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Last Updated: February 1, 2021

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Lucky Charlie

Introduction

Lucky Charlie is presented as a blackjack side bet in electronic blackjack games called "Casino Wizard." However, I view it more as a game unto itself because it can be played without making a blackjack wager, involves a strong strategy component, and it would be a terrible idea to play Lucky Charlie and blackjack at the same time because the strategies are so different.

casino wizard

Rules

The following are the rules for the Lucky Charlie side bet. The description presumes the reader is already familiar with blackjack terminology.

  1. An eight-deck shoe is used.
  2. Cards are scored as in blackjack, except aces are always one point.
  3. After making a wager, the player and dealer shall each receive two initial cards.
  4. If the player or dealer have a blackjack, then the player may not draw and the Lucky Charlie wager is a loss.
  5. Otherwise, if the two player cards form a pair, then the player may split. Note that splitting unlike tens is NOT allowed.
  6. If the player does not split, then the player must hit to at least four cards, with a total of 21 or less, to win.
  7. It is not required to beat the dealer to win.
  8. The following is the pay table based on the number of cards in the player's final hand.
    • Seven cards — 100 to 1
    • Six cards — 25 to 1
    • Five cards — 5 to 1
    • Four cards — 2 to 1
  9. All other outcomes, namely standing on three or less cards, player busting, or a dealer blackjack, are a loss.
  10. If the player splits, then he does not need to make an additional Lucky Charlie wager.
  11. I presume if the player splits he may not re-split, but I am not positive about this.
  12. The player shall play out each split hand individually.
  13. I presume drawing to split aces is not allowed, although even if allowed, the player should not split aces, so that rule is moot.
  14. After splitting, the player shall be paid according to the non-busted hand which has the greater number of cards.

To see the rules from the original help file, please click on the thumbnail below.

lucky charlie

Strategy

The correct hitting strategy is as follows.

  • With two or three cards, always hit.
  • With four cards, hit with 15 points or less.
  • With five cards, hit with 17 points or less.
  • With six cards, hit with 17 points or less.

An exception is if the player is playing the second hand after splitting and the first hand reached at least four cards. Then, the player should strive to attain a better second-card hand or bust trying.

The correct splitting strategy is to split any pair of 4's or greater.

Analysis

The following table shows my analysis of Lucky Charlie. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 16.71% (ouch!).

Lucky Charlie Analysis

Event Pays Probability Return
Seven-card Charlie 100 0.001011 0.101099
Six-card Charlie 25 0.004875 0.121869
Five-card Charlie 5 0.015805 0.079025
Four-card Charlie 2 0.169751 0.339501
Player bust -1 0.715922 -0.715922
Player blackjack -1 0.045227 -0.045227
Dealer blackjack -1 0.045228 -0.045228
Two blackjacks -1 0.002181 -0.002181
Total   1.000000 -0.167063

six card charlie

Six-card Charlie, paying 25 to 1. It should be noted the odds favor hitting a six-card total of 17.

Methodology

The strategy was developed mathematically, assuming infinite decks. Then, a simulation of 74.9 billion initial hands was performed to determine the odds in the table above.


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