Aside from the mind-numbing monotony of slot machines, blackjack has long been the favorite choice of American casino goers. Ever since it was introduced in Nevada casinos throughout the 1930’s, when the term ‘blackjack’ was first used to denote special bonus payouts that attracted more players to the tables, meticulous gamblers have found themselves drawn to its strategic simplicity. Now, a new form of 21 is spreading across the United States, known as War Blackjack.
Like many of the original game’s cousins, War Blackjack is an extension of the traditional form of 21 where-in players have the option of placing a side-bet, along with their standard bet, before the game begins. It is essentially an amalgamation of two distinct table games, casino war and blackjack.
In casino war, the sole objective is to have the highest card. The player and dealer receive just one card each, the higher of the two wins. War Blackjack integrates the popular game of casino war by inducing it as the side bet feature. If the player’s first card dealt is higher than the first card dealt to the dealer, the player wins the side bet. If it is lower, or a tie, the side bet is lost. Also note that Aces are considered the lowest card (1) in the War partition of the game. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
The amount a player bets on the war hand is not restricted by the amount wagered on the blackjack hand, and there is no progressive scale of payouts on the side bet either, since only a single card determines the winning or losing of that bet. So to make things interesting, a winning side bet can actually be supplemented into the standard blackjack bet, if the player so chooses. The original bet amount, however, is returned to the player. And, of course, if the side bet is lost, it is immediately collected by the dealer before the hand continues.
As an example, let’s say a player places a $5 side bet, and a $10 blackjack bet. The player is dealt a 9, and the dealer a 4. The player instantly wins the side bet, collecting their original $5 wager, and can choose whether to take the $5 in winnings, or add it to the blackjack bet. Since a 9 is a nice high card, and he knows the dealer will start with a lowly 4, the player elects to add the $5 to his blackjack bet. The player then receives a 2, face up, and the dealer’s final card is played face down. With 11 in hand, the player decides to double down. Since his blackjack wager is now $15, doubling requires an additional $15 bet. He is dealt an 8 and stands on 19. The dealer then shows 4-Jack, takes a hit and busts with a 10. The player wins $30.
War Blackjack was originally developed by a self-titled company known as Casino War Blackjack, Inc., which introduced the new side-bet driven variation in December of last year. After being awarded the title of Best New Table Game 2013 by Casino Journal Magazine, American Gaming Systems (AGS) took notice, buying out the rights to War Blackjack in July 2014 and subsequently making its official leap into the table games industry for the first time in its 9 year history as an innovative slots machine developer. To date, War Blackjack has already spread to more than 30 US casinos in over a dozen states, from as far west as California, Oregon and Washington (and, of course, Nevada) to as far east as Indiana and West Virginia.