Blackjack Variations: Panamanian Blackjack

Panamanian Blackjack isn’t one of those variants you are going to run across very often, unless you happen to be at brick and mortar casino in Panama City, Panama. This version of blackjack has some very generous rules for all players, bringing the house edge to as low as 0.12% with a basic strategy.

The actual house edge varies from 0.12% to 0.14%, depending on how the casino handles the shuffling of the cards. Panamanian Blackjack games utilize 6 decks of cards, and they will either be continuously shuffled with each new hand, or dealt from a shoe. Continuous shuffling might sound like a negative thing, since card counting is eliminated from the tactical regime; however it creates the lowest house edge of 0.12%. When dealing from a shoe, the house edge is 0.14%, without the use of card counting skills.

Variations in the rules of Panamanian Blackjack include the following:

-Panamanian Blackjack is played with 6 standard 52-card decks. They may be dealt from an entire shoe, or continuously shuffled.

-A player can double down on any two cards, regardless of their sum. Players may also double down on any three cards provided the current total is 9, 10 or 11. Doubling is permitted before or after splitting a hand. To double down, the player will add an additional bet to the hand, equal to its original wager.

-A player may split any exact pair, including aces. Same valued cards may not be split if they are not exact pairs (i.e. Q+Q can be split, but Q+J cannot). When splitting Aces, a player may take as many cards on the new hand as he wishes. Split Aces that receive a 10 or Face Card will not result in a natural blackjack, just a normal hand of 21. To split, the player must place an additional wager, equal to the first, on the new hand.

-Early Surrender is a valid rule, so long as the dealer is not showing an Ace. To surrender early is to fold the hand, forfeiting only half of the bet. This can only be done before a player hits, doubles or splits their hand.

-The dealer will accord to the following rules: The dealer is required to hit any hand total of 16 or below. The dealer will stand on a Hard 17 or any higher total, but will hit a Soft 17 (any hand of 17 with an Ace valued at 11).

-Panamanian Blackjack is not a hole card game. The dealer will only have one card to begin the hand. This card is dealt face up for all players to see. The dealer will offer optional insurance bets if this card is a 10, Face Card or Ace, but will not peek for blackjack since he does not yet have a second card. The dealer’s second card is dealt once all players have finished developing their hands.

-Due to the no-peek rule, players have the option to double down and split before finding out if the dealer makes blackjack. Fortunately, if the dealer ends with a blackjack, any player who has doubled or split will only lose their original bet. All additional wagers are returned. Insurance bets are also paid at 2 to 1 if the dealer has blackjack, or lost if the dealer does not have blackjack.

Panamanian Blackjack Pay Table
Natural Blackjack Pays 3 to 2
Insurance Pays 2 to 1
Beating the Dealer Pays 1 to 1