Blackjack Side Bets – What You Need to Know Before Sitting Down to Play
Easy to master and simple to follow, blackjack has long been one of the most popular games in Las Vegas casinos and gambling venues all across the globe.
Blackjack’s goal is simple, get as close to 21 without busting out and make sure you have a stronger hand than the dealer.
That said, the addition of side bets in blackjack provides a significant layer of complexity and excitement. Unfortunately, many blackjack players don’t know how to utilize these bets and end up losing their bankroll.
If you want to place blackjack side bets when playing the game of 21, make sure to read our detailed guide. We’ll cover everything you need to know before sitting down to play blackjack for real money.
This includes fundamental aspects like types of side bets but also more complex aspects like blackjack side bet payouts, and equally as important, blackjack side bets odds.
What Are Side Bets in Blackjack?
As their name gives out, blackjack side bets are extra bets you can place while playing the game. The base premise of these bets involves predicting what cards you or, in some cases, the dealer will receive.
When placing side bets, the players have to decide before any cards are dealt. Given this, unlike the base version of the game, blackjack side bets don’t involve any skill element and are purely based on luck and chance.
Why Do Side Bets Appeal to Blackjack Players So Much?
Knowing what blackjack side bets are, we should also address why you should consider placing them.
There are two main reasons why blackjack players love placing side bets.
The first is that blackjack side bets are generally pretty rewarding, and some even promise potentially massive wins. We’ll go more in-depth on this when covering each blackjack side bet separately.
The second is simply because these bets are exciting and make the game more entertaining and varied.
Even if you absolutely love playing blackjack, you’ll inevitably grow tired if you play it too much. Blackjack side bets provide variety and help mix up the gameplay, so you stay entertained for a longer period.
Looking at the other side of the coin, the main negative of blackjack side bets is that they come with a significantly higher house edge.
For reference, if you’re an experienced blackjack player, you probably know how to play efficiently enough to lower the house edge to around half a percent.
Even if you’re a relatively lousy blackjack player, you’ll only face a house edge of around two percent.
However, when you add side bets to the mix, the percentages will rise drastically. So much so that some blackjack side bets will have a house edge of around ten percent.
This is not an insignificant number, especially if you want to play long-term and make a stable profit from your blackjack sessions.
Main Types of Blackjack Side Bets
Although you’re not required to place blackjack side bets if you don’t want to, they are generally considered a significant part of the game.
Often, the odds of the most common side bets are clearly marked on the table or featured in the layout if you’re playing online. The three main types of blackjack side bets are:
Perhaps the most common of the three main types of blackjack side bets. The insurance bet is available to you as a cover if the dealer’s face-up card is an ace and involves half of your initial bet for the round.
If it turns out that the dealer has blackjack, you get paid 2:1.
While some players love taking the insurance bet, many others think of it as an unnecessary option that doesn’t provide much value.
To go into more detail, insurance bets can be helpful if you’re counting cards and are pretty confident that you know how many ten-point cards can potentially come up.
On the other hand, the insurance bet significantly increases the house edge, so you shouldn’t resort to it too often. In single deck blackjack, the house edge for the insurance bet is just under six percent. In multi-deck blackjack, this can increase to 7.5%.
The Perfect Pairs bet is a simple side bet that only involves your cards. It pays for any pair on your first two dealt cards.
The full version of Perfect Pairs can’t be found in single-deck blackjack, as two decks are needed to provide the option of having two cards of the same rank and suit. Depending on the exact hand you have, you can expect:
- Perfect Pairs – Pays 25:1 for two-same suited cards of the same value.
- Colored Pair – Pays 12:1 for any two cards of the same value and color, but in different suits.
- Mixed Pair – Pays 5:1 for any two cards of the same value.
The 21+3 is arguably the most challenging blackjack side bet to keep track of. This is because the outcome is decided by combining your two cards with the dealer’s face-up card.
The house edge depends on the number of card decks used and can be anywhere from six percent up to close to nine percent. Here are all of the different card combinations that the 21+3 side bet pays out for:
- Suited Triple – Three of the same card combination, pays out 100:1.
- Straight Flush – All three cards of the same suit and in consecutive order, pays out 40:1.
- Three of a Kind – All three cards have the same numerical value but aren’t in the same suit. Pays out 30:1.
- Straight – Three cards are in consecutive order but not in the same suite. Pays out 10:1.
- Flush – Pays out 5:1 if all three cards are in the same suit.
Additional Types of Blackjack Side Bets
Apart from the three main types of blackjack side bets that you’ll find in most casinos, you can also encounter a number of additional types.
What’s more, with blackjack being so popular, there are new types of side bets coming out every now and then.
Keep in mind that not all of these are available in every casino, so you might have to do some shopping around to find a specific bet if you want to try it out. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at a select number of additional blackjack side bets:
Super Sevens is one of the best-known “additional” types of side bets, focusing on the number seven card. It’s also one of the most rewarding ones.
You can place this bet on your first three cards. Here’s what you can expect depending on how many sevens you have in your hand:
- Three Suited Sevens – 5000:1
- Three Unsuited Sevens – 500:1
- Two Suited Sevens – 100:1
- Two Unsuited Sevens – 50:1
- One Seven – 3:1
Over/Under 13 is a super-simple blackjack side bet that involves you guessing whether the sum of your two initial cards will be over or under 13.
In most casinos, if the outcome is precisely 13, you lose the bet. However, some casinos allow you to bet on exactly 13 as well.
In Over/Under 13 side bets, aces are always worth one point. What’s interesting about this bet is that the house edge differs between the “over” and the “under” option, even though the bet pays even money.
More precisely, the house edge on “over” is 6.5%, while “under” comes with a house edge of 10%.
The Lucky Ladies bet is available on any hand that equals 20. That said, we recommend you avoid this blackjack side bet at all costs, as it comes with a whopping house edge of around 17%.
Still, if you wish to learn more about this side bet, here’s a closer look at how different Lucky Ladies combinations pay out:
- Lucky Ladies – The best-paying combination of this side bet, it returns 200:1 for two Queens of Hearts. If you have Lucky Ladies and the dealer has blackjack at the same time, you get paid 1000:1.
- Matched 20 – Pays 25:1 for any two cards that make up 20 and are of the same rank and the same suit.
- Paired 20 – Any two same-ranked cards that total 20. This option is only available in single-deck blackjack.
- Suited 20 – Any two suited cards that make up a total of 20. Pays out 10:1.
- Any 20 – Any two cards that make up a total value of 20. This combination pays out 4:1.
The Royal Match bet is one of the oldest blackjack side bets and is available in both single-deck and multi-deck game variations.
This side bet is placed on your first two cards, and the only prerequisite for winning is that the cards are in the same suit. In this case, there are three ways you can win:
- Royal Match – A suited King and Queen hand that pays out 25:1.
- Easy Match – To win the Easy Match side bet, you need to have a same-suited pair. In this case, you’ll get a payout of 5:2.
- Crown Treasure – This is the rarest outcome, and this option is not even available in some casinos. In those that offer it, the Crown Treasure often pays a predetermined fixed jackpot. To win the Crown Treasure, you have to correctly guess that both you and the dealer have a Royal Match.
Blackjack Side Bets – Wrapping Up
There’s no denying that blackjack side bets are insanely entertaining and can help spice up every session.
On the other hand, it’s also important to remember the drawbacks of these bets, primarily in the form of the significantly higher house edge than that which you experience playing standard blackjack.
There’s a simple rule of thumb you can go by when deciding whether or not you should exercise the option of placing blackjack side bets.
If you’re betting mainly for fun and entertainment, these can be great, as long as you don’t mind risking extra money.
They deliver great entertainment value, and some even promise very solid payouts.
In contrast, if you’re focused on maximum profit over the long-term, placing blackjack side bets probably isn’t the wisest way of going about it.
This is because the high house edge that comes with these bets will slowly eat away your bankroll over time.
With all of that in mind, hopefully, this detailed blackjack side bets guide has helped you determine which of the two categories you fall in.
If you decide these exciting bets are worth your attention, make sure to gamble responsibly and keep a close eye on your bankroll.