The Truth About Blackjack Side Bets

18 November 2020 5 minutes to read
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In our previous piece, we talked about why blackjack is the best casino game to play. Our blackjack players really enjoyed it and asked us to write another informative blackjack article. We got out a pen and paper again, and since it’s about the same casino game. We’re going to take a closer look at the “Truth about side bets in blackjack“.

When blackjack noobs (like us) sit down at the table. Can you guess the edge of the house against that player? Well, it’s 0.7%. Generally speaking, it doesn’t sound like much. But, we’re talking about blackjack here, so it’s huge. In the event, the player uses a perfect blackjack strategy he or she can reduce the house edge to -0.54%.

Obviously, it depends on the number of decks and the rules of the blackjack casino for real money. Since online blackjack players are becoming smarter. Online casinos that offer live casino blackjack have to be even smarter.

So, to counteract a new wave of savvy blackjack players, casino sites came up with another superb solution. Can you guess what it is? We’ll give you a few seconds to answer. If you can’t remember, or you don’t know. Blackjack casinos now add side bets to the equation which increases their profit margin. When the dealer has an Ace as an upcard the casino offers you an insurance bet.

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Insurance Bets In Blackjack

Blackjack winners are successful because they avoid the big loss. The difference between a winning and a losing blackjack player is that a winner knows he’ll lose. Moreover, the top blackjack players know how to keep their emotions in check. The last thing you want to do is walking out of the casino scowling at yourself. If you had a few bad sessions at the table call it quits and try another day. Let’s take a closer look at the next section, Insurance.

When will the dealer offer a blackjack player insurance? When the dealer turns over his up card and he sees it’s an Ace. The good news is players can place up to 1/2 of their bets on the insurance line. Or, is it good news? Let’s find out.

You might be thinking what’s the big deal about insurance? Now, if the dealer hits a blackjack you’ll lose your bets, right? The insurance will cover the bet you just lost against the dealer. How does insurance in blackjack work? If your bet is $5 and the dealer’s card is an ace, you can place $2.50 on insurance.


Simple Blackjack Side Bets Illustration

Let’s say the dealer snags a blackjack. He’ll take your $5, but he’ll pay you 2 to 1 on your insurance bet. The dealer will then return your insurance bet of $2.50 as well as your $5. Therefore, you lost nothing. In the event, the dealer did not have blackjack. You’ll forfeit the $2.50 wager you made on the insurance and you’ll play out the hand. Which begs the question. Is the bet on insurance good or bad?

If we look at the stats it doesn’t favor the player. If the dealer’s card is an Ace he’ll win the hand 3 out of the 10 times. To simplify matters for the blackjack player, you. If your average bet per hand is $5, you’ll lose every 3 hands out of 10. If you’re into stats and stuff. Have a look at how to use online casino game stats to your advantage.

Your loss will be $15 if you don’t take insurance. If you do take insurance of $2.50 it will cost you $17.50 after you played 3 hands. This is why blackjack experts don’t like insurance because it can be expensive. The bottom line is never to take insurance.

Are Side Bets In Blackjack Really That Good?

There are blackjack casino players that swear by insurance. They hold the opinion that it’s the only way to play if you have a blackjack. Especially, if the dealer’s up card is an Ace. Once again let’s crunch the numbers. Remember, the dealer will have a 10 when he has an Ace 3 times out of the 10 times.

Blackjack pays 1 1/2 to 1, your aim should be to win the bet 7 out of 10 times. Assuming your average bet per hand in blackjack is $5 you’ll win $52.50. It’s better to win your hand this way. Then winning your hand 10 times translates into a win of $50.


Other Side Bets – First 2 Cards Total 20

To best illustrate our point. Let’s say that casinos offer a side bet of 20. If your first two cards total 20 for an additional side wager. The casino will pay you on that wager; regardless of the outcome. Many casinos will pay 3 to 1; your odds is 9 to 1 of getting 20 on your first two cards.

If you decide to take out a side bet on each hand, you’ll lose. The house edge goes from a very placid -0.54% to nutter of 24.71% on a 6 deck blackjack game.


Buster Blackjack – Additional Side Bets

Buster Blackjack is another side wager casinos offer. The player will win some money if the dealer goes bust. There is a small catch though. The payout the player receives depends on how many cards it took the dealer to go bust.

The more cards it takes the dealer to bust the more money the player wins. If the dealer decides to stand on a soft 17. The dealer will bust 29.1% of the time. Moreover, if the dealer hits on a soft 17, he’ll bust 29.6%. The odds against the player losing the hand is 2 or 3 times, basically, it’s meh.


Push Your Luck

Push your luck is a side when the player’s hand ties with that of the dealer’s. This bet pays 10 to 1 if the player pushes the dealer. An interesting thing about this side bet and compared to the previous side bets we discussed.

Is that the house edge on this bet is small. Now, if you bet the max bet on this side bet of 1/2. The edge increase from 0.51% to 0.76% that’s if you play with a deck of 6 cards. The cost is 0.25% which translates into a win of 1 out of 10 times, not good.



When a player uses a perfect blackjack strategy against the house, the edge is 0.54%. Like we said previously this depends on the rules of the casino and if it’s with a 6 deck game. The moment a blackjack player uses a side that’s when the house edge goes South. The net result is your probability of walking out of the casino a winner is slim. The crux of the matter is don’t use side bets in blackjack, neva!

Like any casino game, blackjack has a negative expectation. No matter how good you are, or how long you play. The house or in this case the casino always wins over the long run. No matter which casino game you play. Make sure you understand the rules of the game. You employ an optimal betting strategy and you time your sessions.

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