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Winning streaks

24 November 2000

I received an e-mail from a reader who stated she saw an interesting side bet at a blackjack table where players were betting on a certain number of consecutive winning hands. She wanted to know more about it and whether it was a worthwhile bet to make.

The name of this side bet is called Streak, and it was developed by Mao Gaming. It is being test marketed in some gaming jurisdictions and more plan to introduce it in the near future.

After making a traditional blackjack wager, a player has the option to bet on how many consecutive hands he thinks he will win. A space above the traditional betting spot contains four circles. If the player decides to make a Streak wager, he places his chips in at least one of the four betting circles that indicate a streak of 2 in a row, 3 in a row, 4 in a row or 5 in a row.

If a player bets on 2 in a row and wins 2 consecutive blackjack hands, the player gets paid at 4 to 1 odds. That means if you bet $5 and win, your payoff is $20. Tied hands (or pushes) do not affect the Streak wager. Likewise, if a player split and won one hand and lost the other the result is treated like a push (no effect on the Streak wager). However, if one split hand won and the other pushed, it would count as a net win for the purposes of the streak bet (likewise, if you lost one split hand and pushed the other, it would count as a net loss).

One of the advantages of the Streak bet is that it does not require the player to alter the basic playing strategy. Also it fits in nicely with the goal of every blackjack player, which is to win as many hands as possible.

The payoffs for the Streak bets are as follows.

Streak BetPayoff
Win 2 in a row3 to 1
Win 3 in a row7 to 1
Win 4 in a row17 to 1
Win 5 in a row37 to 1

Bet $5 on the 2 in a row and you can win $15 if you manage to win 2 consecutive hands. If you really feel lucky and wager that you'll win 5 consecutive hands and do it, you can win a whopping $185!

In order to determine the casino's edge on the Streak bet, you have to know the probability of winning any hand in blackjack. This is a fairly common statistic in blackjack. On average for every blackjack hand you can expect to win 43.2 percent, lose 47.8 percent, and push 8.9 percent. If you eliminate the ties, then the probability of winning any hand is 47.5 percent.

Knowing what the probability is for winning any one hand, it's relatively easy to compute the probability of wining 2 or more hands. For example, the probability of winning two consecutive hands is 47.5 percent times 47.5 percent which equals 22.56 percent or 0.2256. For three consecutive hands, it's 47.5 percent times 47.5 percent times 47.5 percent, or 0.1071, and so forth. By converting the probability to odds and then comparing the result to the casino payoff, it's relatively easy to compute the casino advantage for each bet.

Streak BetCasino Advantage
Win 2 in a row9.7%
Win 3 in a row14.3%
Win 4 in a row8.4%
Win 5 in a row8.2%

Although the payoffs are tempting for Streak, the casino's edge is a little steep, especially when you compare it to the 0.5 percent casino edge for the traditional blackjack bet (assuming basic strategy). Why would anyone make a bet with a 0.5 percent casino edge and then follow it with one that has almost a 20-fold higher casino edge?

This is not the first or the last side bet you'll find at blackjack. Developers have tried other side bets, such as paying a bonus if the first two player cards are suited (Royal Match) or whether the player is dealt one or more sevens (Super Sevens). None of these side bets, including Streak, however, have given the player a good gamble.


For more information about blackjack:

Blackjack: Take the Money and Run by Henry Tamburin
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
Recent Articles
Best of Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin