as occurs when the dealer scans or peeks for blackjack.
European No Hole Card (ENHC)
When the ENHC rule is in place, the house will claim a player’s ante bets AND any additional wagers made by splitting and/or doubling down, when the dealer makes a blackjack. This rule resembles the game conditions created by European blackjack, in which the dealer receives only a single down card.
Busted Bets Plus One (BB+1)
When the BB+1 rule is in place, the house will claim all busted bets, all other player’s ante bets, PLUS one additional wager unit from the sum of bets placed by splitting and/or doubling down.
Original and Busted Bets Only (OBBO)
When the OBBO rule is in place, the house will claim all busted bets, all other player’s ante bets, PLUS one additional wage unit from every unbusted.
The slight rule variations covering dealer blackjack’s forms the crux of Australian Blackjack, so be sure to study each of the provisions described above carefully, as they will dictate your bottom line when the dealer happens to make the game’s best hand.
Best Places to Play Australian Blackjack
Clearly, only a one-word answer is needed to fulfill this section: Australia.
If you want to play the game under the rules as described above, the natural place to look is in one of Australia’s dozens of casino properties, card rooms, and gambling halls.
Of course, Australia shares a close relationship with neighboring New Zealand, as well as the Asian continent to the north, and Australian Blackjack rules have also found their way to these locations.
Best Brick-and-Mortar Casinos to Play At
When it comes to the best places in Australia to play blackjack, the following casino properties are known to be the best of the bunch:
- Adelaide Casino
Adelaide, South Australia
- Aquis Great Barrier Reef Casino
Yorkeys Knob, Queensland
- Casino Canberra
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
- Country Club Resort
Prospect Vale, Tasmania
- Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex
- Crown Perth
Burswood, Western Australia
- Jupiters Hotel & Casino Gold Coast
- Jupiters Townsville Hotel & Casino
- Lasseters Hotel Casino Alice Springs
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
- MGM Grand Darwin
Darwin, Northern Territory
- Sky City Darwin
Darwin, Northern Territory
- The Reef Hotel Casino
- The Star Brisbane
- The Star Casino
Sydney, New South Wales
- Treasury Casino Brisbane
- Wrest Point Tasmania
Best Online Casinos to Play At
If you’re searching for Australian Blackjack games which are playable online, the following Australian online casinos are a great place to start:
Strategic Considerations for Australian Blackjack
Due to the complexity that comes with so many different combinations of the rules described earlier, a standard strategy chart for Australian Blackjack doesn’t exist.
Instead, individual strategy charts based on all of the most common rules and gameplay structures have been devised.
The general concept of basic blackjack strategy still applies, though, as players use the charts to dictate their hit/stand/split/double decisions based on all possible scenarios involving a player total and a dealer up card.