The key to winning at blackjack with side bets may seem complex, but it’s a lot easier than you may think. In fact, all it takes is a basic understanding of how blackjack side bets work. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or pro blackjack player, the basic principles and rules of blackjack side bets remain the same. This guide details the important elements of different types of blackjack side bets that you can use at Australian casinos. From the rules and house edge to the odds and probabilities, the information provided aims to help you make an informed decision before placing your bets.
What are Blackjack Side Bets?
Blackjack is a classic online casino game that is popular among players from all over the world, especially in Australia. Since the game is well-known, there are many blackjack variants and betting options. For example, in addition to main bets, you can also place side bets. When placing a blackjack side bet, you must predict which two cards you or the dealer will receive.
There are many pros of using blackjack side bets in blackjack. Let’s have a look at a few.
Enhances the Overall Gaming Experience
Blackjack side bets add an extra level of excitement to the game. Within a single round, players can place various bets, each with the potential to boost their winnings. Players can also use these side bets to strengthen their overall strategy.
Reduces the Risk of Losing Your Main Bet
Some blackjack side bets serve as safety nets or precautions should you not have the upper hand. For example, Insurance predicts that the dealer has the blackjack. If this happens, your main bet loses, but your side bet wins. So, you are minimising your loss.
Blackjack tables are not known for massive wins. However, progressive blackjack games have changed the game – literally. Progressive blackjack jackpots increase every time the game is played but not won. To be eligible for this progressive jackpot, you need to place side bets.
How do Side Bets Work in Blackjack?
In blackjack, side bets refer to extra bets that you can place. They are entirely separate from your main bets and are based on the first two or three cards you’re dealt and the dealer’s upcard. Some blackjack tables limit how many side bets you can place, so check in with the dealer before playing or simply check the rules if playing online blackjack. Since side bets are separate from the main bets, you can win side bets even if your main hand busts.
Different side bets also have varying house edges, rules, prizes, and probabilities. Since the aim of side bets is to win bigger prizes, these are all factors to consider when picking a side bet. For example, a lower house edge combined with a high probability of winning increases your odds of winning a great deal.
Popular Blackjack Side Bets Explained
As you may already know, not all blackjack side bets are the same. To help you find the best side bet for you, we’ve tried some of the most popular ones. Here’s what we found.
Of all the side bets we’ve tested, Insurance has the lowest house edge. With a house edge of just 2.5%, the odds are more favourable. You have the option of placing an Insurance side bet once your cards have been dealt and the dealer’s up-card is an Ace.
This side bet will usually cost half of your original bet. The bet is based on the assumption or prediction that the dealer has the blackjack. If this is correct, you receive a payout of 2:1 on the insurance but lose your original bet. All in all, you could end up even if this happens.
We recommend this type of side bet for those who like to play it on the safer side. Also, as an FYI, note that the house edge can vary from game to game and casino to casino, so always check your blackjack game before playing.
Another type of side bet is Perfect Pairs. This is among the most popular blackjack side bets. However, it also has the highest house edge, at 11%. One of the main reasons why this side bet is so popular is because it’s simple to add to your main bets. With this side bet, you predict that the first two cards will be identical. The cards don’t have to be of the same suit for you to win. However, if they are, you receive an even higher payout. Just bear in mind that payouts differ and depend entirely on the specific blackjack table, how many card decks there are in a shoe, and whether the pair has the same colour and/or the same suit.
For instance, a Perfect Pair (same card, colour and suit) pays out at a rate of 25:1. On the other hand, a coloured pair, which has the same card and the same colour, pays out at a rate of 12:1, and a mixed pair; consisting of the same cards, different colours and suits, pays out at a 6:1 rate.
Despite its high house edge, Perfect Pairs remains a favourite due to its high probability and high RTP. The probability of each outcome differs as follows:
- Mixed pair: 3.9%
- Coloured pair: 1.9%
- Perfect suit: 1.7%
This side bet also has an RTP of about 89%.
Over/under 13 has a house edge of 6.5% and 13%, respectively. However, the house edge can be significantly lowered if you use card-counting strategies. With over 13, you predict that the total of your first two cards will be more than 13. With under 13, it’s the opposite in that you predict that the total of your first two cards will be less than 13. However, there’s a catch. If your first two cards equal 13, you lose the bet. Note: For this side bet, Ace equals 1.
21+3 is a well-known blackjack side bet that uses your first two cards and the dealer’s up-card to create a 3-card poker hand, hence the name 21+3. To win the 21+3 side bet, you need to have one of the following five hands:
- Straight: The cards are in numerical order but do not have matching suits.
- Straight Flush: The cards are in numerical order and of the same suit.
- Flush: All cards have the same suit.
- Suited Three of a Kind: All cards have the same value, suit, and colour.
- Three of a Kind: All cards are the same but don’t have matching suits.
Every hand comes with its own payouts and odds. The hand with the biggest payout is the Suited Three of a Kind (100:1), while the lowest hand value is the Flush (5:1). While the overall side bet has a house edge of 3.24%, each poker hand has its own house edge. This can range from 2% up to 13% or more.
The Lucky Ladies side bet is similar to Over/Under 13. Except this time, the first two cards must total 20 to win. The cards can be in any combination, for example, suited, unsuited, cards of matching suit and rank, two Queens of Heart, etc. The payouts will differ depending on the cards in your specific combination. For the highest payout (1000:1), you must be dealt two Queen of Hearts, and the dealer must make blackjack. Lucky Ladies has the highest house edge, coming in at around 25%.
Many multi-deck blackjack tables offer the Royal Match side bet, which is offered before the round starts. You win the side bet if you get one of the following two outcomes.
- Two same-suit cards
- King-Queen pair of the same suit
In the case of the King-Queen pair, it pays out 25:1, while the former pays out 5:2. This side bet also has a relatively low house edge compared to other side bets, with a house edge that sits at 3.7%. The probability and size of the payout will differ depending on how many decks are used in the game.
Understanding Odds and Probabilities
Odds and probabilities are terms often thrown around when talking about blackjack. However, what’s the difference between the two? We’ll explain.
Blackjack Side Bet Odds Explained
Side bet odds refer to the player or dealer’s chances of winning. So, if a game has odds of 4.8%, you have a 4.8% chance of getting the blackjack and winning. Many factors affect the odds of a side bet, including the variant and number of decks in a game. In addition, every shuffle of the deck resets the odds, and every winning outcome within a side bet has its own odds.
In a nutshell, if the odds and probability of an outcome are lower, the rewards could be more significant. Unfortunately, lower odds and probability also mean more risk of losing.
Blackjack Side Bet Probabilities Explained
Different side bets have different probabilities. Probability refers to the chances of a certain outcome occurring. Let’s have a look at the 21+3 side bet. This side bet predicts that your first two cards and the dealer’s up-card will form one of five poker hands. However, each of these poker hands will have its own probability.
For example, in a six-deck game, the probability of landing a Suited Three of a Kind is 0.0207%. However, this will differ depending on how many decks a game has. The probability of landing a Straight in that same game is 0.031021%. This tells you you’re more likely to land a Straight than a Suited Three of a Kind.
Effective Strategies for Blackjack Side Bets
Blackjack side bets can be exciting add-ons that promise big wins and thrilling gameplay. However, it’s always important to play responsibly. Here are some tips for using side bets to your advantage.
Notable Variations in Australian Casinos
Most international blackjack side bets can also be found at Australian casinos. These include 21+3, perfect pairs, and insurance, to name a few. However, some unique side bets can only be found at online casinos in Australia. Let’s check them out below.
To win Blackpot, you must receive the following pairs in your first two cards: six and eight, seven and eight, and six and seven. These combinations pay out 10:1. To win 100:1, your third card must complete a 6-7-8 sequence.
This side bet is much like Perfect Pair, except you receive a prize for any matching pair received in your first two cards.
With this type of blackjack side bet, you have the chance of winning big when you’re dealt three same-suit sevens.
Super Sevens is a continuation of Magnificent Sevens. So, if you’ve drawn your three same-suit sevens and the dealer’s first card is also a seven, you win an even bigger prize. This requires no extra side bet. On top of that, all players at the table win a smaller bonus, which is called an envy bonus.
Bankroll Management and Responsible Gambling when Using Side Bets
Bankroll management is important in any form of gambling, and side bets are no exception to the rule. This is due to their higher risk levels. It’s important to set a budget and stick to it. If you want to play for longer, consider placing smaller bets. All in all, you may lose more than you anticipate while waiting for a win, so stretching your money until you get to that win is always a great strategy. It’s also wise to never spend more than you can afford to lose, so keep responsible gambling in mind.
Real-Life Examples and Case Studies
Side bets are optional bets that you can place alongside your standard blackjack bets. These additional bets can be used to increase rewards and minimise risk.
Insurance to Minimise Risk
One of the best side bets for minimising risk is the Insurance bet, which predicts that the dealer has the blackjack. If the dealer has the blackjack, you lose the main bet. If this happens, then your side bet wins, and you minimise losses.
Boost Winnings with 21+3
To boost winnings, you can also opt for side bets with bigger payouts. For example, if you place a 21+3 bet and land a Suited Three of a Kind, the payout is 100:1. If you are a skilled enough card player and you manage to have the blackjack in the main game as well, you can walk away with some decent winnings, which is much bigger than your standard blackjack winnings.
Common Pitfalls and Mistakes to Avoid when playing side bets
There are some common mistakes blackjack players make when playing side bets. Identify mistakes that players often make with side bets. Here are our top tips for avoiding these pitfalls. The most obvious is that, according to basic blackjack strategy rules, playing side bets offer you a worse house edge.
Here are some more things to think about:
Knowing when to walk away is a big part of online gambling. Side bets can be tempting, making it a seemingly “easy” option to keep playing in hopes of making up for your losses. If you do find yourself on a losing streak, it would be much wiser to stop, take a step back, and simply walk away. If you decide to keep on playing the game, however, there’s a high chance of losing a lot more than you initially thought you would.
Not Playing the Base Game
Most players lose sight of how side bets supplement the main game; they are not the main game. You should focus on the main game and use side bets to boost your winnings or minimise losses.
Side bets accumulate and can be costly if you don’t keep an eye on them. To make sure you don’t spend more than you intend to, set a strict budget for side bets. When you run out of money, stop betting.
Choosing the Wrong Side Bets
Different side bets have different odds, rules, house edges, and probabilities. All of these factors should be considered when choosing a side bet. For example, opting for higher odds and a lower house edge could be the difference between winning and losing.
Online Resources and Tools
If you’re new to blackjack side bets, here are a few online tools and resources that can help.
Digital Commons: This research paper delves into the math and science behind blackjack to help you understand the game on a technical level.
Santa Clara University: An article published by this university explains how to beat the casino in blackjack.
Study.com: This website details finding the expected values of outcomes in a blackjack game.
Research Gate: This research site focuses on blackjack strategies and belief systems from the view of research professionals.
Conclusion and Next Steps
During our review and testing of these blackjack side bets, we noted that they may prove to be helpful, not only to increase your chances of winning but also to possibly minimise losses. However, this does not mean you should use them without knowledge or practice. Side bets carry some risk and can be costly if used frequently. It’s best to work them into your overall blackjack strategy for the best results. Now that you are familiar with some of the most popular side bets, both internationally and in Australia, you can apply this knowledge by testing it at your favourite Australian online casino. Simply pick the best side bet for your skill level and start playing.