Online Blackjack Side Bets

Playing cards

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Given that blackjack has a relatively low house edge, and that players find learning a basic blackjack strategy quite straightforward, both land-based and online casinos in New Zealand are always very interested in ways to gather additional revenue and attract a broader range of customers. That’s why there are a number of attractive side bet opportunities, which all have a considerably higher house edge than the online blackjack game itself.

What is the advantage of playing side bets in online blackjack?

There is little uniformity in what side bets offer, so an important first step for every player is to read and understand the relevant payout schedule which your chosen New Zealand casino has published for the side bet which takes your fancy. This will give you a better idea of what you stand to gain, but those wagers with the lowest house edge are statistically more likely to produce better returns. And learning a specific card-counting strategy for the side bet you propose to try – where such a strategy exists – will always help to improve the odds in your favour. Note too that the rules for each kind of side bet may well vary from one casino to another – especially as regards how much you will be allowed to wager on any particular bet.

21+3 online blackjack side bet

The ‘21+3’ side bet often available in online blackjack involves the first two cards dealt to the player, plus the dealer’s following upcard. This winning sequence can be presented as three of a kind (e.g. three cards each with the same face value); a straight flush (e.g. 5, 6, 7); or a suited three of a kind (e.g. 4, 4, 4 all clubs). This 21+3 side bet originally paid out at 9 to 1, producing a house edge calculated as 3.24%. However, in more recent times structured online casino payout tables have introduced greater volatility and increased the house edge.

Blackjack and Over/Under13

Here a player can get odds on the sum total of the initial hand being above or below a total of 13. An ace is always counted as one, and a total of exactly 13 automatically loses. The over 13 house edge stands at 6.5%, while the under 13 house edge is a staggering 10%! This particular variant of side betting is commonly available in blackjack strategy tournament games featuring six or eight decks. A number of professional players have developed a counting strategy for this side bet option in online blackjack games.

Super Sevens in online blackjack

This is a side bet where players are after a cascade of sevens. For those who are lucky and receive a 7 first up, the payout is 3/1. And when both cards from the dealer are 7s, the payout is 50/1 for unsuited cards and 100/1 where they are suited. If the next card is a 7 (and so gives you three in all), you are well into super sevens territory. There’s a 500/1 payout for three unsuited 7s, while a hand of three suited 7s triggers a maximum payout of 5,000/1. How this works varies according to the casino: Some refuse to deal a third card to a player with two 7s if the dealer holds a blackjack. When this happens, the house edge for the side bet is 12.6%. But other casinos will still release a third card in these circumstances, and that slightly reduces the house edge to 11.4%. Those wanting to explore further will find there is a very efficient counting strategy for super sevens. However, the maximum amount casinos allow to be wagered on super sevens is usually quite small.

Pair Square blackjack

This side bet is, of course, all about pairs. So if the dealer passes you a pair of 5s, or similar cards of matched value, that’s a win. For a 10/1 payout, you simply need an unmatched pair – e.g. 5 of diamonds plus 5 of hearts. However, the payout increases to 15/1 for a matched pair – e.g. two 5s, and both spades. There’s a nominal house edge of 10.6%, but players will find there is a card counting strategy which can often defeat this.

Lucky Ladies in blackjack

The objective with a lucky ladies side bet is to receive two initial cards from the dealer which total 20. The house edge for this side bet is 17% and maximum payouts require the presence of two queens. For an unsuited 20, the payout is 4/1, while a suited 20 brings in a 10/1 payout, and if the 20 features cards of the same rank and suit, this boosts the payout to 25/1. A hand containing two queens of hearts will win you a payout of 200/1, and those lucky enough to hold these cards while the dealer scores a blackjack will find themselves enjoying a 1,000/1 win. Using a Hi-Lo counting strategy can significantly improve your odds of winning this side bet if the true count totals 6.5 or above.

Beat the Bust

In online blackjack games and blackjack strategy tournaments, there’s always a sense of relief when the dealer goes bust. And that feeling can be even more pleasant if you also have a side bet riding on just that outcome. How much you win when that scenario occurs depends on the number of cards the dealer actually draws before going bust. And from a winning perspective, the more cards it takes for the dealer to exceed 21, the better it is for you.

With the dealer obliged to hit on soft 17, the house edge for a regular, six-deck game works out at 6.21%. So starting with the worst-case scenario, a three-card bust (statistical occurrence 17.3%) returns 2/1; a four-card bust (statistical occurrence 9%) likewise returns 2/1; and a five-card bust (2%) returns 4/1. Should the dealer bust on six cards (0.26% likelihood) your return is 12/1, while a seven-card dealer bust (0.02%) returns you 50/1. But a bust on eight cards or more (with a probability of 0.3%) will pay out at 250/1.

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