Since casinos do not have big margins on their blackjack tables they often try to offer side bets to boost profits. What follows is a summary of some of the more popular side bets you are apt to findHenry Tamburin is the editor and publisher of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter and author of the best-selling Blackjack: Take the Money & Run. He is also the lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, a feature writer for Casino Player magazine (and 6 other publications); an owner of a casino gambling publishing company (www.rsucasinobooks.com) and the host of www.smartgaming.com. For a free three month subscription to the Henry's Blackjack Insider Newsletter with full membership privileges go to www.bjinsider.com/free. Henry's website is www.smartgaming.com on blackjack tables.
This side bet allows a player to wager that the likelihood of his two initial cards will total either over 13 or under 13 (if the total is exactly 13 the player loses both the over and under bet). The house has an edge of 6.6% for the over bet and 10% for the under bet (typical 6 deck game). This side bet is not recommended if you are a basic strategy player.
Here the player makes a side bet in the hopes he is dealt one or more 7’s. For example, if his first card is a 7, the payoff is 3 to 1. If his first two cards are unsuited 7’s, it’s a 50 to 1 payoff and if both 7’s are suited the payoff skyrockets to 100 to1. Finally, if the player is dealt three 7’s the payoff is 500 to 1 if unsuited and a whopping 5,000 to 1 if suited.
Although the high payoffs are inviting when you do the math the casino’s edge is around 11%. That’s a sucker's bet in anybody’s book.
A player makes a side bet and gets paid a bonus if the first two cards are suited (3 to 1) and a 10 to 1 bonus if the two suited cards are a king and queen (royal match). These payoffs are for single deck games and the house edge is around 4%. The payoffs can vary from the above and the odds change if more decks of cards are used. But no matter, I’ve yet to see an established payoff high enough that reduces the house edge to a respectable level. Avoid this side bet.
A player wins this side bet if his first two cards are of the same rank. For a 6-deck game, the payoff for an unmatched pair is 10 to 1 and if matched the payoff increases to 15 to 1. The payoffs vary for different number of decks of cards but the casino’s edge in all cases is around 6% or more. This is another side bet that should be avoided.
This game combines a Three Card Poker side bet with blackjack. Essentially the player makes a side bet that his first two dealt cards plus the dealer’s upcard will be a flush, straight, straight flush or three of a kind. If so, the side bet pays 9 to 1. In a six-deck game, the casino’s edge is 3% more respectable then most side bets but still higher then the casino’s edge on traditional blackjack.
This side bet pays 2 to 1 if the player gets a winning 5-card hand totaling 21. There are about 20 deviations from basic strategy for any player who wants to try for the 5 card 21 and the house edge is only 0.2%. You’ll find he complete basic strategy in Stanford Wong’s book, Basic Blackjack.
Here the player bets on how many hands he will win in succession (from 2 to 5). The house edge is anywhere from 8 to 14%. Ouch.
Players win this side bet if the first three cards dealt are 6-7-8 of the same suit and the player wins the hand. Only in the case if you hold a suited 6-7 against a dealer’s 2 should you violate basic strategy and hit. The basic strategy player actually has the very slight edge on this side bet (0.01% or about a penny for every $100 bet).
This is a simple side bet. You bet on the color of the dealer’s upcard. If the dealer’s card is a deuce of the color you bet on then you push. This gives the house a 3.8% edge.
You bet a dollar and get paid if are dealt aces. The more aces the higher the payoff. Payoffs start at 3 to 1 if a player gets an ace as his first card. Get two aces on first two cards and the payoff is 15 to 1 (if their suited it’s 50 to 1). The payoffs keep increasing for 3 aces (suited and non-suited) and finally 4 aces. If you achieve the latter and all aces are either red or black, you win the amount on the progressive meter. The casino’s edge varies depending upon the amount of the progressive jackpot but in general it’s >15%.
The bottom line with side bets in blackjack is that this is a way for casinos to try to increase their profits on the game. The side bets usually cost only a buck and many offer more than a 1 to 1 payoff. But the casino’s edge is high and in the long run, you will lose a lot more than you will win. It’s best to ignore the side bets if they are offered on your table and stick to just playing blackjack.
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