Most Popular Blackjack Side Games

Blackjack table showing insurance and side bets.

Blackjack is one of the most popular table games you can find at a casino. Its online version is just as popular, too, and it maintains the essence of blackjack as a game where, with the right strategy, you can improve your winning odds.

The reason why side games are so popular in blackjack is because they give you the chance to take your gameplay to the next level.

In this guide, we will let you in on the best blackjack side games, explain what they are and how you can use them to your advantage. We will also touch on a few other famous side options so you can choose which ones work best for you!

Blackjack in a Nutshell

To explain blackjack in only a few sentences, your goal in the game is to reach a score of 21 without surpassing it, before the dealer hits 17. An important thing to remember is that one 10 or jack card and one ace card instantly form 21.

There is, of course, an element of randomness in blackjack, with it being a casino game and a card game. If you’re playing at a physical casino, the dealer will be shuffling the cards in front of you. If you’re playing online, there’s an algorithm in place that ensures the shuffling is random through an RNG.

However, unlike some more unpredictable, purely chance-based casino games like slots, for instance, blackjack offers great odds thanks to its skill-based nature. Experienced players know the best side games to boost their chance of a win, and also the probability of success.

What Are Side Games?

Side games are additional mini-games you can play in blackjack on top of the main game. They’re optional, but they bring a lot of value to your gameplay if you know how to use them.

Something to consider before playing any side games is the win probability and the house edge. The higher the win probability and the lower the house edge, the more valuable the side option.

So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the best blackjack side plays you can make to take your strategy one step further!

Perfect Pairs

If you go for the Perfect Pairs option, you’re predicting that your first two cards will be the same. If they’re of the same suit and rank, they’d be a Perfect Pair. However, you can also simply go for a Colored Pair or a Mixed Pair, where either the rank or value matches.

This is quite a straightforward option, making it very popular amongst players. Although its house edge is quite high at 11%, its probability is 1.69%, making it a very worthwhile selection.

The rewards of any type of blackjack side game differ depending on the casino you’re playing at, but these numbers will give you a general idea of what you can expect from the different types of pair options:

Perfect Pair25:1
Colored Pair12:1
Mixed pair6:1

21+3

Also known as poker hands or rummy, this selection also makes use of the dealer’s upturned card in addition to the first two cards dealt to the player.

The combined outcomes of those three cards create five variations of this option: three-of-a-kind in the same suit, straight flush, three-of-a-kind, straight, or flush.

With a 3.24% house edge, here are the rewards of each variation:

Three-of-a-kind in the same suit100:1
Straight flush40:1
Three-of-a-kind30:1
Straight10:1
Flush5:1

Insurance

The Insurance option can only be chosen when, after cards are dealt, the dealer’s up card is revealed to be an ace. This is where you can insure yourself against the dealer having a blackjack for half of your original coins. If the dealer does complete a blackjack, then your Insurance will reward you.

The reward for a successful Insurance selection is 2:1., and the house edge is between 3% and 7%. As you can see, this is quite a volatile option, so it is usually a selection taken by more experienced players.

Other Blackjack Side Games

While Perfect Pairs, 21+3, and Insurance are the most common side games in blackjack, there are a few other player-friendly options that are also worth mentioning.

Royal Match, for instance, is when you are rewarded for getting two suited cards in a multi-deck blackjack game – the reward for getting a King-Queen pair is an impressive 25:1!

Super Sevens is another popular option, and in this case your goal is to get sevens of the same suit or color.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are less profitable options, like the Lucky Ladies. Despite the name, you don’t need to get two queens, as you are just hoping that the sum of your two cards will be exactly 20. Sounds easy, but with a massive house edge of 25% it’s one that favors the casino over the player so should be approached with caution.

Hopefully we have given you a good idea of what to expect from side games at the blackjack player, so now you can go try some of them out for yourself for free at McLuck.

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