Double Exposure Blackjack

Imagine a game of Blackjack where you could see both the dealers cards, before you had to play your hand? A dream come true? Perhaps but lets take a closer look at this Blackjack game called Double Exposure Blackjack.

This game originated in 1979 at Vegas World Casino in Las Vegas. Since then the game has surfaced numerous times at different casinos throughout the world, sometimes with a different name (Face-up, Show and Tell are just a few of the different names). At first glace this game seems to be the answer to every blackjack players wish, "if only I knew what that hole card was". Knowing what that hole card is means you would know when to hit and when to stand. Having a 17 and seeing the dealer at 18 makes the stand or hit decision simple, you have to hit or you lose. Even though the player can see the dealers hand, and despite the immediate reaction that this gives the player an advantage the house maintains it's edge over the players though modified rules.

The following table summarizes the rules for Double Expouse Blackjack, and how they compare with the regular game of Blackjack.

Rule Double Exposure Regular Blackjack
Tie Hands Dealer wins all ties except
Player wins all blackjack ties.
Player neither wins or loses
Blackjack Hand Plays even money or 1 to 1 Pays 3 to 2
Doubling Only permitted on two-card hand
totaling 9, 10 or 11
Player can double on any two-card total
Doubling after
pair splitting
Allowed Allowed
Dealer Soft 17 Dealer must stand Dealer must stand
Resplits Not Allowed Allowed
Surrender Not Allowed Some casinos allow

We can see in the table above that their are a number of negative rules that affect the houses edge in a positive manner. These negative rules more than offset the advantage gained by being shown the dealers cards. The biggest rule changes that have the most impact on the game are the dealer winning all tied hands (except for blackjack ties) and the player only receiving even money for a blackjack.

In a typical Blackjack game the houses edge is somewhere around 0.3 - 0.5% when basic strategy is used. In Double Exposure Blackjack the house edge rises to about 0.7% again this is for when the player uses basic strategy.

A word now about the basic strategy for Double Exposure Blackjack: As you can imagine, the mathematically derived, optimum playing strategy for this game is quite different from the basic strategy you would use in the regular game of blackjack. When you think about it, most hands in Double Exposure Blackjack are automatic losers if you don't take the chance and hit. If you hold a 19 and the dealer should a 19, you know you will lose (remember, the dealer wins all ties) so you should hit. For those interested in learning the basic strategy for this game (and you should if you intent to play it!), I recommend the books Basic Blackjack by Stnaford Wong or Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete.

Besides learning the basic strategy for this game, you should also tale advantage of a casino's comping policy. Most casinos will figure that they will win about 2% of all the bets you make at this game. By learning the basic strategy, your expected loss is only 0.7% times the amount of your bets. In other words, your expected loss will be less than what the casino calculates. This means that you'll end up with a comp worth more than your actual expected table losses.

Make sure you ask the table supervisor for your comps before you leave the table. Your comps will often ofset the losses your suffer when playing. The casino will rarely offer you your comps so be sure to ask for them.

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