If all other rules are equal, blackjack players face a lower house edge when fewer decks are in play. That’s mostly because there’s a greater frequency of two-card 21s with fewer decks, and players collect 3-2 payoffs – or 6-5 in bad games – while the house takes only even money on dealer blackjacks.
However, some side bets have lower house edges when more decks are used. That’s the case in Suit ’Em Up Blackjack from CRE8TV Games. I first saw the Suit ’Em Up side bet at Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas in 2012, and since then it’s gone live in seven Las Vegas casinos. Most recent is the Tropicana, which installed four tables and now is looking to increase to 12.
That it’s been successful so far makes it likely we’ll see it in other parts of the U.S. before long. New table options never make a big splash all at once, like hot new slots. They have to prove their value at a small number of casinos before others will fork over the fee to add it to their pits.
Suit ’Em Up is a side bet that your first two cards will be in the same suit. It’s an adjunct to blackjack, and since it’s decided on your first two cards, it doesn’t affect strategy on the main game.
The biggest payoff comes when you have two Aces of the same suit. That pays 60-1. suited blackjacks pay 10-1, so if you get an Ace of clubs, for instance, a King, Queen, Jack or 10 of clubs will give you a nice payback above what you can expect on the regular game.
From there, the pay table goes to 5-1 on a suited pair, 3-1 on a suited 11, and 2-1 on any two cards of the same suit.
You can’t play Suit ’Em Up on single-deck games, because suited pairs are impossible. There’s only one Ace of spades in the deck, so if you’re waiting for a second for that 60-1 payoff, it’s not coming.
CRE8TV provided its mathematical workup for two-deck, six-deck and eight-deck games. It shows a 9.41 percent house edge in a six-deck game, 3.41 percent with six decks and 2.67 percent with eight decks. The double-deck house edge is too high to be playable, while the others are pretty normal for side bets. The house edge of the most popular blackjack side bet, 21 + 3, is 3.24 percent in a six-deck game.
The reason the Suit ’Em Up edge decreases with more decks is that the frequency of certain paying hands increase. In a two-deck game, there are 5,356 possible two-card combinations. Only four of those are two-Ace hands. If you get an Ace from Deck One, you need the same-suit Ace from Deck 2. You’ll get four Aces only once per 1,339 hands.
With six decks, the number of combinations rises to 48,516, but the number of two-Ace combinations rises to 60.
Now you’ll get suited Aces once per 808.6 hands. With eight decks, that frequency rises again, to once per 770.7 hands.
There’s a similar effect on suited pairs, which show up once per 111.6 hands with two decks, once per 67.4 with six and once per 64.2 with eight.
The bottom line is that once Suit ’Em Up reaches a casino near you, you’ll get your best deal at games with more decks.
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