A new and intriguing variation of the classic blackjack game was introduced by leading online casino software developer Microgaming in 2009. It’s known as Hi Lo 13, and it has some very interesting qualities for fans of the illustrious blackjack ‘side bets’. Hi Lo 13 offers the option to make additional wagers based upon the sum of a player’s first two cards. There are three voluntary side bets that can be made. The “Hi” bet is a wager that the first two cards dealt to the player will total higher than 13. The “Lo” bet is a wager that the first two cards dealt to the player will total less than 13. Both of these wagers will pay even money if won. The third option is the “13” bet, a wager that the first two cards dealt to the player will total exactly 13. This bet, if won, carries a generous 10 to 1 payout. The rules stipulate that an Ace, regardless of what side bet the player has made, will always be counted as 1. It cannot be counted as an 11. This rule applies only to the Hi Lo 13 side bet, and has no bearing on the standard blackjack game (i.e. a player can still land a natural blackjack). The game begins just like any traditional game of blackjack. The player must place a standard bet on the blackjack hand within the table limit stakes. He then has the option of placing a side bet on Hi, Lo and/or 13. Note that betting on all three outcomes will result in an overall loss provided the exact total of 13 does not win, thus doing so is not recommended. The dealer then deals the hand as usual, two cards to the player and two cards to himself, one face down and the other face up. The Hi Lo 13 bets are evaluated first, since only the player’s first two cards matter. If the player wins the side bet, it is paid accordingly. If not, it is lost. Once more, the payouts for Hi Lo 13 side bets are: Hi (sum of 14 or more) pays 1 to 1 Lo (sum of 13 or less) pays 1 to 1 13 (exact sum of 13) pays 10 to 1 With this out of the way, the standard blackjack hand commences. The player strives to reach a total as close to 21 as possible without going over, or “busting”. To do so, the player may hit (take an extra card) one or more times. The player also has the option to double down, meaning they double their standard blackjack bet and agree to take one additional card, immediately standing upon the total. If the double down results in a bust, the hand is automatically lost. If not, the game continues with the dealer’s portion of the hand. If a player’s original two card result in an exact pair, they may choose to split the cards into two new hands. A second bet is placed on the new hand and the pair is split, one for the old hand, one for the new. The first hand is then given a second card and played out in normal fashion. Then the second hand is given an additional card and played out in normal fashion. Assuming the player did not bust, the dealer will then play out his own hand, whereas he must hit a total of 16 or below, and stand on a hand of 17 or higher. If the dealer’s total is a Soft 17, meaning that it totals 17 with the use of an Ace counted as 11, he must hit. If the dealer’s hand busts, the player automatically wins even money. The closest hand to 21 without busting wins a payout of 1 to 1. If the player has a natural blackjack – his original two cards total 21 – the payout is 3 to 2.