Blackjack bets pit the player against the dealer. In blackjack, whichever hand gets closest to 21 without going over wins. The player receives two cards in the initial deal but has the option to stand, hit, split, or double their hand. The dealer also receives two cards, but only one is dealt face-up. The gamblers play their hand first, so the danger of busting provides the house edge.
Online blackjack uses the same rules as land-based casino blackjack. Desktop and mobile computer blackjack use a random number generator, while live blackjack is dealt by live dealers live-streamed in real time. In either case, many variations of the game exist, including Bonus Blackjack.
Blackjack has many variants, including a few with blackjack side bets. Each version has many different rules, odds, and payouts. Each game has its own basic strategy, so if you plan to play any variant, study the basic strategy chart for that specific game. Besides side bets, the payouts for most forms of blackjack are the same.
A winning hand pays 1 to 1, while a natural blackjack pays 3 to 2. That isn’t always the same. For instance, Face-Up 21 has rules to offset the advantage of seeing both the dealer’s cards, while Pontoon has rules to offset the additional winning hand combinations, so both tend to pay 1 to 1 for a blackjack.
Popular Blackjack Variations
Blackjack side bets allow game designers to create multiple entertaining variants of twenty-one. Most online casinos offer a wide variety of popular blackjack variations. Each provides a different challenge, to give blackjack players the maximum entertainment.
When researching how to play each game, remember to read the specific basic strategy charts for each. Pontoon strategy is much different than Spanish 21 strategy.
- Bonus Blackjack: Bonus Blackjack bets include a main bet and a side bet. Bonus Blackjack odds and payouts for the main bet are the same as in classic blackjack. In the side bet, the player has the option to wager on whether the player, the dealer or both receive a natural blackjack. If a 21 happens, the player wins a 15 to 1 payout. Players should read through all the Bonus Blackjack rules before playing a hand for real money.
- Pontoon: The UK version of Pontoon calls a natural blackjack (two cards equaling 21) a “pontoon”. The next-best hand is the 5-card trick, which is a five-card hand totaling 21 or less. To compensate, if the dealer and player have the same hand, the dealer wins.
- Spanish 21: Also known as “Australian Pontoon”, Spanish 21 uses four to eight “Spanish decks”, meaning the decks have the 10-rank cards taken out. This gives the casino an extra edge, so a number of favorable rules are added for the player. For instance, a five-card 21 pays 3 to 2, while a six-card 21 pays 2 to 1, and a seven-card 21 pays 3 to 1. Also, if the player and dealer each receive a 21, the player wins.
- Match Play 21: Match Play 21 uses the Spanish deck, but has a number of exotic payouts. A twenty-one built with 777 pays 3 to 1, while a 678 hand pays 3 to 1. A Match Play 21 pays 40 to 1. The inclusion of rules for the 777 and 678 requires different strategies because it means you’ll be playing hands you otherwise wouldn’t want (13-14-15).
- Perfect Pairs: The main bet in Perfect Pairs is similar to classic blackjack, but this game has a side bet which pays more for matching cards. If a player receives a pair, a small payout occurs. If the pair has the same color, then the payout is higher. If the pair is suited, it triggers the biggest payout. Obviously, Perfect Pairs is played with 6 or 8 decks, to provide more opportunities for winning side bets.
- Blackjack Switch: Switch deals two hands and lets a player switch cards between the two hands. This is a huge advantage, though players have to remember that a bet is placed on each hand, so strategy requires balancing out the needs of both hands. If the dealer receives a 22 against the player’s 21 or less, it is a push. If the player receives a natural blackjack, their hand beats the dealer’s 22.
- Face-Up 21: Also known as “Double Exposure” in some casinos, Face-Up 21 allows the player to see both of the dealer’s cards. That’s a tremendous advantage, so the dealer receives several advantages to compensate. The main advantage is the dealer wins any ties, except when the player has a natural blackjack.
- European Blackjack: The dealer stands on soft 17. The player may double on hard 9 through hard 11 only. The dealer doesn’t take a hole card, so the player loses doubles and splits when the dealer receives a blackjack.
- Super Fun 21: Sometimes called Super 21 in online casinos, Super Fun 21 began as a variant of blackjack in Las Vegas casinos. This game has several hands that are automatic winners. For instance, a 6-card hand worth 20 or less is an automatic winner. A 5-card hand worth 21 or less pays 2 to 1, though this hand does not win if it’s after a double.
- Progressive Blackjack: Progressive Blackjack offers an accumulated jackpot, which is played as a side bet. The main bet plays much like classic blackjack.
- Multi-Hand Blackjack: Allows the gambler to play multiple hands of blackjack at once. This can be 3 hands, 10 hands, or 25 hands. Many varieties of multi-hand blackjack exist because any of the variants above might have a multi-hand version designed for it.
Bonus Blackjack Game
Bonus Blackjack is different from other variants of twenty-one because of the Bonus Blackjack side bets. One is a wager on whether the player receives a natural blackjack (two-card 21), which is a way to boost a winning hand.
The other is a wager on whether the dealer receives a natural blackjack, which is a way to hedge one’s bets. A player has the option to wager on the player, the dealer, or both. If you win the wager, you’ll receive a 15 to 1 payout, so Bonus Blackjack has much higher payouts than traditional blackjack.
Bonus Blackjack Variations
Variations of the Bonus Blackjack wagers exist, usually in land-based casinos. One pays 500 to 1 for a 777. Another variant of the game pays 25 to 1 if both the player and the dealer receive a blackjack.
Online or mobile blackjack players should not expect to see those particular Bonus Blackjack sidebets in Internet casinos. The house edge is high on the Bonus Blackjack side bet (between 22.78% and 24.08%), but that is expected of a game with a high payout. Always know the odds of a bet you intend to make.
Standard Blackjack Rules with a Big Blackjack Bonus Side-Game
Blackjack is the single most popular casino card game, even though the wins from this game are fairly uniform. You’ll get 3:2 on a Blackjack in many games, and can win more if you have a win after a split and/or double.
At the same time, those big windfalls which come in other games – particularly casino poker games with great hands – are not present in the standard Blackjack rules.
This is where having a side game like the one on Bonus Blackjack can make a difference. You bet separately from the main game and can give yourself the opportunity to win up to 50:1 on your wager.
This game is available online at MicroGaming Casinos, and the occasional windfalls from it can certainly boost an otherwise flat Blackjack session.
Below we will explain how the Bonus Blackjack side bet works, and the different payouts you will receive from this. After that this bet is put into the context of a hand of Blackjack which I have gone through stage-by-stage.
How the Real Money Bonus Blackjack Side Bet Works
You’ll need to play the main player vs the dealer’s hand to be able to enjoy the Blackjack Bonus sidebet. This bet is not mandatory. If you wish to play it then you can do so for as little as $1. Playing this side-game is as a simple as placing a chip into a designated box marked as the Bonus Blackjack Bet on the felt.
If you find this game in a live casino, then the minimum is usually $5, bringing this into line with the minimum stakes.
The key factor with this bet is that it is settled independently of your hand against the dealer. The payouts come with different Blackjack hands, so you’ll normally be winning the hand against the dealer at the same time for an additional 3:2 payout – or worst case scenario a ‘push’.
Bonus Blackjack Bonuses Explained
Additional bonus blackjack payouts depend on both the color and the suit of your hand:
- Suited Blackjack with any combination of Ace + Picture card: Pays 5:2
- Ace + Jack in any suit: Pays 25:1
- Ace + jack in Spades: Pays 50:1
Note that there may be variations on these rules, depending on whether you are playing Blackjack Bonus in a live casino or online – and between different online casinos.
The house edge in this game is fairly high, at 6.5%. This higher than most casino games (for example American Roulette is 5.3%, and Blackjack in the 0.5% to 1.5% range), though it is not the highest Blackjack side bet you will come across.
When deciding whether to take this bet, you’ll need to keep in mind the bonus blackjack odds and balance the added entertainment value of the occasional big payout, with the incremental cost per bet.
If you can afford it, and hitting a 50:1 shot would make a great difference to your evening, then there is no need to let the math put you off.
How to Play Bonus Blackjack – Player Bets
You cannot play real money Bonus Blackjack without also playing the game itself, which is based on the standard US format. Here is an outline of the steps that you will go through.
Place Your Bet
First, you’ll need to place your bets, the player vs dealer’s hand is mandatory, though the Bonus Blackjack side bet is optional.
Starting the Game
The dealer will then deal 2 face-up cards for the player and one face up and one face down for the dealer. There is then a ‘peek’ for Blackjack when an ace or 10 shows, preceded by the offer of insurance against dealer Blackjack if this card is an ace.
Insurance has a big house edge, and you’ll be better off declining this whenever it is offered.
Bonus Blackjack Payouts
The side bet only pays when the player has Blackjack and is settled regardless of whether the dealer also has Blackjack. If the player does not have 21, the blackjack side bet stake is removed and the hand continues with the player making decisions on whether to hit, stand, double or split.
Once the player has finished, the dealer will complete his/her hand depending on the rules written on the felt, and wagers paid as applicable.
In summary, Bonus Blackjack is a standard US game with a great side-bet that can pay out up to 50:1 for a suited ace + jack. This can add some interest to the game and the occasional windfall, though does have a reasonably high house edge.