This Italian card game slots somewhere in between blackjack and baccarat, and is thought to have been the inspiration behind the game we now call blackjack.
There is an RNG based variant of the game but the live version plays by a specific set of rules, using a single deck of cards with the 8s, 9s, and 10s removed leaving 40 cards in play. This is because the target value of a hand is 7 ½ instead of the 21 we aim for in blackjack.
Face cards are worth that ½ point.
This game is brought to you by Playtech, who also developed the RNG based version named 7 e Mezzo, and can be played for as little as £1 per hand and as much as £500 per hand. Oh, and the dealer’s speak in Italian!
How to Play Sette e Mezzo
Since the rules and gameplay are a little different to blackjack, it would be beneficial to run through an example hand to gain a broad overview of how the game is played, before looking at some of the rules in more depth.
Don’t be distracted by the fact that there are two people at the table, one is the dealer and the other reshuffles the shoe between games. Two shoes are used with one being reshuffled while the other is in play, and this keeps the action flowing.
Here we have been dealt a 7 straight off the bat. That’s a strong hand and it is up to the dealer to beat it. The dealer must draw until they hit 5 or above when they must stand, and on this occasion they reached 5 ½ which means they stand, and lose to our hand of 7 as you can see below.
That is the end of the round. The games move much more quickly than blackjack as you can tell, and can also go in a few different directions too, so let’s look at a second example hand.
We now have been dealt a 5 and the dealer has a 1. The dealer must draw until they hit 5, so although it might seem a little risky we hit and take another card.
We get a face card giving us a hand value of 5 ½ which is a stroke of luck. This is because hand values under 5 ½ lose if the dealer gets the same. So if we tied and both had hands worth 5 our bet would be lost, whereas matching hands of 5 ½ or above result in a push.
As you can see, the dealer draws four more cards amassing a hand value of 5, on which they must stand. This means that our hand of 5 ½ wins it by a nose.
We have covered some of the rules in our example games, and you can see the card values in the image on the right, but another key difference between this version of Sette e Mezzo and blackjack is that the player automatically draws until their hand beats the dealer’s.
The player is also automatically drawn a second card if their first is a face card: one with a value of ½ a point.
Some players may be a little taken aback by the amount of automatic dealing that goes on, but it makes sense when you think about it – the only time it happens is when your hand would lose you the game anyway.
It does mean though that the player has less interaction with the game since some hands can play out without them ever having to make a decision.
Here are the rules in brief:
- Dealer must draw until they hit 5 or higher.
- Dealer must stand on 5 or above.
- A tie will push on 5 ½ or higher.
- Ties on 5 or lower will lose.
- King of Coins is wild.
- Sette e Mezzo beats 7 ½.
The King of Coins is worth touching on again. This card is wild and will be worth any value that gets you as close to 7 ½ as possible. If you had a 5 and were dealt the King of Coins it would therefore stand in as a 2 to give you 7.
The King of Coins will also get you a payout of 3:2 instead of 1:1 if it is part of a winning hand totalling 7 ½ (Sette e Mezzo) – so it is the most valuable card on the table.
There is no opportunity to split, double, or take insurance.
Partita Perfetta is more or less the same as Perfect Pairs and Mano di Poker is very similar to the 21+3 side bet, although due to the difference in the number of cards dealt they aren’t exactly the same.
The Partita Perfetta bet applies to your first card and the dealer’s first card so it will lose unless you get to the point in the game where the dealer turns over their up card; i.e if you go bust.
Here are the payouts:
|Pair 1 to 6||5:1|
|Pair of Face Cards||10:1|
|Pair of 7s||55:1|
The Mano di Poker side bet can win even if your hand loses, but it does require you to hit at least once as it takes into account the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s first one.
Payouts for this bet are as follows:
|Any 3 of a Kind||50:1|
This live game carries a theoretical return to player percentage of 99.31% so it has a slightly bigger house edge than blackjack.
The side games have the same RTP’s as they do in the RNG version of the game which you can read about here – Partita Perfetta: 96.15% and Mano di Poker: 96.32%.
The game was first documented as being played back in the 17th century, in Italy, although it was also played in Spain and Brazil amongst other places.
It is closely related to the French game, Quinze, and both are said to have been influences on the modern game of blackjack.
Sette e Mezzo is seen as a traditional game in Italy, and is still often played by families around Christmas time and during the holidays.