Over the past few months, I’ve written about an up and coming game twice. Both times, I was not able to give all the information you’d want because I had not finished the analysis. Now I have.
The game is called Free Bet Blackjack developed by Geoff Hall, who brought us Blackjack Switch, and is distributed by Scientific Games.
Free Bet Blackjack is quickly becoming popular. It utilizes the same method for creating a house advantage as Blackjack Switch.
If the Player doesn’t have a blackjack, hasn’t busted and the Dealer busts with a 22, it is a Push. To get the Player closer to even, there is the ability for free Double Downs on 2-card Hard 9’s, 10’s and 11’s plus free splits – except on 10’s/Faces.
What does free mean in this case?
When the Player is dealt a 7 and 4, he can ask to Double. Instead of placing another wager equal to his original wager, the Dealer will put a plastic lammer down instead (that’s a fancy word for a little plastic disc). If the Player loses the hand, he only loses his original wager.
If the Player wins the hand, he will win even money for his original wager and win the original wager amount again for that lammer. He does not get any money for the lammer itself. So, if the Player is wagering $10 on the base game and takes a Free Double, he will receive $30 back in total for a net $20 win. This would be the same for a regular Double, where he would receive back $40, but after wagering $20 for a net $20 win.
Splits work the same way. When the Player takes a free split, the second hand (and any subsequent ones) do not require another wager. Instead, the Dealer will put down the lammer in the place of a Player wager. Better yet, the Player can take a Free Double after a Free Split.
In theory, a single $10 wager can result in four hands (from splitting) and each one could wind up with a Free Double. A single $10 wager might win the Player $80 if he were to win each of those four hands.
Your first reaction as a Player would probably be to take every Free Bet you can. Double all 9’s, 10’s and 11’s. Split everything.
Are you sure? Do you really want to split two 9’s when looking into a 7? The answer is absolutely.
While you may lower your chances of winning a particular hand, the fact that one of those hands is being played for free is quite powerful. If you win only the money hand, you’re guaranteed to be a net winner. If you win only the free hand, you break even. If you win both, you win big. And, by splitting, you give yourself a chance for a Free Double Down as well.
What about when you don’t have a Double Down situation or a Split situation? In these cases, there are two critical things you need to know to play the game correctly. The first is that as a result of the Push 22 rule, basic blackjack strategy goes out the window. Second is that when you are playing a Free hand after a split, the strategy changes a bit.
Pushes have no value to the Player because the result is the same as a loss. The lammer is taken by the Dealer and the Player wins nothing. The table on this page shows the strategy for real money hands.
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Elliot Frome is a second generation gaming analyst and author. His math credits include Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, House Money and many other games. His website is www.gambatria.com. Contact Elliot at [email protected].