Of all the side bets offered in black jack, the last one you’d think to look for is one that just pays straight up for hitting an actual blackjack. What fun is that? The easiest to learn, this side bet sets itself apart from the others because of the large spectrum of house odds depending on the number of decks and payoff amount you’re looking at. But hell, even at the worst odds, you’re playing the game to hit a black jack anyway, so what’s another little more put up on the side in hopes of cashing in many multiple times what you’re regular bet would pay? Let’s find out.
As you’d expect, the odds are greatest for the player (meaning the lowest house advantage) with the highest payout, which tends to be 19:1, and the lowest number of decks. This side bet can be found at many black jack casinos, both large and small, across the country. If you do manage to get lucky and find that one-deck game that pays 19:1, you’re only looking at a 3.5% house edge. Those are odds worth sinking some money into, at least in the casino world where a 25-30% edge isn’t uncommon or frowned upon, which we’ll see in a second.
Staying with the one-deck odds, if the payout drops to 18:1, the house edge more than doubles to just over 8%. A 17:1 payout pushes the house edge over 13%. 16:1 takes it to near 18%, and a 15:1 payout (the lowest commonly found with this bet) takes it all the way up to almost 23%, which pretty much puts you in the same league as other implausible games, although with a much higher percentage of return.
At the other end, if you see it played on an eight-deck black jack online table, you’re already looking at a 5% house edge for the best possible payout of 19:1. 18:1 brings it up to 9.85%. 17:1 is at 14.5, and so on. The worst possible house edge for the player is the 15:1 payout on the eight-deck hand, which is just over 24%. At that point, though, the difference between the eight and one deck games is really negligible. Maybe if you’re playing 1,000 hands it makes a difference, but for the average player, it’s still worth betting if you want to put more money down on a blackjack coming up.