Blackjack is one of my favourite table games because it is so simple to get into. The basic game play and the betting is relatively straight forward. Many people learn basic blackjack strategy, memorise the moves but then get a bit bored with the basic bets on offer.
This is where many casinos have stepped up to the plate to offer some side bet action during the standard game. Side bets can be made on each hand and they are different beasts than splitting or doubling down.
Side bets do not influence your standard odds of beating the house or affect the game in any way other than potentially winning you some extra cash.
The Side Bet Varieties
So side bets are basically an umbrella term for a wide range of wagers. They can come in many varieties that differ from game to game and casino to casino.
It should be noted that these bets all have a higher house edge than the standard blackjack game, depending on the player strategy and skill level of course.
The point of side bets are not to improve your long-term game payoffs, but rather should be seen as high risk, high reward single bets.
Pairs betting is probably the most common side bet you can place in Blackjack. It has a long tradition in blackjack and probably found its origin in poker. The wager you place with this side bet is whether your first two cards will make a pair.
The payout and house edge on these bets vary greatly. The house edge varies based on how many decks are used in the game. The payout percentage is determined by what cards make up the pair.
If you can manage making a pair of two identical cards, the payout will of course be the highest. The more decks are used in the game shoe, the better the odds of making these mystical identical pairs.
Over And Under Betting
Another popular side bet that has all but disappeared from land-based casinos is the Over/Under side bet. With this wager the players bets if his dealt two card total is either higher or lower than 13.
Since side bets are placed before any cards are dealt, this can be a risky proposition.
This side bet can run a house edge of anywhere between 6% and 10%.
Along with pairs betting this is probably the simplest side bet to make. This bet can even act like insurance if you go bust since being either side of 13 above 10 yet below 17 could potentially be a risky hit.
A Royal Match side bet is a wager on whether your first two cards will share a same suit.
The Royal in the side bet’s name comes from the fact that if the two matched cards are a King or a Queen, the highest payout will be awarded.
The odds for this side bet are of course heavily influenced by the number of decks used, but either way, it is a very risky bet only to be attempted when you are feeling exceptionally lucky.
The Royal 20’s side bet wagers whether the first two cards you receive will amount to 20. You can wager on yourself, the house or on both.
This is a pretty good side bet, as ideally you would be aiming for a 20 anyway to get the best odds of winning the hand.
Side bets are well worth considering and can up your casino game ante in the best way. Remember, a little risk can equal a big reward; so knowing what options you have available is never a bad thing!