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Blackjack Bonus Bets
Blackjack Bonus Bets

Blackjack Bonus Bets

Although many European casinos feature roulette as the main attraction, blackjack is also a favorite that is played at virtually every land-based casino that offers table games. The general rules haven’t changed much in the last 100 years, although there were some minor changes in Las Vegas 50 years ago after Dr. Edward O. Thorp’s book, “Beat the Dealer” became a best seller.

To help keep the game popular and add new dimensions, bonus bets (side bets) have been adopted at many casinos. The separate wagers offer fun and excitement to the basic play of blackjack, but at a heavy price.

Royal Match

One of the first bonus bets trademarked and marketed in Nevada was Royal Match. Nearly twenty years ago the bet was first offered to players with a 25 to 1 payout for any suited King and Queen on the player’s first two cards. The bet also paid 2.5 to 1 when the player’s first two cards were suited. The house edge on a six-deck shoe is 6.7% while the house edge jumps to 10.9% for a single-deck game.

A more reasonable house edge is offered when the Royal Match pays a 10 to 1 bonus on a Royal Match of King and Queen suited and 3 to 1 on the easy match of two suited cards. The single deck house edge is 3.8% and on a six-deck shoe the house edge is a tiny 1.1%

This bonus bet is also offered at some casinos with a payout schedule of 25 to 1 on the Royal Match, 5 to one on a suited blackjack, and 2.5 to 1 on an easy match. This game has a house edge of 3.7% for six-deck games that jumps to 7.8% on a single-deck game.

Unfortunately, bonus bets are proprietary games supplied by gaming manufacturers who are licensed by different jurisdictions. By far the largest gaming supplier is SHFL, Shuffle entertainment, once known as Shuffle Master. SHFL also supplies the lion’s share of shuffle machines to the gaming industry, so they have the most contacts and their own bonus bet game is now the most popular of all blackjack bonus bets: Lucky Ladies.

Lucky Ladies

Like most bonus bets, Lucky Ladies is offered as a separate bet. The player does not have to make the wager, but because they may do so, for as little as $1, it is often a temptation too hard to resist. The 1,000 to 1 payoff for the best hand may have much to do with the bonus bet’s popularity.

Players wagering on the Lucky Ladies spot win any time their first two cards total 20. Regardless of whether the two cards are tens, or an ace and a nine, two un-suited cards pay a bonus of 4 to 1. If the player’s first two cards make a suited 20 (both cards are the same suit) the payout is 9 to 1. And, should the player be lucky enough to catch a matched 20 (two cards of the same rank and suit, such as two Jack of clubs) they are paid 19 to 1.

The big jackpots are paid when the player is dealt two queens of hearts. The payoff is 125 to 1, so a $1 minimum bet receives $125 and a $25 maximum wager receives $3125, unless the dealer also has a blackjack at the same time. When this happens, the player is paid 1,000 to one on their wager, turning a $25 bet into $25,000!

The opportunity to wager on bonus bets does come at a price. While the Royal Match bet may be a reasonable 3.7%, the Lucky Ladies bet carries a much higher 24.7% house edge. As you can see, this wager can be very exciting to hit, but also very expensive to make on a regular basis.

Blackjack Bonus

One final bonus bet that is quite popular in several gaming jurisdictions is a simple wager that either the player or the dealer will make blackjack. Usually offered on a single-deck game, the wager is only available on the first hand of a new deck. The player may wager from $1 to $25 on a Player Blackjack and/or a Dealer Blackjack. A winning wager pays 15 to 1.

Since a blackjack occurs approximately once every 21 hands, the house has a substantial advantage on this wager also; nearly 22.8%. When this bonus bet is offered with a payoff of 19 to 1, the house edge is just under 3.5%.

The house edge is further reduced if the bet is also connected to a progressive jackpot, usually triggered by a blackjack consisting of an ace and jack of spades. As the progressive amount increases, the house edge decreases. For every $50 in the jackpot, the house edge falls about 2%. For the house edge to be zero, the progressive jackpot meter needs to be over $600.

Blackjack bonus bets are fun and make the game of blackjack more exciting and also more expensive to play. Bet with caution!

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