If you’re looking to add some extra fun to your blackjack play, then 21+3 may be the answer. It’s a side bet you can place at the start of the hand, which pays when specific combinations fall into place when you match up your own two starting cards with the dealer’s upcard (hence the ‘3’ element of the name).
The specific winning hands you can make from your cards and the dealer’s upcard are:
Flush – three cards of the same suit
Straight–running numbers, like 3-4-5 (aces can be high or low)
Three of a kind – all three cards of the same number or same face card
Straight flush – a straight where the numbers are the same suit
Suited three of a kind – all three cards of the same value and suit
21+3 Blackjack Strategy
There is no real blackjack strategy to your 21+3 play – you either decide to place a side bet with your hand or don’t. If you want to go for it, simply place your wager in the 21+3 box next to your main betting area. There is usually a minimum wager amount (which is generally lower than your main bet).
Now it’s a question of sitting back and watching the cards being dealt. It can be exciting because you get to see your two cards before the dealer’s upcard is dealt last. Often you have a good chance of making a 21+3 hand, only for the dealer’s upcard to let you down. Let’s say you have 7-8. If the dealer’s upcard is a 9 or a 6, you make a straight and win your side bet.
What many players like about 21+3 is that it adds variety to the game of blackjack. And side bets indeed give you two ways to win a hand, so double the anticipation.
The good news is that you can lose your blackjack hand, perhaps by busting or because the dealer bests your total, but you still win your side bet if you make a winning hand there.
21+3 Blackjack Payouts
How much you win in 21+3 reflects the probability of your hand falling into place (much like the payouts change according to the hand you make on Video Poker). The odds increase as the chance of making the hand decreases.
These are the odds you expect to win at most blackjack games that offer 21+3:
Three of a kind, 30/1
Straight flush, 40/1
Suited three of a kind, 100/1
Remember that online and live blackjack tables play with multiple decks, perhaps six or even eight, which is how you can land three cards of the same value and suit.
The payouts, which will vary slightly from one casino to another, do indeed look quite tempting. But while it’s fair to say playing 21+3 adds some real excitement, it’s not necessarily a good investment.
Playing a basic blackjack strategy dictates that side bets like 21+3 or perfect pairs are not profitable in the long term. Of course, if you got lucky and hit a suited three of a kind, you might think differently. But generally speaking, the house has a high win expectancy when you play side bets.
And because you are betting more on each hand than you might otherwise have done, you risk losing your money faster, which rather negates the idea of playing for added entertainment.
No matter how you play the game, make sure you have fun and bet with what you can afford.