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The following article will explain the 21+3 side bet and how you can use it while playing blackjack, online or in a land-based casino.
What Is a 21+3 Blackjack Side Bet
21+3 first appeared in Las Vegas in 2001, and today it’s among the most popular blackjack side bets. Essentially, it combines two casino classics — blackjack and three-card poker, creating excellent odds.
In this case, you bet on whether your first hand and the dealer’s upcard form one of the hands in three-card poker:
- Flush — Three cards of the same suit
- Straight flush — Three same-suited cards with a consecutive value
- Straight — Three cards with a successive value where an ace has either a high or low value
- Three of a kind — Three face cards of the same value
- Suited three of a kind — Three face cards of the same suit and value
As you can see, the 21+3 is an easy bet to understand and play. However, remember to place the wager before the dealer deals the cards.
Odds and House Edge for 21+3 Blackjack
Regular blackjack typically has a low house edge (around 2%). However, when playing the game with the 21+3 side bet, the house edge increases slightly, reaching 4.24% in a game with four decks, 3.24% in a six-deck game, and 2.74% in an eight-deck shoe.
As for the odds, they vary depending on the game and provider. However, in the classic 21+3 variant, all combinations pay 9:1.
Here’s what the odds look like in other versions:
- Flush pays 5:1
- Straight flush pays 40:1
- Straight pays 10:1
- Three of a kind pays 30:1
- Suited three of a kind pays 100:1
However, before playing, you should always check the 21+3 odds in an online or land-based casino. They may differ, resulting in diverse payouts.
Other Blackjack Side Bets
Beginners and casual players usually stick to the regular blackjack variant and avoid placing side bets. However, experienced casino goers often look for ways to increase payouts and winning odds. That’s when blackjack side bets enter the scene.
Below are other side bets you can find in land-based and online blackjack. Some are widely present in casinos, while others have yet to make a splash.
Let’s check them out:
Insurance is the most popular blackjack side bet, but it often costs players the most. In theory, it would allow you to protect your bankroll if the dealer’s upcard is an ace.
This wager involves half your initial bet and pays 2:1 if the dealer has blackjack.
This one started as a side bet, but its popularity led developers to create an online blackjack variant called Perfect Pairs. This side wager focuses on your two hole cards. Although they must have the same value, the payouts depend on the combination.
For instance, a mixed pair of two different colors pays out 5:1, while a pair with the same color but different suits pays 10:1.
Finally, the perfect pair is a combination where cards have the same color and suit, and it pays out 30:1.
The royal match is among the oldest side bets in blackjack.
The goal is for the player to have a King and Queen of the same suit. In that case, the side bet pays 25:1. If you have a pair of the same suit, the payout is 5:2.
This side bet pays out if your cards have a total value of 20.
Unsuited 20 pays 4:1, suited 10:1, a 20 of the same suit and rank 25:1, and two queens of hearts 200:1.
If you have two queens of hearts, you get a 1,000:1 payout when the dealer has a blackjack.
This side bet pays out if the player has one or more sevens.
A seven pays 3:1, a pair of unsuited sevens pays 50:1, while two suited sevens pay 100:1.
If you get a third seven, the payouts will be 500:1 for unsuited and 5,000:1 if suited.
This wager pays out even if you guess correctly whether your total card value is higher than 13 or not.
Should You Play 21+3 Blackjack?
Beginners or inexperienced players avoid placing side bets in blackjack, and for a good reason. Although the 21+3 wager increases payouts and odds, it also requires you to invest more money in the game. Remember, you’ll bet more on each hand, increasing the risk of losing cash fast.
So, if you already have a clear strategy and experience playing with side bets, you should give 21+3 a shot. Aside from boosting payout potential, it also adds fun and excitement to the game.
But keep in mind — the more decks, the lower the house edge. So, if possible, play 21+3 blackjack in an eight-deck shoe rather than a two-deck game.
21+3 is a fun and easy-to-understand side bet that has grown in popularity in the last decade. You can always choose not to place it and continue the base game without interference. Of course, don’t jump headfirst — understand the rules and find a casino that uses more decks, preferably six or eight.
Now that you understand how 21+3 works, it’s time to test the knowledge. Find a casino that offers blackjack with this side bet, sign up, and try your hand.
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