Both online and offline casinos often offer a range of blackjack side bets as part of the blackjack experience. These are bets that are separate from the blackjack betting itself. In this chapter we will take a close look at what is available, the rules of such bets and how you can enjoy them.
In this article, we're going to discuss:
First off, these side bets were introduced to attract people searching for a blackjack bonus. Many have modest stakes, and attractive payout, so it seems obvious that such offers will be popular. However, we need to examine whether they are all they appear to be.
If we look at why casinos offer side bets, it may help dampen their allure. As the basic strategy overview has made clear, playing savvier blackjack involves trying to reduce the house’s edge. Yet, you have probably also noticed that the edge is fairly low, at somewhere around the 0.5% level. Accordingly, casinos have often come up with new ideas to increase their profit margins, and side bets are simply another example of that.
Casinos are constantly coming up with new side bet ideas, though only the most successful ones survive. Most tend to revolve around betting on card sequences, and the ideas themselves are often pitched to casinos by vendors at trade shows. Blackjack side bets can be lucrative for those that devise them as well as the casinos. Still, many side bets never see the digital tables of an online casino, or soon fade away due to lack of take up from blackjack players. Others though persevere, heightening the fun element for players while ensuring they are a mainstay of many a table.
So, should you be trying your luck with side bets? For those seeking a different type of blackjack bonus, they are certainly an attractive prospect. In the following section, we will examine them further and see how fun they can be whilst acknowledging that they are not a method for increasing a player’s bankroll. If you are going to use them, then at least look for those that offer the lowest house edge.
The edge of the casino is very much dependent on the payoff schedule, and this varies considerably from casino to casino. This schedule is usually listed on the screen, and players should always familiarise themselves with it.
MOST POPULAR BLACKJACK SIDE BETS
Let us take a look at some of the popular blackjack side bets available in casinos. These bets will give you a good idea of what is out there, and whether they offer a valuable experience to blackjack players. Side bets are available in online and land-based casinos alike. Either way, the player will usually place chips in the side bet section on the blackjack table, as they would for a normal bet. Some consider an insurance bet as a side bet, but that is covered elsewhere in this guide.
This particular side bet involves betting on the player’s 2 cards they are dealt, plus the dealer’s upcard. What players need from the three cards to win a blackjack bonus are a flush, straight, straight flush or 3-of-a-kind. So in essence the bet is essentially an adaptation of a poker bet.
So exactly what is a straight flush in blackjack? It is a run of consecutive card numbers/values of the same suit. When the 21+3 bet first came to light, it paid out at odds of 9/1, which gave the house an edge of 3.24%. However, in recent years the odds have reduced, increasing the house edge further.
Over/Under 13As the name suggests, this is a wager on whether the player’s two cards total over, or under 13. The Ace always counts as 1, and a total of 13 is always a loss. This is one of the least-advisable games for a player to bet on, as it gives the house an edge of 6.5% for over 13, and 10% for under 13. The bet is most commonly offered on multiple deck games.
Lucky LadiesThese blackjack side bets involve wagering on a player’s two dealt cards totalling 20. If the two cards happen to be Queens, all the better. Two Queens of Hearts is the top pay-out, at odds of 1000/1, as long as the dealer also has blackjack. Without the blackjack, the odds are 200/1. There is 25/1 offered for a 20 of the same rank and suit (a matched 20), and a suited 20 pays 10/1. Unsuited pays 4/1. The house edge on this is big, at 17%.
This is a bet where the aim is to draw as many 7s as possible. If the first card is a 7, it pays out a blackjack bonus at 3/1. A pair of 7s will pay 50/1 if unsuited, or 100/1 if suited. Draw yet another 7, and you are really in the money. For an unsuited trio, the pay-out is 500/1, and if all suited, it is 5000/1. Some casinos run additional rules to the game. For example, if the dealer has blackjack, then the player cannot draw a 3rd card. Even without this rule, the house edge is 11.4%.
Pair SquareThe final side bet we will explore pays out if the player’s two cards are the same rank – for example a pair of 8s. An unmatched pair (different suits) pays 10/1. A matched pair pays 15/1. The house edge is calculated to be 10.6%.
ARE SIDE BETS WORTH IT? THE BOTTOM LINE
In conclusion, are these side bets worth using? Here are the key points you should take from this chapter, which should provide you with enough information to decide in the future whether such bets are for you:
1. The bottom line is generally no, but with an important caveat. Blackjack side bets should be avoided by blackjack players. They do not offer value, and instead are a good income source for casinos, as a way to increase their edge over players compared to the small advantage within the blackjack game itself. However, with the aim of making blackjack a more fun and exciting experience rather than focusing on the player’s edge, side bets enhance the excitement levels and deliver an enjoyable playing experience.
2. A small wager will not do a player much harm, and they are certainly a fun and exciting alternative to the main game for many players. Still, it is important to note that for those attempting to make a success of playing blackjack, side bets should not be part of their strategy.
3. For those that play for fun, side bets can be a worthwhile blackjack bonus. They offer a distraction to the main blackjack betting, and the opportunity to win bigger returns than the conventional game bets. They are considered a welcome variety from the possible repetitiveness of blackjack.
4. Nevertheless, players should always play safe in the knowledge that the side bets do not offer the best value available in the casino, or even within the blackjack table itself.