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Analysis of Party Poker Blackjack

Party Poker Blackjack Analysis

Introduction

Blackjack is by far the most popular table game offered by both online and bricks and mortar casinos. It is an exciting game which offers the player the ability to make many decisions after a bet is placed unlike casino games like bacarrat or roulette. Recently Party Poker added a version of this game to their enhanced software. This article will analyze Party Poker Blackjack, giving a basic strategy for the player and a brief discussion examining the potential for advantage play. This article assumes a basic level of understanding of the game of blackjack. Check out Basics of Blackjack if you are new to the game of blackjack.

Party Poker Blackjack Rules

Below is a brief summary of the rules. For more details see Party Poker's Website.

Dealer Rules
  • 8 decks used, shuffle after 10% of cards are dealt
  • Peek for blackjack when up card is Ten value or Ace (ie Player loses 1 bet only when dealer has blackjack)
  • Hit soft 17.
Player Rules
  • Minimum Bet: $1
  • Maximum Bet: $200
  • Blackjack Pays: 3 to 2
  • Late Surrender
  • Double down on any total
  • Double after split
  • Split up to 3 times
  • One card only to split aces
  • Insurance up to 1/2 initial bet

Basic Strategy

Basic strategy is the optimal way to play every hand given the player's point total and the dealer's up card. It assumes nothing about what cards that have already been dealt from the deck, as is the foundation of card counting. If a player follows basic strategy perfectly at Party Poker Blackjack he/she will be playing at a 0.55% disadvantage, losing 55 cents for every $100 of initial bets. The section on insurance plus the 3 tables below give the complete basic strategy for Party Poker Blackjack.

Insurance

Never take insurance or even money, which is equivalent to taking insurance when the player has a blackjack. The disadvantage of insurance off the top of the deck is 7.47%, with the player losing $7.47 for every $100 dollars gambled on insurance.

Legend

S = Stand
H = Hit
D = Double down
P = Split
R = Surrender

When more than one option is listed, options are listed from left to right in order of preference.

Hard
Hand
Dealer's up card
2345678910A
20SSSSSSSSSS
19SSSSSSSSSS
18SSSSSSSSSS
17SSSSSSSSSRS
16SSSSSHHRHRHRH
15SSSSSHHHRHRH
14SSSSSHHHHH
13SSSSSHHHHH
12HHSSSHHHHH
11DHDHDHDHDHDHDHDHDHDH
10DHDHDHDHDHDHDHDHHH
9HDHDHDHDHHHHHH
8HHHHHHHHHH
7HHHHHHHHHH
6HHHHHHHHHH
5HHHHHHHHHH


Soft
Hand
Dealer's up card
2345678910A
20SSSSSSSSSS
19SSSSDSSSSSS
18DSDSDSDSDSSSHHH
17HDHDHDHDHHHHHH
16HHDHDHDHHHHHH
15HHDHDHDHHHHHH
14HHHDHDHHHHHH
13HHHDHDHHHHHH


Pair
Hand
Dealer's up card
2345678910A
A-APPPPPPPPPP
10-10SSSSSSSSSS
9-9PSPSPSPSPSSPSPSSS
8-8PSPSPSPSPSPHPHPRHPRHPRH
7-7PSPSPSPSPSPHHHHH
6-6PSPSPSPSPSHHHHH
5-5DHDHDHDHDHDHDHDHHH
4-4HHHPHPHHHHHH
3-3PHPHPHPHPHPHHHHH
2-2PHPHPHPHPHPHHHHH

Advantage Play Possibilities

Blackjack is the one casino game in which a small percentage of players have been able to obtain an edge. These so called "advantage players" used techniques such as card counting, shuffle tracking, or in particular for online blackjack - computer perfect (bot) play. With only approximately 50 cards being dealt out of the deck and randomised shuffling algorithms there is little to no potential for advantage play at Party Poker Blackjack with card counting or shuffle tracking. Maybe with computer perfect play and a $1 to $200 betting spread it would be possible to eek out a tiny profit, however the time needed and the risks far outweigh the miniscule rewards.

Conclusion

When Party Poker added blackjack and "sidebet" to its' software it gave the player additional options for spending their gaming dollar. Blackjack as well as being an interesting game is also inexpensive if played correctly. Follow basic strategy, don't bet over your head and blackjack can provide a break from poker and the associated "bad beats" (although blackjack players have been known to tell "bad beat" stories of their own!).

Appendix A - Expected value given dealer's up card.

Up
Card
Overall expected value (%)
29.199225543
312.547453903
416.209787858
520.176755878
623.826852709
714.445516899
85.773200656
9-4.066156162
10-17.104059994
A-36.890021293
Total-0.553355691

Appendix B - Probability of dealer's final total given dealer's up card.

Up
Card
Probability of outcome of dealer's hand
Bust1718192021Blackjack
20.356680.130090.136120.131530.125660.119920.00000
30.376890.126010.131940.126750.122090.116320.00000
40.398120.122440.125880.122650.117840.113060.00000
50.419140.118160.123010.118250.112780.108670.00000
60.439310.115010.114640.114990.110200.105850.00000
70.262030.369050.137900.078480.078670.073880.00000
80.243950.128850.359800.128680.069260.069450.00000
90.229040.120230.118010.351580.120280.060860.00000
100.212380.111790.111610.111810.340560.034740.07711
A0.139090.057330.142920.143000.143260.065960.30843

References

Blackjack Game and Basic Strategy Calculator - A great program written by Eric Farmer, used for the calculations in this article.