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No Bust 21 Blackjack

By: Fabian Rictor, Friday November 19th 2010
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There are blackjack variants played at some land casinos that have not yet been introduced at online casinos. But with the online casino space getting more and more competitive it is a matter of time before these blackjack variants are available on the Internet. One such blackjack variant is No Bust 21. It is markedly different from all online blackjack variants in two respects. First it is played with 54 card decks that contain, in addition to the standard 52 cards, two jokers. The second reason is that the player has a chance of not losing the bet even if he busts.

The basic rules and the method of play are the same as in the usual blackjack games. The differences and the crucial aspects are described in this article. A hand consisting of two jokers is called a "natural" and has the highest ranking. The payout of a player winning with a natural is 2 to 1. If both the player and the dealer have a natural then it is a tie and the bets push. Any hand, of the player or of the dealer, having one joker automatically and immediately counts as 21 points. There is no special blackjack status for an ace and a ten value card. Such a hand is on par with any other hand of 21 points. Therefore there is no 3 to 2 payout for blackjack. No Bust 21 is played with the following rules that are also prevalent in some normal blackjack variants. The dealer shall not peek at his hole card. The dealer shall hit a soft 17. The player may double down on any initial two-card hand. Double after split is allowed. The player may surrender any two-card hand, except if the dealer's face up card is a joker. The player may not re-split or draw to split aces. Then there are some rules that are specific to No Bust 21. If the dealer's face up card is a joker the player has to stand. He cannot hit and cannot make any other move. Even when the player busts the dealer has to play out his full hand. If both the player and the dealer bust and the player is closer to 21 the player does not lose but the bet shall push. However, if the dealer is closer to 21or has a hand of equal value as the player then the player's bet shall lose.

As in all blackjack games the strategy for No Bust 21 is determined through computer simulation and presented on a strategy card. The value of the dealer's face up card is read along the columns and the value of the player's hand is read along the rows. Separate rows are there for soft hands, hard hands and pairs. Each cell indicates the optimum player move for that value of the dealer's face up card and the player's hand value. It is color coded and initial coded for convenience.

At first No Bust 21 may appear to be very player friendly. The 2 to 1 payout for a natural and the chance of not losing after busting do offer an advantage to the player. However this advantage is more than taken away because there is no 3 to 2 payout for a blackjack. In fact the house edge for No Bust 21 is abnormally high for a blackjack variant. It varies from 1.7% to 1.9% depending on the number of decks used.

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