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Blackjack side bets explained – Which one pays best?

In this article, we’re going to look at blackjack side bets, how you can get a good blackjack side bets payout, and the best side bets in blackjack. We’ll also examine a solid blackjack side bet strategy that you can use to help you win.

Do you want some side action on your blackjack game? There are several popular blackjack side bets to try out, such as Insurance, 21+3, Perfect Pairs, and Bet Behind.

In this article, you’ll learn which side bet to play and where for maximum profitability.

If you’re a Blackjack player who likes to play side bets or wants to give them a try, then you should take note.

You’re losing money if you’re playing side bets at the wrong casinos, and you’re losing money if you’re playing wrong side bets.

What are Side Bets in Blackjack?

Side bets in Blackjack are just that: optional bets that you can make in addition to your main hand bet.

The bets cover things that happen during the main hand play that aren’t covered by the normal playing rules of Blackjack.

Side bets generally have no link to the main hand outcome, apart from Bet Behind which I’ll explain more about later.

Casinos Love Side Bets (and so do players)

Side bets are great for live Casinos, as it’s through these they can make additional income.

Whilst the payouts offered are very attractive, there is a greater house edge with these bets.

If you’re a percentage player you’d do well to avoid them.

However, saying that, if your bankroll allows, it’s worth playing them, even for small sums, as it adds a bit more fun to the game.

Why play Blackjack side bets?

Side bets are a way to add excitement and fun to what is an otherwise a very repetitive game. Side bets offer the potential of a big payout.

The House edge rises a bit for side bets (more on that in tables below), and the outcome of these bets is totally random unless you’re counting cards.

Players who seek to use their skill and strategy to beat the dealer will generally stay away from side bets.

The Four Most Common Blackjack Side Bets

Perfect Pairs, Insurance, Bet Behind, and 21+3 Blackjack Side Bets are the most common and are generally the same at all live casinos.

Be careful though, not all casinos use the same payout structure, and some are better than others.

I’ve created a Payout Comparison Table where I reveal the casinos with the best side bet payouts.

Neil’s TOP Blackjack Side Bet Casinos

GREATEST SIDE BET SELECTION

  • All available blackjack side bets.
  • 21+3, Bet Behind, Perfect Pairs, Insurance.
  • BustIt, Hot3. English, Danish & Italian Dealers.

5 / 5 Stars

GO TO CASINO

BEST PLAYTECH BLACKJACK CASINO

  • AllBets Blackjack & Quantum Blackjack.
  • 21+3, Bet Behind, Insurance, Perfect Pairs.
  • Lucky Lucky, Top3 side bets.

4 / 5 Stars

GO TO CASINO

BEST FOR VIP’s

  • Dedicated Evolution Tables.
  • 7 Seat, Infinite, Power, Free Bet Blackjack.
  • 21+3, Bet Behind, Perfect Pairs, Insurance
  • BustIt, HOT3 Side Bets.

4 / 5 Stars

GO TO CASINO

BEST MULTI LANGUAGE BLACKJACK

  • Evolution & NetEnt Blackjacks.
  • 21+3, Bet Behind, Perfect Pairs, Insurance.
  • BustIt, Hot3. English, Italian & German Dealers

4 / 5 Stars

GO TO CASINO

BEST BLACKJACK PROMOTIONS

  • Evolution & Playtech Blackjack.
  • New Dedicated Studio Tables.
  • Weekly on table promotions.
3/ 5 Stars

GO TO CASINO

Perfect Pairs

Perfect Pairs is a blackjack side bet that lets you bet on whether your first two cards will be a pair.

If they are, the payout will depend on what kind of a pair is it.

A perfect pair would be two identical cards, of the same rank and suit – for example, two Kings of spades.

A colored pair is a pair of two cards of the same color – for example, King of spades and King of clubs.

Finally, there’s a red/black pair.

Hand Usual Payout Explanation
Perfect Pair 25:1 Pair in the same suit
Coloured Pair 21:1 Pair in the same colour
Mixed Pair 6:1 A mixed coloured Pair Red/Black

Evolution Gaming uses the above paytable on their live blackjack tables. House edge is 4.10%.

Note: Playtech Live Casinos offer the option to play the dealer hand for a perfect pair side bet. So it’s possible to play two Perfect Pair Side bets in one game round!  You can try for yourself at Casino.com.

Insurance

Blackjack Insurance is a side bet offered to the player if the dealer’s up-card is an Ace. The bet is half your initial stake and will pay 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack.

Now let me explain why the general consensus is that Insurance is not a good bet to take.

The chance of dealer’s hole card having a value of 10 is 31.4% and it increases to 32.7% if neither of your own two cards has a value of 10.

Meaning, playing the Insurance side bet is a losing proposition in the long run (house edge is 7.40% with 6 decks) unless you’re a skilled card counter.

Example of  Why Insurance Is Not a Good Bet

Let’s say you have bet 100, and the dealer shows an Ace and offers you insurance. You place an insurance bet of 50.

If the dealer has blackjack, you win 2:1 on your insurance bet, so you get back 150. However, you lose your initial 100 stake, so you end up even. In this instance, the bet has worked — happy days!

But if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, you lose your insurance bet. If you go on to win your hand, you win at even money, so take back 200. But you actually only have 150, because of your losing 50 insurance bet.

This means the payout on that particular hand is reduced to 1:2. Obviously, if you lose the hand, then you’re out of pocket by the full 150.

So the best you can do is even money return, and the worst you can do is lose your insurance bet and initial stake as well.

If you choose not to take insurance and win, you get even money; but if you lose, you only lose your initial stake.

Given the dealer is more likely not going to hit a blackjack, this is one of those bets not to take, however much it hurts when he does have a blackjack.

21-3 Poker Hands (Rummy)

The 21+3 blackjack side bet takes the idea of Perfect Pairs a bit further as it looks at your first two cards and the dealer’s first card. These three cards can create five interesting 3 Card poker hands.

Payouts are, of course, much better than with Perfect Pairs

Hand Usual Payout Explanation
Suited three-of-a-kind 100:1 Three of the same cards in the same suit.
Straight Flush 40:1 Consecutive cards in the same suit.
Three -of-a-kind 30:1 Three of the same card.
Straight 10:1 A run of consecutive Cards.
Flush 5:1 Three cards of the same suit.

House edge will vary depending on the paytable and the number of decks used. The above paytable, with a house edge of 3.70%, is probably the best I’ve seen. Evolution Gaming uses that on their live dealer blackjack tables so visit one of Evolution Gaming live casinos such as Rizk or MR Green.

The software providers have different payouts, so it’s worth checking to make sure you’re getting the best value for your side bet.

Straight Flush at Mr Green

Blackjack Straight Flush at Mr Green

Straight Flush at Bet365

blackjack straight flush bet365

Here’s a couple of pics of Straight Flushes I got when playing at Mr Green and Bet365. I’ve also had trips plenty of times but not suited ones and loads of flushes and straights. They’re like London buses, you never see one, then three come along at the same time!

BLACKJACK SIDE BET STRATEGY:Bet Behind

You can place a bet on other players’ cards, just as if they are your own set of cards.

The difference here is that you have no say in how the hand is played, so it’s worth watching how the other players on the table are playing before laying any bets.

Ideally, you want to use a player who is using the basic blackjack side bet strategy and seems to be getting good cards!

These blackjack side bets are useful if you’re waiting for a seat at the table and want some of the action. Or if you’re playing at a seat and want to bet on someone else’s hand on the same table. Both options are available.

The minimum and maximum blackjack side bets stakes at some of the live casinos can be at a lower range than the general table stakes, so it’s worth looking out for that.

Live Casinos with The Best Blackjack side bets

Not all online Live Casinos have the same blackjack side bets and not all tables have the same.

As a rule of thumb, all live casinos will have the 4 common side bets or 21+3, Bet Behind, Insurance, and Perfect Pairs. These will be available on all of their tables, mostly the 7 seat ones.

The unlimited player tables, like Blackjack Blitz, Infinite Blackjack, AllBets Blackjack, Power Blackjack, and Free Bet Blackjack, have more side bets available. That’s because they have more room on the table to offer them. My top tip is to explore these games to find the other types of blackjack side bets.

Casino Stakes No of Decks Bet Behind 21-3 (Poker) Perfect Pair Hot 3 Top 3 Bust It Buster Lucky
Lucky
Honey
Bonus
Lucky 7 Software Star Rating Play
Leo Vegas £0.50 – £5,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No Evolution
4.5
Goto Casino
Mr Green 0.50 – 5k 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4
Goto Casino
casino.com £5-5000 8 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes No No Playtech
4.5
Goto Casino
Royal Panda £0.50 – £10,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4.5
Goto Casino
Energy Casino £1 – £5k 8 Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No NetEnt
3.5
Goto Casino
Energy Casino £0.50 -£2,500 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
3.5
Goto Casino
Pokerstars 0.50 – 20k 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4.5
Goto Casino
£5 – £5,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No Evolution
4.5
Goto Casino
casumo £5 – £5,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4
Goto Casino
BetVictor £5 – £25,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4.5
Goto Casino
32red £0.50 – £5000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4
Goto Casino
£5 – £5,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4
Goto Casino
£5 – £2,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
3.5
Goto Casino
Genting £5 – £500 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4
Goto Casino
£5 – 5,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4
Goto Casino
Intercasino £5 – £5,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
3.5
Goto Casino
£3 – £5,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4.5
Goto Casino
£3 – £10,000 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4
Goto Casino
marathonbet 0.50 – 5k 8 Yes No No Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
3.5
Goto Casino
Golden Tiger 0.50 – 5k 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Evolution
4
Goto Casino
€5- €500 8 No Yes Yes No No No No No No No Ezugi
4
Goto Casino
Mr Green 0.50 – 5k 8 No Yes Yes No No No No No No No NetEnt
4
Goto Casino
£5 – £5,000 8 No Yes Yes No No No No No No No NetEnt
4.5
Goto Casino
Betfair £1 – £7,500 8 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes No No Playtech
4.5
Goto Casino
£2.50- £100 8 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes No No Playtech
4
Goto Casino
Bet365 see casino 8 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes No No See Casino
4.5
Goto Casino
Betbit £0.50 – £500 6 Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No Visionary Igaming
3.5
Goto Casino
€1- €500 6 No Yes Yes No No No No No No No Visionary Igaming
4
Goto Casino
£1- £2,000 6 No No Yes No No No No No Yes Yes BetConstruct
4.5
Goto Casino

More Blackjack Side Bets

Casinos constantly invent new blackjack side bets, and there are over 50 of them and counting. I sometimes come across a new one, some are fun while some are best avoided.

If you think a certain side bet is fun, and it’s paying well with a house edge that’s tolerable, then by all means play it. Here are some fun ones I’ve found.

Honey Bonus

This is the same as the 21-3 Poker hand side bet, but with the addition of a payout for a suited Blackjack.

The Honey Bonus is not found at many live casinos.

In fact, I’ve only seen it at BetConstruct casinos.

The great thing with this side bet is the payouts are far in excess of the ones offered at Evolution Gaming Live casinos.

Honey Bonus Payouts

Hand Usual Payout Explanation
Suited three-of-a-kind 100:1 Three of the same cards in the same suit.
Straight Flush 40:1 Consecutive cards in the same suit.
Three -of-a-kind 25:1 Three of the same card.
Straight 15:1 A run of consecutive Cards.
Flush 10:1 Three cards of the same suit.
Suited Blackjack 5:1 A same suit Blackjack.

Lucky 7

This is another exclusive side bet from Betconstruct.

The bet is on the number of 7’s in your hand.

Lucky 7 Side Bet Payouts

Hand Usual Payout Explanation
Three-suited-sevens 500:1 Three sevens of the same suit.
Three-unsuited-sevens 100:1 Three sevens from any suit.
Pair of Suited Sevens 50:1 Two sevens of the same suit.
Pair of unsuited Sevens 25:1 Two sevens from different suits.
One Seven 3:1 One Seven in your hand.

Lucky Lucky

This is available on Playtech Allbets Blackjack.

The Lucky Lucky Side Bets pays on the dealers up card and the player’s first two hole cards.

Lucky Lucky Side Bet Payouts

Hand Usual Payout Explanation
Suited Sevens 200:1 Three sevens, all the same suit.
6-7-8 Suited 100:1 A straight flush of 6-7-8
Three Sevens 50:1 Any three sevens.
6-7-8 25:1 Straight of 6-7-8.
21 Suited 15:1 Three cards all of the same suit.
Any 19 or 20 2:1 Any three cards making 19 or 20.

Hot 3

The Hot 3 Side Bet targets specific totals or card combinations of the players first two cards and the dealers up card.

Specifically 7-7-7 (three sevens, unsuited), Total hand value 21 – suited, Total hand value 21 – unsuited, Total hand value 20 – suited, Total hand value 19 – suited.

The top hand 7-7-7 pays 100-1.

Hot 3 Side Bet Payouts

Hand Usual Payout Explanation
Three Sevens 100:1 The sevens, any suit.
Hand totals 21 suited 20:1 All three cards have to be the same suit.
Hand totals 21 Unsuited 4:1 Three cards can be from different suits.
Hand totals 20. 2:1 Total of three cards is 20.
Hand totals 19, 1:1 Total of three cards is 19.

This Side Bet is only available on Evolution Infinite Blackjack.

Top 3

The TOP 3 side Bet is only available at Playtech Live casinos on Allbets Blackjack.

Top 3 uses the player’s two hole cards and the dealer’s face-up card for the side bet.

Only 3 hands qualify for a payout.

Top 3 Side Bet Payouts

Hand Usual Payout Explanation
Suited three-of-a-kind 270:1 Three cards that are the same value and suit.
Straight Flush 180:1 Consecutive cards in the same suit.
Three -of-a-kind 90:1 Three of the same card.

Buster

Buster pays out when the dealer Busts their hand.

The more cards the dealer busts with the greater the payout.

There are two additional, high payouts if the player also has a Blackjack in their hand.

This side bet is available only on AllBets Blackjack Live by Playtech.

Buster Side Bet Payouts

Dealers Hand Busts with: Usual Payout
8 Cards or more with Player BJ 2000:1
7 Cards or more with Player BJ 800:1
8 Cards or more 250:1
7 Cards 50:1
6 Cards 18:1
5 Cards 4:1
3 or 4 Cards 2:1

Bust It

Bust It is a side bet where you’re betting on the dealer busting their hand.

The payouts are tiered depending on how many cards it takes for the dealer to bust.

This Side Bet is only available on Evolution Infinite Blackjack.

BustIt Side Bet Payouts

Dealers Hand Busts with: Usual Payout
8 Cards or more 250:1
7 Cards 100:1
6 Cards 50:1
5 Cards 9:1
4 Cards 2:1
3 Cards 1:1

Royal Match

The Royal Match Side Bet, more commonly found in a land-based casino will pay you 5:2 if you have two suited cards and 25:1 if you have a suited King and Queen.

Super Sevens

Another land-based casino side bet is Super Sevens – If you have one or more Sevens, you’ll win from 3:1 all the way up to 5000:1 if you have two suited 7s and the first dealer card is also a suited 7.

Lucky Ladies

My final Side Bet is a personal favorite of mine. I play this a lot when in the Encore Casino in Las Vegas. This bet pays out if the sum of your cards is 20. Unsuited 20 pays 4:1, suited 20 pays 10:1, and if you have two Queens of Hearts you’ll get 200:1.

Important Blackjack Side Bets Payout Information

If you’re anything like me you probably thought that the payouts from all the providers are the same.

Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, they’re not.

There are some marked differences between the software providers that you really ought to know if you like playing blackjack side bets.

Ezugi Blackjack Side bet payouts

Which Best Side Bets in Blackjack am I talking about?

I’m talking about the Perfect Pairs and 21+3 side bets as this is where the differences are.

There are other side bets, like Bet Behind, which isn’t really a side bet. You’re just getting the chance to bet on someone else’s hand, while either playing your own or waiting for a seat at the table.

The Honey Bonus and Lucky 7’s side bets are specific to BetConstruct live casinos. I’ve listed them for completeness’ sake.

evolution blackjack side bets payout info

The Differences

There are two main ways that the side bets differ:

  1. A difference in the payouts for individual hands. For example in the 21+3 side bet, Evolution and Pragmatic Play have 30:1 payout for Three of a Kind, Ezugi only pays 25:1.
  2. A blanket payout is given for all winning side bets. For example, regardless of the hand value, you’ll get a flat 11:1 for Perfect Pairs and 9:1 for 21+3 hands with Visionary iGaming.

Why the Differences?

If I’m being honest I think it’s all down to the bottom line: money.

Obviously, it’s better for the casino to pay out less when someone wins. But I think this is a bit short-sighted of the operators.

As players gain more experience and want to manage their bankrolls more efficiently, things like payouts really do matter. If players feel they are getting a rough deal, they’ll go hunting for better deals.

There will be players who know no difference and are happy to accept the payouts where they are playing.

That’s actually ok, but I think it’s important to have a choice and know what else is available.

Best Side Bets in Blackjack Compared

This little table breaks down the payouts for the side bets by the software provider.

As you can see from the payout table, Evolution Casinos have the best returns on payouts.

The casinos from Visionary iGaming fair the worst for payouts, but they have one of the best Blackjack games around. They are worth playing for the Early Surrender option.

Side Bets Evolution Gaming Playtech Visionary iGaming Ezugi Pragmatic Play NetEnt LuckyStreak BetConstruct Wirex
Perfect Pairs
Perfect Pair 25:1 25:1 11:1 25:1 25:1 30:1 25:1 25:1 25:1
Coloured Pair 12:1 12:1 11:1 12:1 12:1 10:1 12:1 12:1 12:1
Mixed Pair 6:1 6:1 11:1 6:1 6:1 5:1 6:1 5:1 6:1
21+3
Suited Trips 100:1 100:1 9:1 100:1 100:1 100:1 9:1 100:1
Straight Flush 40:1 40:1 9:1 40:1 40:1 40:1 9:1 40:1
3 of a Kind 30:1 30:1 9:1 25:1 30:1 25:1 9:1 25:1
Straight 10:1 10:1 9:1 10:1 10:1 10:1 9:1 10:1
Flush 5:1 5:1 9:1 5:1 5:1 5:1 9:1 5:1
Honey Bonus
3 of a Kind 20:1
Straight 10:1
Flush 5:1
Suited Blackjack 3:1
Lucky 7s
3 Suited 7s 500:1
3 Unsuited 7s 100:1
2 Suited 7s 50:1
2 Unsuited 7s 25:1
1st Card is a 7 3:1
Lucky Lucky
7-7-7 Suited 200:1
6-7-8 Suited 100:1
7-7-7 Unsuited 50:1
6-7-8 Unsuited 25:1
21 Suited 15:1
Any 19 or 20 2:1
Top 3
Suited 3 of a Kind 270:1
Straight Flush 180:1
3 of a Kind 90:1
Hot 3
7-7-7 (three sevens, unsuited) 100:1
Total hand value 21, suited 20:1
Total hand value 21 4:1
Total hand value 20 2:1
Total hand value 19 1:1
Bust It
Dealer busts with 8 or more. 250:1
Dealer busts with 7 cards. 100:1
Dealer busts with 6 cards. 50:1
Dealer busts with 5 cards. 9:1
Dealer busts with 4 cards. 2:1
Dealer busts with 3 cards. 1:1
Buster
Dealer busts with 8 or more with Player BJ. 2000:1
Dealer busts with 7 with Player BJ. 800:1
Dealer Busts with 8 or more. 250:1
Dealer busts with 7 cards. 50:1
Dealer busts with 6 cards. 18:1
Dealer busts with 5 cards. 4:1
Dealer busts with 3 or 4 cards. 2:1

Note: Not all software providers have side bets and that’s why they are not represented in the table.

Back to Blackjack Side Bet Casinos Table.

Are blackjack side bets worth playing?

Blackjack side bets are based on chance, offer a chance of a very big payout, and the house edge is greater than it is for the main game of blackjack.

First and foremost, blackjack side bets are fun and they can break up long boring blackjack sessions as well as offer a chance of a big payout.

Professional blackjack players don’t play side bets, but everyone else should at least give them a try.

Where to play blackjack side bets in the UK?

As usual, Evolution Gaming leads the way and show their competitors how to do it. They have the best payouts alongside Pragmatic Play.

If you’re playing from the UK then I’d recommend Leo Vegas and Genting for Evolution based Casinos. And for Pragmatic I’d say BetVictor.

Ezugi has one difference with payouts: UK players can’t play at Ezugi but others can, so Leo Vegas is another good bet.

Blackjack Side Bets – Frequently Asked Questions

Should you play side bets in blackjack?

Side bets in blackjack are a fun way to get some big payouts. While the house edge is greater than it is in the main game of blackjack, many players find side bets to be fun enough to be worth the risk.

What are side bets in Blackjack?

Side bets in blackjack are additional bets you can place on the cards that will be dealt to the player and to the dealer. They are independent of the main game of blackjack and have their own payout structure.

Are Blackjack side bets worth it?

Blackjack side bets can offer big payouts, but each side bets has its own payout structure that is also different from casino to casino. There is no universal answer to whether side bets are worth it, but some of them such as 21+3 might be profitable.

Summary

In my opinion, you should view side bets as a bit of fun.

If you hit one, they can make a big difference to your bank balance — and I’ve had more success with the 21-3 bet than I have with any of the others.

In the long run, though, I have probably lost. But I don’t think that’s the point when playing these bets — it’s having a bit of fun!