Guide to Playing Blackjack Mines Games Bonus in Vegas Lucky Lucky Side Bet
Blackjack has been a staple of the casino scene for as long as gamblers have assembled around the card table.
For several decades, players remained content to battle the house for basic even money and 3 to 2 (or 6 to 5 nowadays) payouts as part of the base game. Over time, however, the addition of competing table games forced blackjack operators to mix things up in order to keep recreational customers interested.
Enter the blackjack side bet…
By adding a specially designed optional wager to the equation, casinos found a quick fix that offered the best of both worlds. Purists who prefer to play blackjack as it was originally designed remain free to do so. But for the rest of us – gamblers who enjoy the occasional lark on a long shot game of chance offering juicy payout odds – blackjack side bets have been a godsend.
For the next installment in my ongoing series on blackjack side bets, it’s time to tackle the original blackjack side bet: “Lucky Lucky”.
And if you haven’t yet read the first two parts of the series yet, be sure you do. I tackled what you need to know about the 21 + 3 side bet and the Lucky Ladies side bet.
Introduction to the Lucky Lucky Side Bet
The year was 2001 and Franklin Daines found himself searching for creative ways to bring customers through the door of his Jackpot Casino in Alberta, Canada.
Daines ran the small gambling hall with his wife, and eventually the two got to work collaborating on a project that would change the world of blackjack forever. Their tinkering produced the Lucky Lucky side bet, which respected casino game analyst Michael Shackleford of “The Wizard of Odds” asserts to be the first blackjack side bet ever devised to incorporate both the player’s starting hand and the dealer’s up card.
Here’s how it works…
After placing a secondary wager on the Lucky Lucky side betting space, players are hoping to combine their two starting cards with the dealer’s hole card to form qualifying hands. I’ll get into the nitty gritty of the eight available qualifying hands in the next section, but the gist of Lucky Lucky side betting is to create a 21 total – just like in classic blackjack.
When you do, the Lucky Lucky pay table awards payouts ranging from double your money to 200 to 1.
The Lucky Lucky side bet proved to be an immediate hit among local Jackpot Casino gamblers, prompting the Daines family to patent their invention and establish Aces Up Gaming. Over the next two decades, Daines and his adult children successfully marketed the Lucky Lucky side bet and secured installations within hundreds of casinos worldwide.
Today, you can find the Lucky Lucky side bet offered by more than 2,000 blackjack tables in Las Vegas and beyond.
How to Land a Winner on the Lucky Lucky Side Bet
The best possible scenario in blackjack is to wind up with a total of 21 on the deal. Also known as a “natural,” this Ace + 10 combination is good for the base game’s only premium payout of 3 to 2 (or 6 to 5 in the corporate-owned casinos lining the Las Vegas Strip).
From there, players are hoping to hit their way to a total of 21 without going bust, which makes losing your bet impossible and ensures a push at the very least. All in all, 21 is the golden number for blackjack enthusiasts.
And therein lies the allure of the Lucky Lucky side bet…
Even if you fail to connect with a natural blackjack on your own, a Lucky Lucky wager allows you to turn some of the game’s worst starting hands into big-time winners.
Take the 7-7 starting hand for a lowly 14 as the perfect example. Holding a 14 against almost any dealer up card makes post-deal play quite difficult. To put things simply, you’re going to be stuck between a rock (standing and losing to superior dealer totals) and a hard place (hitting and going bust before ever seeing the dealer’s down card) when you have a 7-7 in the hole.
But when you’re wagering on the Lucky Lucky side bet, snagging a 7-7 is actually a sight for sore eyes. That’s because Daines and Co. designed their novel addition to blackjack using the following structure for qualifying hands:
Lucky Lucky Side Bet Qualifying Hands and Payouts
|Suited 7-7-7||7-7-7 all in the same suit||200 to 1|
|Suited 6-7-8||6-7-8 all in the same suit||100 to 1|
|Unsuited 7-7-7||7-7-7 in different suits||50 to 1|
|Unsuited 6-7-8||6-7-8 In different suits||30 to 1|
|Suited Total of 21||Any 21-total using suited cards||15 to 1|
|Unsuited Total of 21||Any 21-total using suited cards||15 to 1|
|Total of 20||Any 20-total regardless of suits||2 to 1|
|Total of 19||Any 19-total regardless of suits||2 to 1|
|Any Other Total||Loss|
As you can see, the best possible outcome for Lucky Lucky side bettors is to nail a perfect suited 7-7-7 combo using their starting hand and the dealer’s up card. Naturally, this is a difficult prospect given the probabilities (more on this to come), as even an eight-deck shoe only has eight 7s in each suit with which to work. Nonetheless, if you can beat the odds and pull a suited 7-7-7, the Lucky Lucky side bet will send you a sweet 200 to 1 payoff.
The hits keep on coming though, as even an unsuited 7-7-7 is worth 50 to 1 on your money.
You don’t even need to start with a 7-7 in the hole either, as the Lucky Lucky side bet pays out 100 to 1 on any suited 6-7-8 combo, and 30 to 1 on the unsuited 6-7-8.
Additionally, any combo totaling 21 that you can cobble together using your starting hand and the dealer’s up card is good for either 15 to 1 (suited) or 3 to 1 (unsuited).
Finally, when you and the dealer team up to find any three-card total of 20 or 19, you’ll collect a 2 to 1 payout.
But wait, there’s more…
Based on the house’s specific pay table configuration – which the Daines family and Aces Up Gaming are happy to oblige – you might find several alternative payout structures in place. Check out the table below – beginning with the standard payout scheme described earlier labeled as “#1” – to see how various Lucky Lucky side bet pay tables* shake out:
*All pay tables listed below use the “X to 1” system
Lucky Lucky Side Bet Alternative Pay Tables
|Suited total of 21||15||10||10||15||15||10||3||15|
|Unsuited total of 21||3||3||3||3||3||3||2||3|
|Total of 20||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2|
|Total of 19||2||2||2||2||1||1||1||1|
You might be wondering about the omission of a topline payout for the suited 7-7-7 in column #2, and if so, congratulations on being an astute reader. In this case, pay table #2 refers to a double-deck version of blackjack which only uses two decks at a time. Obviously, you can’t string together three 7s of the same suit in a double-deck game, hence the removal of that particular payout.
For the most part, these alternative pay tables are limited to areas outside of Las Vegas, like tribal casinos and regional gambling halls. That means the majority of Sin City casinos choose to spread the standard pay table (shown as “#1” in the grid above) rather than mess with a good thing.
With that said, you should always study the Lucky Lucky side bet layout on your blackjack table’s felt before placing a wager.
As you’ll learn in the penultimate section on “Traps to Watch Out For,” the very reasonable odds against and house edge rates offered by standard Lucky Lucky side betting quickly become bastardized by inferior pay tables.
Probabilities and House Edge Rates for the Lucky Lucky Side Bet
When you study the inherent statistical probabilities associated with the Lucky Lucky side bet, you’ll quickly discover a “glass half-full, glass half-empty” scenario.
Take a look at the table* below – which highlights the possible combinations for qualifying hands, probabilities of landing them, and their expected return rates – to see what I mean:
*All data referenced below refers to Lucky Lucky side bets which a) use the standard “#1” pay table and b) use a six-deck shoe
Lucky Lucky Side Bet Combos, Probabilities, and Expected Return Rates
|Suited 7-7-7||80||0.0016 percent||0.003191|
|Suited 6-7-8||864||0.0172 percent||0.017234|
|Unsuited 7-7-7||1,944||0.0388 percent||0.019388|
|Unsuited 6-7-8||12,960||0.2585 percent||0.077553|
|Suited total of 21||26,568||0.5299 percent||0.079492|
|Unsuited total of 21||406,296||8.10 percent||0.243130|
|Total of 20||377,568||7.53 percent||0.150626|
|Total of 19||364,320||7.26 percent||0.145341|
|All other||3,822,720||76.25 percent||-0.762513|
As you can see, the good news is Lucky Lucky side bet players can expect to form some kind of winning hand on roughly one in every four deals. Taken in sum, this relatively high win rate creates a very reasonable house edge rate of 2.66 percent on the Lucky Lucky side bet.
For comparison’s sake, you can think of this as akin to single-zero roulette, another purely chance-based gamble which offers a snug house edge of 2.70 percent. And when compared to the similarly named “Lucky Ladies” blackjack side bet – which carries an obscene house edge of 24.71 percent – splashing around on the Lucky Lucky option is a definite steal.
As for the bad news, of that approximately 25 percent win rate, 23 percent or so stems from low-paying winners that will only award payouts of either 2 to 1 or 3 to 1.
Let’s break the numbers down so you understand exactly what I’m talking about. First of all, the most likely scenario on any Lucky Lucky side bet is to make no qualifying hand at all, which happens at a 76.25 percent clip.
From there, the most likely winning hand is actually the unsuited 21-total, which will arrive on 8.10 percent of deals for a 3 to 1 payout. Next up is the “any 20-total” winner, good for a 2 to 1 payout on 7.53 percent of deals. And you’ll also score the “any 19-total” winner for 2 to 1 on 7.26 percent of deals.
The mathematically minded readers out there already know, but here’s what these bottom-heavy probabilities really mean. On 99.14 percent of all Lucky Lucky side bet plays, you’ll either lose outright, or win between 2 to 1 and 3 to 1 on your money.
As for those highly touted topline payouts of 200 to 1 for making a suited 7-7-7, consider that to be a lightning strike which only rains down at tiny fractions of a single percentage point. Taken altogether, the 200 to 1 through 15 to 1 payouts will only show up on less than 1 percent of the time.
This extreme disparity between the haves and have-nots makes Lucky Lucky side betting perfect for conservative blackjack players who don’t mind reaping marginal rewards for a marginal risk. On the other hand, folks who prefer going for the gusto by landing “jackpot” hands on their blackjack side bets may prefer a more balanced offering like the 21 + 3 wager.
Traps to Watch Out for When Playing the Lucky Lucky Side Bet
Whenever gamblers find a side bet like Lucky Lucky that offers a fair house edge rate, they can bet their bottom dollar the casinos have tried their best to ruin it by adjusting the odds.
That’s definitely true in the case of Lucky Lucky, which only carries that favorable 2.66 house edge on the standard #1 pay table described earlier.
Exercise caution and scan your pay tables carefully, because here’s how the house edge can fluctuate wildly against you when betting Lucky Lucky against the alternatives*:
*All house edge rates shown in the following table pertain to a six-deck shoe, except for the double-deck variant for pay table #2
Lucky Lucky Side Bet House Edge Rates (by Pay Table)
|PAY TABLE||HOUSE EDGE|
On a final note, Lucky Lucky side bet fans should remain cognizant of the casino’s deck construction for blackjack games. As the table below makes clear, playing with fewer than six decks in the shoe always increases the house’s inherent edge:
Lucky Lucky Side Bet House Edge Rates (by Pay Table and Number of Decks)
|1||2.61 percent||5.95 percent||6.66 percent||6.41 percent||7.31 percent||8.67 percent|
|2||2.82 percent||5.21 percent||6.02 percent||5.97 percent||6.85 percent||8.17 percent|
|3||2.77 percent||4.65 percent||5.5 percent||5.52 percent||6.39 percent||7.70 percent|
|4||2.72 percent||4.32 percent||5.18 percent||5.24 percent||6.10 percent||7.40 percent|
|5||2.68 percent||4.10 percent||4.98 percent||5.05 percent||5.92 percent||7.21 percent|
|6||2.66 percent||3.95 percent||4.83 percent||4.92 percent||5.78 percent||7.07 percent|
The Lucky Lucky side bet became an instant classic among blackjack aficionados and casinos alike for many reasons. The ability to win even when you get dealt a bad hand appeals to players who hate unlucky streaks, while the pay table and probabilities make the possibility of paying out huge 200 to 1 winners a rarity for the house. If blackjack is your game, and side bets are something you enjoy indulging in, you can’t do much better than the aptly named Lucky Lucky option.