Microgaming Blackjack

Microgaming blackjack is one of the best options available
for Internet gamblers. Their software is fast, colorful, and
pleasant to look at. Their payouts are exceptional, and they’re
one of the premier software providers on the Internet. It’s a
rare Microgaming casino that gets a lot of customer complaints.

The company has an interesting history, too. They were the
first online casino software provider in the business. The
Gaming Club, which was launched in 1994, is considered the first
online casino site, and Microgaming was the software provider
for that option. A lot has happened in the subsequent 20+ years,
but Microgaming remains an industry leader.

Unfortunately, not all Internet gamblers are able to take
advantage of their software. In 2008, Microgaming adopted a “no
United States” players policy in response to the passage of
UIGEA (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) in the
United States. This didn’t seem to hurt their business, which
continues to thrive.

In fact, Microgaming has a lot of differences from its
competitor Realtime Gaming, which is the current leading
software provider for casinos who are friendly to United States
players. We cover some of these differences later on. The rest
of this page takes a look at the blackjack variations available,
the house edge for each, and what the best strategy for playing
Microgaming blackjack is.

Games Available

Microgaming has a bewildering array of blackjack games to
choose from, with lots of rules variations. Most of the games
offer an excellent gamble. Even their mediocre blackjack games
offer a lower house edge than some competing software companies.

We’re not fans of having lots of blackjack games to choose
from, though. We’re of the opinion that this is just a move
designed to take advantage of unsophisticated gamblers. That
being said, if it weren’t for unsophisticated gamblers, we might
not have any online casinos at which to play.

Here’s a list of the blackjack games available via their
software:

  • Atlantic City
  • Atlantic City Gold
  • Bonus Blackjack
  • Classic Blackjack
  • Double Exposure Blackjack
  • European and European Gold Blackjack
  • Hi-Lo 13 European Blackjack
  • Premier High Streak Blackjack
  • Spanish Blackjack
  • Vegas Downtown Blackjack
  • Vegas Single Deck Blackjack
  • Vegas Strip Blackjack

The best of these, using the lowest house edge as the
criterion, are Vegas Single Deck Blackjack, which offers a house
edge of only 0.31%. Double Exposure Blackjack is close, with a
house edge of only 0.32%. 1/100th of a percent is a negligible
difference, so these 2 games are effectively tied as far as
we’re concerned.

Below we provide an overview of the rules variations in place
for each of the games and the house edge. If some of the rules
variations sound like they might make the game more fun for you,
feel free to give these games a whirl. But if your goal is to
just get the best value for your gambling dollar, stick with the
2 games we just mentioned.

Also, please keep in mind that the house edges that we quote
below are based on playing with basic strategy. If you’re not
going to use basic strategy, you’re giving up so much of an edge
that it doesn’t really matter which game you play. Ignoring
basic strategy results in the casino getting an additional 1% to
3% on top of their edge. Basic strategy isn’t that hard to
learn, especially when you consider what a difference it makes
to your expected hourly loss.

Atlantic City Blackjack

Atlantic City Blackjack requires that the dealer stand on
soft 17. You’re allowed to double after splitting, and you’re
also allowed to double on any 2 cards. You’re allowed to
re-split up to 3 hands, but you’re not allowed to re-split aces.
They do allow surrender, and the game uses 8 decks. The house
edge is 0.35%, which makes this an excellent option—although not
the best one they offer.

Bonus Blackjack

In Bonus Blackjack, the dealer hits on a soft 17. You’re
allowed to double on any 2 cards, and you’re allowed to double
after splitting. You’re not allowed to re-split aces. They also
don’t allow surrender in this variation. The house edge is
0.38%, which, while excellent, isn’t the best they have to
offer. Bonus Blackjack is played with only 2 decks.

Classic Blackjack

Classic Blackjack is, as the name implies, as close to real
casino conditions as you could hope to find in an online casino,
although the rules would be considered quite generous at most
land-based casinos these days. The dealer stands on soft 17, and
you’re not allowed to double after splitting. You’re also only
allowed to split on 9, 10, or 11. You can only split once (no
re-splitting). They also don’t offer a surrender option. The
game is played with 5 decks and has a house edge of about 0.4%.

Double Exposure Blackjack

Double Exposure Blackjack is played with both of the dealer’s
cards face up. The advantages of this change in the rules are
obvious. The game is played with 8 decks, and the dealer hits on
a soft 17. But you’re only allowed to double down on a 9, 10, or
11. You can double down after splitting, though. You can also
re-split 3 times. You’re not allowed to draw to split aces, and
you’re not allowed to split 10s unless they’re of the same rank.

The best thing about this game, besides the dealer’s face up
card, is that a player blackjack is always a winner. The house
edge is 0.32%, making this the 2nd best game in Microgaming’s
blackjack stable.

European Blackjack

European Gold and European Blackjack Redeal require the
dealer to stand on a soft 17. You’re not allowed to double after
splitting, and you’re only allowed to double on 9, 10, or 11.
You’re only allowed to split once (no re-splitting). The dealer
doesn’t peek for blackjack, but surrender isn’t allowed either.
These games use 2 decks, and the house edge for both versions is
0.4%.

European Blackjack Redeal offers the unusual option of
replacing your entire hand at any point. You can also opt to
replace the dealer’s up card. And if you have 3 or more cards,
you can also choose to replace the last card you were dealt.
None of these options are available after splitting.

Nothing’s free, though—in order to be allowed to take
advantage of these replacements, you have to literally pay for
the privilege. But the software is programmed to charge you
nothing for a re-deal if it doesn’t benefit you in any way.
These options don’t affect the house edge of the game, though.
It remains at 0.4%.

Hi-Lo 13 European Blackjack follows the same rules as
European Gold and European Blackjack Redeal.

Premier High Streak Blackjack

Premier High Streak Blackjack has the same rules as the
European blackjack variations already mentioned, with one
difference—you’re allowed to draw to split aces. The house edge
on this variation is 0.53%.

Spanish Blackjack

Spanish Blackjack is Microgaming’s name for Spanish 21, which
has enough rules differences that it almost doesn’t count as a
blackjack game anymore. For example, a “Spanish” deck has all
the 10s removed, changing the nature of the game dramatically.
(When we say the 10s, we mean just the 10s, not the face cards,
which are still in the deck and are still valued at 10.)
Microgaming’s version uses 8 decks and requires the dealer to
hit a soft 17.

You’re allowed to surrender, and you’re allowed to double
after splitting. You’re even allowed to re-split aces. Any 21
you get is an automatic winner, regardless of the dealer’s
cards. You also get bonus payouts for various hands—a 5 card
hand totaling 21 pays 3 to 2. A 6 card hand totaling 21 pays 2
to 1, and a 7+ card hand pays 3 to 1.

The 678 or 777 of mixed suits also pays out at 3 to 2, but if
they’re of the same suit, they pay out at 2 to 1. If they’re of
spades, they pay out at 3 to 1. A suited 777 when the dealer has
a 7 showing is worth 50 to 1. The house edge is around 0.42%,
but basic strategy shifts significantly based on all the rules
changes.

Vegas Downtown Blackjack

This game has the dealer hitting on a soft 17. You’re allowed
to double after splitting, and you can double down on any 2
cards. You can split up to 3 times, but you can’t re-split aces.
Surrender isn’t an option, and 2 decks are used. The house edge
is 0.38%.

Vegas Single Deck Blackjack

This is similar to Vegas Downtown Blackjack. The dealer hits
on soft 17 in both games, but the double down rules are
different—you’re not allowed to double down after splitting, and
you’re only allowed to double down on 9, 10, or 11. Only one
deck is used in this variation, and the house edge is 0.31%,
making this the best blackjack game available at Microgaming
casinos.

Vegas Strip Blackjack

Vegas Strip Blackjack requires the dealer to stand on a soft
17, but you’re allowed to double down after splitting, and you
can double down on any total. You can re-split up to 3 times.
The house edge on this variation, which uses 4 decks, is 0.35%.

Microgaming Casinos

We mentioned it before, but it bears repeating—if you’re a
real money player from the United States, you can’t get any
action from Microgaming powered casinos. We suggest thinking
about Realtime Gaming casinos instead. On the other hand, if you
live in more enlightened parts of the world, you have a host of
great casino options. Here are a couple of our top picks:

Betway

Betway Logo

Betway Casino has been taking blackjack action from players
in the UK and elsewhere since 2006. They’re one of the few
Microgaming powered casinos to also offer sports betting, bingo,
and poker to their clients. Their deposit bonuses vary based on
which product you’re depositing for—if you’re a casino player,
you’re eligible for a $1000 welcome bonus, which is
exceptionally high for a Microgaming powered casino.

Bet365

Bet365 Logo

Bet365 is another Microgaming option, and like Betway, they
offer sports betting, poker, and bingo. They use multiple
software providers including Microgaming to power their games,
so you have a wider variety of casino games to choose from at
their casino than you would at many other Microgaming
properties. They, like Betway, offer different bonuses based on
your activity—the casino bonus is $100, which is low, but it’s
not unusually low for a Microgaming casino.

Strategy & Tips for Microgaming Blackjack

We discuss the difference between strategy and tactics often
when we get to these sections of our pages. We’ll do so again
here. A strategy is an approach to an activity that takes into
account multiple tactical decisions. A tactic is what you do in
one very specific situation.

Example

A strategy for playing Microgaming blackjack might be to
stick with their version of Vegas Single Deck Blackjack, which
has the lowest house edge, and to never deviate from basic
strategy.

A tactic might be to double down any time you have a total of
11.

“Basic strategy” refers to the mathematically optimal method
of playing every possible hand. That sounds like a tall order to
memorize, but it’s actually probably quite a bit easier to
accomplish than you might think.

We suggest the following strategy. Set a win goal and a stop
loss limit. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these
bankroll management tactics will do anything to improve your
chances of winning, though. They’re just a convenient way to
make sure you don’t lose all your money on your next visit to
the casino. Other writers more talented than us have explained
why such bankroll management strategies don’t change the house
edge on the games, but we feel like they might be missing at
least part of the point.

We also suggest sticking with the game that offers the best
odds to the player and playing it with perfect basic strategy.
The best game at Microgaming casinos, mathematically speaking,
is Vegas Single Deck Blackjack. We outline the correct basic
strategy for that variation below.

Hard Hands

These are the easiest hands to play.

  • If you have
    a hard total of 8 or less, always hit. If you have a hard total
    of 17 or more, always stand.
  • If you have
    a hard total of 9, 10, or 11, you have to decide whether to hit
    or to double down. This varies based on your total and the
    dealer’s total.
  • If your
    total is 9, you should double down if the dealer has a 6 or
    less. Otherwise, hit.
  • If your
    total is 10, you should double down unless the dealer has a 10
    or an ace. In those 2 cases, hit.
  • If your
    total is 11, you should double down unless the dealer has an
    ace.
  • A hard 12
    should be hit if the dealer has a 2 or 3 showing, or if the
    dealer has a 7+ showing. The only time you’ll stand on a hard 12
    is if the dealer has a 4, 5, or 6.
  • A hard 13,
    14, 15, or 16 is played the same way. If the dealer has a 6 or
    less, stand and hope she busts. If the dealer has a 7 or more,
    cross your fingers and take a hit.

Soft Hands

Soft hands are even easier to play.

  • On any soft
    17 or less, take a hit.
  • If you have
    a soft 18, stand if the dealer has an 8 or less showing.
    Otherise, hit.
  • If you have
    a soft 19+, stand.

Pairs

Deciding whether or not to split pairs trips a lot of
blackjack player up, but it doesn’t have to. Here are the
correct ways to play all the pairs.

  • Always
    split aces or 8s.
  • Never split
    4s, 5s, or 10s. Play them according to their totals as hard
    hands.
  • Split 2s if
    the dealer has a 3-7 showing. Otherwise hit.
  • Play a pair
    of 3s just like a pair of 2s, only hit against a 3 instead of
    splitting.
  • Split a
    pair of 6s if the dealer has a 6 or less showing.
  • Split a
    pair of 7s if the dealer has a 7 or less showing. Stand against
    a dealer 10, otherwise, hit.
  • Stand with
    a pair of 9s if the dealer has a 7, a 10, or an ace showing.
    Otherwise, split the 9s.

Microgaming vs Realtime Gaming

One of the biggest differences between these two providers is
that it’s significantly more expensive for a casino site to
lease the Microgaming software. This means that the operations
who do use the software are better funded, which leads to fewer
customer complaints regarding cashouts.

Another major difference is that Realtime Gaming has no
licensed games at all, while Microgaming is making enough money
that they can afford to license properties like Battlestar
Galactica, Bridesmaids, and Game of Thrones for their slot
machines. We know some blackjack players who never play slots,
but we know plenty who do, too. And for those that do,
Microgaming offers some of the best games available online.

One of the nice things about Microgaming software, too, is
that the rules for their games remain the same from casino to
casino. We’ll draw another contrast with RTG here. Some RTG
casinos offer blackjack played with 4 decks, while others have
their configuration set for 8 decks. Microgaming casinos don’t
have the option of”configuring” their game rules in that way.

We like this because we believe that transparency in the
gambling niche is a good thing. We don’t expect casinos to
publish their slot machine return percentages, although we think
companies that do so are praiseworthy. But for games where
gamblers expect to be able to calculate the house edge, we
believe that the rules should be obvious, clear, and consistent.
That way smart gamblers can make educated decisions about what
games they want to play.

The signup bonuses at Microgaming casinos tend to be more
conservative than what you’ll find at RTG casinos. This might
sound like a bad thing at first, but we actually like it. What
really matters to the educated gambler is the expected value of
a bonus.

The wagering requirements at most online casinos are so
outlandishly high that the odds of walking away with any
winnings at all after playing through your bonus are almost nil.
It almost makes more sense to eschew the bonus altogether. We’d
rather see a 100% signup bonus worth up to $300 with a wagering
requirement of 15X than a signup bonus of 200% up to $3000 with
a 45x playthrough requirement. You stand a better chance of
having a winning session that way.

Most of the blackjack games at most Microgaming casinos have
a minimum bet of $1 per hand and a maximum bet of $500 per hand,
although this can vary from casino to casino.

Conclusion

Microgaming offers some of the best casino software on the
Internet, and the house edge on their best blackjack game is
exceptional at 0.31%. To get that house edge, you do have to use
basic strategy, but it’s not as hard to memorize as you might
think.

If you’re a player from the United States, you’ll have to
find your blackjack action elsewhere. Microgaming has a blanket
ban on real money players from the USA.

Top Tip

We recommend taking a look at some of the Realtime
Gaming casinos available if you’re from the US.

Several dozen Microgaming casinos are available. Most of them
offer modest bonuses but reasonable wagering requirements. We’re
particularly fond of a couple of Micogaming casinos that also
offer sports betting, bingo, and poker—bet365 and Betway. Both
properties offer excellent customer service and more variety,
gambling activity-wise, than most other Microgaming powered
properties.

Finally, we want to reiterate our earlier advice about
setting win goals and stop loss limits. Having an arbitrary
method for deciding when to quit, either when you’re ahead by a
certain amount or down by a certain amount, enables you to avoid
gambling away the rent money.