DraftKings has a new blackjack variant available, and it’s an interesting one. Bingo Blackjack allows players to win multiples of their bet when they can beat the dealer’s hand and match a specified total.
Legal online gambling in the US has shown us that sports bettors, in particular, love blackjack. When Pennsylvania releases revenue figures, it breaks them down by table games and slots. The sports-focused operators like DraftKings consistently make much more money from the tables than casino-first operators. Revenue also shot up when the first blackjack titles received regulatory approval in 2019.
Developing exclusive in-house games has been part of DraftKings’ strategy from early on. These mainly consist of slots titles and blackjack variants. Most of DraftKings’ new blackjack titles are cosmetic variants or variations you’d find from time to time in a brick-and-mortar casino. Bingo Blackjack is one of the first that’s truly original and unique to DraftKings. It filed a patent for the game in July 2021, but completing development and obtaining regulatory approval seems to have taken some time.
How Does Bingo Blackjack Work?
- It offers the chance to win larger-than-normal prizes
- It’s immediately understandable
Bingo Blackjack nails it on both fronts. It takes all the features of a standard blackjack game, including options like splitting, doubling, insurance and surrender, and builds on them with one simple mechanic.
First, the bad news: you’ll pay a 20% premium per hand to play Bingo Blackjack, called the Bingo Activator. That’s to cover the additional money you stand to win.
So, for instance, if you’re paying $25 per hand blackjack, you’ll actually be forced to risk $30 each time.
However, it all works out in the end. Bingo Blackjack has a theoretical RTP of 99.86% with perfect strategy, which is even better than most online blackjack variants.
Here’s how it works: at the start of each hand, two “balls” pop out of a tube, one showing a target number (from 12 to 21) and the other showing a multiplier (from 2x to 100x).
If you win the hand – per the usual rules of blackjack – and your hand value equals the target number, congratulations! You will win the regular bet amount times the multiplier.
Dead simple, right? You already know how it works, yet you’re probably also realizing that the implications are pretty complex.
Bingo Blackjack Strategy
Even for regular blackjack, “basic” strategy isn’t all that basic. It requires memorizing several tables which tell you what to do with each possible player hand against each possible dealer up-card.
The Bingo mechanic in this game causes the number of possibilities to explode. Now there is a separate set of tables for every possible target number and every possible multiplier to go with that target number.
Intuitively, it’s pretty obvious how Bingo Blackjack strategy will differ from the regular game in qualitative terms:
- When your total is less than the target number, situations that would be a stand may become a hit instead, as you have more upside
- Likewise, when doubling is an option, you should be more inclined to double when you have a chance to hit the target number
- Both effects become stronger the larger the multiplier is
Good luck memorizing the right move for every possible situation, though. The good news is that regulations require DraftKings to provide the perfect strategy in-game. You’ll find it by clicking the Gear Wheel icon, choosing Paytable, and scrolling down. If you’re unsure how to play, especially with a big multiplier on the line, you can scroll to find the appropriate table, and it will tell you the statistically correct play to make.
Comparing Conventional Blackjack to Bingo Blackjack
For small multipliers, the strategy is almost the same as you’d be playing at a regular blackjack table.
For instance, holding a hard 13 to 16 in conventional blackjack, you would hit against a dealer 7 or higher and stand against all other cards.
With a 2x multiplier and a 17 bingo target, that strategy doesn’t change in Bingo Blackjack, except for one case. If you have a hard 13 and the dealer is showing a 2, the bingo possibility gives you just enough value to hit where you would otherwise stand.
With big multipliers, however, the strategy changes more dramatically, to the point that you’ll be doing things you’d never do at a regular blackjack table. Even a 5x multiplier will have you doubling a lot more than you otherwise would and hitting most 16s if the bingo is still available, sometimes even on hard 17, which is always a no-no in conventional blackjack.
If you happen to get a 100x multiplier, the payoff for getting that bingo is so enormous you should take literally any risk to hit it.
That’s right. Literally any risk. The tables say you should hit on 20 if the target is 21 and the multiplier is 100x. Not only that, but you should hit on a soft 21 if the target is 20 or less.
Other Blackjack Variants at DraftKings
If you’re looking for variety, there’s more than just Bingo Blackjack at DraftKings. Other novelty variants it has added include:
- Four 20s: Another DraftKings original with a title that makes a sly reference to pot culture. You play four hands at once and have a side bet that pays out for making exactly 20 in one or more hands. Naturally enough, getting four 20s pays out 420:1.
- Down Under Blackjack: A brick-and-mortar casino variant in which the dealer reveals whether his down card is Low (2-5), Medium (6-9) or High (10-A). The DraftKings version also has a side bet that triggers when one or both of the player’s cards match the dealer’s.
- Spanish 21: Another brick-and-mortar casino variant. There are no 10s in the deck, but a player blackjack always wins, even if the dealer has one too. There’s also a complicated side bet involving what kind of three-card hand the player makes if they hit.