New Jersey gamblers who crave the action of carnival games, but who don’t necessarily want to sacrifice the low house edge associated with blackjack, have reason to rejoice this week, as state regulators have adopted temporary regulations for Three Card 21 “N” Done.

Part blackjack, part Three Card Poker, this exciting variant deals players three cards, and pays odds on strong three card hands. Not only that, but players that are dealt totals higher than 21 have the opportunity to salvage their poor holding by splitting it into three separate hands.

Here’s the rundown on the game, along with a look at a recently approved blackjack side bet entitled Rockets to Riches.

Three Card 21 “N” Done

Admittedly, the rules of Three Card 21 “N” Done take a bit of getting used to.

At the beginning of each round, players place two equal wagers, one for the main Three Card 21 bet and another for a Three Card 21 bonus.

As with traditional blackjack, the dealer doles out cards from a shoe, only instead of two cards, each player will receive three. Once the cards are dealt the players hand is evaluated for bonus eligibility.

Payouts for the Three Card 21 bonus are as follows:

  • 21 total: 1 to 1
  • Pair: 1 to 1
  • Flush: 3 to 2
  • Straight: 2 to 1
  • Trips: 5 to 1
  • Straight Flush: 15 to 1
  • 3 Card Royal: 50 to 1
  • 3 Card Royal in Diamonds: 200 to 1

Should a player have a total of 21 on the deal, they’ll not only win on the bonus wager, but immediately be paid 1 to 1 on the Three Card 21 bet as well. This sequence occurs before the player checks for blackjack – that’s good news for players who cringe at the sight of an ace up card.

If the dealer is showing a magic bullet, players have the option to buy insurance, which pays out 2 to 1 (just like normal). On a dealer blackjack, all insurance bets are paid out, losing wagers are collected and the round is over.

Now here’s where the game gets slightly complicated.

If the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack and the player has a total that exceeds 21, a couple of options become available:

  • Option #1: They can surrender and lose half of their three card wager.
  • Option #2: Or they can go for gusto, placing two additional wagers of the same amount, and splitting their three cards into three separate blackjack hands.

Worth noting is that if a player has a hand containing an ace that would make the three card total greater than 21 if used as an eleven, their hand is eligible for a three way split. Players are certainly going to want to take advantage of this caveat, since after all, aces make the most 21’s.

One additional caveat: If players have a pair in their hand, they can split their hand into three, regardless of whether the cards add up to over 21. For instance, a dealt hand of 3-3-8 can be transformed into three one-card hands of 3, 3 and 8.

And by the way, players will definitely want to split this hand up if the dealer is showing a low card.

Once the hands are split, each hand plays out like a normal blackjack hand, with two exceptions:

  • Any resulting hand total of 21 is paid 1 to 1 automatically – hence the name 21 “N” Done.
  • Pair may not be re-split.

Alright, that seems like a lot to remember, but once gamblers play through a few orbits they should feel right at home.

Of course, if the player has a non-paired hand under 21 they can stand or draw, just as they would in a normal blackjack environment. Only difference is that any 21 total is automatically paid 1 to 1, even on a double down.

This rule is a bit of a double edged sword in that players still win if the dealer makes 21, but lose out on the additional unit if they double down to 21.

As is the case with traditional blackjack, there are a couple rule variants to Three Card 21 “N” Done. Our advice – look for tables where the dealer must stand on all 17’s, as that minimizes the house edge.

Rockets to Riches

Rockets to Riches is a simple and optional blackjack side game that pays out based on a player’s starting poker hand.

After players are dealt their first two cards, hands are evaluated based on the Rockets to Riches pay table. Hands that do not qualify lose their Rockets to Riches bet, while winners are paid out before any other action is taken.

There are four eligible pay tables for the side bet. One common one looks like this:

  • Straight: 1 to 1
  • Pair: 2 to 1
  • Straight Flush: 4 to 1
  • Big Slick (A-K): 5 to 1
  • Suited Pair: 6 to 1
  • Off-suit Aces: 10 to 1
  • Suited Aces: 50 to 1

Other variations pay more for aces (especially in diamonds) and pairs, at the expense of not paying out for straights, straight flushes and Big Slick.

Are Three Card 21 “N” Done and Rockets to Riches good bets?

Atlantic City gamblers are going to be hard pressed to find a game that affords them better odds than traditional blackjack, especially once they master basic strategy.

However, most blackjack variants – Three Card 21 “N” Done included – offer odds that are far more favorable than the average table game.

As for Rockets to Riches, the house edge is considerable. But, the potential paydays can be substantial as well – far more so than on any one hand of regular blackjack. Ultimately, it will be up for players to decide if they want to roll the dice.

Robert DellaFave

About

Robert DellaFave is involved in the legal New Jersey online gambling industry in a number of ways. Not only does he contribute to a variety of online gambling publications focused on regulated US online poker and online casino sites, he is also a game designer.