Understanding Blackjack Bets: What Can You Wager On?

Blackjack is one of the most popular games worldwide. Players use strategic gameplay and follow the rules, using a mix of skill and luck during each game. The game is often wagered on, so it’s important to understand the different betting options available.

Blackjack can be played at home, in land-based traditional casinos, or online at betting sites or crypto casinos. In 2024, a growing number of casino enthusiasts are opting to play blackjack with real money online as it offers added convenience and the option to place interesting side bets and to play at tables with different stake limits, often lower than you’d find at land-based casinos in Vegas.

Before playing and wagering, it’s wise to understand the different ways you can bet on the game. Below, we will discuss the different types of bets players can place while enjoying a blackjack game.

Main Bet

The main bet is the initial wager a player will place to participate in the hand when playing at a land-based casino or sites like these. This bet is important for players who are dealt cards and is a way for every player to compete against the dealer in the game.

Here are the basic rules that are associated with placing a main bet:

  • Main bets must be placed before the cards are dealt.
  • The bet must meet the maximum and minimum bet limit set by the table.
  • If the player’s hand total is more than 21 or lower than the dealer’s total hand, the main bet is at risk and can be lost.

The main bet payouts usually follow a ratio of 1:1. This means the player will receive an equal amount to their original bet if they win. However, if the player has blackjack (two-card hand with a total of 21) the payout is 3:2. A main bet is the most commonly used bet while playing blackjack.

Doubling Down

This is a strategic move where players get to double their original bet after receiving two cards under the condition that they will only receive one additional card. Doubling down is advantageous when a player has a total hand of at least 9, 10, or 11, as these can bring the total closer to 21 with an extra card.

Here are some instructions on how to double down in blackjack:

  • After getting your two initial cards, you can decide if you want to double down based on how high your cards are.
  • Next, place an additional bet on your original bet, making it equal to the initial one.
  • Tell the dealer that you want to double down.
  • You will then receive an additional card face down.
  • Your hand is complete once you receive your additional card, and the rest of the round will continue as normal.

Doubling down in blackjack is a risk, but it can have big rewards. It’s done in the middle of the game, and it gives players one extra card, in the hopes of getting closer to a total of 21.

Splitting Pairs

This strategic move gives players the option to split matching cards into two new separate hands. For example, if a player is dealt to matching aces, then can split their cards into two hands, each with one ace card. This method will give the player two independent hands, and increased betting options. Once a pair is split, the player will be dealt one more card for each hand, a total of two extra cards.

Splitting pairs typically depend on the game’s rules and the dealer’s upcard. Players are advised to split pairs of Aces and 8s as additional cards can improve the hand to give the player a better chance of winning.

Aces can be valued as either 1 or 11, and 8s are split to avoid the risk of busting with a high-value card. However, pairs of 10s, 5s, and 4s are usually not split in blackjack. 

Blackjack Insurance

Players can make insurance bets when the dealer’s card is an Ace. The purpose of taking insurance is to protect against the possibility of the dealer having a natural blackjack ( two-card totaling 21).

Players can take insurance bets under the following conditions:

  • The dealer’s upcard is an Ace.
  • A player has the option to take insurance before the dealer checks for blackjack.
  • The insurance bet is usually half the amount of the player’s original bet.

It’s important for players to remember that insurance is a separate bet from the main bet. It also doesn’t affect the outcome of the player’s original wager. It does provide protection against losing to a dealer’s blackjack, but it isn’t a long-term strategy.

Side Bets

These are popular bets in blackjack, which are 21+3 and perfect pairs. A perfect pair involves betting on whether the player’s initial two cards will form a pair, while 21+3 consists of betting on the player’s two cards and the dealer’s upcard, which forms a poker hand. These types of bets provide players an opportunity to win extra money based on specific outcomes or simply add to their overall gambling experience by making it more engaging. These bets also have a higher house edge. Players should consider their risk tolerance, their bank management, and overall strategy when playing and wagering on blackjack.