Blackjack side bets are offered by numerous game providers to inject some life into this 400 or so year old game. Requiring a minimal stake from your end with payouts that sometimes supersede those of the standard one, these wagers are certainly an enticing option. But don’t take your seat just yet, you’ve got to know your 21+3 from your Perfect Pairs and how blackjack side bets work before you can play profitably.
A blackjack side bet is a subsidiary wager placed outside the main betting area during the 15-second interval at the onset of each round. A variety of these exist including those only found in Las Vegas and ones exclusive to online games. Settle in to see live casino blackjack side bets explained from A to Z!
Although it is seldom played, the insurance wager can be thought of as the original blackjack side bet. If the dealer’s up-card is an Ace, you have the option to take insurance on the high probability (nearly ⅓) that the dealer’s hand is a blackjack. When this scenario unfolds online (statistically, every 13 hands on average), a graphical overlay will appear on screen.
If you press the button to take insurance and the dealer turns over a face card worth 10 points, you’ll receive a payout of 2:1.You can opt to take insurance should you receive a blackjack too.
In doing so, you commit yourself to win an amount equal to your original wager, irrespective of the dealer’s hand. No extra chips need be staked for this even money bet that pays at 1:1. If you and the dealer both end up with a blackjack but you previously chose not to take insurance, it will be considered a push or a tie game (check out the blackjack glossary for an exact definition), and your stake is returned.
A word of warning – insurance bets are expected to lose money in the long term as the dealer is likely to have a blackjack less than ⅓ of the time.
Next up is the 21+3 side bet. Adapted from poker, this wager results in a win if your first two cards and the dealer’s upcard consists of any of the upcoming combinations. The 21+3 area appears to the right of your betting area and becomes highlighted during the betting window.While the payouts of the 21+3 side bets are significantly higher, it’s recommended to play them once you’ve sharpened your skills a tad bit more.There are 5 types of 21+3 side bets:
Three cards of an identical triplet, for example, 3 Fours of Spades.
The cards follow a numerical sequence and are from the same suit, such as 7, 8 and 9 of Hearts.
The cards are of the same value but from different suits, for example, any 3 unmatching Jacks.
The cards follow a numerical sequence but are from different suits, such as 4 of Clubs, 5 of Hearts and 6 of Spades.
The cards are from the same suit, for example, 4, 3 and 8 of Diamonds.
Payout and house edge are rule-dependent. Note that the house edge listed above (and in all subsequent tables) is based on an 8-deck game where the following rules apply:
Dealer hits on soft 17;
Player can double on any first 2 cards;
Player can re-split aces;
Player loses only the original bet against a blackjack dealer
The number of decks used as well as blackjack variants and rules will affect the payouts and house edge significantly. Read the fine print before you play!
The Perfect Pairs side bet gives you the opportunity to win if the initial two cards that are dealt to you are a pair. If you wish to place a Perfect Pairs side bet, place your chips in the aptly marked area to the left of your main betting one. There are 3 types of pairs:
Cards are of the same suit, for example, two threes of Hearts.
Cards are of different suits but of the same colour, such as 5 of Spades and 5 of Clubs.
Cards are of the same value but of different suits, for example, 10 of Hearts and 10 of Clubs.
The action of the Bet Behind feature of live casino games is indicative in the name. Basically, this is where you bet on a hand dealt to another player and share the outcome of that player’s hand. This option will be available to you whether you’re seated at the table or not but note that you cannot place such a wager behind your initial bet. During the betting interval, this betting area is highlighted too. This feature is a great advantage over land-based casinos as you can practice by betting behind skilled players and some providers even indicate when others at the table are on a winning streak. It’s especially convenient when the table’s full but you’re eager to play.
The Hot 3 side bet is available in Infinite Blackjack and Free Bet Blackjack. Here, you place a wager on either the total or combination of three cards comprising your two first cards and the dealer’s upcard. The theoretical payout of this bet is 94.60%.
There are five combinations for the Hot 3 side bet, each with their own respective payout.
The Bust It side bet is a wager placed on the likelihood that the total value of the dealer’s cards will exceed 21, i.e. he/she will bust. This unique side bet available on Infinite Blackjack and Free Bet Blackjack has a theoretical payout of 93.82%.
There are six varieties of the Bust It side bet, each with a different payout depending on the number of cards the dealer busts with.
Now that you know what blackjack side bets you can make, where you can place them and what they pay, why not play some for yourself? Start by betting behind a player who’s on a roll before moving on to Perfect Pairs, 21+3 and other specialty bets that can give your game an edge. Take your time and you’ll soon see how these side bets can add another layer of excitement to your time at the tables.