This post gives an overview of the relative vulnerability of the blackjack side bets I've written about in this blog. Some of these side bets have been spectacular one-time opportunities for APs. Others are ongoing income earners: moderately vulnerable, but not so weak as to be burnt out. And some are both popular and safe. The article covers blackjack side bets for a double-deck game, with the cut card at 75 cards (with one exception). I assume the AP does not wager on the side bet unless the system indicates he has the edge, and in this case he wagers $100.

As a benchmark for all of this, I include "blackjack as a blackjack side bet" (*) in this summary. With this reference point, I give a dollar wager for each side bet that gives an equivalence to card counting. That is, the AP beating the side bet at $100 per hand is equivalent to the AP card counting normal blackjack (Wonging in/out using the High-Low system) at the given equivalent blackjack wager. Also, I note that each side bet I analyzed was available at one or more casinos at the time I wrote the blog article.

The following table summarizes blackjack side bets:

blackjack side bet summary 2 decks, cut card at 75

Note that Royal 20s (**) allows the AP to make a simultaneous wager on both the player's and banker's hand. This allows the AP to get double the value per hand, by placing $100 on each side.

Also, I include Slingo team play (***). An individual AP cannot accomplish this win-rate, but the magnitude of the edge a team can get demands this possibility be included. At the time I wrote the post about Slingo, it was down to one casino at a maximum bet of $10.

The following table gives the bet frequency, average edge and win per 100 hands (in units) for the AP using the system described in this blog.

blackjack side bet summary 2 decks cut card at 75

It is interesting to look at blackjack's place in this list. Next to Slingo, it has the highest frequency of a player-edge over the house. On the other hand, the average edge is the lowest of all the bets listed. This underscores the volatility inherent to card counting. For an ordinary blackjack card counter, it's a coin flip for a long time. With a small bankroll, a solo AP is much better off playing against blackjack side bets.

The following gives my recommendation for game protection for blackjack side bets:

  • Look for players who only make the side-bet wager late in the shoe and then make a max bet.
  • Decreasing penetration is a reasonable precaution with some side bets, but this is not a sufficient fix for all of them.
  • There are other ways to beat some of these bets, including shuffle tracking, next-carding and sequencing key cards.
  • Watch for the general tells of an ordinary card counter.
  • Watch for team play.
  • If the bet you are offering can drive more than 1 unit per 100 hands  in profit, it definitely needs safeguarding.
  • Consider if the bet has key cards that can easily be counted.
  • Ask the company that is leasing the game, or the game inventor, for their guidance.
  • Don't be complacent about your side bets. You may believe that nobody has ever beaten you this way. But do you really know?
  • Most importantly, educate your staff and management to the dangers!
About the Author

Received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1983. Eliot has been a Professor of both Mathematics and Computer Science. Eliot retired from academia in 2009. Eliot Jacobson