Demystifying Blackjack Side Bets

Blackjack Side Bets 101

Under standard blackjack rules, players bet on their chances of beating the dealer and adjust their moves accordingly. However, in addition to the main game, there are also side bets available in blackjack. These side bets allow players to make additional wagers on predicting specific outcomes, such as the cards they or the dealer will receive. Side bets are made before any cards are dealt and are purely based on luck, as little to no blackjack strategy can influence the outcome. While side bets offer the allure of higher payouts, it’s important to note that they come with a significant house edge, which may overshadow the potential winnings.

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

If you are a novice blackjack player, it is generally advised to avoid side bets altogether. The regular game of blackjack offers better odds for players. However, for more experienced players who engage in card counting, there are instances where placing specific side bets can be advantageous. It is recommended to look for better-than-average payout tables and combine that with card counting to determine the best opportunities for placing side bets with favorable odds. Additionally, playing certain side bets with small wagers but the chance to win big can provide an exciting element to the game. For example, a $1 bet with the potential to win $5,000 could be worth considering.

Popular Side Bets in Blackjack

When playing blackjack, you will come across several popular side bets that are commonly offered at both physical casinos and online blackjack games. These side bets add an extra layer of excitement and variety to the game. Let’s explore some of the most common ones:

21+3 Side Bet in Blackjack

The 21+3 side bet is derived from the popular casino game, three-card poker. With this side bet, players wager on whether their first two cards, combined with the dealer’s upcard, can create one of the following hands from three-card poker:

Hand Definition Example
Suited Three-of-a-Kind Three cards of the same suit and number/face value K-K-K of Hearts
Straight Flush Three cards of successive value and of the same suit 3-4-5 of Clubs
Three-of-a-Kind Three cards of the same number/face value, any suit K-K-K
Straight Three cards of successive value, any suit; Aces can be high or low 5 of Spades-6 of Diamonds-7 of Clubs
Flush Three cards of the same suit Q-4-7 of Hearts

To play the 21+3 side bet, players need to place their wager in the designated 21+3 box before their cards are dealt. The dealer then checks whether the player’s cards form any of the three-card poker hands. Depending on the hand combination, different payouts are awarded. It’s important to remember that some casinos may offer different payout sizes, so players should always check with the dealer beforehand.

Is the 21+3 Side Bet Worth It?

The 21+3 side bet attracts many players because of its enticing payouts, such as the possibility of a 100:1 payout for a suited three-of-a-kind hand. However, it’s essential to be aware of the steep house edge associated with this side bet, which can reach 13.39% in single-deck blackjack games. Basic strategy advises players to avoid side bets completely if their primary goal is to win at blackjack. However, for those seeking an extra thrill and excitement, the 21+3 side bet can add a new dimension to their blackjack games.

Perfect Pairs Side Bet in Blackjack

Perfect Pairs is another popular side bet that has become its own separate online blackjack game due to its popularity. In this side bet, players wager on their first two cards forming one of three different pairs:

Name Definition Example
Perfect Pair Identical face/number value, color, and suit Two 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

To play the Perfect Pairs side bet, players should add their wager to the specified area on the blackjack table before any cards are dealt. After the dealer assigns the table’s cards, they will immediately resolve any side bets. The payouts for Perfect Pairs depend on the specific hand combination, and it’s crucial to check the table rules for the corresponding payouts at each casino.

Are Perfect Pairs a Good Bet?

The house edge on the Perfect Pairs side bet varies depending on the number of decks used in the game, ranging from 2-11%. While the potential payouts on this side bet can be enticing, it’s important to note that the likelihood of landing a Perfect Pair is low. For example, in a typical eight-deck game, the odds of getting a Perfect Pair are approximately 1 in 59, or around 1.69%. As with most side bets, there are no winning strategies, and it is primarily a game of chance. Players who enjoy the added excitement of Perfect Pairs can incorporate it into their blackjack games, but those playing with the goal of maximizing profits should focus on basic strategy instead.

Insurance Bet in Blackjack

One of the most popular side bets in blackjack is the insurance bet. This wager is intended to protect players’ bankrolls in case the dealer has blackjack. However, it is crucial to note that taking insurance generally does not work in the player’s favor. The proper use of insurance as a side bet requires a deep understanding of the game’s nuances and specific scenarios. Players interested in exploring the insurance bet should consult comprehensive guides that provide in-depth rules and strategies to improve their chances of winning.

5, 6, & 7 Card Charlie in Blackjack

The 5-Card Charlie rule, along with its variations, 6-Card Charlie and 7-Card Charlie, can either function as a table rule or a side bet in blackjack casinos. When it acts as a table rule, a player who is dealt five cards without busting and the dealer not having blackjack wins the hand. As a side bet, players wager on achieving a 5-, 6-, or 7-Card Charlie. The gameplay for 5-Card Charlie differs slightly from other side bets. Players need to place their bet on the appropriate area of the table and, if they meet the requirements, can win based on the card combination achieved.

Are 5, 6, & 7 Card Charlie Bets Worth It?

The 5-Card Charlie bet is not commonly offered as a table rule as it reduces the house edge by 1.46%. However, online casinos may feature 5-Card Charlie and its variations as side bets. The advantage gained from these bets is relatively small, with a decrease in house edge of only 0.16% for the 6-Card Charlie and a minimal 0.01% for the 7-Card Charlie. It’s important to note that casinos often introduce unfavorable table rules to compensate for the reduced house edge. Advanced players may explore deviations from basic strategy to determine the optimal conditions for betting on a 5-Card Charlie. Casual players looking for added entertainment can enjoy these side bets, but strategic players should primarily focus on basic strategy for better long-term profitability.

Other Side Bets in Blackjack

In addition to the popular side bets mentioned above, some casinos offer more unusual or complex side bets to entice players. While these wagers may increase the fun factor of the game, they often come with additional restrictions and complexities. Let’s take a look at a few of these side bets:

Super Sevens Side Bet

Also known as Lucky 7s or Crazy 7s, the Super Sevens side bet involves wagering on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s upcard. If the player’s first card is a seven, they win the bet. The payout increases if the second card and the dealer’s upcard are also sevens, and all three are of the same suit. Super Sevens initially had a house edge of 11.4%, but casinos adjusted the rules to reshuffle the cards after each game, reducing the advantage for card counters. To maximize the chances of winning this side bet, players should find six-deck blackjack games that do not reshuffle after each round and strategically analyze the number of sevens remaining in the shoe before placing their wager.

Rummy Side Bet

The Rummy side bet incorporates the gameplay of the popular card game rummy into blackjack. Players win the Rummy side bet by creating a “meld” out of their first two cards and the dealer’s upcard. A meld can consist of three cards with the same rank or suit, or three cards in sequence. The Rummy side bet offers a payout of around 9:1, depending on the specific rules of the casino. While the Rummy side bet has a lower house edge compared to other side bets (4.14%), its popularity has diminished, as players and casinos tend to prefer side bets with higher payouts, such as 21+3.

Over/Under 13 Side Bet

The Over/Under 13 side bet is one of the simplest side bets in blackjack. Players wager on the total value of their first two cards being less than or greater than 13. Aces are counted as one in this bet, and the casino determines the payouts for hands totaling exactly 13. While this side bet offers even money for winning, certain casinos may provide higher payouts, such as 10:1, for specific hands totaling 13. The Over/Under 13 side bet serves as a straightforward addition to the game, allowing players to make quick predictions and potentially earn extra winnings.

Lucky Ladies Side Bet

The Lucky Ladies side bet turns the commonly sought-after hand of 20 in blackjack into an exciting wager with substantial payouts. Players bet on their first two cards totaling 20 and ideally including at least one Queen. The more Queens or matching suits the hand contains, the higher the payout. Lucky Ladies payouts can vary significantly between casinos, ranging from 1,000:1 for a lucky ladies hand with the dealer having blackjack to 3:1 for any hand totaling 20. However, it’s important to note that Lucky Ladies has a significant house edge of 25%, making it a high-risk side bet. Players interested in this wager should verify the specific payout structure with the dealer to ensure they receive the best possible returns.

Royal Match Side Bet

The Royal Match side bet offers generous payouts for players who achieve a specific card combination. To win this bet, the player’s first two cards must either be of the same suit or form a King and Queen pair of the same suit, known as a “Royal Match.” The house edge for the Royal Match side bet varies depending on the number of decks used, ranging from 5.64% to 10.86%. It’s worth considering the Royal Match side bet primarily in multi-deck blackjack games to take advantage of the increased opportunities for favorable outcomes.

Are Side Bets Worth It?

The decision of whether to play side bets in blackjack ultimately depends on the player’s goals and preferences. For casual players seeking heightened excitement and the possibility of big rewards, side bets can provide an enjoyable element to the game. The potential payouts for certain side bets can rival those of jackpots in slot machines, creating thrilling moments when they come to fruition. However, for players focused on making a profit, it is generally advised to avoid side bets. Most side bets do not have winning strategies, and the odds of winning the highest paying ones are generally low. Moreover, the house edge associated with side bets can significantly diminish the overall profitability of a blackjack session. It is recommended to approach side bets with caution, considering them primarily for entertainment purposes rather than a means of consistent winnings.

Can I Play Free Blackjack Games with Side Bets?

Yes, it is possible to play free blackjack games that include side bets. Free blackjack games are an excellent opportunity for players to practice their skills and become familiar with the rules and gameplay of various side bets. These games allow players to experiment with different strategies and betting techniques without risking their bankroll. Whether you prefer betting like a high roller or playing it safe, free blackjack games offer a risk-free environment to explore and enjoy side bets.


Side bets in blackjack add an extra layer of excitement and unpredictability to the game. While they offer the potential for significant winnings, it’s important to approach them with caution. Side bets are primarily luck-based and come with a notable house edge. Novice players are encouraged to focus on the main game, utilizing basic strategy to maximize their chances of winning. Advanced players who engage in card counting may find specific side bets favorable under certain conditions. Ultimately, the decision to play side bets should align with individual preferences and goals. A balance between entertainment value and potential winnings is key. By understanding the rules and odds associated with side bets, players can make informed decisions and enhance their overall blackjack experience.


What is the best side bet in blackjack?

The best side bet in blackjack depends on individual preferences and priorities. In terms of the biggest potential rewards, the Super Sevens side bet offers a 5,000:1 payout. However, to maximize the chances of winning side bets, players can explore the Over/Under 13 and Super Sevens bets along with card counting strategies. For players aiming to win side bets more frequently, prioritizing these wagers is recommended. It is advisable to consult reliable sources and guides for more tips on side bets in blackjack.

How do you win a blackjack side bet?

Winning a blackjack side bet depends on the specific terms and conditions set by the casino. Side bets vary, and each one has its own rules and payout structure. Players should carefully review the rules and odds provided by the casino before placing side bets. It’s important to note that most side bets are based on luck, and strategies do not significantly improve the chances of winning. Players should only wager what they are comfortable losing and focus on the main game using basic strategy for higher overall profitability.

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

Side bets are typically indicated on the blackjack table felt. Players can also inquire with the dealer to determine which side bets are available for that particular game. For online blackjack games, the information about available side bets is often displayed in the game’s information panel or rules section.

Is 21+3 part of a standard blackjack game?

The 21+3 side bet is not considered part of blackjack’s standard rules and objective. Originating from three-card poker, it has become a popular side bet offered in many blackjack games. Players can expect to find the 21+3 side bet at most blackjack tables, both in physical casinos and online.

Does anything beat a blackjack in side bets?

In most side bets, nothing beats a blackjack, unless specific rules state otherwise. A blackjack typically represents the highest-ranking hand in blackjack games, consisting of an Ace and a 10-value card. The rules and payouts for each side bet determine whether any alternative combinations can surpass a blackjack.

How much do side bets pay in blackjack?

The payouts for side bets in blackjack can vary significantly between casinos. Each side bet has its own payout structure, ranging from lower odds (e.g., even money) to higher odds (e.g., 5,000:1). It is essential for players to check the specific payout table provided by the casino to determine the potential returns on their side bet wagers.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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