Multiple Action Blackjack is a casino table game that is both copyrighted and patented by The Four Queens Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. As its name implies it is based on and derived from another popular casino game called Blackjack (aka "21"). Many casinos around the world have purchased a license from Four Queens that allows them to deal the game. You should be able to find this game at most of the larger casinos in the U.S.
The table layout for Multiple Action Blackjack is very similar to regular blackjack. The two main differences: there are 3 circular spots in front of each player where the wagers go and there are 3 rectangular spots marked 1, 2, and 3 in front of the dealer.
Each player must begin by placing an identical wager in each of the three circular spots. Many casinos will allow a player to play just two of the spots and still fewer establishments will allow a player to play just one of the spots. (If you are playing just one spot then the game play is identical to regular blackjack).
The deal of the cards proceeds as in regular blackjack. All of the players receive two face up cards but dealer only deals himself one card face up which is initially placed in the rectangle marked "1" in front of the dealer's chip holder. The dealer will use this same up card for all three of his hands. E.g. If the dealer's up card is a 6 then the dealer will play all three of his hands starting with just the 6 card. If the dealer's card is a 10 then the 10 will be used for all three of the dealer's hands. The player must play his single hand against each of the three dealer's hands.
Each of the players must then play their hand as in regular blackjack. The may hit, stand, split or double down (or late surrender or take insurance if rules allow). If the player's hand goes over 21 then he "busts" and loses all of his wagers for that round. (All 3 of his bets if he elected to play all 3 spots). If the player splits a pair then he must double his wager on all his bets. If the player opts to "double down" then he can choose to double all of his bets or just one or two of them.
Once all the players have finished playing out their hands the dealers first hand is played out. He receives additional cards according to standard blackjack rules. If the dealer busts or if the players hand has a higher total than the dealer's then the player is payed out even money on the wager in the 1 spot in front them. If the dealer's hand is higher than the player's hand then the dealer will pick up whatever wager is on the player's 1 spot. After all the 1 spot hands are payed out or collected by the casino then the dealer removes all of his cards except for his initial up card. The dealer then moves this card to 2nd rectangle in front of him. The dealer then takes plays out his hand again dealing additional cards to his card. If the player beats the dealer then he is payed even money on any bets in his 2 spot and if he loses he loses his bet there. After all the 2 hand bets are paid out or collected the dealer removes all his cards except for his initial up card and moves it to the 3rd rectangle. The dealer takes additional cards and then pays out and collects all bets on the player's 3rd spot.
Player blackjack: If the player's two cards are a natural blackjack totalling 21 then he is paid 3-2 on all of his spots if the dealer doesn't also get a blackjack in any of the 3 hands. If the dealer ties with a blackjack of his own then the bet is a push and any wagers on that spot are returned to the player.
Multiple Action Blackjack has the same house edge as a regular blackjack game with the same rules (between .5% and 1% depending on the rules, number of decks, and deck penetration). The only difference is that many more hands can be played out in a shorter time span. This is good for people that are bored with regular blackjack and very good for the casino which gets to keep its edge and deal lots more hands -- thereby increasing the house hold.
The casino also increases the house hold in this game because players here are more apt to play their hands incorrectly. Players with a stiff hand (12, 13, 14, 15, or 16) should take an additional card (a "hit") when they are faced against a dealer's 9 or 10 up card -- however since players can lose all 3 of their wagers if they go over 21 ("bust") -- many of them will refuse to hit such a hand. For these kinds of players the house edge increases to almost 5%
Multiple Action Blackjack "Optimal Strategy"?
The "optimal strategy" for this game (like all other casino games): DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME! Take whatever chips you have remaining and cash them in at the cashier cage. Multiple Action Blackjack is not a beatable game using any strategy over the long run (barring cheating). In other words there is always negative expectation. The casino prevents card counters from retaining any advantage by using multiple decks (typically 6-8) and by limiting the penetration into the "shoe" of cards.
If perhaps you should find yourself "forced" (by gunpoint or other coercion) to play this game then the optimal strategy changes somewhat:
- Bet the table's minimum amount in as few of the spots as the casino allows.
- Play your hand against the dealer's upcard just as you would in regular blackjack. If basic blackjack strategy dictates that you hit, stand, split, or double down (or surrender or take insurance)then you should do the same thing in this game. If you have a double down hand then you should double your bet in each of your spots. If your hand dictates a late surrender then you should also take it for each of your bets (after the dealer checks for blackjack).
Check out How to improve your chances of winning at blackjack for more information on Blackjack basic strategy.