Originally Posted by cardplay
But he said that it counts the players 2 hole cards and the dealers up card which would make it very hard to get 21. seems like a lot of possible 30's.
Am I misunderstanding something?
No, you are not missing anything, this is a common fallacy for this side bet, a higher count does NOT help this bet. A 3 card 20 or 21 is more difficult to make with a high count. You can't use a bj count for this game. You can easily prove to yourself why this is. Take excel and set up every possible two card hand for the player and every possible upcard for the dealer in a spreadsheet. The order of the cards does not matter. Then, using 6 decks, calculate the odds of receiving each of those two card hands. Then calculate the odds of each possible dealer upcard to each of those hands. This gives you the basis for determining EOR for every denomination. This will tell you what the most powerful cards are and what the least powerful cards are. This exercise shouldn't take very long. The 7 is the most powerful card in the game, obviously. After that the 6 and 8. After that the A. Also, how powerful a card is depends sometimes on what other cards are remaining. The 6 and 8 are more powerful if the deck is rich in 7s, if the deck is poor in 7s the 6 and 8 are less powerful. The A is more powerful if the deck is rich in 10s. It is less powerful if the deck is poor in 10s.
I came up with a system for this bet. It is not a counting system the way you think of a +- with indices system like HiLo. You have to track denominations and the suits and what a particular card is worth depends on what other cards are present. You need two players to play the system, one counting the regular blackjack game and one tracking for the side bet. Only, there are three different side trackings/counts, one for the 6s, 7s, and 8s along with their suits. A second for the 21 suited any way you can make it. And a third for the 19, 20, or 21 any way you can make it. In the first two you have to track both the denominations and the suits.
Now you have another problem. You and your partner need to be playing heads up against the dealer. If you are not playing heads up against the dealer when the side bet count is advantageous you both need to spread to 2 hands if possible. I can't tell you how many times we went to $25 on the side bet only to have the drunk at first base win the side bet while we got crushed. I think the problem here is that the advantage only appears for a short time and once its gone, its gone. So the cards dealt to one player can make the advantage disappear. The regular blackjack count is not that way. Let's say that you have the advantage right now because the remaining cards are rich in the 7 of diamonds. So you place that $25 side bet. The advantage you have might be quite high. but, if the player at first base gets a 7 of diamonds you just lost your advantage. And for some reason, it happens more often than not that another player not part of your team will get the cards you wanted.
This side bet is definitely beatable, however there are some limitations to it. First, the variance is extreme. Second, most everywhere I have seen this bet there was a $25 max on it. Third, the blackjack bet had to be >= to the side bet, so if you had $25 on the side bet you also needed $25 on the blackjack bet. When the side bet is advantageous the blackjack bet usually is not advantageous, not always, there are subsets of the remaining cards that are heavy in 6,7, and 8 which are slightly advantageous for the blackjack bet.
Developing a playing system for this bet is pretty straightforward. I did it using excel.
Is it worthwhile to play? If you and your partner can play heads up, then yes. If the table is full, then, no. The reason that I say this is when I was playing this with a partner, everytime the count was advantageous it was always the other players who won the side bet while we got bupkis.
Also, the times when the 6,7,8 and 7,7,7 are more likely to appear happen pretty seldom, so you have to sit there through lots of shoes before this advantage appears. There are other advantages besides 6,7,8 that appear more frequently but they don't pay very much so the advantage in terms of EV is not that great.
Oh, the system for exploiting the side bet requires three very different approaches. One is keeping track of the 6s, 7s, and 8s BY SUIT. Second, is using a system which seeks to exploit the make a 19, 20, or 21 any way you can. Third, is also a tracking system for the 21 suited but unless you can get a bridge player who has years of practice tracking denominations and suits at the same time to be your partner, it is tough to do. So, to really have a good counting system you have to count three different ways at the same time and two of those ways require knowing both the suit and the denomination. I found some bridge players who can do this in their sleep but learning this myself required many hours of practice.
So, I guess the question is, would this be a worthwhile endeavor to pursue? I would say yes if you have a bankroll that can withstand the huge variance that the side bet has, and if you have the skills to develop the requisite counting/tracking systems. And you can find a partner you can trust who is equally skilled. And you have the patience to sit through shoe after shoe before that deck rich in 7s of one suit presents itself.