Free Bet Blackjack
Free Bet Blackjack is a close variation of the classic game that gives you the chance to double down or split for free in specific instances. This title balances its new player-favorable rules by letting the dealer push when they bust with a 22.
In this complete guide to Free Bet Blackjack, we’ll explain the rules and when you get the complimentary bets. You’ll learn how this version differs from the traditional game and when to hit, stand, double, and split.
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What is Free Bet Blackjack?
Free Bet Blackjack is an interesting new take on the timeless classic that lets you double down and split specific hands without spending extra money.
History of the Game
The table game Free Bet Blackjack was invented by casino game designer Geoff Hall, the same man that came up with the wildly popular variant, Blackjack Switch.
The game was created in 2001 and eventually sold to Bally Technologies in 2013. Since then, it has become one of the most popular land-based blackjack variants, with over 80 tables across Las Vegas as of 2022.
Free Bet Blackjack vs. Regular Blackjack
Most of the game follows standard blackjack, but some fundamental changes make for a unique experience. Below we’ve listed the similarities and differences between the two.
Similarities to Standard Blackjack
- It uses a shoe with six 52-card decks
- The dealer hits on soft 17
- Blackjack pays 3 to 2
- You can double after splitting
- You can double on only two cards
- You can re-split all pairs
How Free Bet Blackjack is Different
- You can double down for free if your hand equals 9, 10, or 11
- You can split for free with any pair except for 10s
- No surrendering
- The dealer pushes with 22
Free Bet Blackjack Rules
While the rules of Free Bet Blackjack are very similar to the traditional version, a few key changes make this variant stand out. Below we’ll cover each unique rule and touch on the familiar ones you probably already know.
Free Double Downs
In Free Bet Blackjack, you get to double down for free on all hard 9, 10, or 11 hands. When you ask for a free double, the dealer will place a “Free Bet” button near your original Ante chip, indicating that the house matches your wager.
- If you win, you get paid on your ante, and the house chip
- If you lose, you give up your ante
- If you push, you’ll get back only your original ante
You can still double on the other 2 card hands, but you’ll have to pay for it in those cases.
Another major rule change is that you can split for free when holding any paired hand except for 10s. The dealer matches your wager here and breaks your pair into two new hands, one with your ante and the other with the “Free Bet” chip.
- Winning hands get paid no matter the chip that’s on them
- The house takes losing hand chips
- Push hand “Free Bets” go to the house, but antes go to you
You can also take free doubles and splits on the hands created from an initial free split.
Like the base game, the objective of Free Bet Blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand. If you go over 21, you bust. However, in this version, the dealer gets a break, being allowed to go to 22 and still push the round.
Traditional Rules That Apply to Free Bet Blackjack
The rest of the rules are common in most blackjack games.
Card ValuesEach card between 2 and 10 holds a value equal to its numerical rank. Face cards (J, Q, K) carry a value of 10, and the aces can be valued at either 1 or 11, depending on the situation.
The Dealer Must Hit on Soft 17’sThe dealer must take another card if their two-card hand contains an Ace and has a value of 17.
Blackjack Pays Out at 3 to 2When you win with any 10 and Ace, you get a 3 to 2 payout on your ante.
You Can Split Pairs and Re-Split Up to Four TimesYou can split any hand that has two of the same card. If either of the resulting new hands gets a pair, you can re-split them and continue the process up to four times.
You Can Double Down after SplittingIf you split pairs, you can double down on either of the new hands.
You Can Only Double Down When Holding Two CardsYou can double down on either of the new hands if you split pairs.
There is No SurrenderYou do not have the option to surrender your hand in exchange for half of your Ante bet.
Free Bet Blackjack House Edge
Free Bet Blackjack offers a house edge of around 1% when using the standard rules on this page. While low compared to many casino games, 1% is relatively high considering that even Geoff Hall’s other famous variant, Blackjack Switch, carries a house edge of only 0.58%.
Some casinos adjust the payouts, the decks in the shoe, when the dealer stands, and other table rules, which slightly alter the expected player return. Keep all of this in mind before you decide to sit down at the table.
Free Bet Blackjack Strategy
In Free Bet Blackjack, you’re essentially playing two different games at once. One mostly follows basic strategy guidelines when it’s your bet on the line, and the other involves loosening up a bit when a free double or split is on the line.
With that said, the experts advise one hard and fast rule: always take the free double or free split when the opportunity arises.
Strategy Charts for Free Bet Blackjack
Of course, blackjack is a game of calculated precision, so you should take the time to study basic strategy charts before diving headlong into a Free Bet Blackjack session. Click the images below to enlarge them, or save them to your computer to print them off.
“Free Bet” Hands
Playing to Win
Grinding out small profits and avoiding significant losses is the name of the game at any Blackjack table. After all, the goal is to preserve your hard-earned bankroll.
With that in mind, the best strategy for Free Bet Blackjack (outside of following the charts above) is perhaps to pass on the attractive complimentary doubles and splits and take your business to either a regular blackjack table or Blackjack Switch. You’ll cut the house’s edge in half by doing so.
Free Bet Blackjack Side Bets
You might see two side bets at the Free Bet Blackjack table. Each one has a significantly higher house edge than the base game.
Free Bet Blackjack Pot of Gold
With this wager, you get a payout based on how many “free bet” chips you accumulate per hand.
Throughout the round, the free splits and double downs you take stack up, and the more you collect, the more you get paid.
We’ve included an example paytable here, but the reward changes from one casino to the next.
A dealer blackjack is an automatic forfeit of this side bet.
|7||100 to 1|
|6||100 to 1|
|5||100 to 1|
|4||50 to 1|
|3||30 to 1|
|2||12 to 1|
|1||3 to 1|
Betting On A Dealer 22
If you think the dealer will get a 22 on the next hand, you can place an additional side bet. If you’re right and they show a 22, you’ll win an 11-to-1 payout if your hand doesn’t bust over a certain threshold.
How to Play Free Bet Blackjack
Playing through a round of Free Bet Blackjack is similar to any other blackjack table. Below we’ve laid out how a hand works from start to finish.
Place Your Ante and Optional Side BetEvery player that wants in on the next hand must place their ante bet before the cards get dealt. The table will have a minimum and maximum amount. If the table has side bet options, you can also wager on those.
Dealing the CardsOnce the initial wagers are in, the dealer gives a two-card starting hand to each player and themselves. While all cards are face up in the players’ hands, the dealer has only one face up with the other face down.
Player ActionsGameplay starts with the first player making decisions on their hand. They can hit, double, and split according to the rules until they are ready to stand or bust.
Completing The Dealer’s HandOnce each player at the table is done making their moves, the dealer will reveal their face-down hole card. They will hit or stand based on the predetermined house rules.
Deciding the Winners & LosersThe dealer will weigh each player’s hand against their own to determine the winners and payouts.
Play Free Bet Blackjack to Double & Split at No Cost
Free Bet Blackjack is an entertaining 21 variation across Las Vegas and other gambling cities worldwide. The attractive free splits and double downs don’t lower the house edge, but they definitely make for some exciting gameplay.
The game is difficult to find online casinos these days. If you want to play blackjack on the internet for real money, we suggest you check out Wild Casino. They have more than a dozen unique versions, including several live dealer tables.
Free Bet Blackjack FAQ
Below are answers to some of the common questions regarding Free Bet Blackjack.
Is it worth playing Free Bet Blackjack?
Free Bet Blackjack has an average house edge of 1%. While standard blackjack and a few other variants have better player returns, Free Bet Blackjack is still a fun alternative worth playing.
What casinos have Free Bet Blackjack?
Several Las Vegas casinos have Free Bet Blackjack. You can find tables at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Golden Nugget, The D, Mirage, and several other smaller establishments.
Can you play Free Bet Blackjack online?
Unfortunately, Free Bet Blackjack is not very popular at online casinos. The only version we’ve been able to through Poker Stars live dealer casino is only available to players in New Jersey.