Blackjack Players try to get an edge on the house by looking for the best rules, learning how to count cards, and even looking for chances for “hole carding,” “shuffle tracking,” and “edge sorting.” Unfortunately, all these things diminish the house edge. My confusion is when I see the same player wagering side bets, increasing the house edge. So let’s dive right into Blackjack Side Bets – Action vs. House Edge.
What are Blackjack Side Bets?
I am continuing on the premise that you understand the basic principles of playing the game.
Blackjack side bets are additional bets placed during a standard game of Blackjack. They involve predicting which cards the player, and sometimes the dealer, will receive.
Players wager before the hand starts. Each side bet is based on chance rather than skill, although you can count cards to help you choose the most likely combinations for your side bets.
These days you can barely find a blackjack game that doesn’t have some side-wager, bonus, or progressive bet available.
Listen to our Podcast Episode #71 about Blackjack Side Bets; click HERE
Why Play Side Bets?
As advertised, Blackjack has a low house edge compared to other games on the casino floor. Good players will face a house edge of around 0.5%, and even if you play pretty inadequately, that edge only rises to around 2%.
“Can you live with an added side bet wager that raises the house edge significantly for a possible enriched experience and financial boost?”Binbin, NETimeGambling.com
Side bets allow you to play much longer odds for higher player wins. They are a fun diversion that adds excitement to your blackjack game. However, these bonus bets usually offer the casino a much higher advantage per dollar bet than the standard blackjack bet.
The key to your decision to play side bets depends on the following question; “Can you live with an added side bet wager that raises the house edge significantly for a possible enriched experience and financial boost?”
In other words, side bets in Blackjack make it much easier to lose money, shorten your bankroll, and shorten your session.
After all these years, it’s hard for me to consider “insurance” a side bet. And, unless you are an expert card counter, it is advised to avoid insurance side bets in Blackjack. Some players consciously avoid it, while many blackjack experts who can also count cards consider Insurance one of the best side bets. Here’s the scenario:
- The dealer deals with two cards
- the dealer’s face-up card is an ace,
- the player has a choice to make “take insurance.” This wager means you assume the dealer’s hand is Blackjack because of the shoe’s many tens and face cards.
- However, insurance is a risky and losing bet in the long term as the chance that the hole-card is of value ten is only 1 out of 3.
- The maximum bet allowed is half of the player’s main bet.
- An insurance bet has to be made before the dealer checks the hole card, a.
- If the dealer’s hole card has a value of 10, the player receives a payout of 2:1. In other words, the player breaks even on the hand.
Related Post – Beginners Guide to Blackjack Etiquette
Common Side Bets at Most Casinos
These optional wagers stand alone from the regular blackjack bet and have a payoff table printed on the table felt or on a placard by the dealer’s side. These side bets are available at casinos that wish to pay a royalty fee to the owner, like Shuffle Master and Mikohn Gaming.
There are several common side bets that you will find at most Blackjack tables. But You should check the payouts carefully before placing your bets as they can vary considerably between different Casinos or online sites. The fiver other main Blackjack side bets are:
- Perfect Pairs
- Royal match
- Super sevens
- Lucky Ladies
Let’s look at each one.
The house edge in Perfect Pair is 11%. Despite that, Perfect Pairs is one of the most popular blackjack side bets and is often considered a worthy side bet in Blackjack because of its probability and return-to-player – 1.69% and 89%, respectively. This side bet uses the player’s cards only and pays out if you are dealt two of a kind as follows:
- Mixed pair (two of the same value but different suits and colors) – pays 5:1
- Colored pair (two of the same value and the same color) – pays 12:1
- Perfect pair (two of the same card) – pays 25:1
The returns can vary between different Casinos and different pay tables. The house edge will depend on the payout and the number of decks used, and it can range from just 2-3% up to 11% or more.
21+3 involves the player’s two cards and the dealer’s upturned card. It enables players to win in 5 different ways with the following different combinations:
- Flush – (all cards are suited) – pays 5:1
- Straight – (all cards consecutive) – pays 10:1
- Three of a kind – (not the same suit) – pays 30:1
- Straight flush – (consecutive cards same suit) – pays 40:1
- Suited triple – (three of the same card) – pays 100:1
The house edge for the 21+3 side bet will vary depending on the number of decks used – 8.78% for four decks, 7.81% for five decks, 7.14% for six decks, and 6.29% for seven decks.
This side bet is offered a lot on stadium gaming. The Royal Match side bet payout and probability depend on the number of decks of cards used. The casino determines the amount of the wager.
- It pays 5:2 for any suited player’s cards
- and pays 25:1 for suited king and queen.
This side bet pays out if you receive one or more sevens. Super Sevens is a side bet that counts the number of “Seven” cards a player hits.
- One seven pays 3:1, and two unsuited sevens pay 50:1,
- two suited sevens pay 100:1.
- If the third card dealt is also a seven, the bet will pay 500:1 unsuited and 5000:1 suited. (It is vital to ensure that the Casino will still deal a third card if the dealer has a Blackjack, as some Casinos don’t!)
The house edge on this 17%. This bet pays out if the player’s cards add up to 20, with:
- an unsuited 20 paying 4:1,
- a suited 20 paying 10:1,
- a matched 20, same rank and suit pays 25:1,
- two queens of hearts 200:1 and
- two queens of hearts when the dealer has Blackjack 1000:1.
Match the Dealer
Match the Dealer is a popular side bet. Your two starting cards need to match the dealer’s upcard value. You get a more significant return if the suit is the same and if both your cards match. You get a healthy return if even only one of your cards matches the value of the dealer – 4/1, meaning if you bet $5 on the Match the Dealer side bet, you would get $20 back.
By placing a Bonus Spin progressive side bet, players have two ways they can win:
- First, they are paid even money if they have an Ace in their first two cards.
- If they are dealt a Blackjack, they will press a button that spins a virtual wheel to win various money denominations, including a top prize progressive.
Are Blackjack Side Bets Worth Playing?
Blackjack side bets do not involve any skill. You are simply betting on the luck of the draw. Higher percentage bets like Royal Match, and Match, The Dealer, have a casino edge of 3.5 to 8.6 percent. Lucky Ladies has a casino edge of 17 percent to 24 percent.
The Casino industry is highly competitive, and all table games are adding newly invented side bets to attract new players and increase house edge for extra excitement.
My best advice is don’t make them the main focus of your gameplay or your wagering. Instead, enjoy the recreational fun side bets may provide, and never lose sight of the significantly increased house edge.