Like it or not casinos are rolling out more side bets than ever before with blackjack games. The bets are optional and sometimes come with a large house edge. They also increase the overall house edge when added to the regular blackjack bet. On recent investors call, Caesars Entertainment touted side bets for helping to increase gaming revenue. They specifically pointed to the Buster Blackjack side bet. This wagering option isn’t entirely new but it’s appearing in more casinos every day.
Buster Blackjack is a simple side bet. Players win the bet if the dealer busts. That’s it. The payouts depend on the number of cards in the dealer’s bust hand. The higher amount of cards in the dealer’s busted hand, the higher the payout for the Buster bet. For example, when the dealer busts with a five card Charlie, the player will win more than if they bust on three cards.
The Buster Blackjack side bet acts independently of the original blackjack hand. It’s possible for the player to lose a hand but win the Buster Blackjack side bet. The odds vary by casino operator but here’s an example of Buster Blackjack odds you might see.
- 250-to-1: Dealer busts with 8+ cards
- 50-to-1: Dealer busts with 7 cards
- 15-to-1: Dealer busts with 6 cards
- 6-to-1: Dealer busts with 5 cards
- 2-to-1: Dealer busts with 3-4 cards
Depending on the casino a player may bet as little as $1 for the Buster Bonus side bet. Some casinos might offer a bonus for seven or eight card dealer busts. The requirement for this bonus is to wager $5 on this side bet.
According to the Wizard Of Odds, this Buster Blackjack paytable and a 6 deck shoe has a house edge of 6.21% if the dealer hits on soft 17. The house edge is larger if the dealer stays on soft 17. The latter offers the dealer fewer chances to bust since they’re not taking as many cards.
The Buster Bonus side bet isn’t a good bet based on the odds. That said, there are other bets in the casino with a worse house edge. Furthermore, this bet might be vulnerable to card counters. According to the 888 casino blog, the Buster Blackjack side bet might be beatable. Players will have to find the perfect paytables but it might be possible that a good counter could lessen the house edge and maybe even swing the edge to the player side.
Side bets aren’t typically good options for the smart gambler. However, these bets are becoming more popular with casinos since there are plenty of people that gamble for the buzz and not specifically to win money. It’s becoming more difficult to avoid side bets in casinos today. After a few too many drinks it’s easy to start tossing chips on a side bet.
In the future, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the betting circle at a blackjack game entirely surrounded by different side bets. If you’d like to know more about Caesars Entertainment, you can see the investor’s presentation here. You can find more information on Buster Blackjack from AGS.