Playtech blackjack is an excellent option for people outside the United States who want to play 21 for real money online. Unfortunately for USA based players, Playtech has a blanket ban on real money Americans. They put this ban into place in 2008 when UIGEA (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) went into effect. So in this respect, Playtech is very much like its competitor, Microgaming, who also has a blanket ban on United States players.
Playtech has this in common with Microgaming, too—they're both practically dinosaurs in the online casino software business. While not as old as Microgaming, Playtech has been around a long time. They launched in 1999, only 5 years after Microgaming. They're a publicly traded company, too—you can find them on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PTEC.
Another thing Playtech has in common with Microgaming is the investment required to lease their software. We've written on other pages about how inexpensive it is to open a casino using RTG software, but companies like Playtech and Microgaming screen out potential problem clients by charging top dollar for their software. Another perk for Playtech is that they have a budget for licensed slot machine games, which are a bigger draw with players now than ever before. In fact, Playtech is probably as well known for its superhero slot machines as anything else.
They offer some of the best odds on their blackjack games online. Their best game is Blackjack Switch, which, when played with perfect basic strategy, has a house edge of only 0.14%. That's one of the best return to player figures we've seen in the online gambling industry. If you're a serious blackjack player, you'll recognize right away what a great game that is.
We provide a list of the available blackjack games at Playtech powered casinos below. We also include a summary of the rules for each of those games. You should keep in mind that the listed house edge assumes that you're playing the game with the appropriate basic strategy for that variation. If you're not using basic strategy, you might as well add 1% or 2% to the house edge. At that point, it doesn't even matter which game you choose—you might as well pick one at random.
Here's the list.
- Blackjack Pro
- Blackjack Surrender
- Blackjack Switch
- Double Attack Blackjack
- Lucky Blackjack
- Perfect Blackjack
- Progressive Blackjack
This is their plain vanilla version of the game. The dealer stands on a soft 17 in this variation, and you are allowed to double after splitting. You can also double on any 2 cards. You're only allowed to re-split pairs once, and you're never allowed to re-split aces. They also don't offer a surrender option. The game is played with 6 decks, and the house edge is 0.43%.
Blackjack Pro has a similar house edge to their plain vanilla product, 0.44%, but the rules options are slightly different. This game is dealt from a single deck, but the dealer hits on a soft 17. You're not allowed to double after splitting, and you're only allowed to double on a 10 or 11. You can re-split aces, though, but you're only allowed to re-split once. Surrender is not an option. (We've always wanted to say that.) Blackjack pro also includes the "7 card Charlie" rule—if you get 7 cards totaling 21, you're an automatic winner.
Here's an example of how Blackjack Pro looks at an online casino.
This game requires the dealer to stand on a soft 17. You're not allowed to double after splitting, but you are allowed to double down on any 2 cards. You can only re-split once, and you're not allowed to re-split aces. Surrender, as you might have realized from the name of the game, IS definitely an option. The house edge on this one is a big improvement over the previous 2 games on the list so far—0.35%. This is actually one of the best blackjack games they offer—if you just hate the idea of playing Blackjack Switch, then this is the game to play.
Blackjack Switch offers better odds than any other Playtech blackjack game. With perfect basic strategy, the house edge is only 0.14%. Blackjacks only pay even money in this game. The dealer hits on a soft 17. You're allowed to double after splitting, but you're only allowed to double down with totals of 9, 10, or 11. You're allowed to re-split once, but you can't re-split aces, and you can't surrender. The game uses 6 decks.
Blackjack Switch is a non-standard variation of blackjack. To play, you make 2 bets of the same amount, and you're dealt 2 hands. The cards are dealt face up, and the dealer checks to see if she has a blackjack. If she does, the player loses unless he also has a blackjack, in which case it's a push.
Here's where the name "switch" comes in. The player has the option of "switching" the 2nd card of both hands. Let's say you're dealt a 5,3 in one hand, and you're dealt a 10,5 in the other hand. You could switch the 3 in the first hand for the 5 in the 2nd hand to get a 5,5 and 10,3, both of which are better hands for obvious reasons.
There's one other catch, though—if the dealer has a total of 22, that's not considered a bust. It beats any player hand of less than 21, and it's considered a push against a player hand of exactly 21.
This version requires the dealer to stand on a soft 17. This is one of the only Playtech blackjack games that allow a player to re-split up to 4 hands, too. It's played with 8 decks and has a house edge of 0.62%.
This is a non-standard blackjack game with several rules variations, the most interesting of which is the option to double your bet after seeing the dealer's upcard. You have to do this without looking at your cards, first, though.
Like many non-standard blackjack games, this one only pays even money on a blackjack. But you can double down or surrender at any point in the game. Insurance also pays at 5 to 2, which is unusual.
The game also offers a side bet on whether or not the dealer will bust with exactly 3 cards in her hand. The payout on this bet varies based on what the dealer's final hand was. For example, if the dealer has a suited 888, the bet pays off at 200 to 1, but if the dealer busts with just a face card, it only pays out at 3 to 1. The house edge on this side bet is almost 20%. Skip it altogether unless you don't like money.
Lucky Blackjack is played with a single deck. It's a non-standard blackjack game where only a single hand is dealt by the dealer. That hand is played according to the dealer's standard rules—she has to keep taking cards until she has 17 or more. You bet on what the final total will be, and you get a corresponding payout according to the following pay table:
The house edge on this game varies based on which bet you make. The house edge for each bet is included in the 3rd column of the table above. The best bet is on blackjack, but none of these bets are good enough to make this game worth playing except on a complete lark. The house edge is just too high.
|17||5 to 1||12.5%|
|18||6 to 1||3.35%|
|19||6 to 1||5.62%|
|20||4 to 1||12.1%|
|21||12 to 1||4.28%|
|Blackjack||19 to 1||3.47%|
|Bust||2 to 1||14.9%|
Perfect Blackjack also requires the dealer to stand on a soft 17. You're allowed to double on any 2 cards and to double after splitting. You're only allowed to re-split once, though, and you're not allowed to re-split aces. Surrender is not an option, and you're playing in a 6 deck game. The house edge in this variation is 0.43%, making it one of the worst Playtech options available. It's called "Perfect Blackjack" because it includes the "perfect pairs" side bet. We've written about that extensively on our "Perfect Pairs Blackjack" page.
This game pays 2 to 1 for a blackjack instead of the standard 3 to 2. The dealer hits a soft 18, and you're allowed to double on any 2 cards and to double after splitting. This is one of the only Playtech blackjack games that allow you to re-split aces. The house edge is only 0.32%, and you're playing against 8 decks.
Pontoon has a number of other rules variations. For example, the dealer doesn't show an up card, and any player hand with 5 cards or more that doesn't bust is an automatic winner. This is a fun game, but it takes a little getting used to, because it's different enough from standard blackjack for there to be a learning curve.
Progressive Blackjack requires the dealer to stand on a soft 17. You're allowed to double after splitting and to double on any 2 cards. You cannot re-split aces. Surrender is not available, either. The house edge is 0.43%, and you're playing versus 6 decks.
Recommended Playtech Casinos
Lots of casinos use Playtech software, but their quality controls in place are not so stringent that you can just safely play at any property using the software. Some Playtech operators have been known to have customer service issues like slow payouts. We recommend that you find recommendations for Playtech casinos from a trusted site—like ours, for example. Here are a few Playtech casinos we feel comfortable recommending to our readers.Titan Bet
Titan Bet is our top recommendation for a Playtech powered casino. They offer a full suite of betting products, including sports betting, poker, and bingo. Their cashout time varies but is never more than 7 days. They're also fully mobile-compatible. New casino players get a 100% matching deposit bonus of up to $100. Like all Playtech casinos, they turn away real money players from the United States. They have a huge European player base, though, and an excellent reputation.IronBet
Ironbet is a newer Playtech property worth checking out. They just launched in 2015, but they have great cashout times of 5 days or less, which is a big in our book. Like Titan Bet, they offer a 100% matching bonus of up to $100 on your first deposit.Europa Casino
Europa Casino is one of the oldest and most well-established Playtech casinos on our list. They launched in 2003. They're a casino for casino-lovers—you won't be distracted by sports betting, bingo, or poker options here. It's all casino games all the time. If that's all you're interested in, then this is probably the property for you. But if you're thinking you might also want to do some sports betting and/or poker playing, you might be better served by signing up for Ironbet or Titan bet. Their bonus offer is also a 100% matching bonus of up to $100, which is pretty standard for Playtech powered casinos.
Strategy & Tactics for Playtech Blackjack
We include strategy sections in all our software reviews, and we always start them by pointing out the differences between tactics and strategies. Most strategies are independent of the casino software in play. Here's why:
- A strategy is an overall approach to something. In blackjack, that would include things like setting goals, deciding on a bankroll, and choosing an appropriate game.
- Tactics, on the other hand, are individual decisions in specific situations. Deciding whether or not to double down if you have a hard total of 9 is a tactical decision.
To confuse things even further, we often discuss "basic strategy" in blackjack. It's unavoidable. Basic strategy, in this context, refers to the correct playing decision in every possible situation. Below we've included the correct basic strategy for the lowest house edge game available at Playtech—Blackjack Switch. Since the game has different rules than most, the correct basic strategy is different from what you usually see. If you follow the strategy below, the house edge will only be 0.14%, which is better than almost anywhere else on the Internet.
The first thing you have to decide is whether or not to switch. You'll find multiple different strategies for deciding this, but the easiest we found is called the "Cindy Liu Simple Switching Strategy". Out of respect for the site making this available, we've included a link to how that works.
After you've decided whether or not to switch, you'll follow the basic strategy below:
- You'll always hit a hard hand of 8 or less.
- With a hard hand of 9, you'll double down if the dealer has a 6 showing. Otherwise you'll hit.
- You'll double down on a hard total of 10 unless the dealer has a 9, 10, or ace. In any of those 3 cases, you'll just hit instead.
- You'll double down on a hard total of 11 unless the dealer has a 10 or an ace. In either of those cases, just hit.
- With a hard 12, you'll almost always hit. The only exceptions are if the dealer has a 5 or a 6 showing, in which case you'll stand.
- With a hard 13, you'll stand if the dealer has a 3 – 6. Otherwise, you'll hit.
- With a hard 14, 15, or 16, you'll stand if the dealer has a 6 or less. Otherwise, you'll hit.
- You'll always stand on a hard 17 or higher.
- With a soft 15 or less, you'll always hit.
- You'll double down on a soft 16, but only if the dealer has a 6 showing. Otherwise, you'll just hit.
- You'll play a soft 17 the same way, but you'll also double down if the dealer has a 5 showing.
- With a soft 18, you'll stand versus a dealer 8 or less. You'll hit versus a dealer 9, 10, or ace.
- With a soft 19 or higher, you'll stand.
- You'll split 2s or 3s if the dealer has a 5, 6, or 7. Otherwise just hit.
- You'll always hit a pair of 4s.
- You'll treat a pair of 5s as if it were a hard total of 10. Never split 5s.
- You'll split 6s versus a dealer 4, 5, or 6.
- You'll split 7s versus a dealer 3 -7. Stand if the dealer has a 2. Otherwise hit.
- You'll always split 8s unless the dealer has a 10 or an ace showing. In either of those cases, you'll hit.
- With a pair of 9s, you'll split versus a dealer 4, 5, 6, 8, or 9. If the dealer has a 2, 3, 7, 10, or ace, you'll stand.
- You'll always stand on a pair of 10s.
- You'll always split aces.
Playtech offers some of the most generous blackjack games online, and their casino licensees tend to have good reputations. Their casinos don't offer the largest bonuses available, but since you usually can't apply blackjack toward your wagering requirements anyway, that's no big deal.
Stick with the casinos we recommend, play Blackjack Switch, and follow the basic strategy provided, and you'll be playing one of the best odds games on the Internet.
But if you're from the United States, you can't play here.