Card Counting the King’s Bounty Blackjack Side Bet: 2 Decks

King’s Bounty (KB) is Shufflemaster’s (now Scientific Games) answer to the very popular Lucky Ladies side bet offered by Galaxy Gaming. I previously wrote about card counting the six-deck version, that article can be found at my blog on 888Casino.  Over the years I have been asked many times to consider the two-deck version of KB.  I finally broke down and did the analysis.

First, the pay table for the two-deck version of KB is considerably more generous than the six-deck version. To make it easier to understand the differences in pay, I’ve colored the changes in red with a strikethrough.

The payouts for winning KB bets are as follows, only the highest payout is paid:

  • Pair of King of Spades with dealer blackjack pays 1000-to-1.
  • Pair of King of Spades without dealer blackjack pays 100-to-1 200-to-1.
  • Two suited Kings pays 30-to-1 50-to-1.
  • Two suited Queens, Jacks or Tens pays 20-to-1 25-to-1.
  • A suited total of 20 pays 9-to-1.
  • Two unsuited Kings pays 6-to-1.
  • An unsuited total of 20 pays 4-to-1.
  • Otherwise, the player loses the KB bet.

The house edge for the two-deck version with this pay table is 24.733489%. That’s a huge house edge by any standard, with huge variance as well. But this wager is so critically dependent on ten-valued cards that the edge is easy to overcome.

I first analyzed KB using the Ten-Count.  Here are the results of a simulation of two hundred million (200,000,000) two-deck shoes, with the cut card at 76 cards (sorry, it’s not 75 cards, I just forgot me previous standard):

  • Trigger true count = +9
  • Frequency of edge = 7.36%
  • Average edge = 17.82%
  • Win (in units) per 100 hands = 1.311

This is a substantial win-rate and one that would clearly get some action if the game is deeply dealt and the table maximum is more than $25.  Also, using a specialized count that takes into consideration the King-of-Spades (like I did for Lucky Ladies and the Queen of Hearts in this post) would make the side bet even more vulnerable.

Naturally, every card counter and his sister who is using hi-lo wants to know what the trigger count is for two-deck KB when they are an ordinary blackjack card counter. Here are the results of a simulation of one hundred million (100,000,000) two-deck shoes, with the cut card at 76 cards, using the hi-lo system:

  • Trigger true count = +7
  • Frequency of edge = 5.12%
  • Average edge = 15.35%
  • Win (in units) per 100 hands = 0.785

Protections should be in place for KB that are similar to those for LL or any moderately vulnerable blackjack side bet.