Blackjack Side Bets: Should You Take The Gamble?

Written by: Jeremy Olson , Online Casino and Games Expert
9 minute read
Are Blackjack Side Bets Worth it for Me? Featured image with article title—displaying a hand-holding cards and a blackjack table.

Are blackjack side bets worth it? This question divides players between those who shy away from higher house edges and others who feel that a cheeky side wager makes for a more exciting gambling experience.

Regardless of what you’re leaning towards, I’ll help you determine the best blackjack side wagers to make and when you should consider playing them.

I’ll explain the side bets online casinos offer, their odds & payouts, and the best games to play—making recommendations based on player preferences and gambling styles.

Everything About Blackjack Side Bets

Are Blackjack Side Bets Worth It? Find out below.

What Are Blackjack Side Bets?

Top view of a blackjack casino table with two dealt cards and the options to place side bets.

A blackjack side bet is an optional extra wager placed before a hand.

It offers bigger payouts versus a regular blackjack wager. For example, the Lucky Ladies side bet pays up to 1,000x your stake.

Besides their larger payouts, side wagers have different rules than standard blackjack bets.

They are dependent upon your hand strength rather than if you beat the dealer.

For instance, you could win a side bet with three suited cards but still lose against the dealer.

Most land-based and online casinos offer $1 side wagers, making the price attractive even for low rollers.

However, the blackjack house edge is high for certain bets.

Casinos offer these wagers because of the long-term return they see.

You should pay close attention to blackjack side bet odds and avoid yielding too much to the house.

What Types of Blackjack Side Bets Are Out There?

By now, you may be wondering what are the side bets in blackjack. Let’s discuss the most popular wagers and how side bets work in blackjack.

21+3 Side Bet

21+3 side bet. Winning hand with a 3-Js rummy

This wager is what three-card poker or rummy is to blackjack.

It pays when your first two cards and the dealer’s up-card form a three-card poker hand.

House edge: 3.24% (six decks)
Play if: You want a low side bet house edge.


Here are the Winning Hands and Payouts

  • Suited three-of-a-kind (eg, J-J-J of spades) – 100:1 payout
  • Straight flush (eg, 7-8-9 of hearts) – 40:1 payout
  • Three-of-a-kind (eg, 5-5-5) – 30:1 payout
  • Straight (eg, 10-J-Q) – 10:1 payout
  • Flush (eg, 3-8-J of clubs) – 5:1 payout

Perfect Pairs Side Bet

Illustration depicting two identical Queen of Spades cards

This popular side bet requires you to form a pair with your first two cards.

The minimum wager required by most online casinos is commonly as low as $1, you can learn more in our perfect pairs page.

House edge: 4.2% (six decks)
Play if: You’re interested in big payouts.

Qualifying Pairs Include the Following

  • Perfect pair (same cards, such as Q-Q of hearts) – 30:1
  • Colored pair (a pair of the same color, like 9 of diamonds, 9 of hearts) – 10:1
  • Mixed pair (a pair that’s not of the same color, such as 7 of spades, 7 of diamonds) – 5:1

Insurance Side Bet

illustration of an ace of spades card

The dealer offers players insurance if their up-card is an ace.

Many blackjack players are confused about what insurance means in blackjack.

Thinking they are insuring something when they are simply making a side bet.

Below you can see the details of blackjack insurance.

House edge: 7.39% (six decks)
Play if: You want to win something back when the dealer has a natural blackjack.

Blackjack Insurance Specifics

  • Costs half of your original bet—ie, you bet $10, and insurance costs $5.
  • You win 2:1 if the dealer has a natural blackjack.
  • 31.4% chance of the dealer having a natural when showing an ace.

5-Card Charlie Side Bet

Five card charlie with a 4-5-2-3-5

5-Card Charlie is a rule that gives you an automatic win for drawing to five cards without busting.

For example, you would win with 4-5-2-3-5 (19 total) regardless of the dealer’s hand.

Some casinos label games with this rule 5-Card Charlie to make it easier to find.

House edge: Lowers house edge by 1.46%
Play if: The other rules are favorable.

Are There Any Other Side Bets In Blackjack?

Plenty of other side wagers are available in blackjack, including the following:

1

Lucky Ladies

Wins when your cards add up to 20, with a top payout of 1,000:1 (i.e., you have two queen of hearts; the dealer has a blackjack).

2

Match the Dealer

Pays up to 9:1 when one of your first two cards matches the dealer’s up-card.

3

Over/Under 13

Pays 1:1 when you correctly guess if your total will be over or under 13.

4

Progressive Jackpot

Offers a progressive jackpot, which you win with four red or black aces.

5

Royal Match

Pays 25:1 for a suited K-Q and pays 5:2 for other suited cards.

6

Suit ‘Em Up

Wins when you have suited cards, including up to 60:1 for suited aces.

7

Super Sevens

Wins when you have one or more sevens in your hand, with a top payout of 5,000:1 (three-suited sevens).

How do Blackjack Side Bets Impact My Odds & Winnings?

Standard blackjack odds of winning are among the best in the casino.

How do blackjack side bet odds compare to that of regular bets?

Here is a comparison using one of the most favorable side wagers: Perfect Pairs.

Standard Bet

  • House edge: 0.5% with strategy and favorable rules
  • The probability of winning a hand (pays 1:1): 42.2%
  • The probability of a natural blackjack (pays 3:2 or 6:5): 4.8%

Perfect Pairs Bet

  • House edge: 3.24%
  • The probability of a perfect pair (pays 30:1):1.67%
  • The probability of a colored pair (pays 10:1):1.93%
  • The probability of a mixed pair (pays 5:1): 3.86%

The fact that blackjack side bets tend to increase house edge doesn’t mean you should always decline them.

On the contrary, it’s fun to mix things up and play for bigger potential payouts if you know how to play them.

Are Blackjack Side Bets Worth It?

Whether side bets in blackjack are worth it depends upon your personal preferences.

However, I’ve compiled some scenarios to help you determine if side wagers are worthwhile.

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You Are a Casual Player Seeking More Excitement

You may not have dreams of big profits and blackjack domination in your head.

Instead, you might be a casual player who focuses on having fun.

Side bets are perfect because they add more action and potential wins in each hand.

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You Want the Lowest Blackjack House Edge

Side wagers can never match the low house edge of regular bets.

Even the best blackjack side bets like 21+3 (3.24% house edge) still do not measure up to regular play.

Worst-case scenarios like insurance (7.39%) are some of the least-desirable wagers in casino gaming.

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Bigger Payouts are Tempting to You

Blackjack side bet’s payout potential is far greater than the standard game’s.

For example, Super Sevens and Lucky Ladies offer top payouts worth 5,000:1 and 1,000:1 payouts, respectively.

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You Love the Strategic Aspect of Blackjack

You may enjoy the challenge and complexity of knowing when to hit and stand.

The same intricate strategy is void with side bets.

Blackjack side bet strategy mostly amounts to knowing which wagers have the lowest house edges.

My Thoughts on Blackjack Side Bets

Personal preference plays a predominant role in deciding whether or not you play blackjack side bets.

At face value, each side wager placed will come with additional risk, which will be offset by the relatively low cost of the bet.

With this trade-off comes the possibility of bigger wins and making your blackjack experience more enjoyable.

I encourage you to at least test the waters by placing a single side wager and gauge how the experience makes you feel.

After all, the price of knowing if you enjoy the added thrills or prefer a methodical strategy that maximizes returns is just $1.

My Favorite Online Casinos Offering Blackjack Side Bets

Are you looking for online casinos with the best blackjack side bets?

The following sites are my favorites for side wagers and other crucial aspects, like bonuses, banking options, and customer support.

BLACKJACK Game CASINO / BONUS Other Side Bets At Casino Play Now
Suit Em Up
Suit ‘Em Up Blackjack
Red Dog Casino
$8,000 Welcome Package
Other Side Bets At Casino •Suit Em’ Up
•Perfect Pairs
Play Now
21 Blackjack + Perfect Pairs Table Game Logo
Perfect Pairs Blackjack
DuckyLuck Casino
500% up to $7,500 + 150 free spins
Other Side Bets At Casino •2-Card Straight Flush
•21+3
•Perfect Pairs
•Suited Natural (A-K)
Play Now
Rolling Stack Blackjack Logo
Rolling Stack Blackjack
SlotsandCasino
500% Up to $7,500 + 150 Free Spins
Other Side Bets At Casino •2-Card Straight Flush
•21+3
•Perfect Pairs
•Suited Natural (A-K)
Play Now
21 Blackjack Logo
21 Blackjack
Las Atlantis Casino
280% up to $14,000
Other Side Bets At Casino •Suit Em’ Up
•Perfect Pairs
Play Now
Game logo for the online casino table game Jackpot Blackjack
Suit ‘Em Up Blackjack
Super Slots Casino
250% up to $6,000
Other Side Bets At Casino •Match the Dealer
•Progressive Jackpot
•Super Sevens
Play Now

Blackjack Side Bet Strategies

Again, the blackjack side bet strategy is not as complex as what regular play entails.

Here are my tips to you help boost your odds of winning.

Seek Low House Edges

Some side wagers give you a better chance to win than others. 21+3 (3.24%) and Perfect Pairs (4.2%) are among the best regarding house edge.

Other side bets like insurance (7.39%) are not worth consideration due to poor odds.

Know the Number of Decks

Many blackjack games feature six decks, so house edges here involve six-deck tables.

However, you will also run into single-, double-, four- and eight-deck games—the blackjack house edge on side bets normally decreases with more decks.

For example, 21+3 carries a 13.3% house advantage with one deck and a 3.24% house edge with six.

Consider the Volatility

Side wagers with big payouts are attractive, but they are also volatile.

For example, Perfect Pairs is an intriguing prospect due to a blackjack payout chart ranging from 5:1 to 30:1.

Your odds of forming the lowest pair (red/black) are only 25:1. You will lose many dollar bets before collecting wins at this rate.

Bring a Larger Bankroll

A dollar is not much in blackjack’s grand scheme, but it can add up when you make side bets every round.

The volatility issue mentioned above only adds to the challenge.

I recommend adding at least 10-20% more to your bankroll before sessions involving side wagers.

Remember Basic Blackjack Strategy

Do not get too caught up in the side bet excitement. You must place regular bets before making side bets.

Blackjack gets expensive when you are not making good decisions regarding hitting, standing, splitting, or doubling down.

Check our online blackjack guide to refresh your basic blackjack strategy.

Make Exciting Side Bets at Online Casinos

Physical casino blackjack table with people placing bets.

Side bets offer unique advantages that are not available through regular wagers alone.

They feature big payouts and different rules that shake up the blackjack routine.

I recommend trying some of my favorite online casinos for side bets.

Are blackjack side bets worth it for you? After registering at these gaming sites, you can sample these wagers for free and find out without risking money.

Assuming you like the side wagers at a casino, you can deposit with credit cards or cryptocurrencies.

You can chase bonuses and rewards when making real-money blackjack side bets.


Jeremy Olson

Jeremy Olson Online Casino and Games Expert

Jeremy Olson is a research writer in the gambling industry who has covered poker, casino games, and sports betting since 2004. He converted bad beats in blackjack and poker into a passion to learn and now specializes in several areas of the online casino market.

Learn More About Jeremy