Updated 5th November 2020
Blackjack Side Bets Explained
While the most common form of Blackjack bet is simply wagering on your hand to win, there are a wide variety of Blackjack side bets that can enhance your gameplay. Whether you’re playing a land-based table game or you’re trying out different strategies in an online casino environment, then knowing about the rules and payouts surrounding the different Blackjack side bets could be crucial in boosting your returns, and maximising the efficiency of your hands.
While ‘doubling down’ and ‘splitting’ your hand are sometimes referred to as Blackjack side bets, for the purposes of this guide we’ll be focusing solely on the Perfect Pairs, 21+3, and insurance bets available to you. If you’d like to know more about the concepts of splitting and doubling down, as well as the rules that govern standard Blackjack bets, then you’ll find everything you’re looking for in our wider guide about how to play Blackjack online.
What is the Perfect Pairs Side Bet in Blackjack?
Perfect Pairs is a Blackjack side bet based around the two cards that you are dealt, and whether or not they will be of matching value. You can earn different payouts depending on what type of pair they form. Mixed pairs are formed by matching values that are of different colours, so a pair of 7s that consist of one spade and one heart would qualify. This usually pays out at 5/1.
Keeping with the above example of a pair of 7s, matching the colour of the suits would result in a ‘coloured pair’, so either clubs & spades, or hearts & diamonds. Achieving this type of pair with the Perfect Pairs Blackjack side bet will often pay out at 12/1. Note that matching the colour alone will not result in a win, as they need to be of identical value too.
The side bet’s titular ‘perfect’ pairs are created when every aspect of the two cards matches precisely - two 7 of diamonds, for example. While difficult to achieve, this type of pair is usually worth 25/1, so can bolster your winnings significantly. The table below is a handy reference guide for the returns available on the Perfect Pairs side bet.
|HAND NAME||REQUIREMENTS||STANDARD ODDS|
|Mixed Pairs||Two Cards of Matching Value (One Red Suit, One Black Suit)||5/1|
|Coloured Pairs||Two Cards of Matching Value and Colour||12/1|
|Perfect Pairs||Two Cards of Matching Value and Suit||25/1|
What is the 21+3 Side Bet in Blackjack?
21+3 refers to a Blackjack side bet that incorporates not only the values of the two cards that you are dealt, but also the first of the dealer’s cards (colloquially known as the ‘up card’). Essentially, you want them to form one of the five valuable Three Card Poker hands.
A ‘flush’ requires all three cards to be of the same suit, but the specific values don’t matter, meaning they don’t have to be consecutive numbers. A ‘straight’, however, is composed of a consecutive sequence. A ‘three of a kind’ consists of three cards of matching value (but not of suit).
The two most valuable hands are the ‘straight flush’ - which is formed by a consecutive sequence of cards from the same suit - and the ‘suited triple’, which is made up of three cards that match exactly, and usually pays out at odds of 100/1. As with the Perfect Pairs side bet, the table below can be used for quick reference as you play Blackjack online.
|HAND NAME||REQUIREMENTS||STANDARD ODDS|
|Flush||Three Cards of the Same Suit||5/1|
|Straight||A Consecutive Sequence of Card Values (Suit Irrelevant)||10/1|
|Three of a Kind||Three Cards of Matching Value (Suit Irrelevant)||30/1|
|Straight Flush||A Consecutive Sequence of Card Values of the Same Suit||40/1|
|Suited Triple||Three Exactly Matching Cards (Same Suit, Same Value)||100/1|
What Are Insurance Bets in Blackjack?
If the dealer’s up card is an Ace, you are able to buy insurance, which costs half of your standard bet and is designed to protect you in the event that the dealer’s ‘hole card’ is worth 10. The odds of 2/1 on this type of Blackjack side bet means that if you are successful, you’ll break even on the hand.
If the dealer’s next card does indeed have a value of 10, they will have a natural Blackjack, and your insurance bet will be a winner. If not, you lose your insurance bet, and the round plays out as normal.
What Are the Best Blackjack Side Bets?
The key in regards to this question is that the “best” bets are going to be the ones that are successful, and given that no Blackjack side bet is guaranteed to return a win, new players may be best to play their first few rounds of Blackjack focusing solely on the standard wagering option of betting on your hand to be closer to the value of 21 than the dealer’s. The topic of insurance is likely to come up at some point, so it’s worth expanding your knowledge on that initially.
Once you’ve gotten a feel for how to play Blackjack at a novice level, you can begin to incorporate more diverse side bets into your Blackjack strategy. Each of the two options discussed above have their benefits and drawbacks, so it is up to you how you choose to invest your budget.
The 21+3 side bet offers five different chances for payouts of up to 100/1, making it a popular Blackjack betting option. However, with three of the available winning outcomes having odds of 30/1 or higher, you may perhaps prefer the Perfect Pairs wager. This is because all three potential outcomes associated with this Blackjack side bet are valued at 25/1 or less, making a successful gambit marginally more likely than the 21+3 alternative.
Whichever Blackjack side bet you choose to go with, it’s important to take into account the impact that a losing wager will have on your budget, so make sure you’ve weighed up the possible risks. Furthermore, if you play Blackjack elsewhere, you may occasionally see more side bets than those that we’ve covered in this article, so always take the time to make sure you’re up to speed with the associated rules of Blackjack side bets.
Blackjack Side Bets FAQs
Are Side Bets in Blackjack Worth it?
Tying into the section above, the answer is that it depends on your strategy. If you don’t mind sacrificing part of your wager in search of bigger wins than the standard round of Blackjack, then side bets are probably worth it for you. If you’d rather limit your possible losses while making smaller wins, then avoiding Blackjack side bets is the best strategy in your case.
When Should I Take the Insurance Side Bet?
While the house edge of a Blackjack insurance bet isn’t the highest you’ll see, it’s significant enough to make taking insurance an unwise move. Taking insurance in the long run is more likely to cost you than see you turn a profit, so is inadvisable mathematically, although the decision is entirely up to you.
Bet UK Blackjack Side Bets Guide
This guide is designed not only to teach you about the different types of Blackjack side bets on offer, but also to be used as a reference guide if you need assistance when playing Blackjack online, so you don’t need to struggle to remember the specifics of 21+3 and Perfect Pairs payouts, for example. Once you’ve got a basic understanding of Blackjack side bets, you may feel ready to head to our live casino or explore our UK casino games to find a Blackjack option that’s right for you.
However, if you’re still curious about some of the wider aspects of playing Blackjack online, then you may wish to head to our varied guide that can tell you everything you need to know about the terminology, history, and strategies associated with the classic casino card game.