Most blackjack games in casinos today offer optional bonus or side bets. Once rare at a basic blackjack table they are becoming more and more widespread. The rational is simple because they carry a huge house edge. Anywhere from 3% to 20% or more compared to the 0.5% edge when playing straight up blackjack while using correct Basic Strategy. The bigger the edge, the more money the house makes.
The side bets do have an upside for the player in that all winning bonus wagers will pay out even if the player loses the original hand, and the large payouts are tempting. If you care to venture in, here are some of the most popular ones:
Twenty-One + 3
This side bet incorporates a little 3 Card Poker excitement into the mix in that your first two cards and the dealer’s up card are the determining factors. After you’ve made your BJ and optional Twenty One + 3 wagers, the combination of the three cards must equal a flush, straight flush, any straight, or three of a kind. The bet wins 9 to 1 on a six or eight deck game. The house edge is about 3%.
Royal Match 21
This one is based on your first two dealt cards:
Any two suited cards pay 2.5 to 1
A suited King & Queen (Royal Match) pays 25 to 1
A player Royal Match & dealer Royal Match in any suit pays 1000 to 1
The maximum bet allowed will vary between casinos. With the outcome based on your first two cards, the house edge is about 6%.
Bet the Set 21
This side bet focuses on your first two cards after you’ve made you’re blackjack wager and a Bet the Set wager. In some jurisdictions this bet is also known as Pair Square. If you are dealt any pair you are paid according to a pre-determined pay table based on the number of decks in play:
Single deck – pair pays 15 to 1
Double deck – pair pays 10 to 1, suited pair pays 25 to 1
Four, six or eight deck – pair pays 10 to 1, suited pair pays 15 to 1
Depending upon the number of decks in play and the pay table which varies between jurisdictions, the house edge varies between 5 & 6%.
Dealer Bust 21
Player wins if the dealer busts with various up cards showing. The winning payouts are paid according to the following table:
Bust with Ace up – Pays 10 to 1
Bust with 10 to K – Pays 4 to 1
Bust with 7 to 9 – Pays 2 to 1
Bust with 2 to 6 – Pays 1 to 1
The house edge is about 10% if the dealer stands on soft seventeen, about 8% if the dealer hits soft seventeen.
A player can wager on whether the total of his first two cards will be over, or under, 13. An exact 13 total always loses and Ace always counts as 1. The house edge for the Over 13 wager is 6.5 %, and for the Under 13, it’s 10 %. The side bet is usually offered on six- and eight- deck games.
A player wins if his or her first two cards are the same rank (such as a pair of 8’s). An unmatched pair (like an 8 of Clubs and an 8 of Hearts) pays 10 to 1. A matched pair (like a pair of 8’s of clubs) pays 15 to 1. The house edge is 10.6 %.
In addition to your blackjack game bet, wager $1 that you will be dealt from one to three sevens resulting in the following payouts:
One seven pays 3 to 1
Two unsuited sevens pay 50 to 1
Two suited sevens pay 100 to 1
Three unsuited sevens pay 500 to 1
Three suited sevens pay 5000 to 1
The house edge is about 12% with no third card dealt and about 11% when a third card is dealt.
Here is a bet where any hand totaling 20 wins something. If you’re lucky enough to have a pair of Queens, you’ll win more, as the following pay table shows:
Pair of Queens with a dealer Blackjack – pays 250 to 1
Pair of Queens – Pays 25 to 1
Any suited 20 – pays 9 to 1
Any unsuited 20 – pays 4 to 1
The house edge is between 17 & 20 % depending on the jurisdictions pay table.
Always keep in mind that your bankroll is at a greater risk of a quicker depletion while playing blackjack games and making these tempting side bets.