Pragmatic Play Blackjack

Blackjack Software Pragmatic Play

Launched in 2007, TopGame experienced success by serving a wide range of US facing online casinos in the late 2000's and early 2010's.

Unfortunately, their software was associated with rogue operators that were known for poor customer service and pay out issues. Several of the casinos they served - including 1920s Casino, Rialto, Vegas Nights, and Rome Casino - are now closed.

Rome Casino is especially notorious because they were caught offering certain TopGame provided slots that had missing wild symbols. Rome failed to take the slots off their site when it became an issue, and TopGame took heat for developing faulty games.

TopGame also had other in house issues; namely their poor customer support and software being prone to glitches.

Based on these problems, it's little surprise that TopGame experienced financial trouble in 2015. An investment group out of Malta purchased the failed company and renamed it Pragmatic Play.

Besides the rebranding, Pragmatic Play has obtained licensing from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and was nominated for awards by eGaming Review in 2016 and 2017.

The company's reputation has been fixed thanks to a change of ownership. But what we're interested in is finding out how their blackjack games stack up to the rest of the industry.

That being said, let's look at common elements in their games, along with their selection and more on the company.

General Aspects of Pragmatic Play Blackjack

Only 3 Games

Pragmatic Play only offers three blackjack variations, which is on the lower end when compared to other providers.

The games include multi-hand blackjack, double exposure, and royale blackjack. Considering that one of these is just a multi-hand variant, it's hard to say that Pragmatic offers three different games.

We knew coming in that Pragmatic Play is known for its slots games first. But it'd be nice to see them expand on the blackjack selection because these are the same variants that TopGame offered.

Graphics

The graphics and detail in each table vary depending upon what game you choose. Here's a look at the variations between each game:

  • Multi-Hand Blackjack - This is our least favorite variant in terms of looks because the table is so bland. Specifically, the wooden frame lacks detail, the blue felt takes up too much of the screen, and the colors are muted. The one thing we like about this version is how detailed the stacks of chips in the background look.
  • Double Exposure - In contrast to multi-hand blackjack, double exposure's background chips look dull and are poorly detailed. But the overall appearance is better because the wooden frame looks great and the green felt pops.
  • Royale Blackjack - This table has a similar appearance to double exposure blackjack, meaning we like the royale version too. Our only complaint is that the wooden frame is less impressive.
Table Layout

Just like the graphics, the table layout varies depending upon what game you pick. The main division comes between multi-hand blackjack, and double exposure / royale, which we'll cover below:

  • Multi-Hand Blackjack Layout - This table features three spaces on the table where you can make bets and play hands. Rather than having different chip denominations laid out, you use plus & minus buttons in the lower left-hand corner to change your wager. Hand actions are listed in the lower right-hand corner after you click Deal.
  • Double Exposure & Royale Blackjack Layouts - Both of these games feature 5 spaces on the table, but you can only use the one in the center to place bets and play. Chip denominations are laid out in the lower right-hand corner, and hand actions are in the lower-center potion of the screen.
Music

Pragmatic Play's multi-hand blackjack features piano music that makes you feel like you're in an elegant casino. This isn't to say that you'll want to listen to the tune, but it's a nice option to have.

Neither double exposure nor royale blackjack offer music, and we're not sure why because they look like newer games.

All three games have a voice that announces the results of each hand. We didn't find the voices annoying during our short sessions, but we can see them getting on one's nerves after a while.

Minimum & Maximum Bets

Double exposure and royale blackjack both have $1 minimum bets and $100 maximum wagers. Chip denominations include: $1, $5, $10, $25, $50, and $100.

Multi-hand blackjack has a $1 minimum bet and $50 max wager. Chip denominations include: $1, $5, $10, $25, and $50.

One thing we don't like about multi-hand blackjack's betting is how the chip denominations are selected. As mentioned before, you use plus/minus buttons to select chips.

Gameplay Options & Strategy Charts

The gameplay options are presented differently based on the game.

The double exposure and royale tables both offer a full-screen button in the lower right-hand section, and a menu (gear) icon in the top right-hand area.

The menu includes options for:

  • Changing game speed to slow, normal, and high.
  • Turning sound effects on and off.
  • Changing the dealer's voice to male, female, and off.

Multi-hand blackjack offers options for game rules (I), sound, and menu in the lower left-hand corner. The menu offers options for:

  • Regular and turbo speed.
  • The ability to turn the music and sound effects on and off.
  • Turning the voice to male, female, or off.
  • Looking at your game history.
  • The I button lets you view the multi-hand blackjack rules.

You can also click Strategy buttons on all three games to pull up strategy charts for each variant.

While you can find blackjack strategy charts all over the internet, we love this feature because it gives you specific strategy for Pragmatic Play. Furthermore, it's really helpful because you can have your strategy chart and game on the same screen.

Desktop, Instant Play & Mobile Platforms

TopGame was one of the slowest adopters in terms of instant play and mobile formats. This meant that players were relegated to using download software through PC.

But they eventually became compatible with instant play (PC & Mac) format and mobile devices. That said, Pragmatic Play blackjack is now available on all desktop and mobile products.

Return to Player RTP

One nice thing about Pragmatic is that they list RTP for their games on the website. This is notable considering that TopGame didn't list either the rules or RTP for their games - making the true payback a mystery.

Here's a look at RTP for all three variations:

  • Double Exposure Blackjack = 99.69% RTP
  • Multi-Hand Blackjack = 99.62%
  • Royale Blackjack = 99.60%

Double exposure's RTP rates good when compared to the industry average, while multi-hand and royale blackjack are above-average.

Player Security

As covered before, Pragmatic Play is licensed by the MGA. As part of their licensing agreement, their games must be integrated with player protection software. Going further, their games are tested to ensure that they offer fair play.

They also participate in the Gamblers Anonymous program to promote socially responsible gaming. Pragmatic Play offers resources upon request for players who may have a gaming addiction.

Gaming Labs Certification

The MGA requires that all of its licensees have their random number generators (RNGs) tested by either eCOGRA, iTech Labs, Technical Systems Testing, or Gaming Laboratories International (GLI).

GLI is one of the world's premier testing facilities for fair gaming, so it means something when casinos have GLI certification.

Furthermore, GLI approval helps Pragmatic Play move beyond the problems that TopGame experienced with their faulty slots in 2009.

Pragmatic Play Blackjack Games

Multi-Hand Blackjack
Rules

The rules for Pragmatic's multi-hand blackjack are standard for the industry, and you can see them listed below:

  • Natural blackjack (21 w/ first two cards) pays 3:2 on your bet.
  • The dealer stands on a soft 17 (A6).
  • You can double down after splitting.
  • You can double down on any two cards.
  • You can only split hands once
  • The dealer peeks at their hole card for a blackjack if their up card is 10 to A.
  • No surrender.
  • 8 decks are used.
Return to Player RTP

Pragmatic Play's multi-hand blackjack has 99.62% RTP, which is above average for the industry.

In comparison to most land-based blackjack games, this version offers the following notable advantages: 3:2 blackjack payouts (instead of 6:5); dealing standing on a soft 17; and double down after splitting.

Rules that increase the house edge include: not being able to re-split hands; no re-splitting aces; and 8 decks.

How to Play

On the table, you'll see three flashing spaces where you can place bets. This differs from many multi-hand variations we've played, where you must place chips in the center space first before activating the other hands.

You can put chips in 1-3 spaces, which represent how many hands you'll be playing. Chip denominations can be adjusted with the plus & minus buttons in the lower left-hand corner.

As soon as you put chips down, you'll see options for Deal and Clear Bets. When you're satisfied with your wager(s), click Deal to receive your cards and see the dealer's up card.

Based on the hand, you'll have the following options: hit, stand, double down, and split (w/ pairs).

When the round is over, a voice (if activated) announces whether you've won or lost the hand(s), and you're prompted to choose New Bet or Rebet. The latter option sees you make the exact same wager(s) without having to deal with the chips again.

If you have questions about the rules at any point, click the I button to see the specifics of how this game works.

Strategy

What's great about Pragmatic Play blackjack games is that you can access a strategy chart at any given time. While we don't like the format of the multi-hand chart (player cards go horizontal), this is a helpful feature that's not offered through other providers.

Below is a look at Pragmatic's recommended strategy to achieve multi-hand's top payback of 99.62%:

  • Your total is 5 to 8: always hit.
  • Your total is 9: double down when dealer's up card is 3 to 6. Hit when their card is 2 and 7 to A.
  • Your total is 10: double down when dealer's up card is 2 to 9. Hit when their card is 10 to A.
  • Your total is 11: double down when dealer's up card is 2 to 10. Hit when their card is A.
  • Your total is 12: hit when dealer's up card is 2 to 3 and 7 to A. Stand when dealer's card is 4 to 6.
  • Your total is 13 to 16: hit when dealer's up card is 2 and 7 to A. Stand when their card is 3 to 6.
  • Your total is 17 to 21: always stand.
  • Your cards are A2 or A3: hit when dealer's up card is 2 to 4 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 5 to 6.
  • Your cards are A4 or A5: hit when dealer's up card is 2 to 3 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 4 to 6.
  • Your cards are A6: hit when dealer's up card is 2 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 3 to 6.
  • Your cards are A7: stand when dealer's up card is 2 and 7 to 8. Double down when their card is 3 to 6. Hit when their card is 9 to A.
  • Your cards are A8 to A10: always stand.
  • You have a pair of 2's or 3's: split when dealer's up card is 2 to 7. Hit when their card is 8 to A.
  • You have a pair of 4's: split when the dealer's up card is 5 to 6. Hit when their card is 2 to 4 and 7 to A.
  • You have a pair of 5's: double down when dealer's up card is 2 to 9. Hit when their card is 10 to A.
  • You have a pair of 6's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 6. Hit when their card is 7 to A.
  • You have a pair of 7's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 7. Hit when their card is 8 to A.
  • You have a pair of 8's: always split.
  • You have a pair of 9's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 6; 8 to 9; and A. Stand when their card is 7 and 10.
  • You have a pair of 10's: always stand.
  • You have a pair of aces: always split.
Double Exposure Blackjack
Rules

Double exposure differs from other blackjack games in that both of the dealer's first two cards are exposed. Because of this, it's a unique game with much different strategy than other variations.

The one complaint we have is that, unlike the multi-hand version, this game doesn't have a rules screen. But we were able to discern most of the rules based on what's written on the table and our short session:

  • Natural blackjack pays 1:1 on your bet.
  • The dealer hits on a soft 17 (A6).
  • You can double down after splitting.
  • You can double down on any two cards.
  • You can only split hands once.
  • The dealer peeks at their hole card for a blackjack if their up card is 10 to A.
  • No surrender.
  • 8 decks.
Return to Player

RTP for Pragmatic's double exposure is 99.69%, which is good when compared to other online blackjack games.

Given that you can see the dealer's first two cards, double exposure offers a decided advantage when compared to other blackjack games. This means unfavorable rules must be included to keep the return from surpassing 100%.

The most-notable rule is 1:1 payouts on natural blackjacks. Most online blackjack games offer 3:2 payouts, but switching to an even-money payout increases the house edge by 2.27%.

While this sounds high, it's needed to counteract the big advantage that you get from seeing the dealer's second card, which would normally be a hole card.

Another unfavorable rule is that the dealer hits on a soft 17, instead of standing, which adds 0.21% to the house edge.

But even with these rules included, you still get a really good RTP at 99.69%

How to Play

This game plays largely like the multi-hand version that we covered earlier. But the main differences include where the chip denominations are, and how you see two dealer cards before making any decisions.

As for the chip denominations, they're laid out in a row in the lower right-hand corner. Each time you select one of the chips, you must then click the center space to use it as part of your bet.

Regarding the dealer's two visible cards, this doesn't impact the game from a rules standpoint. But it does play a big role in strategy.

Strategy

Again, Pragmatic Play lets you access strategy cards on the game screen. Below you can see Pragmatic's recommended strategy advice that'll help you achieve double exposure's 99.69% RTP:

  • Your total is 5 to 7: hit when dealer's score is 4 to 13; 17 to 21; and AA to A6. Double down when their score is 14 to 16.
  • Your total is 8: hit when dealer's score is 4 to 11; 17 to 21; and AA to A6. Double down when their score is 12 to 16.
  • Your total is 9: hit when dealer's up card is 2; 7 to 11; 17 to 21; and AA to A6. Double down when their score is 5 to 6 and 12 to 16.
  • Your total is 10: hit when dealer's score is 9 to 11; 17 to 21; AA to A2; and A6. Double down when their score is 4 to 8; 12 to 16; and A3 to A5.
  • Your total is 11: hit when dealer's score is 10 to 11; 17 to 21; A2; and A6. Double down when their score is 4 to 9; 12 to 16; and A2 to A5.
  • Your total is 12: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 6; 12 to 16; and A3 to A5. Hit when their score is 7 to 11; 17 to 21; AA to A2; and A6.
  • Your total is 13: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 6; 12 to 16; and AA to A5. Hit when their score is 7 to 11; 17 to 21; and A6.
  • Your total is 14: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 6; 11 to 16; and AA to A5. Hit when their score is 7 to 10; 17 to 21; and A6.
  • Your total is 15: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 6; 10 to 16; and AA to A5. Hit when their score is 7 to 9; 17 to 21; and A6.
  • Your total is 16: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 6; 8 to 16; and AA to A5. Hit when their score is 7; 17 to 21; and A6.
  • Your total is 17: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 16 and AA to A5. Hit when their score is 17 to 21 and A6.
  • Your total is 18: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 17 and AA to A6. Hit when their score is 18 to 21.
  • Your total is 19: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 18 and AA to A6. Hit when their score is 19 to 21.
  • Your total is 20: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 19 and AA to A6. Hit when their score is 20 to 21.
  • Your total is 21: always stand.
  • Your cards are A2: hit when dealer's score is 2 to 11; 17 to 21; and AA to A6. Double down when their score is 12 to 16.
  • Your cards are A3 or A4: hit when dealer's score is 4 to 5; 7 to 11; 17 to 21; and AA to A6. Double down when their score is 6 and 12 to 16.
  • Your cards are A5 or A6: hit when dealer's score is 4; 7 to 11; 17 to 21; and AA to A6. Double down when their score is 5 to 6 and 12 to 16.
  • Your cards are A7: hit when dealer's score is 8 to 11; 18 to 21; and AA to A5. Stand when their score is 7, 17, and A6. Double down when their score is 4 to 6 and 12 to 16.
  • Your cards are A8: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 11; 17 to 18; and AA to A6. Hit when their score is 20 to 21. Double down when their score is 12 to 16.
  • Your cards are A9: stand when dealer's score is 4 to 12; 17 to 19; and AA to A6. Hit when their score is 18 to 21. Double down when their score is 13 to 16.
  • Your cards are A10: always stand.
  • You have a pair of 2's or 3's: split when dealer's score is 4 to 6 and 12 to 17. Hit when their score is 7 to 11; 18 to 21; and AA to A6.
  • You have a pair of 4's: split when dealer's score is 6 and 12 to 16. Hit when their score is 4 to 5; 7 to 11; and 17 to 21.
  • You have a pair of 5's: double down when dealer's score is 2 to 8; 12 to 15; and A3 to A5. Split when their score is 16. Hit when their score is 9 to 11; 17 to 21; AA to A2; and A6.
  • You have a pair of 6's: split when dealer's score is 4 to 6 and 12 to 17. Hit when their card is 7 to 11; 18 to 21; AA to A2; and A6. Stand when their score is A3 to A5.
  • You have a pair of 7's: split when dealer's score is 4 to 6 and 12 to 17. Hit when their score is 7 to 10; 18 to 21; and A6. Stand when their score is 11 and AA to A5.
  • You have a pair of 8's: split when dealer's score is 4 to 8; 12 to 17; and A5 to A6. Hit when their score is 18 to 21. Stand when their score is 9 to 11 and AA to A4.
  • You have a pair of 9's: split when dealer's score is 4 to 6; 8; 12 to 16; 18; and A4 to A5. Hit when their score is 19 to 21. Stand when their score is 7; 9 to 11; 17; AA to A2; and A6.
  • You have a pair of 10's: split when dealer's up card is 13 to 16. Hit when their score is 20 to 21. Stand when their score is 4 to 12; 17 to 19; and AA to A6.
  • You have a pair of aces: split when dealer's up card is 4 to 10; 12 to 16; and AA to A6. Hit when their score is 11 and 17 to 21.
Royale Blackjack
Rules

Just like double exposure, this game doesn't list rules. We also couldn't find anything online that explained what the significance is of the word royale in the title.

Nothing in the game description suggests that there's anything unique about this game either. The main difference we can see is that the felt and table look slightly different than double exposure's setup.

Here are the rules we figured out while playing:

  • Natural blackjacks pay 3:2.
  • The dealer stands on a soft 17.
  • You can double down on any total.
  • You can double down after splitting.
  • You can only split hands once.
  • Dealer peeks for blackjack.
  • No surrender.
  • 8 decks.
Return to Player

RTP for royale blackjack is 99.60%, which is the lowest among Pragmatic Play's variations. But this game still pays better than most blackjack variations in the industry.

Many of this game's rules favor the player, including 3:2 blackjack payouts, the dealer standing on a soft 17, doubling down after splitting, and doubling down on any total.

The main rules that go against the player include only being able to split hands once and 8 decks. Despite these unfavorable rules, royale blackjack still pays well.

How to Play

Royale blackjack plays like double exposure and multi-hand blackjack. The main difference is that you can't see the dealer's second card (double exposure), nor can you play multiple hands on a single turn.

Strategy

Below is the advice that Pragmatic Play recommends on their royale blackjack strategy card:

  • Your total is 4 to 8: always hit.
  • Your total is 9: double down when deealer's up card is 2 to 6. Hit when their card is 2 and 7 to A.
  • Your total is 10: double down when dealer's up card is 2 to 9. Hit when their card is 10 to A.
  • Your total is 11: double down when dealer's up card is 2 to 10. Hit when their card is A.
  • Your total is 12: hit when the dealer's up card is 2 to 3 and 7 to A. Stand when dealer's card is 4 to 6.
  • Your total is 13 to 16: hit when dealer's up card is 2 and 7 to A. Stand when their card is 3 to 6.
  • Your total is 17 to 21: always stand.
  • Your cards are A2 or A3: hit when dealer's up card is 2 to 4 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 5 to 6.
  • Your cards are A4 or A5: hit when dealer's up card is 2 to 3 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 4 to 6.
  • Your cards are A6: hit when dealer's up card is 2 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 3 to 6.
  • Your cards are A7: stand when dealer's up card is 2 and 7 to 8. Double down when their card is 3 to 6. Hit when their card is 9 to A.
  • Your cards are A8+: always stand.
  • You have a pair of 2's or 3's: split when dealer's up card is 2 to 7. Hit when their card is 8 to A.
  • You have a pair of 4's: split when the dealer's up card is 5 to 6. Hit when their card is 2 to 4 and 7 to A.
  • You have a pair of 5's: Hit when the dealer's up card is 10 to A. Double down when their card is 2 to 9.
  • You have a pair of 6's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 6. Hit when their card is 7 to A.
  • You have a pair of 7's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 7. Hit when their card is 8 to A.
  • You have a pair of 8's: always split.
  • You have a pair of 9's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 6 and 8 to 9. Stand when their card is 7 and 10 to A.
  • You have a pair of 10's: always stand.
  • You have a pair of aces: always split.

Where is Pragmatic Play Blackjack Found?

The new owners of Pragmatic Play have transformed the company from when it was a scandal-plagued operation under TopGame. Furthermore, they've entered regulated markets thanks to their MGA licensing.

Pragmatic blackjack is available at dozens of casinos, some of which include: 7Reels Casino, AC Casino, Betadonis, Boss Casino, Casino 440, Diamond VIP Casino, GrandLuxeVIP, InterCasino, Interwetten Casino, Kings Chance, Llama Casino, Luckystar.io, Slots Village, Slots Million, Spartan Slots, Thebes Casino, Vbet Casino, and Winward Casino.

Other Pragmatic Play Games & Services

Just like TopGame before them, Pragmatic Play is known for their online slots, offering over 100 games in this category. Pragmatic's slots feature 3D graphics, fun bonuses, and unique themes.

Some of these games include: 3 Genie Wishes, Aladdin's Treasure, Beowulf, Dragon King, Dwarven Gold Deluxe, Graveyard Shift, Great Reef, Hercules: Son of Zeus, Irish Charms, Journey to the West, Mighty Kong, Panther Queen, Queen of Atlantis, Reel Gangsters, and Transylvania.

B2B

Pragmatic Play is a B2B gaming provider that doesn't operate or have any control over online casinos.

But their website states that they still encourage responsible gaming from any company who uses their products, and they work hard to avoid any gaming-related issues.

User Protection

As we covered before, TopGame undergoes lab testing, promotes Gamblers Anonymous, and meets licenser software standards to ensure that players are protected and set up for socially responsible gaming.

Conclusion

While TopGame is a disgraced software company that's gone from the gaming scene, Pragmatic Play has proven to be the opposite in their short existence.

Not only are they licensed in the respected Malta jurisdiction, but they're also upfront with RTPs and provide socially responsible gaming services.

As for their blackjack, you'll only be able to play standard versions of single hand (royale) and multi hand blackjack, along with double exposure. This isn't the worst variety we've seen, but it'd be nicer to see five variations or more.

Another complaint we have is that the multi hand game offers a rules section, but double exposure and royale don't. While numerous online blackjack games are without rule sheets, we don't understand why Pragmatic only added them to the multi hand version.

Beyond the lack of variety and missing rules, we have good things to say about Pragmatic Play's blackjack.

Their blackjack RTP - ranging from 99.60% to 99.69% - is at the upper end of the industry. Double exposure blackjack is especially worth playing because it offers 99.69% payback.

One truly unique aspect of Pragmatic Play is that they offer strategy charts within their games. This not only saves you time, but also allows you to use specific strategy for Pragmatic's variants.

Based on the high RTP, strategy charts, and licensing, we fully recommend Pragmatic Play blackjack.

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