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All You Need to Know About the 5-Card Charlie Rule in Blackjack

Staff Writer 01/11/2021 Blog 1,017 views

Originating from home blackjack games, this is not a blackjack rule you’ll find in just any casino. In fact, most people don’t truly believe the rule applies in casinos, online or otherwise. There’s some truth to that – most casino blackjack games don’t allow for 5-Card Charlie. When they do, though, the table rules will usually state so clearly. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though.

5-Card Charlie is a special blackjack rule according to which a player automatically wins if they draw 5 cards without reaching 21. There are some variations, mind you, but that’s the gist.

What is 5-Card Charlie?

According to this rule, drawing 5 cards results in a win regardless of what the rest of the hand shows. There are many ways in which people refer to this rule – the 5-card rule being another big one.

When it comes to blackjack in casinos, most serious players believe the rule is a myth. There’s some truth to that – especially if we only look at land-based casinos. After all, this is generally a homebrewed rule used when people play blackjack at home. If you asked us what 5-Card Charlie is 5 years ago, we probably would have said the same.

As we all know, though, the development of online blackjack brought a lot of innovation to the table. One of these is that 5-Card Charlie started appearing in some online blackjack games. It’s an overall player-friendly rule, so this is largely a good thing. Online Blackjack with 5-card Charlie has a slightly smaller house edge, which translates to better RTP.

6-card Charlie in Blackjack

That said, most instances we’ve seen so far actually use 6-Card Charlie. What is 6-Card Charlie, you ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like – drawing 6 cards without reaching 21 results in a  player win. Conversely, a 7-Card Charlie ruleset would do the same at 7 cards.

However, the difference between the three is substantial. The chances of drawing 5, 6, or 7 cards without reaching 21 are 50:1, 400:1, and 4,600:1 respectively. However, most times the payout is even money, sometimes reaching 2:1.

Even money at odds of 50:1 sounds horrible on paper, obviously. However, you need to remember that this rule doesn’t affect the rest of the game in any way. That’s why the rule is so player-friendly. There are no downsides at all to 5 or 6-Card Charlie, which is also why most casinos don’t use them.

If you’re looking for online blackjack with 6-card Charlie, Infinite Blackjack by Evolution is a great example. It’s a variant of common draw blackjack which uses the 6-Card Charlie at odds of 1:1.

Importantly, all blackjack games with 5-Card Charlie or similar rules explicitly state that the rule applies. In other words, if you don’t see the rule mentioned on the table or the info panel, it probably isn’t used.

Does 5-Card Charlie apply to the dealer?

Strangely enough, it does, though this again depends on the table rules. First of all, this is only possible for vegas-style blackjack. Secondly, it’s even more unlikely to happen because most dealers stand on 17. We’ve never seen it happen, in fact, but it’s entirely possible.

Does 5-Card charlie beat dealer 21?

It depends. By and large, no – a 5-Card Charlie win does not outrank a dealer 21. The one exception is when the player’s hand also totals 21, in which case the hand pushes.

This also means 5-Card Charlie does not beat a dealer blackjack either. Of course, the dealer checks for blackjack at the start, so this can’t happen in most games anyway. Exceptions, however, include Vegas-style rules or something like the Common Draw Blackjack mentioned above.

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