Stravaganza is a unique card game offered at Playtech casinos. The game's moderate house edge makes it a poor choice for bonus play when blackjack, video poker, or casino hold'em are available.
Rules and Play
The objective of Stravaganza is to have a card sum that is greater than the dealer. Hands are composed of up to 3 cards and scored with aces ranked as 1. For example, a A/3/Q is scored as 1+3+10 = 14. A 6/T/K is scored as 6+10+10 = 26.
After placing your initial (ante) bet, you are dealt two cards. At this point in the game none of the dealer cards are visible. The available options depend on the sum of these first two cards:
-If the sum of the first two cards is 5 or less (a very bad hand), you have the option to recover your full bet and not play the hand. Always take this option.
-If the sum of the first two cards is 6-9 (a bad hand), you have the option to recover half of your bet and not play the hand. Always take this option.
-If the sum of the first two cards is 10 or more, you must play the hand. You have the choice to either play the hand with only the first two cards, or raise and take a 3rd card. The raise bet must be the size of the initial ante bet. If the dealer has a red ace in his hand, the dealer's hand is an automatic winner. A red ace in the 2nd or 3rd dealer card wins both the ante bet and raise bet. A red ace in the 1st dealer card wins only the ante bet. If the dealer does not have a red ace, then hands are scored according to card sum. Whoever has the higher card sum wins. Wins pay 1:1 on both the ante and raise bets. Bets are returned on ties.
A 3:1 bonus on the ante bet is given for 3 of a kind, and a 1.5:1 bonus on the ante bet is given for 3 face cards (J-K) without 3 of a kind. You must take a raise bet and get a 3rd card to receive these bonuses. Bonuses are given on losing hands, as well as winning hands.
Optional Bonus Sidebet
Stravaganza offers an optional bonus bet. Like most side bets, the house edge of the bonus bet is significantly larger than the house edge of the main game, unless the progressive jackpot is abnormally high. A summary is below:
|3 Kings of Hearts
|1 in 290,000
|100% of Jackpot
|3 Same Face Cards
|1 in 26,000
|10% of Jackpot
|3 of a Kind, J-K
|1 in 880
|3 of a Kind, 5-T
|1 in 420
|1 in 37
|32 out of 33
size of Jackpot
Optimal strategy for Stravaganza is fairly simple. A summary is below:
-With a two-card sum of 2-9, take the option to recover your bet and do not play the hand
-With a two-card sum of 10, raise with a pair of 5s, otherwise do not raise
-With a two-card sum of 11+, always raise
I am confident about the optimal strategy listed above for Stravaganza, but I am uncertain of the precise house edge. The game's patent lists a house edge of 2.27% for 5 decks. Playtech modified the game's default rules & bonuses somewhat, increasing the house edge significantly above the patent numbers.
Variance and Bet Size
The standard deviation per initial bet of Stravaganza is 1.71. The average bet size is 1.74x the initial Ante bet, making the standard deviation per unit wagered 1.30. The latter value of 1.30 is more appropriate for estimating range of return while completing a wagering requirement. The table below shows the chance of ending above the deposit balance with unlimited bankroll, after completing a wagering requirement with 4 bet sizes (size of Ante bet).
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