Double Exposure Blackjack

Double Exposure BlackjackDouble Exposure Blackjack is one of the more popular blackjack variations that you can find at live and online casinos. It was created when players began to think that the game sure would be easier if you could see both of the dealer’s cards. Of course, the skill factor in blackjack is based on playing your cards correctly given the partial information revealed by just a single up card, but plenty of players have shared the same dream.

For those that recently discovered Double Exposure Blackjack and want to learn more before placing your first bets, this page will guide you through the game. Here you’ll find a detailed description of the rules and gameplay structure, including how both of the dealer’s cards are visible. There is an extensive guide to finding the game, and finally, a section on proper blackjack strategy to help you play your cards correctly.

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Rules and How to Play

Double Exposure Blackjack onlineDouble Exposure Blackjack was created by simply adjusting one of the basic tenets of ordinary blackjack: turning both of the dealer’s cards face up rather than just one.

Aside from that, both games share the same basic structure, and accordingly, many of the rules remain the same in both versions. If you’re unfamiliar with the way regular blackjack works, we recommend heading over to our blackjack page first to brush up on the fundamentals. Once you’ve mastered the rules of the base game, return here to see how Double Exposure Blackjack stacks up.

Double Exposure Blackjack Rule Changes

Three major rule changes have been implemented to offset the advantage gained by seeing both dealer cards. These rule changes are described in detail below, along with an explanation of how the adjustment actually affects your gameplay experience:

#1

Dealer Wins All Tied Hands, Except When a Player Holds Blackjack

In normal blackjack, whenever your hand forms the exact same total as the dealer’s hand, without busting, of course, the result is a tie or a “push.” When you play Double Exposure Blackjack, however, tying with the dealer will result in your bets being lost. The “tie goes to the dealer” rule doesn’t apply to blackjacks, though, so when you make a blackjack and the dealer does the same, your hand will still be deemed a winner.

#2

When a Player has Blackjack, it is Declared an Automatic Winner Paid Even Money

Whenever your first two cards combine to form a blackjack (any ace plus any face card), the hand will be declared an automatic winner. The payout for blackjacks in Double Exposure Blackjack is only even money, however, which is reduced from the more generous 3 to 2 or 6 to 5 payouts found in basic blackjack.

#3

Players can Split Paired Starting-Hands Only One Time

On occasions when your two-card starting hand contains two identical cards, you can opt to split the paired cards and form two new starting hands. This move requires players to place an additional wager equal to their original ante bet, and should the new two-card starting hands contain paired cards, no further splitting is allowed.

The rules above are common to all forms of Double Exposure Blackjack, so no matter where you play the game, whether live or online, the game will follow this structure.

General House Rules

On the other hand, several rules in Double Exposure Blackjack are contingent on the location, as “house rules” are used to differentiate the game. Below you will find the variable rules found in Double Exposure Blackjack, so before you sit in a particular game, be careful to observe exactly how the game will proceed:

#1

Dealer will either Hit or Stand on Soft 17’s

One of the most flexible rules in all of blackjack, the provision requiring dealers to either hit or stand on soft 17 totals (any 17 total containing an ace, meaning it can vary between 7 or 17 depending on the next card) differs depending on the house.

#2

Tied Blackjacks either Push or Favor the Player

Whenever the dealer shows down a blackjack, but the player also holds the same hand, the result can be either a push or a player win. Obviously, the house benefits immensely when the rules state that dealers win tied blackjacks, so pay extra attention to this important caveat when making your game selection.

#3

Doubling Down after Splitting

Depending on the house rules, players may be able to double down after splitting two paired cards. Players benefit from being allowed to double down after splitting.

#4

Doubling Down on Any Amount of Cards

Another rule which is usually left up to the house, as in many cases, players are limited to doubling down either only on certain totals or only when holding two cards. In Double Exposure Blackjack, many houses allow players to double down no matter their total and holding any amount of cards. Other houses limit the double down option to hard totals between 9 and 11, or according to similar constraints. The ability to double down is extremely beneficial in blackjack, so obviously, being permitted to double down on any number of cards or any total enhances your overall expectation.

#5

Splitting More Than Once

Once again, this rule is usually quite flexible no matter which form of blackjack you’re playing. In some cases, you can split a single time, and should you receive another paired two-card starting hand, you can’t split a second time. Other houses allow players to split, and then re-split paired holdings again, usually up to four times. Additional splits benefit the player.

#6

Splitting Unlike 10 Value Cards

Splitting occurs when the player holds a paired two card hand, but with face cards and 10s valued at 10, some houses allow players to split unlike 10 value cards, while others do not. Unlike 10 value hands would include the K Q, K J, Q J, Q 10, and so on. In general, splitting a 20 is not advisable under blackjack basic strategy, but in some rare instances, players may benefit from splitting 10 value cards in Double Exposure Blackjack.

With so many variable rules to consider, sharp players will be well served to seek out only those Double Exposure Blackjack games which offer the most favorable conditions.

Of course, this may be difficult in the brick and mortar casino setting, but with so many options to choose from online, you should be able to locate optimal rule setups which create extremely low house edge percentages (more on this to come in the strategy section).

Best Places to Play Double Exposure Blackjack

Recommended iconDouble Exposure Blackjack has been around for decades now, and because nobody holds ownership over the game concept, casino operators are free to add it to their table game menu at any time.

That also means that the game can be dropped just as easily, which makes for a rather fluid landscape in terms of brick and mortar casinos. In general, you should always take a moment to call the table games manager at your local casino property, or your favorite venue in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, to inquire about the status of Double Exposure Blackjack. Even if they don’t have the game there, most managers will be happy to point you in the right direction.

US Casinos

With that said, the following brick and mortar casino properties are known to currently offer Double Exposure Blackjack:

  • Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino – Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Tropicana Casino & Resort – Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Stratosphere Casino, Hotel, and Tower – Las Vegas, Nevada (The Strip)
  • Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada (Downtown)
  • Circus Circus Reno Hotel & Casino – Reno, Nevada
  • Harrah’s Casino – Tunica, Mississippi

Online Casinos

As for the realm of online casinos, Double Exposure Blackjack has flourished during the internet age. The game is currently packaged within the software powered by no less than three major online casino servicers: Microgaming, NetEnt, and TopGame.

Any online casino running software suites developed by these three companies should include Double Exposure Blackjack as part of their table game menu.

Because the online casino landscape can be cluttered with unscrupulous operators, we’ve compiled a list of reputable, well respected online casino brands which carry Double Exposure Blackjack at this time:

Microgaming Casinos

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Additionally, online casinos such as Bovada, which are powered by RealTime Gaming (RTG), spread the same game under the name Face Up 21. If you prefer RTG powered online casino play, search for the game Face Up 21 and you’ll find the same rules and conditions as described on this page.

Double Exposure Blackjack Strategy

Counting Cards at BlackjackThe optimal strategy for Double Exposure Blackjack depends entirely on the exact combination of rules used for that particular game.

With every house running the game according to a unique set of rules, this can make it difficult to pin down the particular game conditions you’ll be facing.

Thankfully, esteemed casino game theorist and mathematician Michael Shackleford, the man behind the curtain at the Wizard of Odds site, has compiled a comprehensive set of basic strategy charts for the various iterations of Double Exposure Blackjack you’re likely to encounter.

Favorable Game Conditions to Look For

Also, courtesy of Shackleford’s intrepid research, the various game conditions are known to exist at various casino properties has been listed below for easier review. The list is ordered by house edge percentage, with the most favorable game conditions listed first:

Downtown Las Vegas (Downtown Grand)

  • 6 decks
  • Dealer must hit on soft 17
  • Doubling down is allowed on any first two cards
  • Doubling down after splitting is not allowed
  • Tied blackjack wins
  • Splitting is allowed only once
  • Blackjacks with Jack and Ace of hearts pay 2 to 1
  • Suited 6 7 8 pays double
  • House edge = 0.26 percent

Atlantic City (Tropicana, Bally’s)

  • 8 decks
  • Dealer must stand on soft 17
  • Doubling down is only allowed on hard 9 to 11 and soft 19 to 20 totals
  • Doubling down after splitting is allowed
  • Tied blackjack wins
  • Splitting is allowed once only
  • House edge = 0.66 percent

Las Vegas Strip (Stratosphere)

  • 6 decks
  • Dealer must hit on soft 17
  • Doubling down is only allowed on hard 9 to 11 totals
  • Doubling down after splitting is allowed
  • Tied blackjack wins
  • Splitting is allowed up to four times
  • House edge = 0.68 percent

Tunica (Harrah’s)

  • 6 decks
  • Dealer must stand on soft 17
  • Doubling down is only allowed on hard 9 to 11 totals
  • Doubling down after splitting is not allowed
  • Tied blackjack wins
  • Splitting is allowed once only
  • House edge = 0.96 percent

Reno (Circus Circus)

  • 6 decks
  • Dealer must hit on soft 17
  • Doubling down is only allowed on hard 9 to 11 totals
  • Doubling down after splitting is not allowed
  • Tied blackjack pushes
  • Splitting is allowed once only
  • House edge = 1.47 percent

As you can see by reviewing the house edge percentages above, the most favorable game conditions for live casino players are clearly found in Downtown Las Vegas. When playing in Atlantic City or on the Las Vegas Strip, the game approximates the odds found on traditional blackjack, making it a tremendous value.

Playing Double Exposure Blackjack anywhere else creates a much higher house edge than you’d find when playing correctly at a traditional blackjack table, so sound strategy dictates passing up this popular variant unless you can find the game conditions common in Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

Behind the Creation of Double Exposure Blackjack

In 1967 the renowned game theorist Richard Arnold Epstein, who often wrote under the pseudonym E.P. Stein, published “The Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic.” Buried within the dense, 450-page tome was a passage talking about the idea of playing blackjack against a dealer who has exposed both of their hole cards. Identifying this theoretical game as “Zweikartenspiel,” which is German for “two card game,” Epstein calculated the probabilities associated with these new game conditions and devised an optimal strategy for what is known today as Double Exposure Blackjack.

Unfortunately for Epstein, his business acumen failed to match his mathematical prowess, and he never filed a patent claim or trademark application for his new creation.

Discovery, Creation, & Implementation

Eventually, casino operators discovered the Double Exposure Blackjack concept, and by tinkering with the rules of ordinary blackjack to offset the more favorable player conditions, a new casino table game was born.

Double Exposure Blackjack debuted at Bob Stupak’s space themed Vegas World Casino, which was located on the Las Vegas Strip from 1979 to 1995. Because of the association with Vegas World Casino, it is often stated that Stupak invented the game, but in reality, he simply adopted Epstein’s concept and brought it to market.

Due to the lack of any patent or trademark claim over the game, Double Exposure Blackjack has been replicated several times over, both in brick and mortar casinos and online. Popular alternative names for the game include Dealer Disclosure and Face Up 21, while several other versions can be found.