Barona Casino is offering a new “promotion” called Perfect Pair blackjack. The various taglines are “The Best Blackjack in the U.S. is getting even better” and “Your odds have never been better”.
What it is, of course, is just another “bonus” sidebet that some players like, and the house loves. A quick analysis of the odds reveals:
By chance, I learned that the Ocean’s 11 cardroom offers a no-bust version of 21. As usual, I got myself worked up on the slim possibility that the game was better than intended, and set off to crack it. You can probably guess how the story ended. On the positive side, I improved my C++ programs to include a general BlackjackAnalyzer class, where you just subclass the Hand and DealerHand classes for any blackjack variation (just a few lines per rule). I also cleaned up some small bugs, and improved performance tremendously by making some small approximations. The analyzer returns the EV for the game in seconds, without simulation. Yay!
The bottom line is the No-Bust Blackjack yields a -0.18% edge for the bank, that is, before 1% house collection. So including collection, it has about twice the house edge as a typical 6-deck shoe game. See my O11 No-Bust BJ page for details and a basic strategy table. The game is characterized by a few different rules:
|Blackjack pays 6:5||-1.39%|
|3-card lower bust pushes||+1.22%|
|surrender at any time||+0.29%|
|double on any number of cards||+0.24%|
I spent a few days on the programs, but it was worth it. I’ll post them one day, to save others the effort of re-coding this common tool.