Blackjack is renowned for its collection of entertaining and unique side bets, and while the majority of side wagers hold high house edges, payouts are typically quite high too, so they can always be a bit of fun, so long as you don’t rely on them to make consistent cash. So what are the most popular side bets in blackjack, and how do their odds stack up against each other? Which wagers are the best to place, in terms of house edge and returns?
Note: each side wager listed below is independent of the blackjack hand, and can be won or lost regardless of whether the blackjack hand is won or lost.
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The most common side bet of all, Perfect Pairs is simple to understand, and always entertaining. This bet is based on the player’s initial two cards dealt, and settled immediately once those cards have been dealt. If making the bet, and your two cards are of the same rank (i.e. two Aces; two Jacks; two Fives), this is a pair and you will be paid out according to the following structure (odds and probabilities are based on an eight-deck game):
Perfect pair: Two identical cards of the same face value and suit typically pays out at 25:1. There are 1456 combinations of drawing a perfect pair in a standard eight-deck game (odds of approximately 1.7 per cent).
Coloured pair: Two identical cards of the same face value and colour, but of different suit typically pays out at 12:1. There are 1664 combinations of drawing a coloured pair in an eight-deck game (odds of approximately 1.9 per cent).
Mixed pair: Two identical cards of the same face value, but of different colour typically pays out at 6:1. There are 3328 combinations of drawing a mixed pair in an eight-deck game (odds of approximately 3.9 per cent).
All other combinations (which would result in a lost perfect pairs bet), amount to 79872 at odds of 92.5 per cent. The odds are very slim even in the best case scenario of an eight-deck game, so play this side wager with the knowledge that winning is unlikely, and it is all for the additional thrill and excitement.
One of the lesser known blackjack side bets is Blackpot, it was introduced at Melbourne’s Crown Casino as a trial side bet and gained popularity to be welcomed to many main tables. The rules to the side wager are as follows:
The player places a bet in the ‘Blackpot’ box, and if he or she draws an initial two-card combination of 6-7, 7-8 or 6-8, that player is rewarded instantly with a payout of 10:1. Opt to hit that two-card hand, and if you complete the combination to take you to a total of 21 (a 6-7-8 combo), you are rewarded with a payout of 100:1. If you manage to pull that off, the stick around for your very next hand.
The dealer will place a ‘Blackpot’ marker on your box, and if you draw a 6-7, 7-8 or 6-8 combination again with your first two cards, you are paid out at 1,000:1. Choose to hit and complete the coveted 6-7-8 combo again in this second round, and you receive the maximum payout of $20,000. Not bad for a night out at the casino.
The Lucky Ladies side bet in blackjack is popular within casinos in the United Sates and the online realm of gambling, and is based on the player’s initial two cards totalling 20 points. There are five unique ways in which we can total 20 points from our first two cards dealt to us, according to the Lucky Ladies structure, and they are as follows (each with a distinct payout):
1: Two unsuited cards totalling 20 points (for example, a Jack of Hearts and a 10 of Clubs), pays out 4:1.
2: Two suited cards totalling 20 points (for example, a King of Diamonds and a Jack of Diamonds), pays out 9:1.
3: Two cards of the same face value and suit which total 20 points (for example, two 10s of Spades), holds a payout of 19:1.
4: Draw two Queens of Hearts and receive a payout of 125:1.
5: Draw two Queens of Hearts in the same round as the dealer draws blackjack, and receive a handsome payout of 1000:1.
Ina six-deck game where Lucky Ladies is available, the combinations and probabilities of drawing such hands are as follows:
- For #1: Combinations: 744,863,040. Chance: 8.0139%
- For #2: Combinations: 193,112,640. Chance: 2.0777%
- For #3: Combinations: 43,105,500. Chance: 0.4683%
- For #4: Combinations: 2,738,340. Chance: 0.0295%
- For #5: Combinations: 135,360. Chance: 0.0015%
Holding a house edge of 24.71 per cent, keep this one in the back pocket for the drunken night out where lady luck is on your side.
Match the Dealer
Place a ‘Match the Dealer’ side wager, and if either or both of your initial two cards dealt match with the dealer’s up-card, you are awarded a payout based on the type of match:
- Your two cards are both of the same face value and suit as the dealer’s up-card.
- One of your cards is of the same face value and suit as the dealer’s up-card, and the other is of the same face value but of a different suit.
- One of your cards is of the same face value and suit as the dealer’s up-card.
- Both of your cards are of the same face value as the dealer’s up-card, but of a different suit.
- One of your cards is of the same face value as the dealer’s up-card, but of a different suit.
The more decks in play, the better your odds are off winning, with payouts for each option differing across different games. Two cards matching in suit and face value can hold a payout anywhere from 18:1 to 28:1.
One of the most popular side bets in Las Vegas, this wager has made its way to online casinos and boasts one of the lowest house edges of all blackjack side bets (around 2.65 per cent, depending on how many decks are in play). Based on your first two cards dealt and the dealer’s up-card, if you hit any of the following combinations when the bet is active, you’ll net a nice payout:
- Suited 7-7-7 (200:1)
- Suited 6-7-8 (100:1)
- Unsuited 7-7-7 (50:1)
- Unsuited 6-7-8 (30:1)
- Suited 21 total (15:1)
- Unsuited 21 total (3:1)
- Any total of 20 (2:1)
- Any total of 19 (2:1)