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How Do Side Bets Work in Blackjack?

Under standard blackjack rules, you bet on your chances of beating the dealer and adjust your moves accordingly. Side bets are additional wagers you can make in blackjack that focus on predicting what cards you or the dealer will receive.

You make side bets before any cards are dealt. Little or no blackjack strategy can influence your chances of winning — it's solely down to luck. Card counting can indicate when you have the advantage on a couple side bets though, which we discuss further below.

The appeal of side bets lies in their payouts. If luck is on your side, your winnings can exceed whatever you make in a blackjack session alone. The rewards and exciting risk side bets offer is enough for casual players to forget the enormous house edge that comes with them.

Should You Play Side Bets in Blackjack? Or Are They a Scam?

Mr Blackjack

MR BLACKJACK SAYS...

"If you are a novice player I suggest just staying away from any side bet. Stick to the regular game of blackjack, where the odds are better for you. When you start counting cards in blackjack you can look for better-than-average payout tables and combine that with the count to decide when to place a side bet to have the best odds of winning. I also recommend playing some side bets when the wager can be small, but you have the opportunity to win big. For example: $5,000 with a $1 bet would be a wager worth playing."

How to Play the 21+3 Side Bet:

Most blackjack tables will have a 21+3 side bet box where you should add your wager. To make this side bet, you should:

  1. Stake your wager on the 21+3 side bet box before your cards are dealt.
  2. Wait for the dealer to deal everyone's initial cards. They will then check whether your cards make any of the 3-card poker hands.
  3. If you win, you'll receive the following payout depending on your hand combination:

21+3 Side Bet Payouts & Odds of Winning

Hand Payout
Suited Trips (Three-of-a-Kind) 100:1
Straight Flush 40:1
Three-of-a-Kind 30:1
Straight 10:1
Flush 5:1

Remember that some casinos may change the payout sizes, so it's always worth checking beforehand with the dealer.

Is a 21+3 Side Bet Worth It?

With payouts reaching 100:1, it's easy to see why 21+3 payouts attract so many players. However this side bet has a steep house edge, hitting 13.39% in single-deck blackjack games.

Players can't apply any strategy to 21+3, and basic strategy says you should avoid side bets completely if you're playing to win at blackjack. If you want to add some extra excitement to your blackjack games though, then the 21+3 side bet is ideal.

What is Perfect Pairs in Blackjack?

Perfect pairs started as a side bet, but its popularity has grown so much that many casino sites now offer it as another online blackjack game.

In this side bet you are wagering on your first two cards making one of these pairs:

Perfect Pairs Hands

Name Definition Example
Perfect Pair Identical face/number value, color, and suit 2 Queen of Diamonds
Color Pair Same face/number value and color, different suit 7 of Clubs and 7 of Spades
Mixed Pair Same face/number value, different suit and color 5 of Diamonds and 5 of Spades

How to Play Perfect Pairs Side Bet:

Like most side bets, blackjack tables will have a special space to add perfect pairs wagers. If you want to play perfect pairs, just:

  1. Decide before any cards are dealt. Once the dealer starts, it's too late.
  2. Add your wager to the specified area on the table.
  3. Wait until after the dealer has dealt the table's cards. They will immediately play any side bets in the game.
  4. Depending on your hand, your Perfect Pairs bet can win one of the following payouts:

Perfect Pairs Payout Table

Hand Payout
Perfect Pair 30:1
Color Pair 10:1
Mixed Pair 5:1

Casinos may adjust the payout structures on Perfect Pairs bets, so remember to check the table rules. Avoid any casinos offering 20:1 on Perfect Pairs or 8:1 on Color Pairs; these payouts are just a ripoff to players.

What are the Odds of Getting a Perfect Pair?

Land the top payout on Perfect Pairs, and you can walk away with hefty returns. A $10 wager on a winning Perfect Pair hand means a massive $300 payout. Before you start dreaming of ways to spend your profits, you should know the odds of landing a Perfect Pair are low.

If you take a typical eight-deck game, you have to consider the blackjack odds of the 415 remaining cards in play matching your first card. That means only 7 cards out of 415 can make a Perfect Pair. You have just over a 1 in 59 chance of landing this hand, or 1.69%.

Is Perfect Pairs a Good Bet?

The house edge on this side bet varies between 2-11%, depending on the number of decks in the shoe. Considering the the lowest hand (Mixed Pair) only gives a 5:1 payout and has a mere 3.86% chance of being dealt, this side bet won't excite players looking to profit on real money blackjack games.

Like 21+3, there are no strategies for winning this side bet. It's down to pure luck. If you have a pair in blackjack, you're better off following basic strategy rules on splitting hands.

If you're looking to play blackjack for fun, then Perfect Pairs offers just that — nothing more.

What is an Insurance Bet in Blackjack?

Insurance bet may be the most popular side bet in blackjack, but players also lose the most money on this wager. It supposedly protects your bankroll if the dealer has blackjack, but there are only a few occasions when taking insurance actually works. Our blackjack insurance bet guide covers the essential rules and strategies needed to make this side bet pay out for you.

What Does 5, 6, & 7 Card Charlie Mean in Blackjack?

5-Card Charlie and its counterparts 6- and 7-Card Charlie alternate as a table rule or side bet in blackjack casinos. As a table rule, if you are dealt five cards and don't bust (and the dealer doesn't have blackjack), you have a 5-Card Charlie and win. The side bet has the same objective and rules, only you have to wager on yourself landing it.

How to Play 5-Card Charlie

Players just need to add their wager to the appropriate space on the blackjack table. Unlike other side bets though, the gameplay for 5-Card Charlie works slightly different:

  1. Choose your bet amount and add your stake before the dealer starts.
  2. Wait for the cards to be dealt around the table.
  3. If the dealer has a 10-card, they may check for blackjack. If they have it, you lose your wager.
  4. Play your hand when it's your turn. If you get five cards and don't bust, you win.
  5. If you bust or get a decent hand value before reaching the five-card minimum, you lose your side bet.

Your payout will depend on what version of 5-Card Charlie you play:

5-Card Charlie Payout Table

Hand Payout
7-Card Charlie 30:1
6-Card Charlie 10:1
5-Card Charlie 5:1

What are the Odds of Getting a 5-Card Charlie?

Generally, you will see a 5-Card Charlie appear approximately every 30 minutes or so, 6-Card every hour and 7-Card maybe once in every 3-4 hour session.

You usually make this hand by drawing a combination of Aces and low cards. If you are playing this side bet it may be advantageous for you to ignore basic strategy to get to a 6- or 7-Card Charlie and get a 30:1 payout.

So, if you have a total of 13 on a dealer 6, you may want to hit that 13, despite what basic strategy advises. The odds of getting less than an eight are better than the odds of getting higher than an eight.

Is 5-Card Charlie a Good Bet?

Few casinos offer 5-Card Charlie as a table rule because it lowers the house edge by 1.46%. More often, online casinos will offer 5-Card Charlie and its variations as side bets. That's because the house edge decreases by only 0.16% for 6-Card Charlie and a measly 0.01% for the 7-Card version. Keep in mind that casinos will usually add unfavorable table rules for players to give the house a better advantage.

Experienced players may try blackjack deviations from basic strategy to know when to bet on a 5-Card Charlie. Casual players should simply focus on adding this side bet to their blackjack games for fun.

Other Side Bets in Blackjack

To keep players returning to their blackjack tables, casinos will sometimes offer unusual side bets alongside the old favorites. These wagers are fun but can be more complex. Many casinos have added extra restrictions to these side bets, but they can still give big returns if they land.

Super Sevens

Alternatively called Lucky 7s or Crazy 7s, Super 7s is a side bet made on your first two cards and the dealer's upcard. If your first card is a seven, you win the wager. The payout increases if your second card and the dealer's upcard are sevens too, and of the same suit.

Super Sevens Payout Table

Hand Payout
3 Suited Sevens 5,000:1
3 Sevens 500:1
2 Suited Sevens 100:1
2 Sevens 50:1
1 Seven 3:1

At first, casinos enjoyed the 11.4% house edge on this side bet. However, card counters realised they had a considerable edge if their true count signaled multiple sevens clustered towards the back of the shoe. Until recently, Super Sevens had faded into obscurity.

Online casinos have reintroduced Super Sevens, but with a catch: they reshuffle the cards after every game. The best strategy to win this side bet is to find a six-deck blackjack game that doesn't shuffle after each round. Wait until most decks have been dealt from the shoe, and only wager on Super 7s if the true count indicates you have the advantage.

Rummy

This side bet turns the gameplay of the card game rummy into hand values with decent payouts. You win rummy if you create a 'meld' out of your first two cards and the dealer's upcard. In the Rummy side bet, a meld is combination of three cards with the same rank or suit, or they're sequenced.

Essentially, you want to make a three-of-kind, straight, or flush. If you make rummy, you receive a payout of around 9:1, depending on the casino's rules.

The rummy side bet is very similar to 21+3, only with a lower house edge (4.14%) and smaller payouts. Obviously players and casinos alike prefer 21+3, which is why rummy's popularity has dwindled. However, a few online casinos still offer this wager.

Over/Under 13

This is the simplest side bet in blackjack. Players wager on their first two cards totaling less than or greater than 13, and earn even money if they win. Aces equal one in over/under 13, and it's the casino's discretion on payouts for hands that equal 13 exactly. Most will say you lose, but some offer payouts of 10:1 if players make this wager.

Lucky Ladies

This side bet takes the most common great hand in blackjack (20) and turns it into a fun wager with amazing payouts. You are betting on your first two cards totaling 20 and ideally containing at least one Queen. If your hand has more Queens, or matching suits, your payout increases greatly:

Lucky Ladies Payout Table

Hand Payout
Lucky Ladies with Dealer’s Blackjack 1,000:1
Lucky Ladies (Queen of Heart Pair) 125:1 to 200:1
Matched 20 19:1 to 25:1
Suited 20 9:1 to 10:1
Any 20 3:1 to 4:1

Lucky Ladies has grown in popularity with casinos. Given the whopping 25% house edge on this side bet, it's easy to see why. The payouts can vary wildly between casinos, so be warned: check this with the dealer beforehand so you get the best returns for your bankroll.

Royal Match

This side bet offers princely rewards for those who win. Your first two cards need to be of the same suit, or be a King and Queen of the same suit (a 'Royal Match') for this side bet to pay out. A 5-6 of Clubs for instance, would be considered an 'Easy Match'.

Royal Match Payout Table

Hand Payouts
Royal Match 25:1
Easy Match 2.5:1
No Match -1

The house edge on Royal Match varies between 5.64% and 10.86% for multi-deck and single deck blackjack games, respectively. Players should consider this wager only on 6-8 deck blackjack games — more cards mean more opportunities, and a smaller casino advantage.

Are Side Bets Worth It?

Ultimately, this depends on your reasons for playing them. If you're a casual blackjack player looking for more thrills, then play side bets. The biggest payouts on these wagers rival the jackpots in slots, and give some great heart-pumping action if they land.

For players looking to make a profit, you're better off avoiding them. Strategy is impossible on almost all of them. The odds of the biggest side bets landing are very low, and even if they land, a huge house edge eats up a good portion of your winnings.

If you want to play a side bet, choose the ones that give huge payouts for small wagers. Otherwise, focus on playing basic strategy and card counting consistently, and your winnings will gradually increase.

OG PRO TIP

Remember that the payouts for side bets can vary greatly between casinos. Our tables feature the best odds we've found across multiple casino sites. You can use our payout tables as a benchmark to determine whether a casino is giving you good value for your bankroll.

Can I Play Free Blackjack Games with Side Bets?

Free blackjack games offer the perfect conditions for mastering side bets. You can take as long as you want, and there's zero risk to your bankroll. Bet stacks like a high roller or play it safe — the choice is yours.

Our Free Blackjack arcade offers all blackjack side bet games you want to play. With no download or sign-up required, you can start trying your luck at blackjack straightaway.

Get the edge with our blackjack strategies

Play smarter with basic strategy tips from our expert, Mr Blackjack.

FAQs

What is the best side bet in blackjack?

It depends on your priorities. In terms of biggest rewards, landing the top hand on Super Sevens will give you a 5,000:1 payout on your wager. You can use card counting for Over/Under 13 and Super Sevens, depending on the casino's rules. If your focus is on winning side bets more often, you may want to prioritize these wagers.

How do you win a blackjack side bet?

Players must fulfill the terms of the wager set by the casino in order to win side bets. Casinos can adjust the payouts and rules for these bets, so double check with the dealer before staking any cash. Remember. few side bets in blackjack can be won using strategy. Most side bet wins are purely down to luck, so stake only what you are comfortable losing.

How do you know what side bets are available at a blackjack table?

Side bets are usually printed on the felt on blackjack tables. You can also ask the dealer whether specific side bets are available, too. Online casinos will usually display information about side bets in the 'info' panel in their blackjack games.

Is 21+3 part of a standard blackjack game?

21+3 is a side bet, so isn't considered part of blackjack's standard rules and objective. However, it's one of the most popular side bets casinos offer, so you can find it in most blackjack games.

What is a royal flush in blackjack?

The 21+3 side bet uses 3-card poker hands for its payout structure. While a royal flush isn't included in blackjack games, a straight flush (cards of successive value and of the same suit) and a flush (cards of the same suit) are included and can result in good payouts for players.

How do you get Perfect Pairs in blackjack?

Your first two cards must be identical suit, color, and value to get a Perfect Pair in blackjack.

Does anything beat a blackjack?

Nothing beats a blackjack, unless the casino's table rules state otherwise.

How much do side bets pay in blackjack?

Each side bet has its own payout structure in blackjack. As a range, the payouts start from 2.5:1 to 5,000:1. A few casinos will also add progressive jackpots to blackjack side bets like Spin the Wheel or Royal Match, which can reach thousands of dollars in payouts.

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