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Last Updated: February 9, 2017

Never Bust Blackjack - Odds

Introduction

Never bust blackjack is a simple blackjack variant I noticed at the Planet Hollywood on April 2, 2011. I hear it also can be found at some casinos in England. This is the simplest blackjack variant I have ever seen, requiring no decision making. The twist is that if either player or dealer bust, the bust card is burned. Comparisons could easily be made to Casino War.

Rules

  1. Winning blackjack pays 6 to 5 or 3 to 2, depending on the will of casino management.
  2. Both player and dealer must hit until reaching a hand of 17 or more, except hitting a soft 17.
  3. No doubling or splitting.
  4. If player or dealer bust, the bust card is removed, but no more cards may be drawn to that hand. For example, if the player has 16 and draws a 10, then the 10 would be removed, leaving the player with 16 points.
  5. A dealer final hand of 15 points will push.
  6. Winning insurance bets pay 2 to 1.

The Planet Hollywood uses eight decks and pays 6 to 5 on winning blackjacks.

The game would be balanced, except the higher wins on blackjacks work in the player's favor, but the push on 15 works in the dealer's favor. Of course, the push on 15 rule outweighs the benefit of getting more than even money on a blackjack.

Analysis

The following table shows the possible outcomes in an eight-deck game with a cut card.

Possible Outcomes — 8 Decks

Event Probability
Player blackjack 4.52%
Player win 34.68%
Player blackjack push 0.22%
Dealer 15 push 6.49%
All other push 10.74%
Dealer blackjack 4.52%
All other dealer wins 38.83%
Total 100.00%

The next table summarizes the probability and return under the Planet Hollywood rules, with eight-deck game and blackjack pays 6 to 5. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 3.24%.

Return Table — 8 Decks

Event Pays Probability Return
Player blackjack 1.2 4.52% 5.43%
Player wins 1 34.68% 34.68%
Tie 0 17.45% 0.00%
Delaer wins -1 43.35% -43.35%
Total 100.00% -3.24%

The next table shows the house edge for the overall game by number of decks. It is expressed for the game where blackjacks pay 6 to 5, a hypothetical game where they pay 3 to 2, and on insurance.

House Edge Summary

Decks BJ Pays 1.2 BJ Pays 1.5 Insurance
1 3.26% 1.88% 5.88%
2 3.25% 1.88% 6.80%
4 3.25% 1.89% 7.25%
5 3.25% 1.89% 7.34%
6 3.25% 1.89% 7.40%
8 3.24% 1.89% 7.47%

Strategy

There is no strategy. Since the players actions are forced by the rules, the dealer does everything. The only piece of advice I can give is to never take insurance, even when the player has blackjack too (i.e. "even money" in 3 to 2 games). This advice about insurance applies to conventional blackjack as well.


Written by: Michael Shackleford
Written by: Michael Shackleford

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