Discount Gambling

Lucky Stiff BJ Side Bet @ 7 Cedars, WA

Posted in blackjack sidebets by stephenhow on May 28, 2013

luckystiffPaigow Dan told me about the new Lucky Stiff side bet his friend recently placed at the 7 Cedars Casino in WA. It looks fun, because you’re paid 5:1 when your initial 12-16 hard total ends up winning the main hand. Also, blackjack pays even-money on the side bet, and an initial pair of 8-8, 7-7, and 6-6 instantly wins 10:1. Anyways, I ran the bet through my BJ analyzer, to see if it was interesting in any way. I understand that 7 Cedars lets you bet $5 on the main hand, and up to $25 on the side bet. So I ran the analysis for a 5:1 side-to-main ratio on a 6-deck, H17, SP4, SPA4 game. The return showed a house edge of 3.5% of the combined (main+side) wager. The optimal strategy for the 5:1 side-to-main ratio only has a few differences with 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 D S S S S S
soft 18 D D D D D S S H H H
soft 17 H D D D D H H H H H
soft 16 H H D D D H H H H H
soft 15 H H D D D H H H H H
soft 14 H H H D D H H H H H
soft 13 H H H D D 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 S S S S S H H H S H
hard 15 S S S S S H H H S H
hard 14 S S S S S H H H H H
hard 13 S S S S S H H H H H
hard 12 H S S S S H H H H H
hard 11 D D D D D D D D D D
hard 10 D D D D D D D D H H
hard 9 H D D 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
10-10 S S S S S S S S S S
9-9 P P P P P S P P S S
8-8 P P P P P P P P P P
7-7 P P P P P P H H H H
6-6 P P P P P H H H H H
5-5 D D D D D D D D H H
4-4 H H H P P H H H H H
3-3 P P P P P P H H H H
2-2 P P P P P P H H H H

The EORs are fairly small for the 5:1 side-to-main ratio. They’re about only 1/3rd as effective as the EORs for a standard 6-deck shoe main game. So it’s not worth your time to count this side bet. For a single card removed in a 6-deck game, the EORs are as follows:

Lucky Stiff EORs (5:1 side-to-main ratio, 6 decks)
Card Removed Return EOR
None 3.5009%
Ace 3.1324% 0.3685%
Deuce 3.3055% 0.1954%
Trey 3.3723% 0.1285%
Four 3.4423% 0.0585%
Five 3.5247% -0.0238%
Six 4.0443% -0.5434%
Seven 3.7864% -0.2856%
Eight 3.7654% -0.2845%
Nine 3.3903% 0.1106%
Ten/Face 3.4194% 0.0815%

This bet looks like fun. If you bet an equal main and side bet (1:1 side-to-main ratio), the house edge is 4.66% on the combined 2 unit bet (2.33% element-of-risk). That’s not too bad for a carnival-like odds. If you make a small side bet 1/5th of your main bet (e.g., a $1 side bet to a $5 main bet), then the house edge on the combined 1.2 unit bet is 1.38%. That’s not bad for a little bit of fun.

Suit’Em Up BJ Side Bet @ Venetian, LV

Posted in +EV, blackjack sidebets by stephenhow on May 16, 2013

I saw this blackjack side bet in the Venetian last month, and it looked pretty you-know-what. I forgot to post about it until now. I’m pretty sure they use 8-deck shoes at the Venetian.

Suit’Em Up BJ Side Bet (8 Decks)
Hand Combinations Frequency Payout Return
Suited Aces 112 0.001297 60 0.077850
Suited BJs 1,024 0.011863 10 0.118628
Suited Pairs 1,344 0.015570 5 0.077850
Suited 11’s 1,024 0.011863 3 0.035589
Other Suited 17,920 0.207560 2 0.415199
nothing 64,896 0.751807 -1 -0.751807
total 86,320 1.000000 -0.026691
Suit’Em Up EORs (8 Decks)
Removed Card EOR Balanced Count Unbalanced Count
Deuce +0.000767 +1 +1
Trey +0.000767 +1 +1
Four +0.000767 +1 +1
Five +0.000767 +1 +1
Six +0.000767 +1 +1
Seven +0.000767 +1 +1
Eight +0.000767 +1 +1
Nine +0.000767 +1 +1
Ten +0.000116 0 +1
Jack +0.000116 0 0
Queen +0.000116 0 0
King +0.000116 0 0
Ace -0.006601 -8 -8

Using the unbalanced taps, the bet is +EV for RC >= +34 (assuming two decks behind the cut card). This yields 16% betting opportunities, with an average edge of +2.8%/bet. The theoretical max (using full shoe composition, including suits) is 17% opportunities @ +3.0%/bet. It’s not worth much.

Bust Bonus BJ Side Bet

Posted in blackjack sidebets by stephenhow on May 14, 2013

BustBonus-BannerA reader pointed me out to Galaxy Gaming’s Bust Bonus blackjack side bet that the dealer will bust, which you make after seeing the dealer’s upcard. I figured I’d run the numbers to see if it was any good, or if it was countable. Well, it might be a fun bet on a few upcards, but it’s kind of expensive for the (offsuit) odds they offer.

Bust Bonus Side Bet (6 Decks)
Suited Bust
Offsuit Bust
No Bust
Suited Bust
Offsuit Bust
Ace* 0.002222 0.199059 0.798719 50 3 -0.090437
Deuce 0.008751 0.347909 0.643339 25 1 -0.076644
Trey 0.011524 0.365435 0.623042 15 1 -0.084754
Four 0.014574 0.383896 0.601530 10 1 -0.071892
Five 0.017883 0.401749 0.580368 5 1 -0.089206
Six 0.020844 0.418415 0.560741 3 1 -0.079793
Seven 0.011716 0.250219 0.738064 15 2 -0.061881
Nine 0.011602 0.217640 0.770758 20 2 -0.103441
Ten/Face* 0.012263 0.217975 0.769761 20 2 -0.088547

*Bust Bonus wagered after dealer peeks for blackjack.

The most countable bet is against a dealer 8 upcard. It has the lowest house edge (4.9%), and has high payouts for the 888o and 888s busts. The EORs are large, and a simple unbalanced count (Eight => -8, Nine, Ten/Face, Ace, Deuce, Trey, Four => +1; bet when running count >= +24) yields an average +7.5% edge/bet on 17.3% of the dealer 8 upcard hands. Of course, a dealer 8 only occurs on 1/13th of the hands, so it’s not a very practical bet. An ideal count (using total shoe composition including suits) yields a theoretical max return of +7.5% edge/bet on 1.6% of the dealt hands.

Sadly, the standard BJ counts (like the unbalanced Knockout count) don’t correlate with the EV of any of these bets, because unlike blackjack, the Ace hurts the Bust Bonus bet. (Ace rich shoe makes it harder to bust.)