Side Bets in Live Blackjack Explained
Many land-based casinos have started over the last few years to introduce a greater range of side bets as a way of enticing more players to blackjack tables and offer a more immersive playing environment. As this approach has also become a successful part of online casinos we thought we’d take a look at the thoughts behind side bets at physical casinos but also as part of live dealer blackjack online.
There is a different house edge for different side bets, depending on the payoff schedule, and though some side bets in live blackjack do have high house edges, there is plenty of option open to you. So, have some fun and keep an eye out for side bets with the lowest house edge.
This side bet is based on the very first two cards that the player is dealt, alongside the dealer’s upcard. The player wins if the three cards form a flush, straight, straight flush, or three-of-a-kind. Originally the 21+3 side bet was a 9:1 standout for winning hands (with a house edge of 3.24%), but in modern tables you’ll find greater volatility and a higher house edge. There are many variations in house edges relating to 21+3 around the world, from 2.78% up to 13.39%, and the payouts will range according to what hand you receive. Theoretically the return to player is 95.38%.
The Following Tables Offer 21+3 Side Bet
This optional side bet offers blackjack players the choice on whether or not their two cards will be paired. This bet is placed alongside the player’s first wager and relates to the first two cards received. The pairing could be matched suits, matched colours, or matched ranks, each with a different payout and odds, ranging from 5:1 for a mixed pair of matched ranks, up to 25:1 for a perfect pair of matched suits. The return to player on a Perfect Pairs side bet is theoretically 95.82%.
The Following Tables Offer Perfect Pairs Side Bet
The following two side bets are currently available at the BetConstruct Blackjack offering, but we expect them to become available at other venues soon.
The Honey Bonus works in the same way as the 21+3 side bet. The player wins when the dealer’s up card and the player’s first two cards form a 3-card Poker hand. The difference is that you also win when the two initial cards of yours make up a Blackjack of the same suit. Another difference is a reduced payout for three of a kind that pays 20 to 1 instead of 30 to 1.
The Following Tables Offer Honey Bonus Side Bet
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A Lucky 7 side bet wins if a player’s first card is a 7, and is then followed up by successive 7s when the next cards are drawn. The top payout of 500 to 1 is earned by getting three sevens of the same suit. The bet outcome is calculated from the two player cards plus the first dealer card dealt.
The Following Tables Offer Lucky 7s Side Bet
Bet Behind Option
The bet behind option was a real enhancement to the live dealer blackjack experience at an online casino. It allows for unlimited players to join a live game, utilising the ‘bet behind’ option if all seven seats at the table are occupied. It adds to the excitement for players, adds to the revenue with multi-player betting and offers unlimited options to players who can bet behind multiple seats at any given time.
The Following Tables Offer Bet Behind Option
The insurance bet is an option for players when a dealer has an Ace as an upcard and could have a blackjack. This separate insurance wager is equal to half of the initial bet. If the down card is a 10, Jack, Queen or King, meaning a blackjack for the dealer, the player is paid at 2:1 odds. If the downcard is of a lesser value, the dealer collects the insurance bet from the player.
The Following Tables Offer Insurance Option
Other Blackjack Side Bets at Physical Casinos
There are, of course, many side bets that are offered within traditional, physical casinos that are worth looking at to give you a greater understanding of the wide range of options open to blackjack players. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Royal Match – Offered as part of single-deck and multi-deck blackjack tables. When making the side bet as part of a multi-deck game the player will win if the first two cards dealt are suited. Winning are 5:2 for an Easy Match (2 suited cards), 25:1 for a Royal Match (a suited King and Queen) and a 5:1 payoff for a suited blackjack. Single-deck game the payoffs are 3:1 for an Easy Match, 10:1 for a Royal Match, with a house edge of 3.8% compared with 3.7% house edge on the multi-deck version.
Over/Under 13 – This blackjack side bet is placed by the player at the time of the initial wager and relates to whether they think the first two cards will add up to a total higher or lower than 13. It is usually offered on six and eight-deck games. A total of 13 will always lose, with the Ace counting as 1. A wager of Over 13 has a house edge of 6.5%, and the Under 13 is 10%.
Super Sevens – The Lucky 7s live dealer blackjack bet above comes from the Super Sevens found at physical casinos. Players win higher payouts the higher the number of successive 7s that are dealt. If the first two cards dealt are 7s the payout is 50:1 for unsuited cards or 100”1 for suited. A third unsuited 7 brings with it a payout of 500:1 and a whopping high payout of 5,000:1 for a suited third 7.
Lucky Ladies – Players wagering on the Lucky Ladies side bet are hoping that the first two dealt cards total 20, and that they are both Queens. The top payout for Lucky Ladies is 1,000:1 if you are dealt two Queen of Hearts and the dealer has a blackjack. There is of course a staggered payout depending on the cards dealt, from 4:1 for any unsuited 20, 10:1 for a suited 20 and any two Queens bringing a payout of 200:1.
Pair Square – For this side bet a player will win if the first two cards are the same rank. So, for instance, if both cards give you a pair of 5s. The house edge is 10.6%, and payouts rank from 10:1 for an unmatched pair, to 15:1 for a matched pair (a pair of clubs).
Progressive Jackpot Side Bets
As an optional side bet the player can wager for a progressive jackpot. For example you may wish to wager £1 with a chance to have a tiny chance of winning a large amount of money. As with other progressive games, the higher the number of players, and the more tables that are linked to the progressive jackpot, the higher the potential winnings.
Within physical casinos there has been the chance to win big with progressive jackpot side bets. In fact, in the States there was a player who won over $1 million in two hours, despite starting with just a $5 bet on a progressive jackpot.
Progressive side bets for blackjack will soon make their way into the live dealer blackjack games online so it will benefit you to have a brief understanding.
Currently PlayTech has an RNG version with a progressive jackpot that often exceeds £500,000 in value.