With its relatively simple rules and high expected return, blackjack is one of the world’s most popular casino games. And while the game is interesting on its own, the many different side bets make it even more exciting, with the potential to bring players spectacular payouts of dozens of times the original bet.
However, blackjack players should know that the house edge of side bets is much higher than what is typically offered in the original game. This should not come as a huge surprise, though, since in all casino games, the greater rewards come at a much greater risk. Still, when placed occasionally, some side bets could be worthwhile. The following article explains what blackjack side bets are, their usual payouts, when and why players make them.
Side Bets Explained
1What Are Side Bets in Blackjack?
Blackjack side bets are additional, optional wagers that can be made during a standard game of blackjack. They are offered by both land-based and online casinos in an effort to attract new patrons with the unusually high payouts for these wagers. While the standard payout for having blackjack is only 1.5 times the original stake, some of these side bets pay 100 times the size of the bet or even more.
Usually, with the side wagers, players bet that they (or the dealer, or both) will receive a certain set of cards – cards of the same rank, for example, or cards that form a particular poker hand. The side bets are settled independently from the original bets and it is possible to win the round but lose the side bet or vice versa. Depending on how likely it is to win these side wagers, the payouts range from 2 to 500 times the stake.
2The Insurance bet
One of these side wagers is, in fact, offered in the traditional game of blackjack – this is the Insurance bet, which is available when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. Players can then buy Insurance, betting that the dealer will have blackjack. The bet pays 2:1 but since it costs half of the original bet, it can only help players break even. What many recreational players often do not know is that these side bets have an incredibly high house edge. That means that statistically, players are much more likely to lose than to win when placing a side bet in blackjack.
3How to Place Blackjack Side Bets?
It is very easy to place a side bet in blackjack – usually, there are designated betting areas on the felt where players can put their chips. These boxes are located near the betting areas for the original wager and their purpose is clearly marked. In most variations of blackjack, the minimum side bet equals the original stake or the minimum table limit.
Additionally, players are usually required to place a bet on the main game in order to make side wagers but some tables allow putting chips only on the side bet. The particular conditions for making a side wager are always specified in the rules of the game.
Common Blackjack Side Bets
There are various types of side bets in blackjack – some bets are limited to a particular casino, whereas others are quite popular and could be found in many live and online games. The payouts may vary across different casinos. Besides, some blackjack variations focus primarily on side bets and the payout for a natural is less than the standard 3:2 payout. Below, we have listed the most common blackjack side bets, along with the payouts usually offered for them.
Blackjack Side Bets House Edge
House Edge Chart
Are Blackjack Side Bets Worth It?
Usually, side bets in blackjack have a particularly high house edge, sometimes exceeding 10%. The house edge, expressed in percentages, refers to the theoretical advantage of the casino over its patrons. It is present in every casino game and in blackjack, players are typically offered an extremely low house edge of around half a percent if they manage to follow a basic strategy.
Side bets, in comparison, are considered bad for players since the average expected return from them is much lower. If the house edge on an additional wager is 12%, for example, players can expect to lose around 12 percent of their total bet when making it. The house edge is determined by the probability for winning of this bet, the number of decks in use, and the particular payout offered by the casino. In the table below, you can see the house edge for several of the most common blackjack side bets based on a 6-deck game:
|Side Bets||Number of Decks||Payout||House edge|
|Over 13||6 decks||01:01:00||6.55%|
|Under 13||6 decks||01:01:00||10.07%|
|Exactly 13||6 decks||10:01:00||8.58%|
|Lucky Ladies||6 decks||4:1-1000:1||17.64%|
|Perfect Pairs||6 decks||6:1-25:1||6.11%|
|Super 7’s||6 decks||3:1-5000:1||11.40%|
|Royal Match||6 decks||5:2-25:1||3.70%|