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How to Play War Blackjack

War Blackjack is a variant that is nearly identical to the standard game. In fact, if you just want regular blackjack, all you must do is decline the War side bet that is part of the setup. It is not a required part of this game.

Players will notice a side bet on the table at War Blackjack. This works differently than any other one of its kind. That is because the War side bet can be parlayed into the standard bet made on the hand.

There is no strategy change for a regular blackjack hand without the side bet at a War Blackjack table. However, there are a few things to learn in terms of when to put a win on the side bet into action.

War Blackjack uses either six or eight decks, depending on the casino. Find out everything else you need to know below.

Differences Between War Blackjack and Traditional Blackjack

The difference between War Blackjack and the traditional version of the game is up to the player. If you do not make the War side bet, there is no difference at all. If you make the side bet, there is only one difference.

The War Blackjack side bet plays just as you would expect. It pits the player’s first card against the dealer’s up card. The highest card wins. The house wins ties.A difference between this game and the one kids play is that ace is low.

If the player wins the War Blackjack side bet, he or she has the option of using it to parlay the original bet.

This is the ONLY blackjack game that allows capping a bet like this.

How to Play War Blackjack

The first step in playing War Blackjack is making a wager. There is a standard bet in the big circle in front of the player. There is also a War side bet, which is optional. You must make a bet on the blackjack hand but do not have to place chips in the War circle.

Once the bets are established, every player and the dealer receive one card face up. This starts to the left of the dealer.

At this point, the War side bets are resolved. The highest card wins. Ace plays low. The dealer wins ties. Winning players have the option of parlaying the win on the regular bet.

Once the side bet is resolved, the players and dealer receive a second card. The dealer’s is placed face down.

If the dealer is showing an ace, insurance is offered. Players can bet the dealer has blackjack and get 2-1 if it happens. Even money is offered to players that are dealt a blackjack when there is a 3-2 payout. At a 6-5 table, this is not offered.

If the dealer has a 10 or face card showing, the hole card is checked to see if the house has a blackjack before doing anything else. If it does have blackjack, either with an ace or 10-value card, the hand ends. Insurance bets are paid. Players that have blackjack push. All others lose.

War Blackjack continues like a standard game. Players may hit, stand, or double down. If dealt a pair, split is also an option.

If you would like to draw a card, then hit. This is done by tapping the table. You may hit until you bust, which means going over 21. If you do not want a card, stand. Do this by waving your hand above the cards.

Double down requires an additional bet. It is equal to the amount of chips in the base wager, including any War side bet parlay. Place a chip stack next to the existing one to double down.

If dealt a pair, you may split. Do this by equaling the existing bet. The dealer will split your cards and place one new one on each hand. You may double down after splitting.

War Blackjack tables do not permit surrender. This is due to the possibility of a parlayed side bet.

Once all players act, it is time for the dealer to play. The hole card is exposed. If the dealer has 18 or higher, the house stands, and the hand ends.

War Blackjack Strategy

There are two strategies to learn in War Blackjack. One involves the side bet. The other is the traditional game. If you do not want to play the side bet, simply follow the second section.

How to Play War Blackjack Side Bet

If you choose to play the War Blackjack side bet, you should learn how to play a winner. If your card beats the dealer’s, you have the option of it going on top of your wager or removing it from action.

Never parlay if the dealer is showing an ace or a 10-value card.

If your winning card is five or lower, do not parlay.

If you have a six or higher,there’s a great way to remember when to parlay. If your card and the dealer’s card equal or beat 11, parlay. If they do not, then you do not parlay.

The only exception is to play an 8 against a dealer’s 2.

How to Play Standard War Blackjack Hand

This part of the blackjack game has a traditional strategy. It follows normal six- or eight-deck rules. The dealer hits soft 17. Surrender is not permitted.

For hard hands, the following rules apply. A hard hand is one that does not contain an ace or if the other cards total at least 11.

  • 4 through 8: Always hit
  • 9: Hit, except double down 3 through 6
  • 10: Double down against 2 through 9; otherwise, hit
  • 11: Always double down
  • 12: Stand against 4 through 6; otherwise, hit
  • 13 through 16: Stand against 2 through 6; otherwise, hit
  • 17 and higher: Always stand

Soft hands should be played as follows. A soft hand is one with an ace and one or more cards that total 9 or less.

  • Soft 13 and 14: Double down against 5 or 6; otherwise, hit
  • Soft 15 and 16: Double down against 4, 5, or 6; otherwise, hit
  • Soft 17: Double down against 3 through 6; otherwise, hit
  • Soft 18: Double down against 2 through 6; stand against 7 and 8; hit others
  • Soft 19: Double down against 6; otherwise, stand
  • Soft 20: Always stand

Players may split any pair. Here is the list of which ones to do that with.

  • 2s and 3s: Split against 2 through 7; otherwise, hit
  • 4s: Split against 5s ad 6s; otherwise, hit
  • 5s: Double down against 2 through 9; otherwise, hit and never split
  • 6s: Split against 2 through 6; otherwise, hit
  • 7s: Split against 2 through 7; otherwise, hit
  • 8s: Always split
  • 9s: Split against 2s through 6, 8, and 9; otherwise, stand
  • 10s: Always stand
  • Aces: Always split

We’ve produced a useful strategy guide to visually summarize all this information.

War Blackjack Strategy Chart

Where to Play War Blackjack

War Blackjack is only spread at live casinos. It is found in Downtown Las Vegas at The D and Plaza. Both tables pay 3-2 on a natural. It is also spread in the states of California, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

Our Pick

Our pick for War Blackjack is The D in Downtown Las Vegas.

This casino is in the middle of the Fremont Street Experience. The atmosphere is second to none. It is a big party in the table game pits at The D. Players will find War Blackjack with a $10 minimum bet there.


War Blackjack offers a fun side bet. It can add some variance to the game. Players that prefer to avoid that can just play regular blackjack at the table as the side bet is optional.

Always make sure that War Blackjack pays 3-2 on a natural. If it does not, keep walking.

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