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How To Win EVEN MORE Blackjack Tournaments - Volume II
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by Bill Zender

Note: This new book by Zender is written for casino management but there is much that players can glean from the book to see what Ďthe other side thinks and does" regarding the casino games they offer the public. The following excerpt is from Chapter 31, "Side Bets in Blackjack: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask." The book is available at


Side Bets in Blackjack: Everything You Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask

Note: The first part of Chapter 31 appeared in issue #136 of BJI.


Side-Bet Vendors

One of my more frequently asked question on side bets is, "Who owns the rights and where can I find them?" Following is a list of the various side bets in use in casinos today. A number of new, approved, side-bet formats are made available each year.

21 + 3

Prime Table Games LLC

This side bet pays based on the playerís first two cards and the dealerís up card. If the combination of those three cards equal any pair that also make a three-card flush or better, the side bet wins 9-to-1 on a 6-deck game. This side bet is based on the same object as Three Card Poker. The house advantage is 3.2% with a hit frequency of once every 10.3 hands.

The double-deck version wins with pairs or better and pays 2.5-to-1, with a mathematical advantage of 2.8%. Another version offers multiple payouts similar to the game of Three Card Poker. Based on the pay schedule and number of decks used, this version has an edge of approximately 4%.

Buster Blackjack

BetWiser Games LLC; (info at

The side bet wins if the dealer busts his or her hand. The more cards it takes to bust, the higher the payoff multiple. A three-card bust pays 2-to-1 with the highest payout on eight cards or greater, paying 250-to-1. The buster concept is also known as the "dragon bet" in baccarat. The mathematical advantage on a 6-deck game utilizing the hit-soft-17 rule is 6.2% with a hit frequency of once every 3.5 hands. [Note: If the house stands on all 17s, the H/A is 8.2%.]

Field Gold 21

Fair Trade Gaming

The side-bet outcome is based on the playerís first two cards. For side-bet purposes only, aces count as one. Two-card totals of the following are winners and pay at different multiples starting at even money and topping out at 25-to-1: two-card totals of 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12; suited and unsuited blackjacks. This side bet is similar to the field bet in craps. The advantage for the 6-deck game is 5.7%, with a hit frequency of once every 3.1 hands.

Lucky Ladies

Galaxy Gaming

This side bet has been in use for quite some time. Itís based on the playerís first two cards and sometimes the dealerís hand. A pair of heart queens held simultaneously with a dealer blackjack will win a payout of 1,000-to-1. The mathematical house edge is extremely high, depending on the number of decks and the pay schedule. The most common pay schedule for the 6-deck game has an advantage of 24.7%, with a hit frequency of approximately once every 9.4 hands.

Lucky Lucky

Gaming Network

This side bet is based on the playerís first two cards and the dealerís up card. Any three-card 19 or higher wins. Payouts range from 2-to-1 for any three cards of 19 or 20 up to 200-to-1 for a three-card suited 777. The house advantage for the 6-deck game is 2.7%, with a hit frequency of once every 4.2 hands.

Match the Dealer

Masque Publishing

This side bet can be found on both regular blackjack and Spanish 21. This bet wins for each of the playerís initial two cards that match the dealerís up card. Payoff multiples are based on the number of matching cards, suited or unsuited. The payouts range from 4-to-1 (one-card match) to 22-to-1 (two-suited-card match). The house edge is 4.1% for 6-deck, 3.7% for 8-deck, and approximately 3.0% for 6- or 8-deck Spanish 21. The regular 6-deck game has a hit frequency of once every seven hands (Spanish 21 once every 6.5 hands).

Pair Square/Bet the Set

Shuffle Master

This side bet is based on the player receiving suited pairs and employs several different pay schedules. The mathematical edge changes with the number of decks and pay schedule. A common pay schedule for six decks (10-to-1 and 12-to-1) offers a "Pair Square" house advantage of 10.6% (H/A of 3.9% if any pair pays 12-to-1). The hit frequency for this side bet is quite low at once every 17.3 hands.

Royal Match

Shuffle Master

This side bet wins when the playerís first two cards are a suited match that pays 2.5-to-1, or a "royal match" (suited king and queen) that pays 25-to-1. The 6-deck version offers a mathematical advantage of 6.7%, and the 8-deck version offers a H/A of 6.5% There is also a single-deck version with a different pay schedule that offers a H/A of 3.8%. The 6- or 8-deck game has a hit frequency of once every four hands.

Super Sevens

Essex Enterprises

This side bet wins when the player receives 7s in his or her initial two cards and subsequent hit card. Payoffs are for unsuited and suited sevens (combinations). The minimum payout is 3-to-1 for one seven and 5,000-to-1 for three suited sevens. If the dealer blackjacks, the third card is not available. The 6-deck game is subject to a mathematical edge of 12.6%. If the casino opts to give a player with two sevens a third card, even though the dealer has turned up a blackjack, the side bet H/A is reduced to 11.4%. The hit frequency on the primary side-bet option is approximately once every 13 hands.

Casino Surrender/Automatic Win

Casino Gaming LLC

This is considered a play option instead of a side bet. A player may play out his two-card hand of 20 (T,T or A,9) against a dealerís ten, or force the dealer to "surrender" settle for a win of 50% of his bet. The option may be invoked only after the dealer checks for blackjack. The mathematical house advantage is approximately 5.9% when holding T,T and 5.5% when holding A,9.

Bad Beat Blackjack

DEQ Systems Corp.

This progessive blackjack side bet, which is made by betting credits on DEQís Progressive Bet Manager, pays players when they lose with any 20, based on the number of the dealerís cards. Players win the progressive jackpot when they have a 20 and the dealer draws a seven-card 21.

The house advantage is adjustable, from 0% to 25%+, based on three factors: jackpot seeding strategies, adjustable paytables, and the frequency of "Magic Cards," which pay the players nominal credits (5-20) when they receive a displayed "Magic Card" in their first two cards. Other "hits," as determined by management, can be programmed into the game, which allow Hit Frequencies to vary from every 8 to 32 hands.


Note: For more information about Zenderís new book, go to:

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