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Free Bet Blackjack

Free Bet is a variation of standard blackjack where the casino will place wagers for the player (a free bet). It is found at a number of land-based casinos and is showing up at online casinos also. The allure is just what it sounds like, a free bet.

The game is played from a shoe of six or eight decks – the same 52-cards all English decks have with no jokers or wild cards. If you already know how to play blackjack, learning this new twist will be pretty easy. Invented by Geoff Hall, it is distributed by Shuffle Entertainment. Hall also introduced Blackjack Switch, which is very popular and has some similarities.

Free Bet offers a very good game for players, as the house edge is less than one-percent, depending on how well players understand and use basic strategy, and whether the particular game you play offers 3 to 2 on blackjack, or just 6 to 5. Either way, the game offers something no other game does: a chance to play on a short bankroll and get free wagers.

At Free Bet, the house will allow the player to double down on 9, 10 and 11 with no match of their original wager! If the player wishes to double, the house places a FREE BET token next to the original wager. If the player wins the hand, the dealer takes down the FREE BET token and replaces it with chips equaling the players’ original wager and also pays the original wager. This allows the player to double down without risking any more money.

Basic Free Bet Rules

  • Dealer hits soft 17
  • Dealer stands on hard 17
  • Players may double down on any two cards, even after a split
  • Players my split any pair up to four hands
  • Blackjack pays 3 to 2
  • Insurance is available
  • Surrender is not available
  • Free double down anytime on hard 9, 10, or 11
  • Free double down (on 9, 10 or 11) after a Free split
  • Up to four Free re-splits, including aces
  • Free Split on any pair except 4’s and 10’s.

With these liberal rules, the game is very popular. You can always double on all hands (they are only free if it is a 9, 10 or 11), and you can split your 4’s or 10’s (do you want to?), you just don’t get a free bet out of it.

The Free Bet Tradeoff

If those rules all seem too good to be true, they really aren’t, but there is a tradeoff. As in the game of Blackjack Switch, when the dealer makes a 22 (yes, that’s usually a bust hand), all remaining player hands are a push. Fortunately that doesn’t happen too often. You won’t lose; you’ll just get a no-action signal.

One of the major advantages to playing Free Bet is the large reduction in bankroll needed to play the game. If you have much experience at blackjack, you know that the times you hit your double downs and splits, all is well, but when those don’t go well you can take quite a loss. Free Bet alleviates those issues and helps keep your investment low.

Free Bet Basic Strategy

There are some special considerations to think about when playing Free Bet.  You’ll want to double down on any  9, 10 or 11 to take advantage of the free wager (it’s like getting paid 2 to 1 on your bet) regardless of what the dealer’s up card is.

You’ll also want to split any pair (not 4’s or 10’s) to take advantage of the free wager against a dealer’s up-card of 5 and 6. You’ll free double with a pair of 5’s, stand on a pair of 10’s.

You’ll also double down on soft 16, 17 and 18 against a dealer up-card of 6. In addition, if you are in the middle of a free split and get a soft 16 through 20, you should double down on your own money against a dealer up-card of 6. You can also double down after a free split against a dealer up-card of 5 with soft 17, 18 and 19. You won’t want to double down on any other soft hands.

As with standard blackjack, luck will play a role in your results, but as noted before, you’ll risk less to have a chance to win more – and that’s a big bonus for most players – and if you miss some double downs it won’t hurt your bankroll so much. Play your best game, follow the special rule adaptions for basic strategy at Free Bet and you’ll probably find the game treats you well.

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