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Last Updated: November 18, 2017

Double Up Blackjack

Introduction



Double Up Blackjack is a blackjack variant that adds a new option -- the player can double his bet and stand. This option is especially valuable on high totals. However, nothing is ever truly free in the casino. In this case the main price to be paid is that if the dealer draws to 16, he stays, and live bets under 21 push. A player 21 still beats a dealer 16. See the rules section for all the details.

As of this writing, the game can be found in casinos of Colorado, Oklahoma, and the UK.

Rules



The rules for Double Up Blackjack have gone through some changes but what you see below I believe to be how it is currently played in the UK (updated Sep. 24, 2017). Currently they hit a soft 17 where previously the dealer stood. Please do not claim that blackjacks pay 3 to 1 per this source, which I firmly claim to be in error.

  1. Six decks of ordinary 52-card decks are used.
  2. Cards are scored as in conventional blackjack.
  3. Conventional blackjack rules, which I assume the reader is familiar with, are followed with the following specifics and exceptions.
  4. Surrender is not offered.
  5. Re-splitting is allowed, except aces. I do not know how many times.
  6. In the UK, the dealer does not take a hole card. However, if the dealer gets a blackjack, the player will only lose his original wager and any other bets he lost due to splitting and then busting. The player will not lose any additional wagers from doubling, splitting (except for busted hands after splitting), or Double Upping.
  7. In addition to the usual options with two cards, the player may also Double Up. The player also Double Up on two cards after splitting. The player may not Double Up on a blackjack.
  8. To Double Up, the player will make an additional wager, equal to his original wager, in the designated Double Up circle.
  9. After splitting aces, the player may only stand or Double Up.
  10. After all players have acted, the dealer shall hit to a hard or soft 16. One rule variant is that the dealer may hit a soft 17.
  11. If the dealer draws to 16 (hard or soft) he will immediately stand. All live bets on the table, except totals of 21, shall push in this event. In other words, it acts like the Push 22 rule in some games, except applies to a dealer total of 16 instead of 22.
  12. Totals of 21 are an exception to the rule above and win against a dealer 16.
  13. The Double Up wager shall lose on ties. Please note that this rule applies to the Double Up portion only. The original wager shall still push.
  14. Winning player blackjacks pay 3 to 2. All other wins pay 1 to 1.
  15. In addition, there is a side bet called Bonus 16, which pays if the dealer gets a 16-point hand. The full pay table is below. All wins are on a "to one" basis.


Bonus 16 Pay Table

Event Pays
16 with 6+ cards 100
16 with 5 cards 50
16 with 4 cards 10
16 with 3 cards 5
16 with 2 cards 3

Strategy



Following is my strategy when the dealer hits on soft 17.



The following strategy shows the strategy after splitting aces, when the only options are to stand or Double Up.



House Edge



According to the analysis of Charles Mousseau, the house edge under the rule where the dealer hits a soft 17 is 0.32%, which I am in close agreement with.

The effect of the dealer standing on a soft 17 is worth 0.43% the player's way, according to my calculations.

Bonus 16



The following table shows my analysis of the Bonus 16 side bet, based on six decks and the dealer hitting a soft 17. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 14.64%.

Bonus 16 Analysis

Event Pays Probability Return
16 with 6+ cards 100 0.000181 0.018071
16 with 5 cards 50 0.001896 0.094813
16 with 4 cards 10 0.012640 0.126396
16 with 3 cards 5 0.048658 0.243288
16 with 2 cards 3 0.076923 0.230769
All other -1 0.859703 -0.859703
Total 1.000000 -0.146366


Acknowledgements



I would like to thank Charlie Patrick and Charles Mousseau for sharing the results of their own analysis with me on this game.






Written by: Michael Shackleford

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