Lucky 13s Blackjack
Lucky 13s Blackjack is a fairly new blackjack variation where each deck of cards gets four 11’s, 12’s, and 13’s added to it. The overall gameplay is the same as classic blackjack.
Using this guide you’ll find a detailed rundown of the game’s rules and structure, including the differences between Lucky 13s Blackjack and traditional twenty-one. Get in-depth explanations on how these rule changes affect the player. Next up is a guide to figuring out where you might find the game in the future, followed by an introduction to the strategic elements needed to play your cards correctly.
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Rules and How to Play
Lucky 13s Blackjack was created by expanding on the classic game of twenty-one, so if you’re not familiar with the basics of blackjack, we recommend heading over to the main game page first for a quick study session.
Once you understand how the base game works, return to the Lucky 13s Blackjack page to see how both versions compare. Since Lucky 13s Blackjack closely mirrors the original format, the basic rules remain the same across both games – unless otherwise noted.
This means that a new hand will begin when all players present place their mandatory Ante bet, the objective of the game is to create a total of 21 (or closest to it) using two or more cards, without “busting” or going over, and when you make a blackjack (any 10 value card plus any 11 value card), the hand is deemed an automatic winner with a payout of 3 to 2 on your Ante bet.
Main Difference: Additional Cards in the Deck
The first point of departure between Lucky 13s Blackjack and the original game concerns the deck. The standard 52 card deck of playing cards has been supplemented by the addition of 12 new cards (11s, 12s, and 13s in each suit).
The fundamental difference between Lucky 13 Blackjack and its predecessor stems from the game’s inclusion of 12 new cards. With 11s, 12s, and 13s in each suit adding to the intrigue, the number of possible hand combinations increases accordingly.
Even so, the values for each card remain the same, so cards between 2 and 13 hold a value equal to their numerical rank, all face cards (J, Q, K) hold a value of 10, and the aces are valued at either 1 or 11 based on the situation. Lucky 13s Blackjack also utilizes the shoe containing multiple 64 card decks.
Lucky 13s Blackjack Rules
Lucky 13s Blackjack was devised by adjusting a few important rules from the base game, so we’ll walk you through each change one by one, first explaining the rule itself before briefly describing the impact it exerts on the overall game:
The Dealer Receives Only One Up Card to Begin
Borrowing an element from the “European” school of blackjack, the one card rule simply means that the dealer will only receive a single card face up while the players take their first two cards. Only when all player actions have been completed will the dealer then take their second card and complete their own actions.
A Dealer Blackjack Nullifies All Player Hands Except for Blackjack
Should the player double down or split, only to see the dealer produce a blackjack on their first two cards, all player bets will be lost; except on occasions when the player also holds a blackjack, in which case bets will be returned as a push.
Dealer Must Stand on Hard 16 or Higher and Soft 17 or Higher
In traditional blackjack, whenever the shows a total of 17 which includes an ace, typically known as a “soft 17” because the value can be changed to 7 at the moment, the dealer will often be forced to stand and take no more cards. This is popularly found on “American” blackjack tables, and over the long run, dealers having to stand on soft 17s lends a slight benefit to the player. Lucky 13s Blackjack maintains the “dealer stands on soft 17” rule, while also adding in a second must stand hand: hard 16s. Whenever the dealer holds a hard hand total of 16 or higher, they will be forced to stand.
Winning Blackjacks Pay Out at 3 to 2
The best hand in the game, any ace or 11 value card coupled with any face card or 10 value hand, is known as blackjack. When you’re lucky enough to find a blackjack, you’ll receive the standard 3 to 2 payout on your Ante bet awarded by most traditional blackjack games. A number of popular blackjack variants compensate for rules which favor the player by lowering the payout on blackjacks to even money, but in Lucky 13s Blackjack, the 3 to 2 premium is preserved.
Players Can Double Down on Any Two First Cards
The double down option is available to players at any point when holding the original two-card starting hand, so you can double down any total. Doubling down requires and additional bet equal to your Ante wager be placed, before the dealer completes your hand with the deal of a third and final card.
Players Can Split and Re-Split Hands up to Four Times
Whenever you hold a two-card starting hand comprised of a pair of identical card ranks, you can elect to split the hand and form two new hands. The choice to split requires an additional wager equal to the Ante bet be put up. When you split, the dealer will then distribute a single card to both of the split cards, forming two new two-card starting hands. If these new hands happen to contain identical card ranks, you can then choose to re-split by following the same procedure. Re splitting can be performed up to four times and you can re-split aces as well.
Players Can Double Down After Splitting
After you split two paired cards to form two new hands, you can then decide to double down on either of them should the situation warrant.
Players May Not Surrender
In some blackjack variants, such as Super Fun 21, players can opt to surrender the hand when holding an inferior total against a strong dealer up card. Surrendering returns one-half the player’s Ante bet. In the game of Lucky 13s Blackjack, however, players have no surrender option.
Splitting a Bust Hand
Imagine you’ve been dealt a 12 along with another 12 as your two hole cards. In this case, you begin the hand holding a 24 total, so you should already be bust. Starting with a busted hand is impossible in traditional blackjack, and for good reason: players hate nothing more than losing a hand before having any chance to influence the outcome.
Fortunately, in Lucky 13s Blackjack, you can decide to split these paired “bust” totals to form two new starting hands. By splitting, your pair of 12s for a 24 total would become two 12 value hole cards, which when then receive a second card each to form new starting hands. Of course, should you take a face card or higher on either of the 12s, you’ll simply go bust once again, so maneuvering around these larger 11, 12, and 13 cards gives this game its sense of strategy.
Whenever you hold a pair of 11s, 12s, or 13s, your choices are simple: split the hand or go bust. Willingly deciding to go bust may seem like a non-starter at first, but as you’ll learn in the strategy section, certain scenarios call for taking a single bust rather than splitting and running the risk of busting twice.
Hands You Can’t Split
Whenever you hold a “bust” hand which does not contain a pair, such as a 10 value and any 12 or 13, or any unpaired combination of 11s, 12s, or 13s, your hand will be deemed an immediate bust. These unpaired 22 25 value hands provide the game’s element of risk, as certain starting hands will leave you with no recourse other than the loss of your Ante bet.
Lucky 13s Blackjack Side Bets
Finally, when playing Lucky 13s Blackjack you’ll have two optional side bets at your disposal: the Protection Bet and the Pairs Bet.
Protection Bet & Payouts
When making the Protection Bet, you are simply protecting yourself from losing on one of the unpaired 22 25 hands described above. When you happen to go bust on a starting hand totaling 22, 23, 24, or 25 – or hold a pair of 13s for a 26 total before splitting – the Protection Bet will payout according to the pay table below:
|Player 26 vs. Dealer 13||200 to 1|
|Player 26 vs. Dealer A-12||40 to 1|
|Player 22-25 vs. Dealer 13||25 to 1|
|Player 22-25 vs. Dealer A-12||5 to 1|
As you can see, a multiplier of 5x will be applied whenever the dealer shows a 13 as their up card.
Pairs Bet & Payouts
When making the Pairs Bet, you are betting that your first two cards will form a pair. The Pairs Bet pays out according to the following pay table:
|Any Pair vs. Dealer 13||60 to 1|
|Any Pair vs. Dealer A-12||12 to 1|
Once again, a multiplier of 5x is applied whenever the dealer’s up card shows a 13 on a winning Pairs Bet.
Best Places to Play Lucky 13s Blackjack
Unfortunately for fans of this exciting blackjack variant, Lucky 13s Blackjack no longer appears in any known brick and mortar casino or online gambling platform.
Previously, the game could be found at the Grosvenor Casinos in Manchester and Northhampton in the U.K., along with Royal Caribbean brand casino themed cruise ships.
Today, however, a search for the game at these venues produces no results, while the official game website and Facebook page have both been deactivated.
With that said, casino games rise from the dead all the time, so you never know if Lucky 13s Blackjack may be purchased by a more successful game manufacturer in the future, or whether a table games manager somewhere will take a flyer on a temporary installation. If you’re really keen on playing Lucky 13s Blackjack, keep searching online and calling around to local casinos, and eventually you just might get lucky and locate a table nearby.
Strategic Considerations for Lucky 13s Blackjack
When it comes to blackjack variants, the first thing to think about as you begin assessing strategy is how to play your cards given the possible scenarios.
After all, blackjack has been “cracked” on the mathematical level, and basic strategy charts have been around for decades, helping players size up their own hole cards in relation to the dealer’s up card, before advising the optimal play.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
The same is true for Lucky 13s Blackjack, and for the best basic strategy chart in the business, we refer readers to Michael Shackleford and his Wizard of Odds website. Here you’ll find a mathematically sound strategy chart which includes advice on every possible situation you can expect to encounter during a session of Lucky 13s Blackjack.
Remember the discussion about when it may be appropriate to take a bust, rather than splitting a pair of 12s or 13s? Well, according to Shackleford’s basic strategy chart for Lucky 13s Blackjack, you should be choosing the bust in lieu of the split whenever you hold a pair of 12s against a dealer’s ace, or a pair of 13s against a dealer’s ace, 9, or 10.
- Hit simply means hit or take a single additional card. It’s color coded green because green means go.
- Double means to double down. Simply slide an extra bet equal to your first wager out.
- Stand means stand or take no more cards. It’s color coded red because red means stop.
- Split means split. Put your cards side by side and slide an additional bet the same size as your first bet forward.
- The H stands for a hard hand. A H5 means a three and a two.
- The S stands for a soft hand, so each one includes an Ace counted as 11. If you have a hand with the Ace counted as one you have a hard hand.
For more revelations such as this, be sure to study the basic strategy chart compiled by Shackleford, who has more than earned his reputation as one of the foremost casino game theorists of his day.
Try To Reduce House Edge
When you do incorporate the basic strategy guidelines, the overall house edge offered by Lucky 13s Blackjack stands at 1.32 percent. While this would be a terrific rate for most table games, in actuality, even this low house edge is still too high for a blackjack variant.
Consider, for example, that ordinary blackjack offers basic strategy players a house edge just under 0.50 percent. Even by playing regular twenty-one using your gut instinct alone, the house edge only rises to roughly 1.50 percent.
Thus, Lucky 13s Blackjack doesn’t offer any inherent house edge benefits over the alternative, so from a purely strategic standpoint, you should probably be foregoing this game in favor of regular blackjack games.
Side Bets Are Sucker Bets
When it comes to the game’s two side bets, both fall into the category of “sucker bets,” but one offers much better odds over the long run.
- The Protection Bet, you’ll be incurring an overall house edge of 8.45 percent – ranking it among some of the worst side bets around. Furthermore, you’ll only receive a “bust” hand of 22-25 on 9.40 percent of hands, so more than 1 out of 10 times you’ll simply lose this bet to the house.
- The Pairs Bet is slightly better with a house edge of 5.88 percent, but out of 8.2 million possible deals, 7.8 million of them will result in a loss.
Overall, you’ll be best served by sticking to the base game and avoiding both of these side bets.
Lucky 13s Blackjack History
The blackjack variant known as Lucky 13s Blackjack was invented in 2014 by Vinny Sandhu, who served as general manager of Engaging Table Games Pty. Ltd. – a company based in Perth, Australia.
The game made its debut at the 2014 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the live version was displayed and demonstrated. In addition to placement in brick and mortar casinos, Sandhu also designed a version suitable for play via online casAt one point Lucky 13s could be found in a pair of Grosvenor Casinos located in the United Kingdom, as well as a line of casino themed cruise ships. Sandhu and Engaging Table Games also announced plans to license the online Lucky 13s Blackjack concept to internet based casinos in Australia, but as of this time these plans have yet to materialize.
Failed to Become Popular
Today, the game appears to be yet another novel casino gaming creation that simply failed to catch on with a wide base of gambling consumers.
Nonetheless, the idea behind Lucky 13s Blackjack is quite interesting, as Sandhu expands on the foundation formed by traditional twenty-one by adding three new card ranks to the deck: 11s, 12s, and 13s. With four of each new card rank, a Lucky 13s Blackjack deck consists of 64 cards, and the addition of ranks higher than the usual face cards (valued at 10) and aces (valued at 1 or 11) provides for new dimensions in the gameplay experience.
Because the casino gaming landscape is constantly shifting in response to market demands, previously extinct games always stand a chance of being revived.