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Last Updated: August 5, 2015

Caribbean Blackjack

Introduction



I first saw Caribbean Blackjack at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas on August 1, 2015. It should not be confused with the Realtime Gaming blackjack variant Caribbean 21. The concept is that the player makes two blackjack bets and an optional poker-based side bet. Standard, but stingy, rules are followed on the blackjack bets. The twist is that the four initial player cards and the dealer's up card are used to determine the outcome of the Poker side bet.

I debated with myself whether to classify Caribbean Blackjack as a unique game or a blackjack side bet. In the end, I marginally decided to call it a unique game because the signage calls it "Caribbean Blackjack" and the element of making two blackjack bets per player changes the dynamic of the game somewhat.

Rules



Standard blackjack rules are followed with the following specifics.

  1. A single 52-card deck is used, which is shuffled after every round.
  2. Blackjack pays 6-5 (Oy!)
  3. Player may double on any two cards.
  4. Player may not double after a split.
  5. Player may re-split to four hands, except split aces get one card each.
  6. Surrender is not allowed.
  7. The Poker Bet pays according to the following table. The "Action Bonuses" refer to what the player and dealer will receive if another player gets a paying hand. To qualify for an Action Bonus, a $5 minimum bet is required on the Poker Bet.

Poker Bet Pay Table

Hand Pays to Player Action Bonus
to Player
Action Bonus
to Dealer
Royal flush 250 to 1 $250 $50
Straight flush 150 to 1 $100 $20
Four of a kind 50 to 1 $50 $10
Full house 25 to 1 $25 $5
Flush 7 to 1 $0 $0
Straight 4 to 1 $0 $0
Three of a kind 3 to 1 $0 $0
Two pair 2 to 1 $0 $0
Pair A-10 1 to 1 $0 $0
Pair 9-2 Push $0 $0


Basic Strategy



The following table shows the basic strategy for Caribbean Blackjack.

As a reminder, you can get the proper basic strategy for any standard set of blackjack rules with my blackjack strategy calculator.

House Edge



The house edge is 1.58%. If another casino should deal this game with a cut card, the house edge would jump to 1.70%.

Poker Side Bet



The following table shows the probability and return for each possible outcome of the Poker side bet. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 10.02%, before considering the Action Bonus.

Poker Side Bet

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal flush 250 4 0.000002 0.000385
Straight flush 150 36 0.000014 0.002078
Four of a kind 50 624 0.000240 0.012005
Full house 25 3,744 0.001441 0.036014
Flush 7 5,108 0.001965 0.013758
Straight 4 10,200 0.003925 0.015699
Three of a kind 3 54,912 0.021128 0.063385
Two pair 2 123,552 0.047539 0.095078
Pair A-10 1 422,400 0.162527 0.162527
Pair 9-2 0 675,840 0.260042 0.000000
All other -1 1,302,540 0.501177 -0.501177
Total 2,598,960 1.000000 -0.100249


For a $5 bet, the Action Bonus will reduce the house edge by 1.00% for each additional player at the table. Plus, the value of the dealer's Action Bonus is 0.20%. These values should be divided by b/5 for any Poker bets over $5, where b is the amount of the bet.

The following table shows the overall house edge according to the total number of players (including yourself). The "generous player" is one who takes pleasure in the dealer's Action Bonus equal to the pleasure he would receive if he received the money himself. The "stingy player" cares only about his own win.

Poker Bet Pay Table

Total
Players
Stingy
Player
Generous
Player
7 4.05% 3.85%
6 5.05% 4.85%
5 6.04% 5.84%
4 7.04% 6.84%
3 8.03% 7.83%
2 9.03% 8.83%
1 10.02% 9.83%


Video





Discussion about Caribbean Blackjack at Wizard of Vegas.


Written by: Michael Shackleford

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