Lucky 9 @ Harrah’s Rincon
There’s a new game Lucky 9 at my nearby Harrah’s Rincon that’s a hybrid between baccarat and blackjack. It plays like simplified blackjack, where you can only hit once, and hand totals are between 0-9. Like blackjack, you start with two cards, and the dealer exposes their top card. Like baccarat, hand values are equal to the last digit of the sum of the cards. The best hand is a Lucky 9, which is a two card 9 without a face/ten. It ties a Natural 9 (two card 9 w/ face/ten), but otherwise pays 3:2. However, Lucky 9’s after splits only pay even-money, and push against all dealer 9’s. The house edge of the game is 1.18%.
Probably, the only point of playing this game would be to see how confused the dealer gets when resolving hands involving Lucky 9, especially after split, or against a dealer Natural 9. I’m sure they’ll probably let you hit some hands after splits too. And people will think you’re crazy for standing on 5’s and 6’s.
The rules for Lucky 9 are as follows:
- Bets are placed before the hand is dealt.
- Player and dealer each receive 2 cards; the dealer upcard is exposed.
- The player may split pairs (up to 3 times) by matching the initial wager. Split hands receive only one card.
- The player may hit any non-split hand once, or stand.
- After the players action is complete, the dealer turns up his hole card.
- The dealer hits once on totals of less than 5.
- A non-split Lucky 9 (2-card 9 w/o 0-value card) pays 3:2, except for pushes against a dealer 2-card 9.
- A dealer Lucky 9 beats a player 3-card 9.
- All other player 9’s vs. dealer 9’s push.
- The player automatically loses with a total of 0, 1, or 2.
- Otherwise, wagers are resolved by comparing hand point totals.
I put the rules into my blackjack analyzer, and came up with a house edge of 1.18%, and the following auto-generated strategy:
The EORs for the game are extremely low compared to blackjack. There’s no value in counting this game.
Lucky 9 Bonus
The Lucky 9 Bonus is a side bet on your first 2 cards and the dealer upcard. The bet pays for various 3-card totals of 9, as listed in the paytable below. The house edge for this side bet is 13.1%. The EORs (sensitivities to card removal) are too low, and the initial house edge is too high, to make the side bet very countable. An ideal counter (using perfect knowledge of shoe composition) will find +EV betting opportunities about 2.7% of the time, with an average +10.8% EV/bet.
|Suited 9 Total||30||70,144||0.005888||0.176653|
|Other 9 Total||5||1,070,592||0.089874||0.449369|