Blackjack Side Bets Explained in Plain English

blackjack side bets

With simple rules and easy-to-learn strategies, the game of blackjack is one of the most popular card games in both Las Vegas Casinos and online casinos around the world.

Blackjack side bets, a popular additional dimension in the rules of blackjack, can add a layer of complexity and risk to any blackjack game.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the different side bet options, the benefits of playing blackjack side bets, how they are structured, and what side bets pay.

What are Blackjack Side Bets?

Blackjack side bets are additional bets placed during a standard game of Blackjack. They involve predicting which cards the player, and sometimes the dealer will receive.

Wagers are made before any cards are dealt and each side bet is based on chance rather than skill, although you can count cards to help you choose the most likely combinations for your best side bets.

The most common side bets are Insurance, Perfect Pairs, and 21+3, but there are other side bets to consider too. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

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Why Play Blackjack Side Bets?

One of the most attractive features of the game of Blackjack is the low house edge compared to other games on the casino floor.

Good players will face a house edge of around 0.5%, and even if you play quite badly, that edge low house edge only rises to around 2%. This means the RTP (return-to-player) rate of Blackjack is excellent compared with other games.

However, while the odds of losing big are low, the odds of winning can also be poor.

Blackjack is mostly an even money game, rising to 2:1 at best if you are dealt a Blackjack.

Side bets offer you the chance to play much longer odds for higher player wins – as much as 5,000:1 in the case of some side bets!

However, it must be noted that the house edge rises significantly for Blackjack side bets, with most bets carrying a house edge of 10% or more.

In other words, side bets make it a lot easier to win big on blackjack but also to lose more money.

The Most Common Blackjack Side Bets

There are a number of common side bets that you will find at most Blackjack tables.

These are clearly marked with the odds either printed on the Blackjack tables or available as a handout or a side menu in the online casino version.

Remember to always check the pay outs carefully before placing your bets, as they can vary considerably between different casinos or online sites.

The three main Blackjack side bets are:

  1. Insurance
  2. Perfect Pairs
  3. 21+3

Insurance Blackjack Side Bet

What is Insurance in Blackjack? Insurance is the most common Blackjack side bet and allows you to cover yourself against Blackjack if the dealer has an ace face up.

This bet involves half of your original stake and pays out at 2:1 if the dealer has Blackjack. The insurance bet reduces the overall house edge.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack Side Bet

What is Perfect Pairs in Blackjack? The Perfect Pairs side bet uses the player’s cards only and pays out if you are dealt two of a kind as follows:

Mixed pair (two of the same value but different suits and colors) – pays 5:1
Colored pair (two of the same value and the same color) – pays 12:1
Perfect pair (two of the same card) – pays 25:1

The returns can vary between different Casinos and different pay tables, and the house edge will depend on both the payout and the number of decks used and can range from just 2 or 3% up to 11% or more.

21+3 Blackjack Side Bet

What is 21+3 in Blackjack? The 21+3 side bet involves the player’s two cards and the upturned card of the dealer. It will pay out for a number of different combinations:

Flush – (all cards are suited) – pays 5:1
Straight – (all cards consecutive) – pays 10:1
Three of a kind – (not the same suit) – pays 30:1
Straight flush – (consecutive cards same suit) – pays 40:1
Suited triple – (three of the same card) – pays 100:1

The house edge for the 21+3 side bet will vary depending on the number of decks used, standing at 8.78% for four decks, 7.81% for five decks, 7.14% for six decks, and 6.29% for seven decks.

Other Blackjack Side Bets to Look Out For

The Casino industry is highly competitive, and so new side bets are being invented all the time to try and attract & retain new Blackjack players.

Some of these will flourish and become widely available, while others remain niche and can only be found in selected Casinos. Here are a few examples:

Royal Match Side Bet

Pays 5:2 for any suited player’s cards and 25:1 for suited king and queen

Over/under 13 Side Bet

Pays even money for correctly predicting the sum of the player’s cards as less than or greater than 13. In most cases, exactly 13 will lose, but some Casinos will allow bets on exactly 13.

Super Sevens Side Bet

This bet pays out if one or more sevens are dealt in the player’s cards. One seven pays 3:1, two unsuited sevens pay 50:1, and two suited sevens pay 100:1. If the third card dealt is also a seven, the bet will pay 500:1 unsuited and 5000:1 suited. However, it is important to ensure that the Casino will still deal a third card if the dealer has a Blackjack, as some Casinos will not do this.

Lucky Ladies Side Bet

This bet pays out if the player’s cards add up to 20, with an unsuited 20 paying 4:1, a suited 20 paying 10:1, a matched 20, same rank and suit pays 25:1, two queens of hearts 200:1 and two queens of hearts when the dealer has Blackjack 1000:1.

Are Blackjack Side Bets Worth Playing?

Blackjack side bets do not involve any skill, and you are simply betting on the luck of the draw.

Moreover, the returns do not reflect the odds of each bet coming in, which gives the house a significantly larger edge.

Therefore, blackjack side bets are best viewed as a bit of extra complexity that adds to a session at the Blackjack table.

However, you should not make them the main focus of your gameplay or your wagering, and you should be aware of the significantly increased house edge.

Blackjack Side Bets FAQs

What are blackjack side bets?

Blackjack side bets are optional bets that you can place in addition to your main blackjack bet. They are based on specific outcomes or combinations of cards that may occur during the blackjack game.

How do I place a side bet in blackjack?

To place a side bet, just place chips in the designated area on the blackjack table, separate from your main bet. The availability of side bets may vary depending on the casino and the specific blackjack variant being played.

What are some common blackjack side bets?

Popular blackjack side bets include Perfect Pairs, 21+3 and Insurance, all of which are explained in detail on this page.

What is insurance in blackjack?

Insurance is the most common Blackjack side bet and allows you to cover yourself against Blackjack if the dealer has an ace face up. This bet involves half of your original stake and pays out at 2:1 if the dealer has Blackjack. The insurance bet reduces the overall house edge.

Are side bets in blackjack worth it?

Side bets can be entertaining and potentially offer higher payouts than the main blackjack game. However, they also have a higher house edge, which means they are riskier in the long run.

What is the house edge for blackjack side bets?

The house edge for blackjack side bets depends on the specific bet and the blackjack variant being played. Some side bets can have a significantly higher house edge compared to the main blackjack game, so it's important that you review the rules and payouts for each side bet to understand the associated house edge.

Can you win both the main blackjack bet and a side bet in the same hand?

Yes, you can win both your main blackjack bet and a side bet in the same hand, as the two things are independent wagers.

Are there any strategies for playing blackjack side bets?

Side bets are primarily based on luck, and there are no foolproof strategies to guarantee a win. Players should be cautious and not overcommit to side bets, as they can lead to substantial losses.

Should I use a specific betting strategy when playing side bets?

Betting strategies that are effective for the main blackjack game may not necessarily apply to side bets. If you choose to play side bets, do so for fun and entertainment, and set limits to manage your bankroll responsibly.

Article last updated: 10th October 2023

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Simon Beasor
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Casino Content Executive

Casino Content Executive

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