Should you play side bets in blackjack?
Side bets promise fun and big payouts, but they can lead to big losses. Mr Blackjack helps you decide whether side bets are worth your time and money.
Should you play or not play side bets when the option is there? That is entirely up to you and your motivations for playing. Many players will give advice recommending specific side bets or strategies, but ultimately the right answer depends on several factors.
Before making any side bets, players should keep the following considerations in mind:
Keep in mind the house edge is high on side bets. You probably won’t make any money on these in the long run. However, if that jackpot hits on your hand and you didn’t bet on it, how will you feel about that? This brings me to the second factor to consider:
How well can you keep your emotions in check when facing big losses or wins? Consider you cheaped out that $5 bet on that one hand because your stack was dwindling. How will you feel if you missed out on a 1,000:1 payout? Will you hate yourself? Will you keep second-guessing yourself?
You have to decide to play every hand side bet or not play every hand, and you have to be ok with your decision.
Finally, does this side bet add excitement to your night playing blackjack? Or do you do it because you feel forced to do it? If that is the case, find a table with no side bets. If the side bets are offered, I am not able to resist. That’s why the casinos have them.
So it’s entirely up to you. Look for proper payout grids and high potential jackpots and have fun.
What this lesson covers
- How to assess side bets
- Side bet misconceptions
- How side bets can trigger tilting
Meet Mr Blackjack
With a career spanning two decades, Mathieu Blake knows his way around a blackjack table. He's taught and entertained over 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel NeverSplit10's . In this series he'll take you through basic strategy, card counting, and bankroll management. Take a seat with Mr Blackjack and become a winning player.
- Should I play side bets in blackjack?
If you want to add extra fun to your game, side bets are a good choice. If you’re looking to win more money in blackjack, you should focus on basic strategy and card counting.
- Why is the edge on blackjack side bets so high?
Compared to the winnings in regular blackjack, side bets offer huge rewards for small sums. With $1, you can win up to $5,000 on some side bets. Casinos add a high house edge to these wagers to compensate for this, even though most players lose these wagers.
- Can I make any free side bets in blackjack?
Online casinos offer free side bets in blackjack occasionally as a promotion to their regular players. The next best alternative is free bet blackjack. This variant gives players free splits and double-down wagers. You can learn more about free bet blackjack in season seven of Blackjack Academy.
- Is there a limit on the number of side bets you can make in blackjack?
Technically no, but you wouldn’t want to wager on every side bet in every round. The blackjack odds of you landing multiple side bets is very low, plus this would quickly drain your bankroll.
- Do casinos offer any other side bets? Do they offer better returns than standard side bets?
It’s common for casinos in Vegas to create exclusive side bets. It ensures players choose their tables over their competitors. However, the payouts and edge on these wagers can vary greatly, so it’s always worth asking the dealer questions about these first before playing them.
- Is Match the Dealer a good bet in blackjack?
In Match the Dealer, you wager on either of your first two cards have the same value as the dealer’s up-card. Payouts increase if you have a matching suit and color, but players should avoid this bet generally. The odds of it landing are low.
- Can you apply any strategy to side bets to win?
Most side bets are based on luck, so it’s impossible to apply any strategy to them. However, some skills, like card counting, can help you determine the composition of cards left in the shoe. This can help you determine moments when a side bet is more likely to land.