Multiple Action Blackjack just may be the strangest breed of blackjack you meet on the casino floor. Why is that? Well, for one thing operators love it because it generates one of the biggest house advantages in the game of twenty one. At the same time, card counters love Multiple Action Blackjack because it is easier to disguise their nefarious methods and since the house is winning so consistently anyway there is less incentive for vigilance. So who is taking the beating? It is the average player. Let’s see what is going on here.
Where Did Multiple Action Blackjack Come From?
Multiple Action Blackjack was first dealt in the Four Queens Hotel and Casino on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas in 1991. The casino is of 1960s vintage and the titular queens were the daughters of builder Ben Goffstein – Faith, Hope, Benita and Michele. Four Queens copyrighted and patented the game and began shopping it around for $500 per month per table. It was not a hard sell. Not only was the casino hold – the percentage that the dealer wins back from the player – consistently higher than traditional blackjack tables but the players were attracted to this losing table any way.
How Does Multiple Action Blackjack Play?
The game is dealt exactly like traditional blackjack, from a four-, six- or eight-deck shoe. The difference is that the player has three betting circles into which one bet must be placed with a second or third bet optional. Many houses require at least two bets to be placed in Multiple Action Blackjack and some require all three circles to be played. The player then makes decisions on the hand against the dealer’s show card. That one hand will be the marker for all three bets which the dealer will play one bet at a time.
As an example, the player is dealt a queen and a nine against a dealer six. The player stands on 19. The dealer then plays the six and draws an eight and a king. Bust – the player wins the first bet. The dealer mucks the eight and king and plays the six again against the player 19 and draws a five and a queen. The dealer wins the second bet. The dealer discards the five and queen and plays the six against the third bet. The draw is a three and a nine for 18 and the player wins the third bet. Multiple action on a single hand.
So Why Is This Game So Insidious to the Average Player?
Let’s change the example a bit. Say the player is dealt a 16 against a dealer 10. Blackjack basic strategy avows that the correct play is to take a hit and this will result in more wins than a bust. But in Multiple Action Blackjack a hit and bust loses all three bets! Boom, just like that. So the tendency for even smart players is to play conservatively, stand, and take the chance that the dealer will bust at least once on the three plays and maybe two or three times. Which is exactly a losing strategy.
The correct strategy in Multiple Action Blackjack is the exact same strategy employed in traditional blackjack. Let’s repeat that. The correct strategy in Multiple Action Blackjack is the exact same strategy employed in traditional blackjack. And then means hitting with a bust lurking. But the three hands mess up players’ thinking. The house advantage does not change one iota but smart players beat themselves and lesser players are even more adrift at the table.
And How Do Card Counters Profit from Multiple Action Blackjack?
With the multiple action and more players ignoring basic strategy the table begins to resemble a free-for-all so it becomes more difficult for tell-tale betting patterns to be picked out by those looking for just such a thing. If anything, a card counter can adopt a risk averse strategy of limiting doubling and splitting that will provide the same potential returns without the fluctuations to a bankroll that those plays typically carry.
Players love action and Multiple Action Blackjack provides just that – two and three times more play in the same time at the table. Be aware of the tendency to play conservatively and this game can be very rewarding. As history has shown us, we fail far more from timidity than we do from over daring.