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Straight Jack

Straight Jack is a blackjack game offered by SHFL Entertainment at land-based casinos in the US. It may be released to online casinos in the future if the demand is high enough. It’s not an entirely new product, really just a blackjack game with a side wager and progressive jackpot, but players may change their play strategy due to high payoff possibilities. This presents a game that is tough to post with a specific house advantage, but as with all games, if you know how to play blackjack, especially using basic strategy, you’ll do fine.

Currently, Straight Jack is offered on tables with a blackjack shoe holding six Standard English decks of 52 cards. No jokers or wild cards are used. Regular house rules for blackjack are incorporated on the game, as are table limits, but the game is offered both with and without the additional bonus wager of Lucky Ladies. Why SHFL Entertainment felt the need to use both bonuses on some games is beyond logic, or greed, but that’s the way it is.

Players at Straight Jack do not have to bet either bonus to receive their regular blackjack hands, but may bet on the Lucky Ladies side bet in even-dollar increments from $1 to $25. The Straight Jack side bet can also be wagered in even-dollar increments from $1 to $25. Any hand with two or more consecutive (straight) cards is a winner on the Straight Jack bet.

Straight Jack Hands

The Straight Jack wager is paid according to the Bonus Payouts listed below. During the course of regular play, a wagering player will win if they are dealt a straight with as few as two cards, such as Ace-King, 4-5, or Ace-2. The wager only pays on the original two cards, so a player who splits a winning two-card straight such as King-Queen would not be able to continue the straight. In addition, any hit card that busts the hand (total over 21) ends the streak, so a 7-8 that hits a 9 gets paid as a two-card straight, not three.

When a player doubles down, such as with a 6-5, the next card can continue the streak (given a 4 or 7), but obviously they may not draw any additional cards.  All cards must continue the streak with no gaps. A player who hits a 4-5 with a 7 and then hits again with a 6 does not have a four-card straight. Instead, as soon as the 7 is delivered the streak of two cards is paid.

Straight Jack Bonus Payouts

Two Card Straight – Payout is 2 to 1

Three Card Straight – Payout is 10 to 1

Four Card Straight – Payout is 50 to 1

Five Card Straight – Payout is 200 to 1 And Progressive Jackpot

The only two possible straights that can win the progressive jackpot are Ace-2-3-4-5 and 2-3-4-5-6, and as explained above, must be on the original hand. All straights may improve at either end, meaning a player starting with 2-3 can catch either an ace or a 4 to improve.

Straight Jack Strategy

The Straight Jack wager and possible payoff may influence play decisions on certain hands, so while the side bet itself has a sizable house edge, the overall house advantage is hard to determine because players may change their play to accommodate a possible high payoff. For instance, a player could conceivably hit a blackjack of Ace-King and hope to catch a Queen and receive a 10-1 payoff. This alone would be a poor play, since the hand is already a guaranteed 1.5 to 1 payout on the standard wager. However, if you had the advantage of doubling down and the dealer had a 5 or 6 showing, well, that would be more reasonable. Your decision might rest on the size of the original wager (small) and the Straight Jack wager (larger).

You can expect to receive two consecutive straight cards about 16% of the time (once every six or seven cards). You can also expect to improve a two-card open-ended straight to three-cards about the same 16%. Your chance of improving a closed-end straight such as Ace-King or Ace-Deuce are only half as good.

Basic strategy dictates that a player stand on a busting hand of hard 12 to 16 against a dealer up-card of 2 through 6. However, if you have a two-card open-ended straight that pays 2 to 1 and can make a three-card straight that pays 10 to 1, well, you have to think about the final payoff that is possible and the fact that you can still hit and not bust even if you don’t improve your straight.

Obviously if you have a three-card straight hand that can improve to a four-card straight that wins 50 to 1, you’ll want to draw. By the same token, you’ll always draw to improve to a five-card straight and a 200 to 1 payoff plus the progressive jackpot.

In addition, the size of the jackpot may also convince you to hit and not double down when you hold a hand that could become a five-card straight. This could happen with a starting hand of 5-4 and 6-5. In fact, you’ll find it hard not to hit and go for the big payoff, regardless of exactly what the odds are, but that’s why you’re playing the game of Straight Jack anyway, right?

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