# The Buster Blackjack Side bet

By Bill Zender.1)EDITOR NOTE: Post below updated in 2023 to reflect Bill Zender’s comments on the Buster Blackjack Side bet.

Interesting Emails

Over the past month I only received one interesting question regarding table games that I wish to pass along to my readers.  The question has to do with protecting the Buster side bet from card counting attack.  A lot of game protection professional try and apply a blackjack count system to all aspects of the game including side bets.  In some situations, the object of the side bet is parallel to the primary game which dictates that higher value cards (specifically ten-value cards) are important to the players successful wager outcome.  However, many of the side bets are NOT designed to follow the object of the main game, and to successfully attack those side bet, a totally different count system needs to be employed.  This is the case with the Buster sidebet.  The following email outlines this exact situation:

Executive’s Email

In the past month or so we’ve experienced a rash of card counters at our property. What makes this all the more intriguing is that three out of the last four have wagered on the Buster Bet side wager upon the count hitting -4 or below. Is this anything you’ve come across recently? The last two using this strategy I asked if they had any information for me, realizing that they didn’t owe me a thing, one of which let me know that it was -5 but he had no mathematical evidence to back this. Only that he had been told to do so.  I read Eliot Jacobson’s two articles in AP HEAT, but this was far more advanced and was hoping to discover something easier to train, if it existed. Any insight would be welcome, as usual.

First off, counting the Buster side bet requires a different count system than the main game of BJ.  If you count using a hi/lo system, you will notice that side bet counters of Buster would bet in a negative hi/lo true count.  The Buster count system usually has the 7,8,9,T labeled as +1 when removed, and cards like A,2,3 labeled as -2 (or greater).  The system used depends on your pay schedule, but the count labels will vary only slightly.  In addition, pay schedules that pay 3:1 for busts with four cards are more likely to get attacked.  With that said, the return for the player counting the Buster is not as good compared to counting the main game.  I would assume the maximum bet limit on the Buster would have to be greater than \$25 if it is the primary area of attack.  If the players are professional level counters then they could be attacking the main game using a hi/lo (or similar) count system, and have another person on the table or standing behind, counting the Buster using the Buster count system as mentioned above (signaling to the others).  My two cents on the situation.  I hope that helps.

My reply to this casino executive is based mostly on supposition, since I am not observing the play directly but analyzing it though the executive’s narrative.  As mentioned in the reply, the Buster is only vulnerable when the maximum bet limit exceeds \$25, and when the pay schedule indicates a four-card bust pays at least 3:1.  Also, it goes without saying that a double deck Buster game is more attractive than a six or eight deck game under the same limits and pay schedule.  Any comments regarding attacking the Buster side bet are welcomed. Email me at: wzender@aol.com.

Questions???

I am always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; do not hesitate to contact me through email.  I answer emails about gaming every daywzender@aol.comI really am here to help.

Cheers, good luck, and stay safe!

Bill Zender and Associates
wzender@aol.com
702-423-5734