In 1983 John Breeding was about as far away from the gaming world as you could get, driving a truck in Minnesota. He was not even a gambler. But he read an article about how casino owners were battling the scourge of card counters at the blackjack tables. Breeding quit his job, borrowed $30,000 and set out to develop an automatic shuffling machine which he did by creating mechanical fingers that split and recombined decks.
In 1992 Breeding perfected his machine and began selling it through his company called Shuffle Master. Breeding’s shuffler freed dealers from the task of shuffling and allowed them to deal from one deck while another was being readied, increasing profits to casinos by enabling more hands per session. Breeding’s fledgling company thrived but casinos were already beginning to deal games from multi-deck shoes.
Breeding realized that his company’s future was in jeopardy without more single-deck table games so he set about inventing his own. The result was Let It Ride, a five-card poker game formed by three player cards and two community cards with the twist being that the player was given two opportunities to surrender one-third of the original bet or “let it ride” as play progressed. The company had another success with Geoff Hall’s Blackjack Switch and then marketed another game from the English card counter called Double Attack Blackjack.
“I Wish I Had Bet More.”
Whenever a blackjack dealer turns over a 5 or a 6 – “bust cards” in player lingo – a wave of good vibes washes across the player side of the table. At times like this the players often wish the initial bet had been more aggressive. That is premise upon which Double Attack Blackjack is based. The order of the deal is reversed so that the first card dealt, instead of the last, is the dealer’s up card.
After the dealer card is revealed and before cards are dealt players have the opportunity to double their bet in the Double Attack betting box. The bet does not have to be an all-out Double Attack but can be any amount up to the original stake. Accepted strategy is to press the full attack on any dealer number between 2 and 8. If the dealer’s up card is an ace players, presumably with weapons holstered, are offered insurance at 5 to 2; better odds than standard blackjack insurance but still a poor bet.
After any stakes are raised cards are dealt from a shoe of eight 48-card Spanish decks with the tens removed. Normal blackjack play then commences. Like Spanish 21 the bets flow freely in Double Attack Blackjack without the extra ten-spot cards. Players are permitted to double on any two cards. Hands may be split up to three times and any new hand can be doubled, even after drawing additional cards. Any time a split is made, however, the wager must match the Double Attack play if one was made. On a doubled hand the bet can be at the amount of the original stake.
Players need not fight to the last man – surrender is an option at any time, including after an unfortunate split. When walking away from the battle the player can take one-half of the original bet, Double Attack bet or any split or double. One last advantage for the house: blackjacks pay at even money. One last advantage for the player: the dealer must stand on all 17s. The overall house edge for Double Attack Blackjack when all the bets are tallied is .62%, just a little less player-friendly than conventional blackjack.
Gun Play on the Side
Double Attack Blackjack also offers players a side bet called BustIt, or sometimes more affectionately, Buster. The bet is on a dealer bust of exactly three cards. The bet loses for any hand the dealer does not bust or any time the bust comes on the fourth card or later. The payout is based on the value of the third card. If the dealer busts with a 6 the return is 15-1; a 7 brings backs 10 -1; an 8 pays 8-1; and a 9 costs the house 6 to 1. On a special 8-8-8 bust if the cards are unsuited the payoff is 50-1 and if the trio are suited the Bustit bet scores 200 to 1.
Triple Blackjack Attack
The martial-sounding Double Attack Blackjack is dealt mostly in Atlantic City, otherwise known for white sand beaches, salt water taffy and Miss America. In 2010, Las Vegas-based Galaxy Gaming, the world’s second largest developer, introduced a proprietary table game called Triple Attack Blackjack that won first place in Casino Journal’s Best New Table Games of 2010 Competition. Shuffle Master offered to distribute the game along with its Double Attack Blackjack but Galaxy declined and handles distribution itself.
As the name implies Triple Attack Blackjack provides the player with two chances to increase the initial bet. The game is not dealt in reverse order and the bets are placed before the cards are dealt, after the first round of cards and after the dealer’s face-up card is dealt. The player is not required to make a Second Attack wager in order to be eligible to bet again on the Third Attack. In exchange for fielding this firepower the house hits on soft 17s and gets a push on all dealer draws to 22, not a loss.