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Blackjack variation makes 6-5 playable casino game

There was a plethora of new games introduced at last month’s G2E, but none seemed to garner the attention and interest as Double Draw Blackjack, developed by Gaming Entertainment Inc. in Las Vegas.

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The game is technically a side bet to traditional blackjack. The normal hand is dealt, with the player given the option of making a side bet equal to the original bet.

The Double Draw bet is ordinarily made when the dealer shows 2 through 6, his normal "busting" hands.

With the additional wager, the player gets a "free" card; if you bust with it, you can discard it and take another card. Or, if it helps your hand you can keep it.

Regardless of whether the "free" card helps your hand, you still have an extra bet that the dealer will bust.

For instance, if you have 13 versus the dealer’s 6, it’s sound strategy to stand under basic strategy. But in Double Draw, the correct strategy is to make that extra bet because you get to see the next card without having to accept it. Regardless of what the card is, you’re still in action with your extra bet that the dealer will bust with his 6 showing.

The idea behind the game is to give something back to the players, especially in the wake of casinos’ reducing the payoff on blackjack from 3-2 to 6-5.

That reduction has discouraged many long-term blackjack players, including experts who saw the house edge jump from zero percent on a one-deck game to 1.4 percent.

With the Double Draw variation, the house edge is cut back to a more manageable 0.8 percent for expert players in a one-deck game.

Here’s an analysis from one blackjack expert: "They’re trying to make more money on fewer players, but if they make too much money, the players will burn out and they’ll realize the value’s not there."

"Mathematically, Double Draw gives back about half of what the house takes away by reducing the payoff for a natural blackjack, assuming, of course, the player practices basic strategy," the expert continued. "It also gives the player more opportunities to put more money out on the table in favorable situations."

Overall, the new variation should give blackjack a shot in the arm. Now, especially, the casinos can use it.