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Last Updated: September 13, 2016

Lucky Stiff Blackjack

Introduction


"Lucky Stiff Blackjack" is a blackjack side bet first seen at Casino Caribbean in Kirkland, Washington. The game has since spread to other casinos in Washington and Mississippi. The thrust of the side bet is that if the player is dealt a hard 12 to 16, and eventually wins, then the side bet will pay 5 to 1. There are other possible outcomes, as explained in the rules below.

Rules


  1. Lucky Stiff is a blackjack side bet, suitable for play on any blackjack game.
  2. Players make the Lucky Stiff wager before play begins, along with a mandatory main wager.
  3. The Lucky Stiff wager may be for any amount, with limits dictated by the house.
  4. After dealing the first two cards to the player, the player's hand is evaluated:
    • If the player has a blackjack, then the Lucky Stiff wager wins at a rate of 1 to 1, regardless of the dealer's hand.
    • If the player has a pair of 6s, 7s or 8s (which I refer to as the "stiff pairs"), then his Lucky Stiff wager wins at a rate of 10 to 1*, regardless of the dealer's hand.
    • If the player has a hard total of 12 through 16, which is unpaired, his Lucky Stiff wager remains in play.
  5. If the player does not have one of the hands listed above, the Lucky Stiff wager loses immediately.
  6. After the initial player hand evaluation, the blackjack hand resumes in the normal manner. Remaining Lucky Stiff wagers will win, lose or push according to whether the main blackjack bet wins, loses or pushes.
  7. At the conclusion of the hand, If the player's main blackjack bet wins, his Lucky Stiff wager wins and is paid at a rate of 5 to 1.

Note: * Alternate pay tables pay 9 to 1 on these pairs.

To put the rules another way, the following pay table shows what each possible event pays.

Lucky Stiff Blackjack Pay Table

Player BJ Outcome Pays
Pair 6s, 7s, 8s (stiff pairs) Any 9 or 10 to 1
Blackjack Any 1 to 1
12 to 16 Win 5 to 1
12 to 16 Push Push
12 to 16 Loss Loss
Less than 12 or more than 16 Any Loss

Strategy

When the Lucky Stiff bet is in play, the player is motivated to go for a win (paying 5 to 1 on the side bet) at the cost of avoiding pushes. With the goal of maximizing the combined return of the side bet and main wager, the following basic strategy deviations should be made if the Lucky Stiff wager is at least half as large as the blackjack wager.

When the dealer stands on a soft 17

  • Stand on hard 12 vs 3.
  • Stand on hard 15 vs 10.
  • Stand on hard 16 vs 9 and 10.
  • Hit hard 17 vs A.

When the dealer hits on a soft 17

  • Stand on hard 12 vs 3.
  • Stand on hard 12 vs 2, except if the 12 is composed of a 10 and 2.
  • Stand on hard 15 vs 10.
  • Stand on hard 16 vs 9 and 10.

These deviations occur in approximately 5.5% of hands.

Analysis

The following table shows the probability and return for all possible outcomes assuming six decks, the dealer hits a soft 17, the stiff pairs pay 10 to 1, and the Lucky Stiff strategy above. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 4.07%.

Lucky Stiff Blackjack — Dealer Hits on Soft 17

Event Pays Probability Return
Player pair of 6s, 7s, or 8s 10 0.017067 0.170672
Player 12-16 win 5 0.110885 0.554425
Player blackjack 1 0.047447 0.047447
Player 12-16 push 0 0.011391 0.000000
All other -1 0.813209 -0.813209
Total 1.000000 -0.040664

The next return table is for the same rules as the table above, except the dealer stands on soft 17.

Lucky Stiff Blackjack — Dealer Stands on Soft 17

Event Pays Probability Return
Player pair of 6s, 7s, or 8s 10 0.017065 0.170654
Player 12-16 win 5 0.110447 0.552236
Player blackjack 1 0.047449 0.047449
Player 12-16 push 0 0.011342 0.000000
All other -1 0.813697 -0.813697
Total 1.000000 -0.043357

The following table shows the house edge, of the Lucky Stiff bet only, according to the number of decks and whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17, assuming the stiff pairs pay 10 to 1. These figures are based on the Lucky Stiff basic strategy above.

Lucky Stiff Blackjack — House Edge

Decks Stand
Soft 17
Hit
Soft 17
1 6.44% 6.13%
2 5.19% 4.89%
6 4.34% 4.07%
8 4.22% 3.95%

If a stiff pair pays 9 to 1, then the house edge will increase by 1.71%.

Following basic blackjack strategy, without the adjustments listed above, will increase the house edge on the Lucky Stiff wager by 0.3% to 0.4%. Following optimal Lucky Stiff strategy by implementing the basic strategy adjustments above, will increase the house edge of the main blackjack wager by 0.1% to 0.2%."

Where to Play


As of this writing (August, 2014), Lucky Stiff Blackjack can be played at the following locations:

  • Casino Caribbean (Kirkland, WA)
  • Gold Strike Casino (Tunica, MS)
  • Legends Casino (Toppenish, WA)
  • 7 Cedars Casino (Sequim, WA)
  • Great American Casino (Kent, WA)
  • Resorts Casino (Tunica, MS)

Analysis of Lucky Stiff Blackjack at Discount Gambling.

Acknowledgments

I'd like to thank Paradigm Table Games for their cooperation with the preparation of this page, including supplying the math report by Total Gaming Science, which the above analysis is based on.

Written by: Michael Shackleford

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