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Lucky Ladies Blackjack

With so many online blackjack games out there, one of the main ways in which developers can set their games apart from each other is through their side bets. Sure, there’s variation in the rules used, and different interfaces can be more or less appealing to different players, but it is usually the side bets that truly make one game different from the next.

Such is the case in Lucky Ladies Blackjack, a game created by NYX Gaming. To be certain, there are a handful of other factors that make this version of the timeless table classic a bit different than most of the competition, including a sort of hybrid ruleset that borrows from both American and European traditions. But the Lucky Ladies bonus bet is what truly makes this a unique offering, one with the potential for some big payouts if you happen to hit just the right cards in your starting hand.

A Mix of Popular Rules

There are almost as many sets of rules for blackjack as there are versions of the game in existence, so it’s hardly a surprise when you find one that doesn’t fit neatly into the broad categories like “American” or “European.” This game is a good example, as some of the rules seem to come from one end of the spectrum, while others are more common in the other.

In this game, cards are dealt out of a shoe comprised of six decks of standard playing cards (52 cards per deck). At the start of the game, you’ll be asked to make bets on up to three hands that you’re allowed to play; each hand is handled independently, and you can play any number between one and three. Each hand also has the option for a side bet; we’ll talk about that a bit later, but for now, know that this is an optional bet that you may choose to make or not make on each hand you play.

Once your bets are set, you may begin the hand. Each player hand will receive two face up cards; the dealer will receive one card face up, and one card face down. The object of the game is to beat the dealer by coming closer to 21 without going over. Each card adds to your hand score: numbered cards are worth their pip value, face cards are worth 10, and aces can be worth 1 or 11, based on what is more beneficial for you.

If you start the hand with a 21 – an ace and a ten-point card – then you are said to have made a blackjack. These hands always win, except against a dealer blackjack, in which case your hand will push. If the dealer is showing an ace or a ten, they will “check” for blackjack at the start of the hand in order to see if they’ve made a natural 21. In the case of an ace, players will also be offered insurance; this costs half the amount of your initial bet, and pays out at 2-1 if the dealer does in fact have a 21.

If the dealer does not start with 21, then all player blackjacks pay out at 3-2 odds. Other hands may then be played, with several options being available to players. The following choices are available, depending on the situation:

  • Hit: At any time, you may hit, taking another card and adding its value to your score.
  • Stand: At any time, you may stand, staying with your current score and ending your turn.
  • Split: If you start with two cards of the same rank, you may split them into two separate hands. Each hand will now be played for one full bet. Each hand will receive a second card, after which they may be played as normal, with one exception – you can no longer make further splits (in other words, there is a maximum of one split per hand).
  • Double Down: If your starting hand is a 9, 10, or 11, you have the option of doubling down. If you would like to do so, you must make a second bet equal in size to your initial wager. In exchange, you will be given one additional card, after which you will be forced to stand. Both bets will pay out your hand is a winner.

Players may continue playing their hands until they either stand or end up with a score of 22 or higher. If their score exceeds 21, that hand is said to “bust,” and all bets associated with it lose immediately.

Once all player hands are completed, it is the dealer’s turn to act. The dealer will first reveal their down card, then use a simple set of rules to decide what to do. If the dealer has 16 or less, they will hit; if they have 17 or more, they will stand.

If the dealer busts, all remaining player bets win at even money odds. If the dealer stands, their total is compared to each player total. When the player has a higher score, they win (again at even money). If the dealer’s score is better, then all bets on that player hand are lost. In the case of a tie, all wagers push.

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Lucky Ladies Blackjack

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Luck Be a Lady Tonight

In addition to the standard action described above, you also have the option of participating in the Lucky Ladies side bet. You may make this bet once for every hand you play, with this bet being resolved entirely based on the cards you start with.

As the name of the bet would suggest, queens are the best cards to have for this bonus, though totals of 20 are also quite good. Matching suits or exact cards are even better, with two queens of hearts earning a monster payout. Here’s the pay table for this bet:

  • Any Queen: Even Money
  • Any Twenty: 3-1
  • Suited Twenty: 10-1
  • Matched Twenty: 30-1
  • Two Queens of Hearts: 100-1

This bet is resolved before anything else, including before the dealer checks for blackjack. Nothing that happens in the main action of the game has any bearing on the resolution of Lucky Ladies.

Solid Odds, Even on the Side

This game uses what we would describe as mostly American rules, with one exception: the restriction that only allows you to double down on a total of 9, 10, or 11. Thankfully, this doesn’t hurt the player too much, and the ability to fully play out even split aces outweighs the fact that you can only split once. Overall, this game has a house edge of just 0.37% with perfect basic strategy, and any simple strategy that gets close to the optimal returns in a “typical” blackjack game should work well for you here (with the exception that you will not be able to double down on some soft totals that you normally might).

If you’re not familiar with basic strategy, we’ve included a simplified version here for you, one based on a chart created by Michael Shackleford. While this isn’t going to get you to optimal play, it will avoid any major errors, ensuring that you get close to the maximum return. In order to use this chart, simply find the appropriate situation and take the recommended course of action. If you’re new to blackjack, keep in mind that most hands are “hard;” a soft hand is one with an ace that still counts as 11 points.

Hard Hands

  • Double Down with a 9 against a dealer 3-6.
  • Double Down with 10 or 11 if your score is higher than what the dealer is showing.
  • Otherwise, always hit with 11 or less.
  • Always stand with 17 or more.
  • With 12-16, hit against a dealer showing 7 or higher; stand against a dealer 6 or lower.

Soft Hands

  • Always hit with 17 or less.
  • Always stand with 19 or more.
  • With a soft 18, hit against a dealer 7 or higher, but stand against a dealer 6 or lower.

Pairs

  • Always split with eights or aces.
  • Never split fours, fives, or tens.
  • In all other cases, split against a dealer 6 or lower, but not against a dealer 7 or higher.

The side bet isn’t quite as good for players, but we can’t really complain here either. Most of these wagers tend to be rip offs, but here the house edge is “only” 6.22% -- high, for sure, but not nearly as bad as we’ve seen in a lot of other games. If you find this bet to be fun, then go ahead and play it, though we wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of money here.

A Unique Experience, For Better or Worse

No matter how exactly you feel about Lucky Ladies Blackjack, we feel it’s worth checking it out. The game is definitely a unique one: not only is the side bet one we hadn’t seen before, but the rule set is just a touch out of the ordinary, and even the interface is a bit odd. Buttons are spread out across the sides of the screen, which looks beautiful, but may actually get in the way of a fast, streamlined experience. Even the payouts are handled strangely, and a bit slowly – though there is thankfully a “speed pay” button that can help move the action along.

But for most players, those will be minor quirks that won’t really do anything to ruin the overall experience. If you’re looking for a fun, attractive blackjack game, and the rules we’ve described are appealing to you, then Lucky Ladies is certainly worthy of your attention.

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