***Updated: November 18, 2018***
AMAYA began in a suburban Montréal industrial park manufacturing software for electronic poker tables. The company spread its expertise across other gaming products, but founder David Baazov had a vision to grow through acquisition. So into the fold came Cadillac Jack, who built slot machines in Strato cabinets that tickled ceilings at more than eight feet in height.
Then Diamond Game Enterprises with its casino and lottery games came on board. After that, CryptoLogic was acquired with its more than 300 online casino games, which had been started by brothers Mark and Andrew Rivkin in their suburban Toronto house in 1994. Finally, Chartwell Technology was brought into the fold, which was yet another provider of gambling software.
In August of 2017 they changed their name from AMAYA to The Stars Group to reflect their new “star” business acquisition and also to distance themselves from the tarnished brand that Baazov soiled.
In 2014, AMAYA Technology bought a seat at the table with the industry’s biggest players when it shelled out $4.9 billion to acquire PokerStars, which was the world’s most popular poker website at the time. Cryptologic was subsequently sold off but AMAYA powered over 125 online casinos, supporting mostly English-speaking clientele.
However, once they had their toes on American soil they were taken to court by Kentucky and ordered them to dish out $870,000,000 in fines to replace the poker losses of the state’s citizens who had played on the website in years previous. This was a landmark decision unlike any the gambling industry had ever seen.
CEO David Baazov was ultimately charged by Canadian lawmakers with numerous securities offenses, including tipping off family members on when to sell stocks. He eventually resigned in disgrace and hasn’t been associated with the company since.
AMAYA was an industry innovator that was first to market with Flash-based games, instant games and many more technological advancements. However, as others built onto their ideas, AMAYA games began to lag behind and look a bit clunky and stale.
That all changed with the acquisition of CryptoLogic, who always pursued an uncluttered, user-friendly presentation, and was also an early developer of video slots.
CryptoLogic also jumped into the third-party branding of slot games much earlier than most of the others in the industry. That paid off handsomely thanks to marketing arrangements with blockbuster movies like Forrest Gump, King Kong, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The company’s biggest coup to date has been exclusive rights to the superheroes of DC Comics such as Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and others.
In addition, all of the usual table games are on the menu at a website using AMAYA software, including uncommon offerings such as Let It Ride, Casino War, and Crazy 4 Poker. They of course have roulette, craps, and the like.
AMAYA was certainly original back in the innovative days of online gaming but that did not necessarily breed excitement. However, dealing from the CryptoLogic catalog has enabled the company’s licensees to deliver the same sparkling graphics, life-like animation, and attention-grabbing sound effects of its bigger competitors.
AMAYA offers its licensees a generous selection of blackjack variations, starting with a basic game and piling on different versions from there, so you’ll have no shortage of options to choose from. Here is the list of their best blackjack games currently offered at various websites around the world.
- Blackjack Single Deck: The AMAYA single-deck game permits playing up to three hands at a time. With shuffling after every hand the house edge is only 0.26%, which is a great value for players.
- European Blackjack: The dealer does not take a hole card in this six-deck game, and five hands can be played at once. The house edge is 0.52%.
- Vegas Blackjack: Players can take action on up to five hands from a four-deck shoe with a House Edge of the standard 0.40%. As is obvious by its name, this particular version of online blackjack is the closest one to what you will find in the brick and mortar casinos of Las Vegas.
- Atlantic City Blackjack: Nothing is normal in Atlantic City and the game that bares its name is of course going to have something a little special about it. This version is dealt from eight decks, with a House Edge of 0.49%.
- Lucky 7 Blackjack: The same rules are in effect as the Atlantic City variation and the House Edge is also 0.49%. The casino makes its real profit on the “lucky seven” side bet.
- Blackjack Micro Limit: AMAYA throws a boat-load of rules into this game, both good and bad for the player. The give-and-take averages out to a 0.46% House advantage.
- Blackjack Perfect Pairs: This five-deck blackjack game allows side bets on the first two dealt cards matching up. The rules give the House an edge of 0.55% and the side bet puts the player at about an 8% disadvantage, which is obviously quite large.
Live Dealer Blackjack
The AMAYA live casino feed broadcasts 24/7 from their dealing studios in Estonia. The high quality stream provides grid, video and dealer views of the lobby. The game is dealt from eight decks to a seven-seat table, with a shuffle about halfway through the shoe.
Players can lock in their decisions before it’s their turn so that the real-time play moves quickly and players can take action on multiple tables. Wait list alerts are available and if all of the tables are full you can get in on the bet-behind action on other players’ hands.
Practice Blackjack at AMAYA Casinos
Players can usually test all of the AMAYA blackjack games for free on the website of their various partners and occasionally you can even take their live deal product out for a test drive. In addition to rules and game play, you can also find auto-strategy advice and audio play-by-play, which is a great way to practice and improve your skills.