Double-Up Blackjack: BetMGM & Borgata Online Casino Launch Table Game Variant in New Jersey

Blackjack fans in New Jersey have a new variant they can try at BetMGM-owned online casinos: Double-Up Blackjack. BetMGM partnered with the game’s owner, Score Gaming, for the rights to offer it.

Double-Up Blackjack is the most popular game in Score’s line of “End 16” games. In these games, a dealer’s 16 results in players’ bets being returned to them. That’s to the player’s disadvantage, but the point is to offset another feature that favors the player. What that feature is depends on the game.

In the case of Double-Up Blackjack, the gimmick is that players can double on any starting hand without needing to hit. The only exception is a natural blackjack, in which case the player wins before making any decisions.

Double-Up Blackjack first became available at US retail casinos in 2012 and has proven successful. Score says that over one-third of retail casinos now offer it. However, BetMGM Casino and Borgata Online will be the first to offer it in digital format. For now, it is only available in New Jersey but is likely to spread to BetMGM’s sites in other states once it receives regulatory approval.

Oliver Bartlett, BetMGM’s Vice President of Gaming Product, said:

Double-Up Blackjack offers a twist on the classic game and adds another layer of excitement for players. Double-Up Blackjack further strengthens the variety of our table game offerings that feature in-house produced titles from Entain, as well as great partners like Score Gaming.

How to Play Double-Up Blackjack at BetMGM

Double-Up Blackjack is a new table game at BetMGM Casino and Borgata Online.The selling point of Double-Up Blackjack is that you can double and stand. In conventional blackjack, doubling requires the player to hit, making it a good move only on 9, 10, 11, or when holding an Ace.

The Double-Up option makes it possible to double profitably on high totals. It’s always a good idea to do it with a 20, usually with a 19, and occasionally on an 18. 

Score Gaming’s End 16 rule is sometimes referred to as Push 16, which makes its function clearer. When the dealer makes a 16, all player hands except 21 result in a push—meaning players get their bets back but receive no winnings. This is in contrast to conventional blackjack rules, in which the dealer would be forced to hit on 16.

Hitting on 16 means the dealer is more likely to bust than to improve. Meanwhile, the need to act first means that any players who go bust will have done so before the push and do not get their bets back.

So, although Score frames this rule as “ensuring the players can win but can never lose,” it strongly benefits the house.

That’s okay because it allows room for Score to add other features that tip the balance back the player’s way. Blackjack has a tiny house edge (often under 1%) to begin with. Adding any player-favorable mechanics wouldn’t be possible without a compensating disadvantage.

In this case, the combination of End 16 and the Double-Up option creates a game with a very nice theoretical RTP of 99.72%, as long as you stay away from the side bet (see below).

The Bonus 16 Side Bet

Like most novelty blackjack variants, Double-Up Blackjack offers a side bet option. As is usually the case, the odds aren’t great for the player. Playing with the side bet will reduce your RTP to 93.2%, though it does offer the chance to hit some big payouts.

As the name suggests, the side bet pays out if the dealer makes a 16, and the other bets get pushed.

How much the Bonus 16 Bet pays out depends on how quickly the dealer gets to 16. If the dealer starts with 16, the bet pays out 4-1. But each time the dealer needs to hit, the potential payout gets higher:

  • Two cards: 4-1
  • Three cards: 5-1
  • Four cards: 10-1
  • Five cards: 50-1
  • Six cards: 100-1
  • Seven or more cards: 500-1

 

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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