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.
This is a popular side bet and it is based on the first cards dealt in each round – the two cards received by the player and the dealer’s face-up card. The 21+3 bet wins if the combination of these three cards is one of several possible poker hands, namely a Flush, Straight, a Straight Flush, a Three of a Kind, or a Suited Three of a Kind. Originally, all these combinations paid equally at 9:1 but nowadays, most casinos pay differently for each hand and the most common pay table is as follows:
- Flush – Three cards of the same suit – 5:1
- Straight – Three consecutive cards – 10:1
- Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank – 30:1 (25:1)
- Straight Flush – Three consecutive cards of the same suit – 40:1
- Suited Three of a Kind – Three identical cards – 100:1
These payouts for the 21+3 side bet are mostly found in online versions of blackjack. Land-based casinos tend to pay less for wagers of this type or offer equal payouts for the different outcomes – anything from 2.5 to 9 times the bet size.
The Lucky Ladies side bet was introduced a couple of decades ago and is now extremely popular in brick-and-mortar casinos. It pays if the player’s initial hand totals 20, with certain combinations of cards paying more than others. This side bet comes in plenty of versions but the following pay table is most commonly offered:
- Player Queen of Hearts Pair plus Dealer Blackjack – 1,000:1
- Player Queen of Hearts Pair – 200:1 (125:1)
- Player Matched 20 (2 cards of the same suit and rank) – 25:1 (19:1)
- Player Suited 20 – 10:1 (9:1)
- Unsuited 20 – 4:1
As you can see, a pair of Queens is particularly rewarding, especially if the cards are hearts and the dealer has blackjack. However, there are several other versions of the Lucky Ladies side wager and in some of them, this outcome pays only 100:1.
This is also quite a common side bet that can be found in both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. With it, players bet that they will be dealt a pair, i.e. two cards of the same rank. Depending on whether these cards are also of the same color or suit, the payouts will be different:
- Mixed Pair (Two cards of the same rank, yet of a different color) – 6:1 (5:1)
- Color Pair (Two cards of the same rank and color) – 12:1 (10:1)
- Perfect Pair (Two cards of the same rank and suit) – 25:1 (30:1)
There is an online version of this side bet and the payout depends not only on whether the pair is suited or not but also on the rank of the cards. Suited Aces, for instance, pay 40:1, while unsuited 2s bring a payout of only 2:1.
The Over/Under 13 side wager is offered at many brick-and-mortar casinos but it is rarely found online. With it, players bet whether the sum of their two initial cards is over or under 13. For this side bet, the Ace always counts as 1 and if the player’s hand totals 13, the bet loses. The Over/Under 13 bet is usually available in six and eight-deck games and it pays even money (1:1).
Super Sevens, also known as Super 7’s or Lucky 7’s, is yet another popular side wager in blackjack. It pays when there are 7s in the player’s hand. In fact, the more 7s dealt in the round, the better. If the first card drawn to the player is a 7, the bet pays 3:1. If the second card is also a 7, the payout jumps to 50:1 for an unsuited pair of 7s and to 100:1 for a suited pair of 7s. Here is the complete pay table for the Super Sevens side bet:
- First Card is a 7 – 3:1
- Two Unsuited 7s – 50:1
- Two Suited 7s – 100:1
- Three 7s (player and dealer cards) – 500:1
- Three Suited 7s – 5,000:1
There are several variations of this side wager but this is probably the best offering right now. As you can see, players who decide to place it can win extraordinary rewards if the dealer’s upcard is also a 7.
The Royal Match side bet can be found in a wide variety of land-based casinos. Its name refers to the top bonus payout of 25:1 when the player’s first two cards are suited Queen and King. This wager also come in several versions and these are the most commonly offered payoffs:
- Easy Match (Any two cards of the same suit) – 5:2
- Suited Blackjack – 5:1
- Royal Match – 25:1
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%|