WagerWorks blackjack games are online versions of the classic table game blackjack produced by the design firm WagerWorks.
WagerWorks is a branch of International Game Technology, one of the largest casino-related businesses in the world. Better known as IGT, that company purchased WagerWorks and all its software a few years ago for around $100 million. WagerWorks games are mostly found at non-US facing sites, mainly in Europe, though some sites do business with customers as far away as Canada and Australia.
WagerWorks was originally a small subsidiary of Silicon Gaming, a major manufacturer of land-based slot and other gaming machines. WagerWorks was created solely to create unique and innovative games for the Web-based market. The group of artists, Flash animators, game designers, and casino executives that started the company are all still working in the industry to put out a library of top-reviewed games.
WagerWorks is licensed by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission and the gaming licensing bodies of the Isle of Man. These are two powerful forces in the regulatory industry, both of which appear on the famous UK "white list" of legitimate gaming operators.
The rest of this page takes a look at the blackjack variations available, the house edge for each, and notes on ideal strategy for playing blackjack at a WagerWorks-powered online casino.
WagerWorks produces seven variants of blackjack, producing one of the most varied and interesting blackjack libraries of all the designers we reviewed. But just because the games exist in a lot of iterations doesn't mean they're necessarily any good.
Here's a list of the blackjack games available via WagerWorks software:
The best game, in terms of the casino's built-in edge, is Power Blackjack. When played according to basic strategy, the casino's edge is 0.23%, about half the industry standard. The next best game, odds-wise, is European Blackjack, with an edge of 0.3%.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that none of these games was particularly favorable for the house. The worst of the above seven titles is Multi-Hand Blackjack, with a 0.5% edge. Even that number is lower than most other designers' multi-hand blackjack variants.
Below you'll find an overview of the rules for each of WagerWorks' seven blackjack variants. This includes information about each game's house edge. Depending on your goal, you may choose to play different games. For instance, if you are a multi-hand fanatic, you may be willing to accept that 0.5% house edge in exchange for a chance to play up to five hands at once. If you're looking for the game that gives the casino the smallest edge, you should stick to Power Blackjack.
This is WagerWorks' standard Vegas rules version of the casino classic. It has an average house edge for an online blackjack game, giving the casino 0.46% advantage. Blackjack uses a virtual shoe of eight decks of cards. The dealer is required to stand on a soft 17. You'll also notice that the dealer peeks for blackjack, in the American style. All players can double down on any two cards, and are allowed to double after a split. This is the closest thing to a standard game of online blackjack as you're likely to find, down to the middle-of-the-road graphics.
This game uses the traditional rules for blackjack as played in the casinos of Europe. A nice feature of this game is the fact that it uses six decks instead of eight. Because of that two-deck difference between Euro and traditional blackjack as described above, this game is actually better for the player, giving the house an edge of 0.3%. Dealers stand on a soft 17, but dealers don't peek for blackjack. Every other rule is identical to WagerWorks' Blackjack game above.
Hot Streak Blackjack is also a six-deck game. Combined with the other rule changes, that gives this game a healthy house edge of 0.41%. That's because the dealer stands on a soft 17, the game allows players to double down on any two cards, and doubles are allowed after splits. There's an optional side bet with a small 5:1 payout for winning three or more hands in a row, but because this payout is relatively small compared to other side bets in online blackjack variants, the effect on the odds is negligible.
This is the game to check out if you want to play up to five hands at once. It has a 0.5% house edge and rules almost identical to the company's standard Blackjack game. This is another six-deck game where the dealer stands on a soft 17. The dealer peeks for blackjack, and doubles on any two cards are allowed, but players may not double after splitting.
Power Blackjack is the best blackjack game produced by WagerWorks if you're concerned mainly with odds. The game uses six decks, pays 3:2 for blackjack, requires that the dealer stand on a soft 17, and allows doubling after splits on any two cards. The game also allows for a Power Double, a specific pair of two cards that gives the player the right to exchange his third card for the next one in the shoe.
Also, if you have any hard total of 15-16, you can perform a Power Split, which works like a regular split except your cards don't have to appear in pairs. A third rule says that if the dealer busts with a total of 22, then all other hands are push. When played according to basic strategy, the casino's edge is just 0.23%.
This is the only other eight-deck game in WagerWorks' library, and that has a big impact on its house edge, which we calculate at 0.37%. One big difference here is that the dealer will play a hand of soft 17. The "20+" in the name refer to the fact that you never have to play against a two-card total of 20. That's because when the dealer has a ten-point card in the hole, he checks for another ten-point card, and burns both cards if he finds one. The designers tweaked the rules here and there so that you don't get too big of an advantage from this rule. Sometimes called Burn 20 Blackjack in other casinos.
21+3 Blackjack is based on the rules of three card poker and blackjack. This game includes a side wager whereby if the total of your two cards and the dealer's up-card is 21, you win a special payout of 10:1. This game's house edge is 0.49% when played according to basic strategy. It's a six-deck game with dealer peek rule in place, and the dealer must stand on a soft 17.
Since the acquisition of WagerWorks by IGT, the company's reach has expanded drastically. You'll now find WagerWorks games in some of the world's most popular online casinos. Below is a brief review of our favorite WagerWorks casino for online blackjack players.888 Casino
We recommend that blackjack players check out 888 Casino for their WagerWorks gambling action because of their longevity in the industry and the fact that they're licensed by both Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, two of the world's top gaming licensors. We also like their lineup of hundreds of slot and table games produced by WagerWorks, NetEnt, Betsoft, and a host of other popular game designers.
888 Casino posts a cashout time of between 1 and 28 business days, depending on where in the world you live and what method you choose to make your withdrawal. Right now, the site's welcome bonus for casino gamblers is a 100% deposit match bonus worth up to $3,000. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before you sign up to accept bonus cash.
Strategy Tips for Playing WagerWorks Blackjack
Our best advice for people looking to enjoy a session of blackjack at a WagerWorks-powered site is to stick to Power Blackjack. While the other games in their lineup have decent odds, Power Blackjack is the lowest by a significant margin. The game is also significantly geared to favor the player, at about half the odds of your typical online blackjack game.
Bear in mind that the house edges quoted below and elsewhere on this page are all calculated based on players using basic strategy, and never straying from it substantially. Basic strategy is easy to follow, since it simply tells you your best move for every situation you may come across for a particular variant.
If you ignore basic strategy, you're handing even more money over to the casino, and at a faster rate.
Here is our basic strategy guide for WagerWorks Power Blackjack, their best blackjack variant in terms of odds:
Hard totals strategy for WagerWorks' Power Blackjack are the most straightforward of the three categories. Follow the strategy tips below and you'll never struggle with a hard hand again:
- With a hard total of 5-8, always take a hit.
- With a hard total of 9, use Power Double against a dealer 2-9. Otherwise, take a hit.
- With a hard total of 10, double down against a dealer 2-9, use Power Double against a dealer 9-10, and take a hit against a dealer Ace.
- With a hard total of 11, always double down.
- With a hard total of 12, always take a hit.
- With a hard total of 13-14, stand against a dealer 3-6. Otherwise, take a hit.
- With a hard total of 15-16, stand against a dealer 2-6. Otherwise, take a hit.
- With a total of 17 and higher, always stand.
Soft totals require a more complex strategy, even more when playing WagerWorks' Power Blackjack because of the Power Double rule. We'll admit it - soft totals can already be a bit confusing. So long as you follow the tips below, you'll always make the most mathematically-appropriate game decision:
- With a soft total of 13-16, always take a hit.
- With a soft total of 17, double down against a dealer 6. Otherwise, take a hit.
- With a soft total of 18, take a hit against a dealer 9-Ace. Double down against a dealer 5 or 6. Otherwise, stand.
- With a soft total of 19 or 20, use Power Double against a dealer 2-9. Otherwise, stand.
- With a soft total of 21, always stand.
Because of the special rules available on WagerWorks' Power Blackjack, you have to treat certain combinations of cards as pairs that would not normally be. Notice the listing for 5, 10 – that's considered a pair because of the rule that any hard total of 15 can be split. Pairs are easy to deal with once you've taken some time to scan the strategy tips below:
- With a pair of 2s or 3s, split against a dealer 5-7. Otherwise, take a hit.
- With a pair of 4s, always take a hit.
- With a pair of 5s, double down against a dealer 2-8, use Power Double against a dealer 9 or 10, and take a hit against a dealer Ace.
- With a pair of 6s, split against a dealer 5 or 6. Otherwise, take a hit.
- With a pair of 7s, split against a dealer 3-7. Otherwise, take a hit.
- When holding 5, 10, take a hit against a dealer Ace. Otherwise, split.
- When holding 6, 9, take a hit against a dealer 10 or Ace. Otherwise, split.
- When holding 7, 8, take a hit against a dealer, 9-Ace. Otherwise, split.
- When holding 6, 10, take a hit against a dealer Ace. Otherwise, split.
- When holding 7, 9 or a pair of 8s, take a hit against a dealer 10 or Ace. Otherwise, split.
- With a pair of 9s, split against a dealer 4-6, 8, or 9. Otherwise, stand.
- With a pair of 10s, always stand.
- With a pair of aces, take a hit against a dealer ace. Otherwise, stand.
WagerWorks is best known as a provider of slot games, thanks to their ongoing relationship with IGT. Their iSlots and licensed games are among the best-reviewed online. Thanks to license deals with popular brands like Parker Brothers, Star Wars, and the Beatles, WagerWorks has made a name for itself creating games based on familiar characters and themes.
That doesn't apply to table games. You can't exactly license a blackjack game. It seems like the company spent extra time releasing a number of variants of blackjack to compensate for the fact that it is, after all, a pretty boring game for a designer. We appreciate the attempt at variety, even if most of the games are barely different from one another.
WagerWorks' use of Flash animation to create all their games makes them highly-adaptable, quick to respond, and easy to play. The company has a long history of legitimate operation in the online gambling business. Their licensing is impeccable, and their history of creating popular games can't be questioned. If you're an online blackjack fan, WagerWorks blackjack games are a must-try. Just make sure you research the house edge and other game rules before you play.