California Cardroom Blackjack


Techno: I’m trying to understand if the southern California “collection no-bust blackjack” is beatable, and if so, under what conditions. I completely understand one could drive about an hour and find better games -- i.e., regular blackjack -- at Indian casinos.

California Cardroom Blackjack or "21st Century Blackjack"

  • Min Bet Allowed: $25
  • Max Bet Allowed: $600
  • Blackjack pays 6:5
  • A player pushes on a 3 card bust if the dealer busts with a higher total (between 23-26)
  • Double down on any 2 cards (corrected)
  • Double after split
  • Surrender anytime (after double, after split, etc.)
  • No draw after splitting aces
  • $1 collection per $100 wagered
  • 0.9-1.0 deck pen depending on dealer
  • Casino will let you add/remove spots up to the entire table whenever you like

I spent a few days playing in various stores in the Los Angeles area, and have found neither the dealers nor the corporate bankers know how to count cards, or how to spot a card counter.

This led me to do two things with my game:

Use this bet spread (1-to-48 effective or $25-3x$500 )

True Count of 0 bet $100, TC1 bet $200, TC3 bet $300, TC4 bet 2x$300, TC5 bet 2x400, TC6 bet 3x400, TC7 bet 3x500... add $100 per spot per TC thereafter

TC negative 1 bet $50, TC neg2 bet $25, any lower than TC neg3 wong out (will explain later how I did this)

Because they have this “no-bust” rule where any time the player and dealer both bust and the players hand is 23 or high and the dealer's hand is also 26 or lower, then the hand is a push (player 22 or 26 is an automatic loss), I play my 12’s like 15s and pivot on TC+4 and play my 13’s like 12’s pivot on TC+3 (I found the modified basic strategy chart for this game but it didn’t take into account the auto-loss on 22 rule which might be newer: ).

How am I wonging out on a private table?

Since these casinos have players making $1k-10k/hand bets at baccarat at the table next to me. I’ve found that because these are heat-free zones at these stakes. I take up the casino on its “private table” offer where if I buy in for at least $2k (yes, even playing as a refusal) they will give me my own table, sometimes in a private room, where I can request hand shuffle and re-use of same deck every hand (for shuffle tracking). When the count is really bad, I just take a two-minute break and ask them to dump the shoe and re-shuffle.

California non-Indian casinos have horrible rules and this nasty 1% ante/collection on the bet, but it is a heat-free environment (so far) and they will accommodate almost any request since the casino isn’t the one losing and the corporate bankers don’t seem to care about anything.

Is this, or can this be, a winning game even though there’s 1% juice and it pays 6:5, by using this hyper-spread and wong outs? If not, why not? The article referenced indicates the edge is possible to overcome, and if you have a legitimate no-heat store, it seems good to me.

Dog Hand: I performed a two-billion-round simulation of this game in CVData, assuming it's a six-deck game with 5/6 penetration, but without accounting for the ante. For strategy, I used the Basic Strategy from the Discount Gambling webpage you mentioned.

Using the bet schedule you supplied (capped at 3x$600 at TC >= +8, since you mentioned a $600 table max), I get your IBA is 0.562%. Since you have a 1% ante, your actual IBA is thus -0.438%.

To sim the "A player pushes on a 3 card bust if the dealer busts with a higher total" bonus in CVData, go to the Payoff section (while there, set the BJ payout to 12:10) and set four "Custom Bonuses":

  • Bonus1 pays a variable of 1 for a player hand of a 3-card 22 with the dealer hand >22
  • Bonus2 pays a variable of 1 for a player hand of a 3-card 23 with the dealer hand >23
  • Bonus3 pays a variable of 1 for a player hand of a 3-card 24 with the dealer hand >24
  • Bonus4 pays a variable of 1 for a player hand of a 3-card 25 with the dealer hand >25

Make sure for each case that the "Split Hands" spinner is set to 4. The "variable 1" means you receive a bonus of 1 times your wager if the indicated condition is fulfilled; since you already lost 1 times your wager for busting, this effectively makes the overall result a push. However, to make this work, you need to have at least two "other" players who play a "never-bust" strategy, so that the dealer is forced to complete her hand even after you bust.

The sim showed that this bonus is worth +1.409% using How's BS. Using normal blackjack basic strategy, the bonus is worth only +0.934%. Thus, the modified BS is quite effective for this game. In either case, more than half the gain comes from the player 22/dealer >22 outcome.

Good luck with your project!

Originally published on Green Chip, edited for this format.


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