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21+3 and Perfect Pairs Blackjack Side Bets: A Detailed Explanation

As a Blackjack enthusiast, I’m always eager to explore different aspects of the game to keep it fresh and exciting.

Today, I want to dive deeply into two popular side bets in live online Blackjack: Perfect Pairs and 21+3.

I’ll look at how these side bets work and their house edge and compare the payouts offered by different live casino game providers.

By the end of this post, you’ll understand these side bets and know the provider or specific game that gives the best odds.

21+3 & perfect Pairs explained

What Are Side Bets?

Blackjack side bets are additional wagers players can make alongside their main bet, offering more excitement and considerable win potential.

Numerous side bets are available, and each comes with its own rules and payout structures that create a diverse range of options for players to explore.

Some of the more popular side bets include Insurance, Royal Match, and Lucky Ladies, to name a few.

These bets can add an exciting twist to the traditional Blackjack experience, allowing players to win bigger payouts on specific hands or card combinations.

However, it’s important to remember side bets generally come with a higher house edge. While they can be exciting, they are not the most profitable option in the long run.

I will focus on two specific side bets: Perfect Pairs and 21+3. I’ll delve into how these bets work, their house edge, and the differences in payout structures offered by various live casino game providers. By the end, you’ll understand these side bets and be able to make a more informed decision about whether to include them in your Blackjack strategy.

Perfect Pairs: An Introduction

Let’s begin with the Perfect Pairs side bet.

The fundamental concept of the Perfect Pairs side bet is simple: players are betting their initial two cards will form a pair.

While the main game of Blackjack is still played as usual, the Perfect Pairs side bet is won or lost independently of the primary wager, giving players a chance for an additional payout.

It’s possible to lose the main Blackjack hand but still win on the Perfect Pairs side bet.

Perfect Pairs is found in land-based and online casinos worldwide, and it’s arguably the most popular type of side bet.

In the following sections, I’ll describe how to play the Perfect Pairs Blackjack side bet, look at the house edge, and compare various live providers to see how they stack up against one another.

How To Play

When playing live online Blackjack, you’ll find a designated betting area for the Perfect Pairs side bet, usually a circle or box next to the main betting area.

You can only play this bet if you have already placed a bet for the main hand.

To place the bet, select your desired wager and click on the area before the round begins. Remember, the side bet is independent of the main bet, so you can wager a different amount on the side bet than your main bet.

As mentioned earlier, the basic rules of Blackjack still apply. You receive two cards, as does the dealer, which you can hit, stand, double down, and so on. The outcome of the main hand has no bearing on the side bet.

The side bet result is calculated using your first two cards and whether they make a pair. For example, a pair is when you’re dealt two 2s, two 4s, two 8s, and so on. The payout you receive depends on the “perfection” of your pair, and a typical pay table may look something like this:

  • Different suits and different colours: 5:1
  • Different suits, but the cards are the same colour: 10:1
  • Both cards are identical – the same suit, value, and colour: 30:1

Keep in mind different casinos have varying payouts for these combinations. For example, live casinos almost always pay 25:1 for a perfect pair, while land-based casinos can offer up to 35:1.

The House Edge

When I first began playing live Blackjack, I always found the Perfect Pairs side bet intriguing. I didn’t win when I played it, and as soon as I’d stopped betting, I’d get dealt a Pair! It’s a frustrating bet that I generally avoid playing today.

Let’s have a look at the house edge of the Perfect Pairs side bet. For this example, I’m using the payouts and probabilities from a standard Blackjack game from Evolution. Eight decks of cards are in play.

First, let’s dive into maths.

With the Perfect Pairs bet, there are four possible outcomes: Perfect pair, Coloured pair, Red/Black, and no pair.

In this version of Blackjack, Evolution pays 25:1, 12:1 and 6:1, so the following probabilities and outcomes use those payouts.

  • Perfect pair: Probability = 0.016867, Return = 0.421687
  • Coloured pair: Probability = 0.019277, Return = 0.231325
  • Red/Black pair: Probability = 0.038554, Return = 0.231325
  • Non-pair: Probability = 0.925301, Return = -0.925301

To determine the house edge, we must add the returns for all four possible outcomes. When we do that, we get:

0.421687 + 0.231325 + 0.231325 + (-0.925301) = -0.040964

The house edge of the Perfect Pairs side bet – in this specific example – is approximately 4.10%.

However, this percentage represents the casino’s edge in the long run. In the short term, there is no guarantee you’ll see anywhere near this type of return, and Perfect Pairs side bets can get notoriously costly – as I’ve discovered many times!

Payouts: Live Providers Compared

Since the payouts can vary significantly between developers, I want to compare the payouts between the providers. Knowing who provides the best and worst returns is crucial to making informed decisions about which game of Blackjack to play.

For reference, I’m covering the following game developers in this section: Evolution, Playtech, Visionary iGaming, Ezugi, Pragmatic Play Live, LuckyStreak and BetConstruct.

Perfect Pair Payouts

The payouts for a perfect pair are consistent across most developers, with the majority offering 25:1.

The exception is Visionary iGaming, which has a significantly lower payout of 11:1. As a player, I would likely avoid their games when it comes to the Perfect Pairs side bet, but they do offer one of the best live Blackjack games around, and their Early Surrender option is excellent.

Coloured Pair Payouts

For the coloured pair bet, most developers offer a 12:1 payout. However, Visionary iGaming again stands out with a lower payout of 11:1. This difference may not seem substantial, but it can impact overall returns in the long run.

Mixed Pair Payouts

Regarding the mixed pair bet, there’s more variation in the payouts. Most developers, including Evolution, Playtech, Ezugi, Pragmatic Play, and Luckystreak, offer a 6:1 payout.

Visionary iGaming, however, has an unusually high payout of 11:1 for this category. Meanwhile, BetConstruct provides a slightly lower payout of 5:1.


I’d recommend playing Evolution’s Blackjack, as I’m a massive fan of their games.

However, Playtech, Ezugi, Pragmatic Play, and Luckystreak all offer identical payouts for the Perfect Pairs side bet. BetConstruct’s payouts are slightly worse, but it’s not overly significant. I would refrain from playing this side bet on Blackjack games from Visionary iGaming.

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.

Best 6 Live Casinos


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About Neil’s Casino Comparer Reviews

I have tried to be objective and consistent with all my live casino reviews. Hopefully, they will strike a chord with you, but I thought it might be helpful to explain the criteria I use to mark each of the casinos. Hopefully, the categories and explanations make sense.

Playability – What is the overall impression of the casino? Did I have a good time? are the dealers nice and chatty and is everything easy to understand? Does it have a good set of games and is there a comprehensive set of betting options? Are high stakes players taken care of?

Software – What is the software like to use and does it integrate well with the rest of the casino?. Are the images clear and is the video streaming fast? Have they taken more than the default shared tables? Is it available on mobile?

Payment Options – Does the casino have a good variety of payment options? Do they payout quickly and on time?

Security – How good is the reputation of the casino amongst other players? Do they hold a valid gaming license? Are they transparent about the security measures they have in place? Are they regularly audited? Do they publish this information?

Support – Do they have multiple methods for communication with me? Is support available 24×7? Do they have instant chat and are they quick to respond? Are they able to help me immediately? Do they have an online FAQ and self-help library? Are the support people knowledgeable about the product I’m playing?

Bonuses – Do they have bonuses?. How strict are the wagering requirements? Do they offer repeat bonuses?. Do they offer loyalty points and can they be redeemed for cash or playing credits?

After all that, would I play there regularly?

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