The Importance of the Hole Card in Blackjack

Many of the variations in rules for different games of blackjack determine how the hole card is played. Knowing what those differences are and how to anticipate and use them can help a player get a leg up on the dealer and win more blackjack games.

Face Up or Face Down

Most American style casinos play the hole card in one of two ways. Either the dealer is dealt both hole cards face down and the player has no idea what he or she is up against, or the dealer shows one card face up. If players have an option, they should almost always play versions where they get to see part of what the dealer already holds. If the dealer shows a face card, this can prompt a player to hit where he or she would have otherwise stood and lost.

No Hole Variations

In many European style casinos, players are all dealt their cards, but the dealer receives none. Only once the individual hand of each player is completed does the dealer receive his or her cards. This tactic gives the house a huge edge, and can cost the player a lot when it comes to informational advantages. Players should typically avoid this game unless the casino offers an artificially lowered house edge or higher payouts.

Of course if there's any way that players can engage the blackjack dealer with both hole cards revealed, that is the optimal game. Such games are rare though, and they often have other variations in the game's rules to balance out any advantage the player gains.