If you’ve tried playing a few hands of blackjack, you’re probably familiar with side betting. It’s a way of the casino to encourage you to play more and to put more money on the table. These side bets can or cannot be a good source of extra income while you play. You always need a blackjack betting strategy.
Usually, most side bets will have a low wager, say one or two dollars. It also pays larger than the usual bets you place for every hand. This fact makes it more attractive, especially for newbie gamblers who want to exhaust all possible means of winning.
Should you place a side bet?
There are divided opinions about side betting. Many say that you should never entertain side bet opportunities. Why? Because side bets have a very high house edge and it should be avoided if possible. I echo this same sentiment, having lost a large sum as a previous newbie addicted to side bets. However, if you’re bent to try your luck, you can put a wager on it and hope for the best.
Expert gamblers suggest that you stick to low edge side bets if you’re planning to put your money on it. If you’re serious about playing, you can learn a card counting technique that will increase your chances of winning a side bet.
Remember that the house edge on side bets will vary from one casino to another. Also, the minimum and maximum wagers will be different except for free bet blackjack.
Most popular side bets
Both casino and online players would be familiar with some side bets and how it works. There are tons of side bets and every casino would have their own set to offer. If you’re a newbie or someone who hasn’t tried placing a wager in one, here’s a quick guide for you:
The 21 + 3 side bet
This is by far the most popular side bet among casinos and its players. In the 21 +3 side bet, the player looks on his hand and the dealer’s up card. Once the three cards form a flush, straight flush, or one-of-a-kind flush, the side bet wins.
Usually, the payout for each wager that wins in this bet is 9:1 which gives the house an average of 3.24% edge. But nowadays, more and more casinos are making versions of the side bet with a skyrocketing house edge and a ballooning volatility.
Your target here is to spot any imbalance within the suit on the table’s decks. If you have 40 cards with 10 of each suit, you have 480 ways to make a three-card flush. This is just simple math but the chances of nailing this side bet are rather complicated.
Pro tip: If you’re playing in an actual casino, keep an eye on players who put a maximum wager on this side bet. There’s a chance that they are using a card counting technique as a blackjack betting strategy.
The Perfect Pair side bet
The Perfect Pair side bet is similar to ‘Suit ‘em up’ side bet. Here, the goal is to make a perfect pair based on color, suit, and of course pairs. Each pair will have unique payout depending on the factors that make your hand a perfect pair.
For example, a hand of Js-Jh will have a payout of 5:1 since it has mixed colors and suits. On the other hand, a mixed suit with same colors (Js-Jc) will have a payout of 10:1. If you happen to have a hand with the same color, same suit, and a perfect pair, you’ll have a fortune payout of 30:1.
Remember that the payouts and the perfect pair rules may vary per casino. But before you put your whole bankroll here, remember that this side bet has a 6% house edge. It bears one of the highest edges among casino bets. Nevertheless, the perfect pair side bet is a lot of fun to play.
The Perfect 11s side bet
This bet is played with the goal to have an 11 hand on your first two cards including an actual blackjack. Remember that this is played on a 6-deck table and there would be a Jackpot Ace of spade card that will have a higher payout in case it’s dealt to you.
There would be there dices with five blank sides and only one side bearing an infinity symbol. Once you’ve been dealt with a qualified 11 hand, you’ll get to toss the dice in a dome at the table. If you get two infinity dices, you’ll qualify for a progressive jackpot payout. Payouts will vary per casino but it can really be high which attracts a lot of players especially for free bet blackjack.
Take note that this side betting uses a special equipment and may not be available in many casinos. When you play this online, it would be difficult to assess your chances of winning since the Mystery Jackpot is assigned randomly.
The Royal Match side bet
This bet is a true classic and has been around for a long time. Its name came from the fact that once you have the rare KQ hand, you’ll be paid with a premium payout. Aside from this, there’s a variation of the Royal Match side bet called Royal 20s.
In this setup, the game will be played with ordinary card decks. Remember that the game only covers the first two cards on your hand and the payouts will vary per casino and event.
For example, a pair J-J with different suits and colors will be paid 5:1. On the other hand, a 20 with the same suit but not matching faces will be paid a 10:1 amount.
The biggest possible payout for the Royal Match is when you get any pairs of Queens, King, and Jacks. It pays about 25:1 in most casinos.
But before you put a wager here, it’s important to know that most Royal Match side bet will have a high house edge. Some can even be as glaring as 18%. A blackjack betting strategy may not always work here.
The Super Sevens side bet
The goal of this bet is to get straight 7s on your hand. If your first card is a seven, you’ll then get a 3:1 payout, if you get another seven (a hard 14 hand), you’ll either get paid 100:1 (suited) or 50:1 (unsuited). But what if you hit and get a third seven?
In the case of three consecutive 7s, some casinos will pay a maximum of 5,000:1. But before you go crazy about putting a bet on this, you should know that the usual maximum bet for this is $1. So even if you win a three consecutive 7s, your financial gain will only be around 25 cents per hour.
However, there’s no established rule in case the dealer gets a blackjack and the player has two sevens. This will probably depend on the casino’s preferred setup for the game. There are variations where you won’t be dealt with a third card when the house gets a blackjack.
The Over/Under 13 side bet
If you’re playing on a 6-deck to 8-deck tables, there’s a chance that the Over/Under 13 side bet will be offered at the felt. The goal is to get the first two cards with a combined value of lower or higher than 13. If you get an exact 13, you’ll lose your bet. Still, some casinos will allow you to bet for the exact 13 that pays 10:1.
Take note that this side bet is reeking with house edge. The Under 13 side bet has a house edge of 10% whereas Over 13 has 6.5%. Anyway, the exact house edge will depend on the number of cards played.
Although this is a very critical bet, some experts have come up with a card counting technique to beat the house. This side bet is masked as a chance to convert a lousy 13 hand into a winning one.However, the odds are quite low. You might end up losing more in the process even if you’re playing a free bet blackjack.
The Pair Square side bet
The Pair Square side bet is also known as ‘Bet the Set’ or ‘Any Pair’. In this side bet, the goal is to have a pair, especially a suited one. A suited pair pays 12:1 while a non-suited pair earns 10:1. However, if there’s no pair, you’ll lose your wager. The aim is to have two cards with the same rank.
The good thing about this side bet is it has a higher probability of winning compared to other bets discussed. Just take note that the house edge and payout will depend on the number of decks played at the table.
But on average, bets like this would have a house edge of at least 11% that goes higher as the decks get limited. But like the previous side bet, there’s a card counting system that will increase your odds of winning.
The Lucky Ladies side bet
As its name suggests, the Lucky Ladies side is about getting two Queens for a hard 20 hand. If you get two queens of hearts, the payout would be 200:1 whereas a matched 20 with the same suit and rank will only pay 25:1.
The best hand here is having two queen of hearts when the dealer gets a blackjack. This event pays a maximum of 1000:1 top payout. This may vary per casino and the table you’re playing at. Most of the time, any 20-hand gets to win something regardless of the blackjack betting strategy.
But like any other side bet, this has a high house edge of 17%. Still, experts recommend that you use the Hi-Lo card counting technique to boost your chances of winning.
A variation of this side bet is the Bonus Lucky Ladies where $1 falls on a progressive side bet. Take note that all the wins here are “for one”. Bet at your own risk.
The 21 Magic side bet
For those playing the Buffalo Blackjack, a popular side bet is the 21 Magic. Basically, the outcome of this bet depends on your strategy and your ability to ace a 21 hand.
The rule is that you’ll lose if you don’t get a 21 hand or a blackjack. Also, it’s a push in case a 21 or blackjack tie happens at the table. For the payout, the steep odds of winning are paired with a hefty value. It’s something that free bet blackjack players clamor for.
For a blackjack, you’ll get 6:1 while a three-card 21 hand will be paid 8:1. As for the four-card and five -card 21, it will be paid 9:1 and 10:1 respectively. As the cards accumulate without getting busted, the payout grows bigger too. In fact, a six-card and 7-card 21 will be paid 10:1 and 25:1 accordingly.
In case you plan to split, you should place an additional wager to the extra hand. As for doubling, take note that only the blackjack wager gets doubled and not the payout for the 21 Magic side bet.
The C3 side bet
Have you heard about the C3 side bet? There is also the C4 and C5 version on other games, but we’re going to focus on C3 here. As per the rules, the winnings will depend on the dealer’s up card and the first two cards dealt with the player.
A player can qualify for a win in more than one way but only the higher event will be paid. For example, the highest hearts pays 300:1 and three-of-a-kinds pay 50:1. In the case when you have two ace of hearts and the up card is also the same card, you’ll only be paid 300:1 but not the 50:1.
Other grounds for winning are having the so-called red carpet where you have three red cards. Payout here is 4:1. Lastly, the jacks in black or three jacks with black color will pay 200:1. As much as this is an attractive side bet, it’s also high is house edge.
A blackjack betting strategy may or may not work for side bets. If you can play without these additional wagers, it’s best to stir clear of it. But for those who want to take chances, always have a plan in mind.