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Zombie Blackjack


Zombie Blackjack is a blackjack variant by game inventor Geoff Hall. The idea is that if the dealer has a 7 to ace up, and the player busts, then he still has a chance to win. The player's busted bet will be set aside. If the dealer busts, it shall come back to life, like a zombie, and be paid even money. To pay for this, the "push 22" rule is in force, where if the dealer busts with 22, any non-busted player hand, except blackjack, will push.

I played it on August 9, 2017 when it was on field trial at the Venetian.


  1. The game is based on conventional blackjack rules, except where stated.
  2. Six or eight decks are used.
  3. Dealer hits a soft 17.
  4. Dealer peeks for blackjack.
  5. Player may double on any two-card hand, except after splitting aces.
  6. Double after split allowed.
  7. No surrender allowed.
  8. If the dealer has a 7, 8, 9, 10, or ace up, and the player busts, including after doubling or splitting, then the player's bet shall be boxed*. Boxed bets shall win if the dealer busts with 23 or more points.
  9. If the dealer busts with 22 points, any non-busted player hands, except blackjack, shall push.
  10. If the player has a boxed bet, and the dealer gets a 22, then the boxed bet will lose.
  11. Blackjacks may pay 1.5 or 1.2 to 1, depending on the choice of casino management.
  12. Re-splitting aces may or may not be allowed, depending on the choice of casino management.

* To "box" a bet, in this context, means to put it aside. It should not be confused with doing a round robin in horse racing or keno.

If the rules above were confusing, here is the rack card. Click on it for a larger image.




Following is the basic strategy assuming eight decks and re-splitting aces being allowed.

Below are some minor strategy changes under other rules:
  • With six decks, double 9 against a 5.
  • If re-splitting aces is not allowed, then hit A,A vs. A.

House Edge


Under the Venetian rules of blackjack pays 3 to 2, eight decks, and re-splitting aces not allowed, then the house edge is approximately 1.03%. Below are the effect on the player's return (so positive is good) given three possible rules changes.

  • Re-split aces allowed: +0.07%
  • Six decks: +0.03%
  • Blackjack pays 6 to 5 -1.36%



The basic strategy for a dealer 2 to 6 up is the same as for Blackjack Switch, where I took it from. Four separate sources, including me, agree on the basic strategy for almost all cases. For the very borderline ones, I am going with the combinatorial analysis of Norman Wattenberger.



I would like to thank Geoff Hall for providing me with the Zombie Blackjack math reports by Elliot Frome and GLI as well as the table game image. I would also like to thank Norman Wattenberger for sharing his analysis of the game. Four difference sources, including me, are in close agreement on the strategy and house edge for Zombie Blackjack. However, the final word on both above, are from Norm.