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Last Updated: July 17, 2013

# Instant 18

## Introduction

If you had the option to get a fixed 18 points in blackjack automatically, would you take it? I think a lot of players would, thinking that 18 is good enough. That is the question posed by a new blackjack side bet seen at the Santa Fe Station in October, 2010. At all the Santa Fe's six-deck blackjack tables, players have the option to make an Instant 18 side bet on a second hand with exactly 18 points.

## Rules

As stated in the introduction, the Instant 18 hand is worth exactly 18 points. Wins pay even money. I haven't seen the game, but I am told there is an 18 printed on the felt. I'm also told a primary blackjack bet is required to make the side bet. I don't know the limits on the side bet.

## Odds

The following table shows the expected value of the Instant 18 bet, according to the number of decks and whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17. At the Santa Fe Station, they use six decks and the dealer hits a soft 17, so the house edge there is 2.04%.

### Instant 18 — Expected Values

Decks Dealer Stands
on Soft 17
Dealer Hits
on Soft 17
1 -0.003106 -0.016454
2 -0.005091 -0.018799
3 -0.005752 -0.019578
4 -0.006080 -0.019968
5 -0.006278 -0.020201
6 -0.006410 -0.020358*
7 -0.006503 -0.020468
8 -0.006573 -0.020552

Footnotes

*: The makers of Instant 18 take issue with my house edge of 2.04% (rounded) for six decks and the dealer hits a soft 17. They claim the house edge is 2.03% and that this figure is recognized by Nevada Gaming Control Board. The reader may decide for himself who to believe.

## Strategy

A house edge of 2.04% is much higher than in conventional blackjack, so I would recommend declining the Instant 18 option. In all fairness, 2.04% is a much lower house edge than most side bets, but unlike most side bets, Instant 18 doesn't offer the chance of a big win.

Written by: Michael Shackleford

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