Which blackjack side bets to avoid

Blackjack side bets are a lot of fun, and increase the possibility of a big win while playing 21. But most of these side games also come at the expense of you winning over the long run. In this article we look at the blackjack side bets you really should avoid.

Blackjack is the most popular casino card game. And there’s a good reason for that - if you apply the so-called 'basic strategy', you can lower the house edge to below 1%, which makes blackjack the most potentially lucrative of all the casino games. In addition to that, it’s a rather exciting game to play, especially once you get into the swing of things.

In recent years, many land-based casinos (and live dealer blackjack developers like Evolution) have started introducing various side bets to the game of 21. They claim that these side bets make the game more exciting.

And when you see how popular these side bets tend to be - you have to say they do add entertainment for casino patrons,

But here's the problem about blackjack side bets — even though they are indeed exciting, they serve to distract you from the optimum blackjack strategy. And if you do use side bets regularly, you are just increasing the house edge.

That said, you shouldn’t necessarily avoid side bets, all the time. If you’re feeling lucky, placing a side bet from time to time might be a reasonable idea, even if it’s one of the side bets that we will mention in this article. However, don’t overdo it — side bets are there to help the casino win in the long run.

So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the worst blackjack side bets available at online casinos right now.

Lucky Ladies

Named after a pair of queens, the Lucky Ladies side bet is definitely not worth it. It’s a side bet that will pay 1000 to 1 if you get a pair of queens of hearts and the dealer makes a blackjack. The probabilities of that happening are very small, and having a payout that’s just 1000 to 1 isn’t something you should be content with.

The good news is that this side bet also pays 4 to 1 for unsuited 20 or 10 to 1 for suited 20s. If you land a matched 20, you’ll get 25 to 1 or 200 to 1 for getting two Queen of hearts. Despite that, the payouts are still much smaller when compared to the probabilities of them actually appearing.

Insurance Bet

The insurance bet is probably the most common side bet in online blackjack, but it’s also one that you should avoid for several reasons.

Whenever the dealer gets an ace as their face-up card, you can make an insurance bet which will help you hedge your original ante bet if the dealer gets a blackjack. In other words, if the dealer indeed gets a blackjack, you’ll lose the original ante bet, but the insurance bet will pay 2 to 1.

Instead of giving you the exact math behind the insurance bet, we’ll just say this: in a standard blackjack shoe, there will be 96 winning and 215 losing cards if the dealer gets an ace, which roughly calculates to a 7.40% house edge for this bet. That’s not too bad, but it’s still much higher than the average of 0.5% if you keep to the optimal basic blackjack strategy.

It's better to lose the occasional game to the dealer, rather than wasting money on insurance.

Bonus Bet

Microgaming’s Bonus Blackjack game is great fun, but the bonus feature it comes with isn’t so good for your account balance. Even though it seems enticing, the math shows that it’s actually not that lucrative.

The highest payout is 50 to 1, and you can only win that if you’re dealt an Ace and a Jack of Spades. But if you calculate the actual house edge for this bet, you’ll discover it’s somewhere around 6.46%. This is another side bet you should avoid.

How do you approach blackjack side bets?

Which blackjack side bets do you enjoy playing? And will this article change your mind about using them so often?

Read more on the game of blackjack

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