Posts Tagged ‘side bets’

Former UNLV Star Invents Blackjack Game

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Bobby Florence has reinvented himself again, this time as the inventor of a new blackjack game. Florence was a star basketball player at UNLV and ranks 11th on the team’s list of career scoring leaders. After his college days, Florence made money as a blackjack dealer at the Gold Coast casino.

As a dealer, Florence saw that most players lose money playing the game (due to the house edge). Prompted by a second chance at life after surviving a massive stroke, Florence decided to create a more player-friendly game of blackjack that will appeal to players. “With my game, I feel players have a better chance,” he said. No house edge or other statistics were provided for Florence’s game.

Florence’s game is called Royal 20’s and you can find it at two different blackjack tables at the Gold Coast Casino. Florence created the game in 2010 and says that it is similar to combining blackjack with poker, where you can win even with bad hands. Florence compared it to being able to “win hands on the river” in poker.

After the player makes the first wager, they can then make a side bet ranging from $1 to $25. That bet is based solely on probability of drawing cards and pays out for player cards and dealer cards. The lowest payout for the side bet is a 5:1 payout if either the dealer or the player has a Royal 20. A Royal 20 is a hand that uses a combination of face cards (jack, queen, king) to make a total of 20. There is a 10:1 payout if either the player or dealer has Matching 20’s. That is a hand comprised of two face cards of the same suit, such as king of hearts and a queen of hearts.

The two big payouts require something of both the dealer and player. There is a 50:1 payout if both the dealer and player have a Royal 20. If both have Matching 20’s, there is a 100:1 payout.

So far, the game is only available at that one Las Vegas casino, but it has only been there for two months. In time, if the game is popular and/or popular, it could start appearing at other casinos across Vegas and the rest of the country.

Blackjack tips: stay away from side bets

Monday, September 20th, 2010

On this blog I have covered a number of popular blackjack variations, including perfect pairs, double exposure and more. Many of the blackjack variations are different because of a side bet that is offered. While many people like playing these games and enjoy the extra risk and challenge of the side bets, there is something you should remember: Side bets always have a higher house edge than the regular game. By sticking to blackjack basic strategy, the regular game of blackjack has a house edge of 0.5%. The side bets in any blackjack variant are going to be considerably higher than that. Therefore, the best strategy for your bankroll is to avoid side bets and stick to the regular game. Some other blackjack experts take that a step farther and say that side bets are “sucker bets.” I’ll be nicer and say that they don’t have good odds.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at two of the more popular blackjack side bets – perfect pairs and triple sevens – as examples. Perfect Pairs is a popular blackjack variation where at any time a player can bet that their first two cards will be a pair. If they bet on a pair and get one, they can earn a payout anywhere from 5 to 1 to 30 to 1, depending on the type of pair. You can have a mixed pair, a colored pair or a perfect pair in this side bet.

While those payouts may be enticing, the odds are not on your side. While the regular blackjack game has a 0.5% house edge with basic strategy, the perfect pairs side bet has a house edge from 3.37% to 7.95% with 8 decks. If it is a 2-deck game, the side bet has a house edge up to a ridiculous 26.2%. In case you’re thinking you can gain an advantage in this side bet by counting cards, keep in mind that in order to gain an advantage you would have to at least eliminate every card of one rank. That means keeping 13 different counts. Maybe Rain Man could do that, but can you? Also, if you’re playing online blackjack, card counting doesn’t work.

Lucky Sevens is another popular side bet, where you are paid 5 to 1 if your first card is a seven, 25 to 1 if your first two cards are unsuited sevens, 50 to 1 if your first two cards are suited sevens, 250 to 1 if your first 3 cards are unsuited sevens, 1000 to 1 if your first 3 cards are suited sevens and 41,227 to 1 if your first 3 cards are all diamond sevens. That side bet can be enticing because of those rather large payouts, but just like with the lottery, keno, roulette and more, the bigger the potential payout, the less likely an event is to happen. Those bets have a low probability of coming through for you. Even the most likely bet, getting a seven on your first card, has only a 7.1% chance of happening. Those two unsuited sevens only have a .04% chance of happening. The two suited sevens? That has a 0.11% probability.

What all of this means is that the experts are right. Side bets are not wise bets. Of course, neither is playing the lottery, and millions of people do that every day. If you happen to win it will be one of the greatest decisions of your life, but it’s definitely not the wise bet because you are most likely to be throwing your money away.

Insurance Against a Blackjack

Monday, December 28th, 2009

When people first learn to play blackjack and are taught the basics, they are usually not taught about insurance. Not all casinos offer insurance. For those that do, when the dealer’s upcard is an ace, they will offer the players insurance. That is because, by showing an ace, they have a good chance of having a blackjack, which would be achieved with an ace and any card with a value of ten. Before the dealer checks his hole card to see if he has a blackjack, he may offer you insurance against the blackjack, which he does out of the kindness of his heart.

Just kidding. He does so to make more money for the house. For this example, I’ll talk about insurance where your original bet is $10. Insurance pays 2 to 1. Since insurance costs half of your original bet, you would pay $5 for insurance in the hopes of not losing all $10. If you and the dealer both have blackjacks, you win $10 (2 to 1 payout) on the insurance and tie on your original bet. Therefore, it is a net gain of $10. If you have a blackjack and the dealer does not, you lose $5 on insurance and win $15 on your original bet, which is a net gain of $10. If the dealer has a blackjack and you don’t, you win $10 on insurance and lose your original $10 bet. The result is a push. If neither you nor the dealer has a blackjack and you win the hand, you lose the $5 insurance bet but win $10 on your original bet, which is a net gain of $5. If neither you nor the dealer has a blackjack and you lose the hand, you lose the $5 insurance and your $10 original bet, which is a net loss of $15. Lastly, if neither you nor the dealer has a blackjack and you tie the hand, you lose $5 on insurance and tie the original bet, for a $5 net loss.

All of this may make insurance sound like a good deal. After all, you have more ways of coming out ahead than losing. Besides, without taking insurance, a dealer blackjack means you either lose or push. Be that as it may, insurance is a sucker’s bet. Since a 10 and all face cards have a value of 10, there is a better chance that the hole card has a value of 10 than any other value. But that is where people get tricked. Yes, the hole card has a better chance of being a 10 than a 7, 5, 2, or 9  for example, but it does not have a better chance of being a 10 than of being anywhere in the range of 1 through 9.

Boiled down to its simplest point, taking insurance is betting half of your original wager that the dealer’s hole card has a value of 10. There are 13 different cards in a deck and 4 of them have a value of 10. That means that there are 9 to 4 odds against that hole card having a value of 10. That ratio doesn’t change no matter how many decks are in play. Therefore, the only time it would be good strategy to take insurance on a blackjack is if you are counting cards and have determined enough 10-value cards are remaining that the odds are in the favor of the dealer having a 10-value hole card.

Unless you’re counting cards and are confident that the hold card has a value of 10, you should decline insurance. The house edge of playing out your hand is lower than on the insurance bet.