Discount Gambling

Push Your Luck Blackjack Side Bet

Posted in blackjack sidebets by stephenhow on December 20, 2012

pyl-thumbnailI came across the Push Your Luck (PYL) blackjack sidebet yesterday (while browsing, not IRL), and I wondered if it was exploitable in any way. PYL is a simple side bet. You make the bet before you start your blackjack hand, and if you end up pushing your main bet, you win 10:1 on the side bet. The max bet is 1/2 your main bet, and its usually limited to $25.

PYL has been out there for a while, but it’s new to me. It’s pretty simple to code up in my analyzer, which finds the optimal play for the combined (main + side) bet. I don’t know why, but I always expect these bets to be +EV, or somehow exploitable. I’m kind of optimistic that way.

Well, I was very surprised to find the house edge of the side bet is very low. Even when you max the side bet (@ 1/2 your main bet), the house edge of the combined (main + side) bet is only 0.76% for a 6 deck game with good rules (DAS, SP4, SPA4, H17). That’s like a cost of 0.25%, and you’re getting 10:1 odds! Here’s the auto-generated strategy table:

Push Your Luck (PYL) Max Bet Basic Strategy
Hand Dealer Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
Soft Totals
soft 21 S S S S S S S S S S
soft 20 S S S S S S S S S S
soft 19 S S S S S S S S S S
soft 18 S S S S S S S H S S
soft 17 S S S S D S H H H H
soft 16 H H H D D H H H H H
soft 15 H H H H D H H H H H
soft 14 H H H H H H H H H H
soft 13 H H H H H H H H H H
Hard Totals
hard 20 S S S S S S S S S S
hard 19 S S S S S S S S S S
hard 18 S S S S S S S S S S
hard 17 S S S S S S S S S S
hard 16 H H S S S H H H H H
hard 15 H H H H S H H H H H
hard 14 H H H H H H H H H H
hard 13 H H H H H H H H H H
hard 12 H H H H H H H H H H
hard 11 D D D D D D H H H H
hard 10 D D D D D H H H H H
hard 9 H H H D D H H H H H
hard 8 H H H H H H H H H H
hard 7 H H H H H H H H H H
hard 6 H H H H H H H H H H
hard 5 H H H H H H H H H H
Pairs
A-A P P P P P P P P P P
10-10 S S S S S S S S S S
9-9 S S S S S S S P S S
8-8 P P P P P P P P P P
7-7 P P P P P P P P P H
6-6 P P P P P P H H H H
5-5 D D D D D D H H H H
4-4 H H H H H H H H H H
3-3 P P P P P P P H H H
2-2 P P P P P P P H H H

With a max PYL bet, the game gets a little wild where you’re hitting the majority of your under-17 hands, even against low dealer upcards. People must have a fit at this game. But it looks kind of fun, because you’re trying to get a nice 10:1 payout. It’s a good reason to play crazy.

I thought with such a low house edge, and with a 10-to-1 multiplier, the game would be easily countable. However, the EORs are pretty tame, and are very similar to standard blackjack:

Max Bet Push Your Luck (PSL) EORs
Card EOR
Deuce +0.076%
Trey +0.069%
Four +0.056%
Five +0.082%
Six +0.122%
Seven -0.066%
Eight -0.057%
Nine -0.008%
Ten/Face -0.031%
Ace -0.142%

You’ll probably need the proper index plays for (not) hitting your under-17 hands on +EV counts. I looked at the strategy for a small +EV count, and the borderline decisions shift towards standard plays. If I get around to learning the lingo for index plays, I’ll post them here for PYL.

3 Responses

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  1. Ardent1 said, on December 22, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    At high TC, you push a lot with the dealer, especially in single and double deck. Anytime the deck is ten’s rich (assuming you are using an Ace-side count like Linux or Adv Omega 2), you are practically push 20’s.

    • stephenhow said, on December 25, 2012 at 10:32 am

      The hybrid (main + 1/2 PYL) game for double deck has a return of -1.27%, as PYL is a little harder with fewer decks. The EORs are similar to standard BJ, so you’d be better off counting for the main game than the hybrid.

      Also, note that the Ten/Face EOR for the hybrid game is very low. The count for the hybrid probably won’t correlate well with the main BJ counts. Some side bets have great correlation with the KO count (e.g., Bust Me Blackjack, Lucky Ladies). Some side bets have no usable correlation with the KO count (e.g., Bust It Blackjack). You have to run all the numbers to find out.

  2. Joe said, on December 26, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Palazzo/Venetian use 8 deck shoes I think


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