Are Blackjack Side Bets worth playing?
In order to add interest to standard blackjack games, encourage players to play more blackjack and of course improve their profit margins, many land based and online casinos offer players the option of placing side bets at the blackjack tables. These seemingly innocent wagers usually require a small bet of around a dollar and have larger payouts than even-money blackjack bets.
Most casino players know that blackjack is one of the few casino games where the house has a lower advantage (usually about half a percent) when played according to sound basic blackjack strategy. So to counter this and improve profitability of the game, casinos invented side bets and regularly add new variations of these games to their blackjack variants to keep things fresh and players playing.
Here we'll take a look at the most popular blackjack side bets that you'll find when playing at your favourite casinos. Before we begin though, it is important to note that the house edge for each side bet is dependent on the game's payout schedule and this is not always the same from one casino to another so be sure to always check this before you play. For the sake of simplicity we have listed which payout rates you should be looking for and the corresponding house advantages for six deck games.
While we strongly suggest avoiding blackjack side bets altogether due to their high house advantages, if you insist on playing these, then make sure that you select the side bets with the lowest possible house advantage in order to curb your losses.
This game's name comes from the synonym for blackjack "21" and the 3 originates from the game of Three Card Poker and he house advantage is 3.2%. This side game pays based on your first two cards and the dealer's upcard. If these three cards reveal a flush, three-of-a-kind, straight or straight flush then you will win. Winnings are paid out at 9 to 1.
Bonus blackjack is a relatively simple side bet that either the player and/or dealer will get blackjack. You are given the option to bet on the player, dealer or both. On a single bet the house edge is 24%. If you bet on both the player and the dealer and get an Ace or Jack of spades you will hit the game's progressive jackpot.
Keep in mind though that as the number of card decks is important to note as the more they are using in play, the less like the probability of anyone getting blackjack becomes and this can severely affect the odds to your disadvantage.
In this side bet you will be wagering that your first two cards will have a total value of 20 ideally with two queens. The payout rate is initially quite tempting at 1000:1 if you are lucky enough to be dealt two Queen of Hearts cards and the dealer gets blackjack. If however you are dealt just two Queen of Hearts cards you will receive 200:1 while a matched 20 total (i.e. the same card rank and suit) will payout at 25:1, a suited 20 pays 10:1 and any unsuited 20 total pays 4:1. The house edge on this bet makes it much less enticing at 17%.
As the name implies you will bet on whether the total of your first two cards will be over or under the value of 13 (where an Ace card counts as 1 and not 11). The house advantage on over 13 bets is 6.5% while the Under 13 wager carries a 10% edge.
The Pair Square side bet carries a 10.6% house edge and the object is to have your first two cards be of the same value rank (for example a pair of 8's). An unsuited pair (for example an 8 of hearts and an 8 of spades) pays 10:1 while a suited pair (like a pair of 8 of hearts) pays 15:1.
The Royal Match side bet pays out at 25:1 if your first two cards include a suited Royal Match (i.e. A King and Queen). Also, if you achieve a simple suit you will be paid 2.5:1 and suited Blackjack you will receive a 5:1 payout.
As the name implies in this side bet you will want to draw 7's ‐ the more the better! Payouts are as follows:
- If the first card is a 7: 3 to 1 payout
- First two cards are 7: if suited 100:1 and if unsuited: 50:1
- If the third card draw is also a 7 and cards are unsuited payout is 500:1 and 5000:1 if all three cards are suited.
Depending on the game and casino in question, if the dealer has blackjack and a player holds two 7's a third card will not be dealt to the player and the edge is 12.6% in the casino's favour. Some casinos do however deal a third card even when the dealer has blackjack and this reduces the house advantage to 11.4%