Even if you have perfected the optimum blackjack strategy, you’ll concede a 0.5% house edge to the dealer. Roughly speaking this means that across a session of 200 hands, you’ll lose one hand more than the dealer.
To go alongside this, the majority of casinos also offer at least one side bet before every deal, on which you’ll have to stake for a second time if you wish to get involved.
We have previously touched on four side bets that become valuable if a dealer busts, but there are others that are in no way impacted by the result of the hand.
Instead, whether you’ll win or lose wagering on these side bets is reliant on visible cards following the deal:
Anyone familiar with the rules of poker will recognise the terms flush, straight, straight flush and three of a kind.
If playing blackjack solely against the dealer with no others at the table, there are three cards that are known following the deal. These are the two in your hand and the upcard of the dealer.
And it is these three cards that determine whether a 21+3 side bet is a winner or not.
A flush is secured if the three cards are of the same suit, a straight wins if they run in sequence across any suits, a straight flush combines both of these and three of a kind is self explanatory in that the trio of cards are the same (such as three kings).
Should one of these four hands materialise, you’ll be paid at 9/1.
This optional bet is different because it only takes into account your two cards and not that of the dealer.
And there are three different types of pair that you can get – with none paying out at the same amount if dealt.
Most common is the mixed pair, consisting of any two of the same card from different-coloured suits. For example, receive a five of hearts and a five of clubs and be paid out at 5/1 if you’ve placed chips in the Perfect Pair betting circle.
Next comes the coloured pair and successful wagers on this will be paid at 15/1. It’s fairly obvious what a coloured pair is – one example could be two red threes with one being a heart and the other a diamond.
The biggest odds available are the 25/1 for a perfect pair, which not only requires the two cards to be of the same value, but also the same suit. It goes without saying that the more decks being used in a blackjack shoe, the more opportunities there are for this Perfect Pair being a winner.
Still, being dealt two nines of spades, for example, is a big ask, hence the loftier odds.
In a typical six-deck game of blackjack, of the 312 cards in play, there are 78 of each of the four suits.
Be dealt any two of the same suit and the general payout under the Royal Match side bet is 5/2.
However, ask most people what they would perceive a royal match to be and many would probably say a king and queen or duke and duchess. The recent engagement of Prince Harry to US actress Meghan Markle will make the latter particularly topical at present.
With Prince Harry currently fifth in line to the throne, it is highly unlikely that he and his fiancée will one day become king and queen, but be dealt this in the same suit and receive a payout of 25/1.
All side bets are considerably tilted in favour of the house and you shouldn’t be expecting to turn a profit in the long run by betting that bit extra every hand.
It’s not unreasonable to expect to play 60 hands of blackjack in an hour and betting £2 a hand on a side bet could eat up valuable bankroll.
Instead, you might be better opting to play more sporadically and hoping to strike it lucky every now and then.
The fun, excitement and anticipation is especially rife with the Lucky Ladies side bet because of the sizeable payouts on offer.
Get dealt a pair of queen of hearts and be paid out at 125/1, while should this coincide with the dealer dealing themselves blackjack in the same hand and this payout increases to 1,000/1.