There was once a blackjack side bet so profitable that casinos had to eliminate it just two years after introducing it. It was the over/under 13 – a bet that was so good, card counters shifted their focus from the game to this simple side bet. Would your first two cards equal over 13, or under 13? After determining the strategy, you could simply bet, collect, repeat.
All good things come to an end eventually, and the over/under 13 was no exception. Casinos lost a lot of money on that one, as players tried to rake in as much as they could while avoiding heat. While new side bets, like the over/under, crop up from time to time, there are a couple bets that have withstood the test of time.
Perfect Pairs Side Bets
Instead of betting if the first two cards will be over or under 13, you can bet on them being a pair in Perfect Pairs. You can put between $1 and $500 on the side bet, which pays different amounts depending on the strength of your pair.
Regular Pair: A regular pair pays 6:1
Colored Pair: A pair with matching colors pays 12:1
Perfect Pair: An exact pair pays 25:1
The expected return for the Pair side bet is about –0.061.
Insurance Side Bet
Almost any blackjack you play, online or at a brick-and-mortar establishment, will offer the insurance side bet. This bet pays 2:1 when the dealer receives a blackjack. While playing any of our eight blackjack games, anytime the dealer’s up-card is an Ace, a message will pop up giving you the option of taking the insurance side bet. The bet is systematic and will be the same as half your original wager. If the dealer has a blackjack, you win the side bet.
The odds for taking insurance favor the house enough that the bet is generally advised against. And that’s probably why the bet has survived for as long as it has. When people take insurance, it’s usually because of a gut feeling, or because they’re playing for entertainment purposes only. You’d be hard pressed to find pros taking insurance.