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Beating the 21+3 Blackjack Side Bet, Update #1

The 21 + 3 (TP3) blackjack side bet is based on examining the player’s two cards and the dealer’s up-card. If the three cards form a flush, straight, three-of-a-kind or straight flush, the player wins. The payout for a winning TP3 wager is a flat 9-to-1 and the game has a modest house edge of 3.239%. Recently, several casino sources expressed concern about advantage play against TP3.

By
Eliot Jacobson Ph.D.
June 21, 2013

Card Counting Baccarat Insurance: Natural 9

Baccarat insurance is a side bet that players can make during the play of a hand of baccarat. This side bet is really an aggregate of sides bets, some of which can be made based on the first two cards exposed, and some of which can be made later during the play of the hand. Each of these side bets has its own separate wagering rules and payout. Michael Shackleford determined the house edge for the various insurance wagers in this article.

By
Eliot Jacobson Ph.D.
September 8, 2013

Lucky Ladies and the Insurance Count

Lucky Ladies (LL) is a blackjack side bet that pays for any player 20, with premium payouts for suited or matched 20’s and a top pay for a pair of Queen of Hearts. I covered card counting the Lucky Ladies side bet in this blog post.   As noted in that post, any count that distinguishes face from non-face cards will be very effective against LL.

By
Eliot Jacobson Ph.D.
October 22, 2012

Beating the Lucky Pairs Baccarat Side Bet

Lucky Pairs (LP) is one of the names given to the non-proprietary baccarat side bet that simply pays 11-to-1 for a dealt pair. The player can wager on either or both of the Player or Banker side to be dealt a pair. This wager is also available for blackjack (player only), with varying payouts depending on the number of decks used. Shuffle tracking may provide a viable way for the AP to attack this wager in a hand-shuffled blackjack shoe game. But, as a practical matter, the blackjack version can’t be exploited using a counting system.

By
Eliot Jacobson Ph.D.
November 1, 2012

Card Counting the Red Flex Blackjack Side Bet

Red Flex Bet (RF) is a side bet for the blackjack variant “Pure 21.5 Blackjack” that is played in California card rooms. This side bet can also work as a side bet for ordinary blackjack, though I am not aware of any blackjack placements. I am also not aware of any placement outside of California card rooms.  I was told that RF is fairly common in northern California card rooms, with a maximum wager of $50 to $100. There is no extra collection for RF wagers, and players can play RF on multiple spots if they are available.

By
Eliot Jacobson Ph.D.
April 15, 2013

Safeguarding Baccarat Side Bets

Card counting baccarat side bets is one of the strongest ongoing opportunities for advantage players. These opportunities arise from the intersection of four game protection deficiencies, none of which has a good solution. Consider:

By
Eliot Jacobson Ph.D.
February 10, 2014

Card Counting the Upcard Luck Blackjack Side Bet

The Upcard Luck (UL) blackjack side bet is a bit wacky to describe. Payouts are based on the dealer's up-card together with the two cards the player is dealt. In this sense, it is similar to both Lucky Lucky and 21 + 3. There would certainly be intellectual property issues if this bet made it big. Right now, though, it has very few placements.

By
Eliot Jacobson Ph.D.
April 25, 2015

Card Counting the Total Shot Bonus Baccarat Side Bet

Yet another side bet that can be counted in California card rooms:  the Total Shot Bonus (TSB). Formally, this side bet is for the baccarat variant known as Supreme Baccarat. This variant is simply the commission free version where a Banker winning total of 6 pays 1-to-2.  Like ordinary baccarat, the main game is not vulnerable to card counting. However, TSB suffers from the same flaw as many baccarat side bets that have come before: it is based on final hand totals of 8 and 9.

By
Eliot Jacobson Ph.D.
April 18, 2013