Blackjack Side Bets: 21 + 3

Today we are going to look at another variation of blackjack. Thankfully this one is rarely found in the online blackjack sections of online casinos. Today’s variation of discussion is 21 + 3.

The idea behind this one comes from an attempt to combine blackjack and poker, to somehow bring two of the most popular casino table games together. In 21 + 3, the 21 stands for the blackjack side of the marriage and the game’s main highlight, while the 3 represents the Three Card Poker variation of poker.

When playing, the blackjack player has to place a side bet, which is usually around a dollar on average, as well as place a wager for the actual game of blackjack. Once all wagers are made the dealer will deal the cards. In order to win the side 21 + 3 wager, the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card must make up a flush, a straight, a straight flush or a three of a kind. So long as those three cards make up one of those poker hands, the player receives a 9-1 payout.

It sounds simple enough, but like all side bets in blackjack variations, there is no way for the player to impact the outcome of the side wager—the part in which the two player cards and dealer’s up card make one of the hands from Three Card Poker. It is all chance. As a result the house edge is higher.

In blackjack the house edge, if you are playing according to basic strategy, is 0.5%. That makes it the lowest house edge on the casino floor. But the side wager portion of 21 + 3 is 3.2% in a six deck game. Since the two portions of the game are separate from one another they have separate house edges. The difference between 0.5% and 3.2% is harsh. It is for reasons like the difference in house edge that I say to avoid blackjack variations with side bets.