Discount Gambling

House Money BJ Side Bet @ Pala Casino

Posted in blackjack sidebets by stephenhow on August 28, 2012

Hooray, another game that I did the math for hits the floor! House Money is a blackjack side bet created by Roger Snow of ShuffleMaster. It’s unique because it allows the player to cap his main blackjack bet with his side bet winnings. The side bet pays when your first two cards make a pair, straight, or straight flush. So, if you’re dealt a suited A-K, the side bet pays 9:1. You always have the option of taking the proceeds (10 units in this case), and adding it to your main blackjack bet. In this case, your BJ nets you a profit of (3:2)(10) + 9 = 24 units on the side bet. (If this reads too much like a paid advertisement, skip to the section on counting for this bet.)

For a 6-deck shoe game with good rules, and the correct capping strategy, the house edge for this side bet is only 2.6%. The basic strategy of when to cap your main bet with your side bet proceeds is presented below.

The game is currently available at my nearby Pala Casino, the Siena in Reno, and the Drift On Inn in WA.


The rules for the House Money side bet are as follows:

  • The player makes the optional side bet wager before the hand is dealt.
  • The side bet pays for the initial 2-card player hands according to the paytable below.
  • The player has the late (after dealer peeks for BJ) option of capping his main blackjack bet with an amount up to the entire side bet proceeds.
  • The player completes the main hand following normal blackjack rules.
2-Card Hand Paytable
Hand Payout
AK suited 9-to-1
Straight Flush 4-to-1
Pair 3-to-1
Straight 1-to-1
Nothing lose

Basic Strategy

The table below tells you when you should cap your main bet with the winning proceeds of your side bet. “Y” means to cap the bet with the proceeds, because the EV of the hand (after the dealer peeks for BJ) is positive. “N” means not to cap the bet, but just to collect your winnings, because the post-peek EV of the hand is negative. After the capping decision, play your hand according to blackjack basic strategy.

Capping Strategy for House Money Blackjack Sidebet
Hand Dealer Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
Straights and Straight Flushes
T9 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
98, 87, 76 N N N N N N N N N N
65 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
54 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N
43 N N N Y Y N N N N N
32 N N N N Y N N N N N
A2 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N
10-10 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
9-9 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N
8-8 Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
7-7 N N Y Y Y N N N N N
6-6 N N Y Y Y N N N N N
5-5 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
4-4 N Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
3-3 N N Y Y Y N N N N N
2-2 N N Y Y Y Y N N N N


This side bet is only slightly countable, using the counting coefficients (2 => +1, 3 => +1, 4 => +1, 5 => 0, 6 => 1, 7 => 1, 8 => 1, 9 => 1, T => -1, J => -1, Q => -1, K => -2, A => -2) and a true count threshold of 3.1. From a 6-deck shoe with 1 deck behind cut card, you’ll have +EV betting opportunities about 13.4% of the time, with an average edge of +3.4%/bet. So betting $25 when the count is good will yield a profit rate (13.4%)($25)(+3.4%) = $0.11/hand. At 100 hands per hour, this yields $11/hr, which isn’t worth anyone’s time or effort.

16 Responses

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  1. Agatha said, on August 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    what are the table limits for this side bet?

    • stephenhow said, on August 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Probably $25 max, but I haven’t stopped by Pala yet. If someone bets $25, hits a suited AK, then they’d win (24 units)($25) = $600. They’d pay that.

  2. vgMega said, on September 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Pala table limits are min $5-$100

    • vgMega said, on September 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      On a side note: Steve have you seen the other new game at Pala: Raise it Up Stud.

  3. Ardent1 said, on September 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    They have side bet for a Double Deck

    • vgMega said, on September 27, 2012 at 1:35 am

      There are no side bets on Double Deck at Pala. House money is only on shoe games. Continuous shufflers have the Pala Pairs side bet.

      • Ardent1 said, on September 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm

        I never stated the name of this casino with a double deck game with this side bet. Information is a valuable commodity and is something I will share with SH in private. The problem with a double deck game is bet spread during a high count. This side bet sidesteps the traditional bet ramp.

        Good luck.

      • stephenhow said, on September 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm

        I just looked into counting HM on a DD game. The problem is that the basic house edge goes up to 4.9% with the same 9-4-3-1 paytable. That’s because the frequency of winners goes down when the number of decks goes from 6 down to 2. So you can use {2 thru 9 => +1, T/J/Q => -1, K => -3, A => -2}, and bet when the true count goes above 7.0, but you’ll only get 12.0% betting opportunities with an average edge of +4.6%. That only amounts to $14/hr @ ($25/bet)(100 hands/hr).

  4. scott allen said, on November 22, 2012 at 2:03 am

    Pala now has House Money on single deck 5-500 and 10-1000 games. Min is 5 for House Money and not sure of Max for that bet.

  5. Dan Lubin said, on December 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

    House Money went live at Stations properties in Las Vegas, 11/30/12.

  6. GregB said, on March 12, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Doesn’t your analysis ignore the effect of the bj bet on the return?

    • stephenhow said, on March 12, 2013 at 11:36 am

      The main and side bets should be separable. You don’t (shouldn’t) change your strategy on playing the hand, so the main bj bet returns as normal. The side bet is calculated with the optimal parlay decision on the main bet. I used standard-good rules in calculating the house edge of the side bet.

  7. GregB said, on March 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

    So you extracted the .3 or whatever for the $25 main bet? Sorry if I’m being dense.

  8. Bence said, on August 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    We have House Money in Hungary too. The minimum bet is the table minimum, the maximum is 10% the table maximum.

  9. Jay said, on December 10, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    What happens if the dealer shows an Ace and I have AK suited? Can I take even money? If so, do they pay me right away and leave my cards out, then come back and pay my House Money bet, or do they pay the House Money bet first and lock up my cards?

  10. scrooge mcduck said, on October 29, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    The count for this is pretty similar to hi-lo, so instead of doing a separate side count why not just use hi-lo? What would be the hi-lo index for making this bet?

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