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Understanding Hole Card vs. No Hole Card Blackjack

October 16, 2021

When people think of the different games available to play inside a casino, Blackjack is among one of the very first titles that comes to mind, often appearing alongside Roulette, Baccarat, and Craps and other table game offerings. A quintessential casino game for many, Blackjack has taken on many different forms since it first originated in French gaming establishments in the 1700s.

Nowadays, there are more than a handful of Blackjack variants that deviate from the original version in some way. Some of the most popular include Spanish 21, Perfect Pairs Blackjack, Face Up 21, and European Blackjack.

The latter of these relies on one change in particular, which is essential to the game of 21: the presence of the hole card. Here we touch on the definition of this Blackjack-specific term and how exactly No Hole Card Blackjack, also known as European Blackjack, differs from the standard version.

What is the Hole Card?

Understanding the hole card is quite straightforward, even for beginners of Blackjack. In the regular version of the game, the dealer is dealt two cards, one face-down and one face-up. The hole card is the card that is dealt face-down. After these cards are dealt, the croupier is at liberty to check the hole card for Blackjack without anyone else from the table catching a peek. If Blackjack has been dealt, the round automatically ends.

No Hole Card Blackjack

As its name suggests, No Hole Card Blackjack does not see the dealer dealt a hole card in the beginning of gameplay. It is only once the player’s hand is complete that the dealer is allowed to receive the second card. Because of this, the dealer is unable to check for Blackjack early on and stop future plays. Another aspect of gameplay worth pointing out here is that in standard Blackjack, between six to eight decks are present in the shoe, whereas No Hole Card Blackjack only uses two.

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Strategic Differences in Gameplay

Although the simple absence of a hole card may not seem like a big feature in Blackjack, it actually does change a player’s strategic approach, especially when it comes to doubling down and splitting pairs.

Generally speaking, standard Blackjack is more flexible in both respects, with players allowed to double down on any total hand value as well as after splitting. In the No Hole Card game, players can only split a hand once and only with 10s or face cards. Additionally, because there is only one card dealt in No Hole Card Blackjack, players need to think critically about their double down or split decisions, particularly if the dealer’s card is an ace or a 10.

Although these are some adjustments that should be considered because of the hole card rule, players can still follow basic Blackjack strategy that revolves around standard hit/stand decisions. But where Blackjack and other table games are concerned, it is always worth a player being abreast of as many possible rule vagaries as possible.