Hard Rock Casino on the PSP is arguably the best representation of the casino genre on the console. As well as offering a diverse range of virtual casinos to explore, it accurately simulates most of the top games you’d find in a real or online casino. It makes it a perfect choice for both the casual fan or the armchair gambler looking to hone their skills without risking any cash.
The main appeal for me with Hard Rock Casino is the variety it offers. Depending on the mood you are in each time you load the game up, you can have a different casino experience each time you play. Whether you want to sit down for an hour of virtual slots, take on the roulette wheels or try your hand at poker, the choice is yours. But for many blackjack will be their game of choice.
What confuses some is that there are several variations on this classic card game. Stripped to basics, it’s a head-to-head game putting the player directly against the dealer. You receive two cards facing up at the start of a game. Likewise, the dealer gets two cards—one facing up and one card facing down.
After that, you can ask for another card (hit), decline an extra card (stand) or make several more moves like doubling down your bet or taking an insurance bet. The ultimate goal of blackjack is to beat the dealer at a producing a hand of 21.
Fail to beat the dealer and you lose. Tie the dealer at 21 and it’s treated as a draw. If you win, the best blackjack casino pays you 3:2. However, some casinos use different pay ration depending on the variation of blackjack you’re playing.
Now this is where things get confusing. As I said, there are multiple variants of blackjack, many of which are available in Hard Rock Casino and other PSP games as well as most online casinos for those of you wanting to try your luck for real. But how do you know which one is the best for your own personal playing style. When it comes to poker games, I prefer Texas Hold Em, but blackjack? Well, here’s a list of the best blackjack variations, their rules and payout ratios.
1. Blackjack Switch
Invented in 2009 by Geoff Hall, Blackjack Switch is a relatively new variant of Blackjack. It has some interesting rules and a not so appealing payout ratio. Still, it’s pretty popular. Here’s how it works. At the start of a game, you receive two hands (four cards).
You can switch the cards around to create one strong hand that can increase your chance of winning. For example, let’s say you have one hand with an ace and a two-value card. Then you get another hand with a 10-value card and a 5. You can put the ace and the 10-value card in one hand to form a natural blackjack hand.
Another unique rule of blackjack switch is that a dealer’s hand of 22 isn’t a bust (loss) but a push (draw). The only exception is when a player forms a complete blackjack hand without switching cards. That said, the game pays out at a ratio of 1:1, which is lower than the standard 3:2 used in classic blackjack games.
2. Perfect Pairs Blackjack
Perfect Pairs Blackjack follows the rules of classic 21. But it features a side bet through which you can win 30:1. Learn more about it on this page, including the best online casinos to play the game. With that in mind, the basics of Perfect Pairs are simple.
You place two bets at the start of a blackjack game—a bet to beat the dealer and a side bet to win Perfect Pairs. Basically, you win if your first two cards are a pair of similar cards—say two queen of hearts (perfect pair), two red-color cards (colored pair) or a black and red card (mixed pair).
The payout for a mixed pair is 6:1. The return for a colored pair is 12 to 1 while a perfect pair earns you 25 to 1 or 30 to 1 at the best casinos. The beauty of perfect pairs is that you get the results after your first two cards. If they make up a pair, you get paid. If they don’t, you lose your wager and the game continues.
3. Vegas Strip Blackjack
Named after the six-kilometer stretch that hosts many of Las Vegas’ most lavish casinos, Vegas Strip Blackjack is incredibly popular online. The explanation is simple: this blackjack variant provides a lot of player-friendly rules.
For example, the dealer must stand on soft 17. This is good because if they were to hit and get a card of 2-4, they would more than likely seal a win against you. Another rule is that you can double down on any hand and split cards up to four times, including after you double down.
Many Blackjack variants allow you to double down once and to split cards once or twice. But with Vegas Strip, you can split 10-value cards even when they are of different faces—say a king and a queen. The only limits in splitting regards aces—you can only split aces once.
4. Spanish 21
Spanish 21 not only one of the most popular Blackjack variants out there but it’s a must-play game for all blackjack fans. It’s different from classic blackjack in that it has a deck with 48 and not 52 cards. It has a few player-friendly rules like a player’s natural blackjack beats that of the dealer. Traditionally, tying with the dealer for a blackjack is treated as a tie.
When it comes to splitting, you can split cards up to four times. This includes aces. What’s more, you can double down severally and even split more cards while at it. Surrendering is allowed but the game pays out at 1:1.
However, Spanish 21 has bonuses that allow you get better payout ratios if you receive certain hands. For example, if a dealer’s visible card is a seven and you also get a pair of sevens, you can win up to $5000. To be clear, this is a bet you make at the start of a game, and a highly risky one.
5. Atlantic City Blackjack
Atlantic City Blackjack originated from—guess this—Atlantic City. It combines rules that benefit both the dealer and the player. The game uses a deck of 52 cards. And in the usual style, the dealer gets one card facing down and one card facing up. You also get two cards facing up.
But here’s the caveat. If the dealer’s up card is a ten or ace, he can peek on his other card facing down. That said, the dealer must stand on soft 17. For players, the rules include splitting cards only once but doubling down at any point.
You can also avoid a push if you have a natural blackjack and the dealer’s up card is an ace. It works out like a side-bet where you get paid at a ratio of 1:1. That said, you get paid at this ratio even if the dealer doesn’t get a blackjack.
There you have—five of the best blackjack variants out there. They all share one rule: the objective is to beat a dealer at getting a hand of 21. However, they differ in rules and payout ratios. Play each of the games and decide which one suits you the most.