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Comprehensive Guide to Live Blackjack Side Bets

Round Head IconJuly 16, 2020 - CasinoBloke

As far as card games go, blackjack is one of the most popular formats. It is considered a classic casino game with great potential to satisfy both novice players and seasoned bettors. Standard blackjack variant has been among us for hundreds of years and has been the staple of many casino floors around the world. Naturally, the game founds its position among the top games in online casinos, as well, and one of the reasons why it has been able to persevere for so long is the existence of optional bets that players can choose to activate alongside their main bets.

A wider range of available bets makes for a more immersive playing environment, gives room to experiment with and injects new life energy into the regular game format that most blackjack players are already well-accustomed to. Side bets are an enticing option because they allow players to wager on payouts that supersede their stakes and standard betting possibilities.

Live blackjack games have many benefits to them, the first being the presence of real dealers who deal cards in real time and interact with participants during the round. In addition to this, live blackjack providers have gone a step further and introduced side bets to their blackjack products, making the games even more appealing for players who seek out more dynamic blackjack play and new ways to earn payouts. Some blackjack side bets are more popular than others and Casino Bloke will present the most notable ones below in a detailed guide to live blackjack side bets. Enjoy the read!

What Are Live Blackjack Side Bets?

The name itself is indicative of what side bets represent. These are bets made “on the side”, alternative bets, optional bets. Players are free to decide whether they wish to use them or not; nothing obligates them to make any of the side bets offered in the game of blackjack they are playing.  Side bets come with different payout structures and some of them have specific moments in the game during which they can be made.

Optional bets promise attractive payouts, but the house edge becomes higher if the player makes a side bet. Undeniably, they add more fun to the game, but they are recommended more to players with above-average bankrolls. It’s not complicated to use side bets when offered. All you need to do is place your main blackjack bet at the round start on the circle/box reserved for the regular bet amount. You will see that there are side bet areas around the box and this is where you will place your side bets, should you choose to do it, at indicated times.

Side bets cover events in the game that are not affected by the main hand play. Therefore, it is important to remember that live blackjack side bets have no impact on the main hand outcome and the success or failure of the main bet. It is also a good idea to have in mind to always check the payout structure for specific live blackjack side bets because different casinos may offer different payouts for the same type of bet.

If you’ve had experience with side bets while playing at physical blackjack tables, the situation is similar in live casino blackjack games. The range of bets is solid, although somewhat smaller than at land-based casinos due to licensing restrictions. Nonetheless, live casino players can select their favourite amount side bets such as Perfect Pairs, 21+3, Lucky 7, Hot 3, Lucky Lucky or Bust It, to name a few.

Perfect Pairs – Most Common Side Bet in Live Blackjack

Nearly every live casino blackjack table comes with a Perfect Pairs side bet. To be able to place this bet, you must have staked a regular blackjack bet at the beginning of the round. Perfect Pairs has you wagering on a pair – your first two cards or the dealer’s first two cards must form a pair. The payout is different, depending on the type of pair formed. The possibilities include:

  • Different colour, different suits – Red/Black Pair (Mixed Pair)
  • Same colour, different suits – Red/Red Pair or Black/Black Pair (Coloured Pair)
  • Same colour, same suit – Perfect Pair

In terms of payouts, the closer the cards match, the bigger the payout. Normally, matching numbers will bring a 6:1 payout. A coloured pair of different suits is worth 12:1, whereas a Perfect Pair, a pair of two identical cards, pays 25:1. The area for the Perfect Pairs bet is usually located to the left of the main bet box and it is often marked with PP. The house edge for the Perfect Pairs side bet stands at 0.576%.

21+3 – A bit of Poker-style Flavour

The 21+3 live casino blackjack side bet is based on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s upcard. The initial two cards dealt to the player and the one card that is assigned to the dealer’s position facing up form a 3-card poker hand. If you place this side bet and the three cards form a valid poker hand, you will win an additional payout. Compared with Perfect Pairs, the 21+3 requires some knowledge about 3-card poker hands and in that sense, it may be a bit more complicated, but it is still among the most popular alternative bets offered in live casino blackjack games.

Should the player choose to take the 21+3 side bet, the winning outcome will happen if the three cards form the following hands, in ranking order from lowest to highest:

  • Flush (three cards of the same suit), pays 5:1
  • Straight (sequence of different suits), pays 10:1
  • Three of a Kind (three same value cards but of different suits), pays 30:1
  • Straight Flush (sequence of the same suit), pays 40:1
  • Suited Trips (three identical cards, for example, 3 Queens of Diamonds), pays 100:1

The house edge for the 21+3 side bet is 0.576%. The odds differ, depending on the strength of the hand. The chances of getting Suited Trips are 0.024%, whereas the probabilities for getting a Flush are 5.88%. These numbers apply if the blackjack game is played with 8 decks, so you should always check the rules of any specific blackjack variant you decide to play at your chosen live casino.

Lucky 7 – Is Lady Luck on Your Side?

Lucky 7 is a more exclusive bet and you won’t find it as often as 21+3 and PP. The number 7 is the basis of this optional bet. Payouts are built around how many 7s the player has in hand. It is a very simple bet that you can win if you draw at least one 7. You will receive a payout of 3:1. More sevens will contribute to the size of the payout. A pair of unsuited 7s pays 25:1, whereas a suited pair pays 50:1. Ultimately, you can receive a 100:1 payout if you collect three unsuited sevens and maximise the potential of the Lucky 7 side bet with three suited 7s and a 500:1 payout. Certain games consider two cards from the player’s hand and the dealer’s up card for this side bet.

Hot 3 – Like 21+3, but More Specific

Hot 3 is an uncommon live blackjack side bet, but if you want to try it out you can do it by launching Infinite Blackjack by Evolution Gaming. This wager focuses on the player’s initial two cards and the dealer’s upcard. You are wagering on the specific combinations of cards that result in totals of 19, 20 or 21. Scoring 19 or 20 will earn you even money and 2:1, respectively. A total of 21 pays differently, depending on the suited or unsuited nature of the hand. An unsuited 21 pays 4:1 and a suited 21 is worth 20:1. The biggest payout for a Hot 3 side bet is 100:1 for three sevens.

Evolution’s Infinite Blackjack also comes with an interesting Bust It side bet. If you take it, you will be betting on the dealer going bust.

Final Thoughts

Live blackjack side bets are appealing options to make use of if you aim to earn something more than though regular blackjack play. However, most experienced blackjack players would advise to view them merely as a way to have fun. When won, the side bets can make a big difference, but if you rely on them in the long run, the chances of playing profitably will likely diminish. Occasionally, side bets are a favourable supplement, but they rarely enter the long-term blackjack strategy. If you want to see how some of these side bets work in action, check out our selection of top Blackjack casinos.

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