21+3: An Introduction
Whether playing live Blackjack online or sitting in a land-based casino, there’s another side bet you’ll almost always see players betting on; 21+3.
This addition to the classic game adds an extra layer of fun and significantly higher win potential than the Perfect Pairs bet.
The 21+3 side bet has its roots in poker, using three card combinations to determine payouts in this unique bet.
Over the years, game developers have introduced this side bet with varying payouts and rules. Today, I’m using the 21+3 side bet from Evolution’s 8-deck live Blackjack as the example paytable.
How To Play and Payouts
Now, let’s dive into how to play the 21+3 side bet and the payouts you can expect.
To play the 21+3 side bet, you must have an active bet on the main hand. It’s not possible to play the 21+3 side bet on its own.
To place this bet, select your chip value and press on the 21+3 side bet spot before the Blackjack hand begins. This side bet uses your first two cards and the dealer’s up card.
The winning hands and their respective payouts are as follows:
- Suited three-of-a-kind (100:1) – This occurs when you get three of the same cards in the same suit.
- Straight Flush (40:1) – A hand with consecutive cards in the same suit.
- Three-of-a-kind (30:1) – When you have three of the same card in your hand.
- Straight (10:1) – A run of consecutive cards, regardless of the suit.
- Flush (5:1) – When all three cards in your hand are of the same suit.
The excitement of this side bet lies in the potential for big wins, with payouts as high as 100:1 for a suited three-of-a-kind.
One of the reasons I – along with many other players – also prefer 21+3 over the Perfect Pairs side bet is that you’ll usually win more often.
Matching a pair of cards can be challenging, but with the 21+3 side bet, you have more winning options.
The House Edge
When playing Evolution’s 8-deck live Blackjack with the 21+3 side bet, understanding the probabilities behind each hand and the house edge is valuable.
Below, I walk you through the probabilities, potential outcomes, payout, and returns for each winning result. Again, this uses Evolution’s 8-deck game as an example.
- Suited three-of-a-kind: This hand has a probability of 0.000244 (2,912 combinations out of 11,912,160 possible outcomes) and offers a 100:1 payout, resulting in a return of 0.024446.
- Straight Flush: With 24,576 combinations, the probability of getting a straight flush is 0.002063. With a 40:1 payout, the return for this hand is 0.082524.
- Three-of-a-kind: This hand occurs with a probability of 0.005169 (61,568 combinations) and offers a 30:1 payout. The return for a three-of-a-kind is 0.155055.
- Straight: A straight has a probability of 0.030947 (368,640 combinations). With a 10:1 payout, the return for this hand is 0.309465.
- Flush: The probability of a flush is 0.058841 (700,928 combinations). Offering a 5:1 payout, the return for a flush is 0.294207.
You lose your side bet when you don’t form any of these hands. You will lose with a probability of 0.902736 (10,753,536 combinations).
The total return, calculated by summing up the individual returns, comes out to be -0.037039. This negative number indicates the house edge, which is approximately 3.70%. At the time of writing, this is the lowest house edge I’ve found a live software provider offering on their 21+3 side bet.
The house edge for the 21+3 side bet can also change significantly depending on the number of decks used in the game. For example, if the number of decks reduces from 8 to 4, the house edge increases to 6.39%. Representing almost a 100% increase.
I hope you now understand why checking the house edge before playing is important.
In addition to the number of decks, different Blackjack rules and payouts impact the odds and house edge. Considering these factors and the maths behind them when playing live Blackjack with the 21+3 side bet is essential.
Payouts: Live Providers Compared
An essential element when comparing live dealer Blackjack games from different software providers is the payouts on the 21+3 side bet. If I play the side bet, I want to play the one where I’ll get the best payout return and house edge. Below, I’ll show you the payouts from six popular game developers: Evolution, Playtech, Visionary iGaming, Ezugi, Pragmatic Play, and LuckyStreak.
Evolution Gaming, Playtech, Ezugi, and Pragmatic Play have similar payouts for their 21+3 side bets. They offer 100:1 for suited trips, 40:1 for a straight flush, and 30:1 (or 25:1 for Ezugi) for a three-of-a-kind.
They all pay 10:1 for a straight and 5:1 for a flush. These payouts are similar, although Ezugi’s is slightly worse.
Visionary iGaming and LuckyStreak have different payout structures. Instead of offering varying payouts for each hand, they provide a flat 9:1 payout for all winning hands – even for a suited 3-of-a-kind!
This 9:1 payout applies to all wins; straight Flush, three-of-a-kind, straight, and Flush. While this means you’re winning more on the lower two winning hands, the top-hand payouts are tiny!
Looking at the data above, Evolution, Playtech, and Pragmatic Play offer the best payouts. Ezugi offers fair payouts, although they are slightly worse.
Conversely, Visionary iGaming and LuckyStreak offer the least attractive payouts. The flat 9:1 payout for all winning hands means I would receive a much lower payout for a high-ranking hand, which doesn’t appeal to me.
Should You Play Side Bets?
Should you play side bets? Are they worth the money? Is the house edge too high? Of course, the answer isn’t black and white.
Side bets like Perfect Pairs and 21+3 add an exciting twist to the game, and they can break up monotonous Blackjack sessions by offering you a chance for increased payouts.
However, it’s important to remember the house edge for ALL side bets is higher than standard Blackjack.
While professional Blackjack players tend to avoid side bets, there’s no harm in trying them if you want to have fun or add excitement to the game.
Of course, in the long run, they’re a losing bet – but any game in a casino is anyway – and gambling is meant to be fun.
There’s also the added benefit of winning bigger payouts – so try them and see whether you like them. However, as with any form of gambling, playing responsibly and within your budget is essential.
Side Bet Strategies – My Tips
It’s important to note that from a mathematical and probability standpoint, there are no definitive strategies for side bets, as you do not influence the outcome.
However, there are some considerations to factor in deciding whether to place a side bet. Below, I will show you a few tips and tricks to remember when playing side bets or thinking about trying them.
Understand The House Edge And How It Affects Payouts
The first “strategy” is understanding the house edge of a side bet and how it affects payouts. As with any casino game, the house always has an advantage.
The house edge varies depending on the specific side bet and game developer. Comparing the house edge between different developers and games is crucial to find the best odds for that side bet.
When exploring the world of Blackjack side bets, I always make a point to check the house edge before placing any bets. Doing so lets me decide whether a particular side bet is worth my time and money. After all, the higher the house edge, the lower my chances of winning. Additionally, I compare payouts offered by different developers, as this can also impact the overall value of a side bet.
I have a table on my website, which you can find here, that reveals all the side bets you’ll find at live online casinos and the payout differences between developers.
By comparing different game providers and being aware of the house edge, you can pick out games that offer slightly better returns in the long run.
Choose The Right Tables
When making the most of my side bet adventures, I know that selecting the right table and game is crucial. One key factor is the number of decks used in a particular game.
Typically, side bet odds are better with more decks, so I aim for games that use eight decks whenever possible. However, if I encounter a table with fewer than eight decks, I understand the odds may be less favourable, and I’ll usually look elsewhere. Online you only get 8 deck games, but in Land-Based casinos, you can find a single deck, 6 decks and eight-deck shoes.
Another aspect to think about is the minimum wager required for side bets. I look for tables with a low minimum side bet limit, ensuring I can place bets at a comfortable stake.
Additionally, I consider other factors, such as game speed, dealer friendliness, and any special rules that may influence my side bet experience.
By carefully weighing these elements, I can make an informed decision and maximise my enjoyment of the game.
Effective Bankroll Management
As with all types of gambling, effective bankroll management is essential when playing side bets.
For example, if I place £10 bets on the main Blackjack box, I won’t bet £10 on the side bet. So instead, I opt for a smaller wager, such as £3 or £4. Since I’ll win the main bet more often than the side bet, I can endure lengthy side bet downswings – assuming I’m not doing too badly on the main bet.
Moreover, I set aside a specific portion of my bankroll for side bets and stick to that limit. This strategy ensures that I don’t spend more than I’m comfortable with and keeps my gambling experience enjoyable. It’s also a good idea to take breaks from side bets occasionally, as this can help maintain a fresh perspective and prevent me from getting too caught up in chasing bigger wins, forgetting the heightened RTP.
I also remind myself to stay disciplined and maintain a clear head when playing side bets – and Blackjack in general. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement, but it’s important to remember that gambling should always be fun and never become a source of stress or financial strain.
Feel free to walk away from the table if you’re losing a lot of hands or money, and set strict financial limits before you begin playing to avoid spending more than you can afford to lose.
The Best Live Blackjack Game For Perfect Pairs and 21+3 Side Bets
I’ve explained how the 21+3 and Perfect Pairs side bets work and offered you stats on their payouts and probability. Next, I will give you my verdict on the games I recommend.
For 21+3, the clear winner is Evolution. Most of their tables feature the 21+3 side bet, and they offer the lowest house edge I’ve found at 3.70%. You can also choose two different tables; their standard Seven-Seat and Infinite Blackjack games are excellent choices and offer the same side bet structure.
Infinite Blackjack, in particular, is more appealing to those looking for a broader range of side bet options. This game features unlimited seats, low bet limits, and four optional side bets: Any Pair, 21+3, Hot 3, and Bust It. The fantastic Six Card Charlie rule is always in effect, so any six-card hand without a bust gives you an automatic win.
When it comes to the best Perfect Pairs game, Evolution’s Seven-Seat Blackjack is again a great choice. They offer the top payouts in the industry, but it’s worth noting this is the ONLY Evolution Blackjack game to offer Perfect Pairs side betting.
However, I’d recommend a second game if you want to play Perfect Pairs, ONE Blackjack from Pragmatic Play. It’s a unique concept that offers the same odds as Evolution – with additional features. The game offers four side bets (two pretty unique ones); Crazy 7, Bust Bonus, 21+3, and Perfect Pairs.)
It also offers real-time player decision statistics, Six Card Charlie as a unique built-in feature, multiplayer gameplay, and a wide variety of other state-of-the-art playing options.
In conclusion, Evolution and Pragmatic Play offer fantastic Blackjack tables for those looking to place Perfect Pairs side bets in Blackjack. At the same time, I’d stick to Evolution’s 7-Seat or Infinity Blackjack if you want to play the 21+3 side bet.