There are tons of ways to make money through blackjack. One of these is the so-called back betting where you can place a bet in another player’s hand even if you’re not seated on the table. Most casinos in the U.S. don’t offer this courtesy, but you can easily find one in Asia, Europe, and Australia. If you play blackjack in a brick-and-mortar casino, you’re probably interested in making this side bet.
Here in the U.S., a lot of casinos prohibit back betting or borrowing money from someone else just to bankroll a play. However, not all of these prohibiting casinos are interested to enforce it. Besides, having a player put more money at the table is the goal.
Side bets, as risky as they are, aren’t really a thing of full-time gamblers. But in the case of back betting, it can be a prolific wager if the person seated at the table is an expert and known for his winning streaks. Playing the backline is also a good thing for some newbies who want to have a first-hand observation of the card game. But like what I always say, you should bet at your own risk.
For those who want to try playing behind, here’s what you need to know about it.
How back betting works
Back betting is when the casino allows other bettors to place a wager on someone else’s hand on the table. This means that even if you’re not seated at the table, you can place a bet and possibly win money without playing the game.
This mode of betting isn’t common in America where regular blackjack tables are used. But for casinos that allow you to play blackjack game behind, there would be an active box that can accommodate wagers from up to three people.
However, the controller or the person seated will have full control over the game. Usually, their chips are placed in front and they have the full power to hit, stand, split, or double down whenever they wish. Still, the seated player can defer to back players to push their chips in front and take over. But this isn’t common practice in modern blackjack since doing so will make the card game a bit chaotic for both the dealer and the other players.
Besides, back betting is only a risk you’re willing to take. If you want to have control over the table, you should find an empty seat and start playing your own hand. Just imagine, how would you feel if a seated player decides to split their two 10s?
Blackjack betting strategy as a back player
Placing a back bet still has its limits. For example, if the table has a maximum wager of $600 per player, the back bettor can place a $100 bet but the seated player can only push a maximum of $500. If more back players are involved, the lower the amount the controller can wager. You should play blackjack as a regular player if you’re planning to be a high-roller.
Back players are also allowed to put a wager on splits, doubles downs, insurance, and so on. But if they aren’t willing to put more money, they will only be paid their original wager once the hand wins.
In the case that the seated player can no longer bankroll his hand, some casinos allow any of the back players to take over and become the controller. Some will just let a back player fund the seated player so s/he can continue playing. This is done especially if the seated player is an excellent gambler and has a promise of making more money.
Splitting and doubling down
When it comes to back betting, a lot of players get confused about how they should approach an opportunity to split or double down.
The first question is that should the back bettor follow the moves of the controller? In terms of placing bets, it’s a no. Let’s take a 7-7 hand for example. Since hard 14 is a lousy hand, any seated player who has knowledge of the basic strategy would know that this is a candidate for a split. So when he splits and placed another wager on the extra hand, the back bettor has the freedom to bet or not to bet based on his own volition.
The back bettor can also choose to play only one hand of the split. The payout would be done normally and the back bettor’s decision won’t affect the seated player.
This goes the same with doubling down as you play blackjack game. When the controller doubles, the back liner can opt out or put more money at the table.
However, the main problem with back betting is you don’t have any control with the seated player’s strategy. If s/he has poor playing circumstances say splitting two 10s cards, your money is on the wringer. Even if the casino allows such betting, the etiquette suggests that you should never over-coach a seated player. You might get tossed out of the casino or you’ll annoy other players and the controller himself.
The thing about surrendering
Surrendering is the manner where you forfeit half of your wager by default as an effort to salvage half of your money. This is done when the player has a high chance of busting or losing against the dealer. But what’s the case if you’re playing as a back bettor?
The good news is that you have an independent betting decision with that of the seated player. If the seated player or the controller decides to surrender, you can go on and still play the hand as normal. In another perspective, if the player decides to go on with the play, you can surrender independently.
However, if you surrender early on and the hand wins, you get nothing from the profit but you still lose half of your wager. This is the reason why there are strategies to increase your chance when it comes to back betting as a way to play blackjack.
Back betting strategies
Like everything in blackjack, there are possible ways to increase your chances of making money through back betting. Here are some of the guaranteed moves straight from the charts. Let’s start with the splits:
Two aces? Play both hands. Aces are always great cards. It can land a win if the cards are in your favor.
Deuces? Whenever the up card is within 4-7, it’s best to play both hands. If not, play only one.
10s? It’s rare for a player to split two 10s, but if s/he does, play both hands if the dealer has an up card lower than 7.
Fours? In the case that the up card is five or six, play both hands.
Treys? Is the up card anything from 4-6? If so, play both hands.
Fives? If the up card is six, you should play both hands.
These are just some of the possible moves you can do. Take note that the blackjack betting strategy will still depend on the number of card decks involved in the game. Also, you should check when the dealer is required to stand or if you can double after splitting as a back bettor.
Betting on a split as a back player becomes tricky when the game has the European no-hole card setup. If you want the typical American-style blackjack, you can take rounds in California to find some casinos that offer back betting.
Can I use back betting to card count?
If you want to practice and see the effectiveness of the card counting technique, you can do so. However, you should know that your efforts will be futile if it’s intended to control the game. Since most casinos don’t allow insistent coaching, you can’t do anything but watch and hope that your controller is skilled enough to win bucks.
But as many successful back bettors say, you don’t have to count cards just to play blackjack game as a back liner. There are optimal ways to bet in this format while minimizing possible losses. If you know someone who’s a great card counter, you can tag with him as a back bettor.
Remember, though, that casinos hate card counters. Although they are unlikely to toss the card counter out, you’d have to endure the stink eye the dealer and pit boss would give.
Back betting etiquette
Before you try your luck as a back bettor, it’s important to know some of the unwritten etiquettes in this practice. Keep this in mind:
➕Never place a back bet on a drunken player. This is obvious, though. Who would want to risk their money on someone who’s far from being sober? God knows if he can still play blackjack properly.
➕Bet on those who believe in karma. This isn’t a guaranteed tip, though, but I’m going to dispense it for what its worth. Many gamblers believe that these people are unlikely to scam you. Still, you need to practice excellent profiling to target these people.
➕Don’t be such a push. If you’re planning to back bet, fight the urge to coach hard. Trying hard to have your own way as a back liner would only irritate the controller. If you want to have a good play, go sit on that table.
➕Never blame the seated player. If you lose bigtime as a back player, never blame the controller. Remember, you choose to place a back bet on him on your own. Also, it’s you who decided to place a whole fortune as a wager. If his hand loses, be a good sport and accept your defeat.
How much bankroll should you shell out?
As a back bettor, I don’t recommend shelling out a large bankroll. This betting system isn’t guaranteed to make you lots of money. Unless you have a prime blackjack player on the table, it’s very, very risky.
Come to think of it, you don’t have any control over the hand unless the player defers to you for advice. It’s better to place your money on your own hand with your own strategy.
Remember, though, that placing a bet as a way to save someone else’s split may not be considered as a back bet. Unless your wager is acknowledged as such, don’t expect that you’ll be paid fully. Some seated players would only give you a consolation chip for saving their bet plus the amount you lent. Don’t cringe if this happens and you don’t clarify the betting setup.
Is back betting worth the try?
Unless the player you’re back betting is a good one, I can say that this mode of playing will have a lower risk. But if you happen to put a wager on a bad actor, it will be nothing but a waste of time, money, and effort. You might as well play your own hand at the table.
Still, many players opt to back bet to observe the play. Since they won’t have to focus on the cards, they have more time to see how a blackjack betting strategy will turn out.
Just don’t put your hopes up too high when playing as a back bettor. The fact that you don’t have any control over the hits and stands mean your chances of winning has spiraled down. Still, you’re lucky if the casino allows the seated player to take advice from a back bettor and if the player itself will do so.
The consolation here is that you have the freedom to bet or not to bet on splits and doubles. Somehow, it offsets the distaste of not calling the shots. But if you’re going to ask me, it’s better to wait for a seat to open up so you can play your own hand. It’s just too risky to put your money’s fate on someone else’s hand.
If you want to play blackjack in a different style, you can try becoming a back bettor. Still, don’t expect that this will yield a favorable result all the time. Like what I always say, bet at your own risk.