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The Bustout Side Bet

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Shhh... It's the Bustout Side-Bet (wink)

By Arnold Snyder
(From Card Player, August 1993)
© Arnold Snyder1993

Question from a Player: The Desert Inn in Las Vegas has a new rule called “Bust Out.” If the dealer has a stiff, the player can side-bet any amount up to the bet on his hand that the dealer’s next card will be a ten-valued card to bust him. Like insurance, winning bustout bets pay 2-to-1.

Would I be correct to just use my insurance index to place bustout bets? It seems to me that it’s technically the same thing — you’re just betting that the next card dealt will be a ten. Right?

How to Play the Bust-out Side Bet

Answer: More or less. The only difference is that insurance indices are derived assuming that one non-ten has been removed (the dealer’s ace upcard). Since the Desert Inn game is a 6-deck game, your insurance index is pretty accurate.

The same rule, however, is also being offered at the Golden Gate casino downtown on a one-deck table. If you play bust out at a one-deck game, use your multiple-deck insurance index, not your one-deck index. The multiple-deck insurance index will be closer to accurate.

The invention of this rule was first reported in Card Player last May. In the June issue of Blackjack Forum, we reported in our Las Vegas column that the bustout option was similar to an insurance bet that presented itself “nearly five times as often.” Bustout is an easy bet to analyze, precisely because the player is essentially betting the exact same thing that he is when he takes insurance — that a specified unseen card will be a 10, J, Q or K.

A couple of details should be pointed out. You can only place the bustout bet after you have played your hand, and only if you still have a hand in play. If you bust, you cannot place a bustout bet.

Likewise, if you have a blackjack, you will be paid off on your blackjack before the bustout bet is offered, so you will not have a hand in play. If the bet is ever offered in conjunction with surrender, you will probably not be allowed to place the bustout bet if you surrender. If you double or split, you may only place the bustout bet up to the amount of your original bet.

Probably the best count for taking advantage of the bustout bet is the old Jacques Noir (Casino Holiday) unbalanced ten count, which would provide a ten-vs-nonten indicator by running count with a 100% correlation.

Best Count for the Bust-out Side Bet

Here’s the scoop: tens = -2; nontens = +1. Place your insurance and bustout bets any time your running count is greater than 4 times the number of decks in play. That’s it. 100% correlation.

Against non-counters, the house has close to an 8% advantage over the players on this bet. I suspect this will be a very profitable option for many casinos to offer, despite the fact that it can be taken advantage of by card counters.

Bustout is similar to the over/under rule in that the house edge vs. the average player is quite high, but an astute card counter can beat it. Over/under suffered primarily because the interest in the bet died quickly after the novelty wore off. Over/under ended up being an option that was primarily taken advantage of by card counters — who only placed over/under bets when favorable to them. Most of the casinos in Nevada that once offered over/under games have since dropped them.

My understanding of the current bustout games, however, is that the bet seems to be very popular with many players, because players enjoy really sticking it to a dealer. Get him when he’s down: When he’s stiff as a board, get more money on the table. It’s being viewed by players as a new type of doubling down option that not only pays two-to-one but that they can take after they’ve seen the dealer’s hole card, and when he’s at his weakest. There’s a sadistic joy to winning a bustout bet that really excites some players.

This could mean that despite card counters taking some rewards from these bustout tables, the casinos that offer bustout might still profit handsomely. There are very few casinos anywhere in the U.S. that don’t offer insurance, because the non-counters lose so much more on insurance than the counters win. No casino can afford to take the insurance option off of their tables.

Most counting systems provide a fairly accurate insurance index, since most counting systems are primarily based on a ten count. The bustout bet is probably one of the most valuable options a card counter will find on blackjack tables today. (The bet is also being offered at a couple casinos in Laughlin.)

Counters have to hope that the bet becomes popular enough with non-counters that it spreads widely before the masses of counters discover it and kill it. Technically, the casinos ought to make a mint with this rule. Once the tourists go for it, we’ll all have it made in the shade.

A player will be offered the bustout option on about one-third of his hands. Insurance is offered only when the dealer has an ace up, or on 1 out of 13 hands. If bustout becomes popular, the casinos should find it to be a real money machine. Consider: insurance is also limited to half the amount of the player’s bet on his blackjack hand. The bustout option is being offered up to the full amount on the player’s blackjack hand.

So, although this means that a card counter can ultimately get eight times as much money into action on bustout as on insurance, it also means that the casino can get eight times as much action on bustout from all players — not just counters — on the bustout option. This is a lot of potential side-bet action at close to 8% for the house against many players.

How often it will be optimal for a counter to take the bustout option will depend on the number of decks in play and the shuffle-point. As with just about every other profit opportunity in blackjack, the fewer and the deeper the better.

You know, it just might work . . . The bustout bet may be the answer to all of our prayers . . . Yes, that’s it! The casinos and the card counters will all get rich together, and live happily ever after!

Who invented this thing anyway? The kid’s a genius!

Thank goodness, something really wonderful has happened in the blackjack community. Bustout. An option with no downside . . .

Well, okay . . . maybe one downside . . .

What if the “average” players find out they’re losing their shirts at bustout? They’ll quit playing it...

Hmmmm . . . We can’t let them find out. That’s all there is to it.

Here’s what we do:

It’s important that we really get the support of the card counting community on this one. We are declaring September, 1993, to be BUSTOUT MONTH! (But, shhh . . . don’t tell the tourists.) All month, we will take the bustout bet wherever we find it, no matter what the count. We’ve got to develop real tourist interest in the bustout bet.

All card counters must vow to play at least one hour per day at whatever the table minimum, and play that bustout bet! Yeah! And play it badly, not just when the count’s up. And talk it up.

Every time you win a bustout bet, get LOUD about your joy! We want the tourists (and the brain cell-impaired locals who don’t know enough to read the inside dope right here) taking this bet all the time. Then, after we’ve got enough of the know-nothings feeding the Bustout Monster — and, oh, what a monster of a moneymaker it could be for the casinos! — we’ll inconspicuously revert to card counting at 12:01 AM on October 1, 1993.


A plan.

Our future wealth is insured.

Boy, do I feel good, or what?

Got a get-rich-quick scheme that’s cheap and easy? Send it to: The Bishop, c/o Blackjack Forum Online.  ♠

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  How to Kill a Blackjack Casino Promotion
This Blackjack Forum article discusses a casino promotion called the "Bustout". Blackjack players can often play casino promotions for significantly more profit than is available with card counting.