Never Bust Blackjack
Never Bust Blackjack is a whole new spin on the classic casino game of blackjack. Instead of having players make the decisions of when to Hit, Stand Double, or Split, the game’s rules make those decisions automatically. Depending on the players or dealers two cards, the system makes the choices for them. The twist is that a hand can never go bust, thus the name Never Bust Blackjack. When a hand goes over 21, the card that caused the hand to go over is removed or “burned”. This leaves the last playable hand to compare against the dealers.
This guide will show you the different rules that make the Never Bust Blackjack gameplay so interesting. Learn to play using our easy step-by-step guide, with real life examples. Despite not being as popular, you will know which online casinos and companies offer this game. Get ready to play and win by looking over and learning the basic strategy.
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Never Bust Blackjack Rules
Despite the name, Never Bust Blackjack plays quite differently than the twenty-one you’ve encountered before.
If you’ve ever played Casino War, you’ll know what to expect.
Even so, readers who may be entirely unfamiliar with blackjack should visit our main blackjack game page first, as many of the fundamental concepts and terms remain the same in the Never Bust variety.
The standard 52 card deck of playing cards is used, and depending on the house rules, you may see a single deck, two decks, or a shoe containing between four and eight decks. As in basic blackjack, the usual system of valuing cards is used, so 2s through 9s hold a value equal to their numerical rank, 10s and face cards (Js, Qs, Ks) hold a value of 10, and aces hold a variable value of 1 or 11 depending on the situation.
As in normal blackjack, the objective here is to reach a total of 21 – or closest to it. However, as the game’s title suggests, in Never Bust Blackjack neither you nor the dealer can go bust by exceeding a 21 total (more on this rule in a minute).
In the game of Never Bust Blackjack, all actions are based on a preset system of rules:
The Push 22 and Push 15 Rules
The final wrinkle in the rules to keep in mind while playing Never Bust Blackjack is an old favorite of Hall, the game’s inventor.
In order to offset the player friendly rules found in most of his blackjack variants, Hall devised a system known as “Push 22” – in which any dealer hand which totals 22 doesn’t go bust and instead causes the player’s bet to be returned as a push.
Obviously, in this game making a total of 22 is impossible, so Hall revised the rule to create the “Push 15” in Never Bust Blackjack.
Essentially, whenever the dealer lands on a total of exactly 15, they will stop running through the mandatory hit/stand rules. In this case, all player bets will be returned as a push – except for player blackjacks, which will still be paid out.
How to Play Never Bust Blackjack
Placing a Bet
The game begins when players put up a mandatory ante bet, which must equal or exceed the table minimum.
To help explain crucial gameplay concepts, we’ll repeatedly return to a running example hand as a way of illustrating the way things work from the player’s perspective. So, imagine we’ve put up a $5 chip as our ante bet.
Dealer Distributes the Cards
Once all players present have anted up, the dealer will then distribute two cards face up to each player, along with two cards face up to themselves.
For the running example hand, we’ve been dealt the 10c and 4d for a 14 total, while the dealer has the Qd and 2h for a 12 total.
Player Betting Rules
So far, the game plays just like the blackjack you grew up with, but here’s where the big shift occurs: instead of acting on your own hand, standing or hitting to improve your total, or even splitting or doubling down, you have no further decisions to make.
On occasions when any hand, the player’s or the dealer’s, takes a hit and causes the total to exceed 21, the hand will not go bust. Instead, that card will simply be burned and discarded, leaving the previous total.
Let’s use the running example hand to see how all of this plays out. With our 10c and 4d, the current total is 14, so we’d have to take a hit. The next card off the deck is the 6s, so we make a 20 total and stand.
If we happened to catch something higher, perhaps the Kd, we’d reach a total of 24. Normally, this would cause our hand to bust, but in this game, the bust card is simply removed, leaving us with the same 14 total. Once again, we’d be forced to hit, and if we catch another bust card, the process repeats itself.
After the player’s hand has been completed in this fashion – hitting and discarding bust cards before standing on a total between 17 and 21 – the dealer will run through the same actions.
In the running example hand, our dealer shows the Qd and 2h, so they hit and find the 2d. This gives them a 14 total, bringing on another hit and the Jc. This would be a bust card, so the Jc is discarded and another hit delivers the 5h, giving the dealer a hard 17 and forcing them to stand.
Declare a Winner
After the dealer completes their own hand, it will be compared to each player hand, with the highest total declared the winner. The payout for winning player hands is even money on the ante bet.
In the case of our running example hand, we hold a 20 total to beat the dealer’s 17 total. Our $5 ante bet would be paid out at even money for a $5 profit.
In Never Bust Blackjack, the same system of “blackjacks” as found in normal twenty-one is also in play. So whenever you hold an ace along with any 10 value card, your hand will become an automatic winner.
Depending on the house rules, you can expect to find either 6 to 5 or 3 to 2 payouts on winning blackjacks. See the strategy section below for an in-depth discussion on how these payout rates affect your bottom line.
Returning to the running example hand, imagine we make a 20 total as we did before, with the dealer still holding a 12 total to begin. They’d be forced to hit, and if they found a 3 on the next card, rather than hit again, their 15 total would simply cause an immediate push – even though we hold a higher total. The only way to win your bet when the dealer lands on 15 is to make blackjack beforehand.
Restarting the Game
Once all wagers have been settled, the dealer will collect the used cards into the discard pile, before beginning a new hand.
Best Places to Play Never Bust Blackjack
When searching online for Never Bust Blackjack, your initial results might seem encouraging, with Google returning a long list of “hits” for that particular term.
Unfortunately, delving deeper into the information reveals next to nothing about Hall’s table game known as Never Bust Blackjack.
Instead, most search results will pertain to a strategic style of play used in traditional blackjack, with the basic premise being that players choose to stand on “stiff” totals between 12 and 16, and thus never go bust. Some blackjack players swear by this approach to the game, while mathematical experts know that standing on many of these totals is actually counterintuitive when compared to sound basic strategy.
So you’ll find a long list of links referencing Never Bust Blackjack, but few if any which actually point to Hall’s game.
Failed Popularity in Casinos
This would suggest that Never Bust Blackjack, like most casino game creations, simply failed to catch on with customers during its initial placement at the Planet Hollywood. When customers don’t connect with a new table game, casino game operators have to make tough decisions, and the usual course of action is to cut the cord and remove the struggling game in favor of a proven money maker or another promising upstart.
In the case of Never Bust Blackjack, it appears to be quite likely that the game has faded into obscurity, with no placements in major casinos across the U.S.
Continued Support from Bally Technologies
Nonetheless, the game is part of the Bally Technologies brand, which was retained by Scientific Games following the latter company’s acquisition of its one-time rival. As Scientific Games looks to capitalize on Bally Technologies’ portfolio of casino game products, dormant properties like Never Bust Blackjack very well may be revived for a second look.
In that spirit, fans of this interesting new take on blackjack should keep their eyes and ears open, talking with the table games manager at their local casino and chatting with fellow players. If and when the game does reemerge, you’ll hear about it first.
Never Bust Blackjack Strategy
In a game like Never Bust Blackjack – in which players literally have nothing to do but place their wagers and watch the dealer turn over the cards – the normal use of strategic thinking simply doesn’t apply.
This is the very opposite of a skill based game, and during a session of Never Bust Blackjack, you’ll also never have a choice to make.
Improving Your Odds
Of course, every rule has its exceptions, and for this game, the only strategy you can employ concerns game selection. Because you’ll see some Never Bust Blackjack tables offering 6 to 5 payouts on blackjack, while others use the improved 3 to 2 payout scheme, you can obviously boost your overall expectations just by choosing the better paying game.
Another way to reduce the house edge against you is to remain mindful of the number of decks being used. Depending on the house rules, you may be playing with 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, or 8 decks in the shoe, with each additional deck slightly changing the house edge rate.
A Note on Taking Insurance
Finally, some tables will offer players the option to take insurance when the dealer shows a potential blackjack, while other houses remove the insurance option. While this “save” may seem like a good bet to take, in reality, the insurance in blackjack is almost always a losing proposition.
Never Bust Blackjack Variations
Take a look at the table below to see how the house edge numbers stack up depending on the house rules being used:
|# OF DECKS||BJ PAYS 6 to 5||BJ PAYS 3 to 2||INSURANCE|
|1||3.26 percent||1.88 percent||5.88 percent|
|2||3.25 percent||1.88 percent||6.80 percent|
|4||3.25 percent||1.89 percent||7.25 percent|
|4||3.25 percent||1.89 percent||7.34 percent|
|5||3.25 percent||1.89 percent||7.40 percent|
|8||3.24 percent||1.89 percent||7.47 percent|
As you can see, the numbers fluctuate slightly as the amount of decks and payout rate for blackjack change. We’ve bolded the most favorable scenarios to make reading the chart a bit easier.
Avoid the Higher House Edge
First of all, tables that pay 6 to 5 on blackjack offer a much higher house edge of 3.25 percent, which is terrible when it comes to twenty-one style games. Consider, in regular blackjack, even when using your gut instinct over basic strategy and “winging it,” you’ll face a house edge of just 1.50 percent.
So, the best strategy for Never Bust Blackjack is to avoid the 6 to 5 payout tables at all times.
Next, when you do find games using the more favorable 3 to 2 payout scheme for blackjacks, tables using either one or two decks will offer slightly better odds. The difference is negligible, however, so you shouldn’t really be too concerned when playing a 3 to 2 paying game using a higher number of decks.
Once again, though, the house edge of 1.89 percent is still rather high within the world of blackjack, and you’d be better served by finding a normal blackjack table and playing however you’d like. And if you do take the time to learn basic strategy, traditional blackjack offers a house edge of 0.50 percent – nearly 4 times better than you’ll face in this game.
Finally, as the exorbitantly high house edge rates suggest, taking the insurance option is always a bad bet. Avoid taking the insurance at all times to play Never Bust Blackjack soundly from a strategic point of view.
Never Bust Blackjack History
The hybrid table game known as Never Bust Blackjack was designed by legendary casino game inventor Geoff Hall, the man who created one of the most popular twenty-one variants ever devised: Blackjack Switch.
Prior to entering the world of casino game design, Hall sat on the other side of the tables, plying his trade as an advantage blackjack player in Las Vegas. At some point, while playing two spots at once, Hall noticed that more often than not, he’d be able to vastly improve his chances by switching cards between hands.
This stroke of inspiration motivated Hall to tinker around with a deck of cards, and in 2001 he arrived at the perfect adjustment of the rules to create Blackjack Switch – a new game which allowed players to switch cards between hands.
Blackjack Switch proved to be a smashing success, becoming popularized the world over and prompting Hall to devote his energies full time to inventing casino games. Hall began serving as a consultant for established casino gaming companies like Shuffle Master and Playtech, coming up with new variants like Power Blackjack, Free Bet Blackjack, and Never Bust Blackjack.
Creation of Never Bust Blackjack
Displaying Hall’s ingenious approach to adapting the traditional gameplay structure of twenty-one, Never Bust Blackjack is designed expressly for the beginner level player. In this game, the usual array of player decisions and actions has been removed entirely, leaving only the skeleton of blackjack gameplay.
Instead of standing or hitting, splitting or doubling down, or making any decisions whatsoever, players in Never Bust Blackjack simply receive a two-card hand and watch the action play out. Any total under a hard 17 automatically takes a hit, while soft 17s are forced to stand. The name of the game comes from the fact that nobody – player or dealer – can go bust by reaching a total higher than 21.
Rather than busting, cards that cause a total to exceed 21 are simply “burned,” or discarded,” leaving the previous total with which to work. Eventually, both the player and dealer’s hand will reach totals between 17 and 21, and when they do, the higher total wins the hand.
Evolution of the Game
By removing the decision-making process from blackjack, and thus the entire element of strategy which forms the game’s very foundation, Hall has acted boldly. Blackjack purists will scoff at the very mention of Never Bust Blackjack, likening the game to something more like Casino War or similar non-skill based “high card win” games.
But for players who seek a comfortable entry point to the world of blackjack, this game offers the perfect compromise between twenty one’s unique procedures and a relaxed, pressure-free atmosphere in which the cards do the talking.
Popularity in Casinos
Never Bust Blackjack has made appearances in British casinos since 2011, as well as the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada – but for all intents and purposes, this blackjack variant never became more than a niche curiosity. Today the game doesn’t hold many permanent installations in American casinos, but after Hall sold the ownership rights to Bally Technologies, which was in turn acquired by Scientific Games, Never Bust Blackjack very well may receive a renewed marketing push down the road.