Good Blackjack Variations vs. Bad Blackjack Variations

I hear now and again that some players want to know what a good blackjack variation is and what are bad ones. There are some rules of thumb in helping players discern which variations are bad and which ones are not.

The primary indicator of a good blackjack variation is one that does not use side bets as the center point of the game. Yes, I know, that knocks the majority of blackjack variations out of consideration.

But think about it a moment—we know that insurance is a bad idea since it causes the player to lose more money over time than if the player had not taken insurance. And we also know that insurance is a cleverly named and present side bet on whether the dealer’s hole card is worth 10 or not. So if that side bet is a bad idea, then why are all of the rest okay?

Because they are not okay. Side bets are never okay. Remember that.

So a good blackjack variation does not have side bets, which means that bad variations do have side bets. We will compare two blackjack variations so that you can see.

Blackjack Switch is played with two pairs per play in which the players can switch their second cards in order to increase the strength of their hands.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack is played with a normal hand but has players placing a wager on whether or not their first two cards will be a pair or not.

Based on the simple method of determining a good blackjack variation above, it is easy to see that Blackjack Switch is the variation of choice between the two. Players have no control on whether they will be dealt a pair or not. Whereas in Switch players still have an impact on the outcome of the round after taking into consideration the hook that makes Switch what it is.

So what have we learned? We have learned that side bets are bad and that whether or not a blackjack variation has one is how we should determine if a blackjack variation is good or bad.

Blackjack Tournaments for Almost Nothing

While online casinos will prominently display their list of slots tournaments that they are hosting, it is possible to find online blackjack tournaments. I do not need to say again why blackjack is superior to slots. Actually some of the online blackjack tournaments that are offered are quite nice.

Take for example the online blackjack tournament series being offered by Online Vegas. Every single Monday, Wednesday and Friday players can play in a twenty four hour blackjack tournament for all of $0.99.

Yes, it will cost you one penny less than a dollar to play in one of these blackjack tournaments. Granted you are only playing for a percentage of the pot, but it is better than nothing. And not too shabby when you consider that you are playing for only $0.99 and it is a twenty four hour tournament.

The $0.99 entry fee will get you 50 tournament credits to play with. After that rebuys are $2.49 for another 50 tournament credits.

Each tournament starts at 8 pm on the starting day—meaning 8 pm on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday—and runs through 8 pm of the following day—meaning 8 pm on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday respectively.

There is one downside to these online blackjack tournaments. There are two variations of blackjack being used and they are alternated so that one tournament will have one variation and the next will have the other variation. One variation is Vegas Strip, which is just fine and is one of the standard forms of blackjack to play.

However, the other variation is Perfect Pairs. And no variation of blackjack involving side bets should ever be played. And do not tell me that it can be played without making the side bet because the payout for a natural blackjack in Perfect Pairs is not 3-2, making that variation not worth the time or credits.

So if you find yourself looking for something to do on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday night, give the online blackjack tournaments at Online Vegas a try. Or at least the tournaments played out with Vegas Strip Blackjack.

Why Blackjack Side Bets are Bad

Blackjack variations provide a breath of air to when compared to playing standard blackjack. I cannot say that they provide a breath of fresh air considering what they do to a player’s blackjack odds, but the difference in the games does indeed provide for a change of pace.

Majority of the time when a player seeks out a blackjack variation it is because the standard game of blackjack has gotten a bit stale to them—same thing happening just about every round. Variations have catching names like Perfect Pairs to pull in these bored blackjack players. Players think that these variations of blackjack are different from the regular game.

The truth is that they really are not that different. They can be broken down into two parts: the base game and the side bet.

The base game is the same as any standard game of blackjack. Players can hit, stand, double down or split pairs. Granted these plays might be limited somewhat. Perfect Pairs, for example, will only allow players to double down once and split only the first two cards. No additional doubling down or splitting of pairs. Otherwise it is played the same as a game of standard blackjack.

Then there is the side bet. Side bets are usually where the name of a blackjack variation comes from. And it is also the main difference that allows the variation to be a variation.

A side bet is a wager separate from the regular playing wager. For example, you might wager $10 on the round of blackjack and $5 on the side bet. Two separate wagers. And both can have two separate outcomes meaning it is possible to lose one and win the other.

In the case of Perfect Pairs, players are placing a side wager on whether their first two cards are a pair. At the beginning of the round the player makes his round wager and his pair wager. If his first two cards are a pair, he wins the side bet. But he can still lose his regular wager in the actual game.

Because of the increased opportunity for the house to win money from the player, the player’s blackjack odds drop and the house’s edge increases. Standard blackjack before any strategy is around 2-5% depending on the house rules. However a game like Perfect Pairs starts at 4.10%.

Rather than putting more of your bankroll at risk it is better to take a break from playing if you find blackjack getting a bit dull. A blackjack break is a breath of fresh air is better than pretend air that is only stealing your money in a sneaky way.

Low Cost Blackjack Tournaments

While the world of online casinos is rife with online slots tournaments, there are also online blackjack tournaments as well. It is possible to find tournaments with larger entry fees aimed at players who are serious players.

But what about players who still working on their online blackjack playing skills and who think they are ready to try a tournament—they might not feel up to spending $25 or more to enter a tournament? And what about players who are looking for a competitiveness of a tournament but are looking more to play for fun or for tournament practice? Are there any online blackjack tournaments out there for those such players?

The answer is yes.

Online Vegas offers online blackjack tournaments with only a $0.99 entry fee. Such a tournament is perfect for the novice player who is looking to begin getting their feet wet for tournament play. These tournaments are also perfect for the experienced online blackjack player looking to have a little competitive fun.

These nice little $0.99 online blackjack tournaments are offered at Online Vegas every Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Each tournament is a twenty four hour tournament, beginning at 8pm on the starting day and ending at 8 pm on the next day.

For the $0.99 entry fee players are given 50 tournament credits to play with for a percentage of the pot. If a player should play through their tournament balance, rebuys are available for $2.49 which will recharge a player’s tournament balance.

There are two types of blackjack games being used in these tournaments and they alternate each time: Vegas Strip and Perfect Pairs. I recommend playing in the Vegas Strip tournaments.

Because these online blackjack tournaments cost so little to enter they are good for players new to playing in tournaments as well as for seasoned players looking for a fun tournament or practice. Online Vegas has done well to offer these online blackjack tournaments.

Perfect Pairs Not So Perfect

Part of the reason we like to play blackjack, or any casino game for that matter, is the thrill that is gambling. The excitement of not knowing whether or not you’re going to lose your money or make some money.

Some blackjack players are more addicted to that thrill than others. These thrill seeking blackjack players will most likely do one of two things. They will either become higher denomination or high stakes players, or they will turn to blackjack variations with side bets to get their thrills.

It’s obvious where the thrill comes from in a high denomination or high stakes game comes from. But having two bets is what holds the thrill of blackjack variations.

One such variation is Perfect Pairs Blackjack. This variation can be found for online blackjack as well as brick and mortar casino blackjack.

In this variation the actual game of blackjack isn’t played any differently. No, this variation is all wrapped up in the side bet.

The side bet is a separate wager that has nothing to do with the actual game of blackjack. In this one, the player makes a separate wager on whether the first two cards he is dealt will be a pair. Not necessarily of the same suit, just matching in value, like two 4’s.

Yes, that is the great and mighty side bet of this blackjack variation. And there are players out there who will actually wager on that. Which is unbelievable because any shrewd blackjack player knows that side bets are just another excuse for the online casinos and brick and mortar casinos to take more of your money.

So add this one to the list of blackjack variations not to play, regardless of whether you find it online or in a casino.

Side Bets in Blackjack—Perfect Pairs

Side bets are never a good idea in blackjack. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing online or in a casino. Side bets are an easy way to lose more of your money, and lose it faster.

Sure the side bets sound like fun. Maybe they’re a way to heighten the gambling thrill. But in reality, if you stop and think about how a side bet works, you’ll see that it’s not a great idea to play with them.

For example, let’s take a look at Blackjack Perfect Pairs.

Perfect Pairs is played like any other game of blackjack. It’s usually played with six decks and has the same house rules as a standard game of blackjack. So regular game play has the same odds as a normal game. You can use basic strategy in the game and lower the house edge on the portion of Perfect Pairs that is played like regular blackjack.

Now for the Perfect Pairs part. In this blackjack variation, players can make a side bet on whether the first two cards they’re dealt will be a pair.

Yes, that is the side bet and key to this variation of blackjack. You are merely wagering your money on whether you’ll be dealt a pair in your first two cards. And, unlike regular blackjack, there is nothing a player can do to alter the house odds for the side bet portion; there is no way to increase your chances of being dealt a pair.

It seems like a silly thing to wager on.

In Perfect Pairs there are three ways to win the side bet in Perfect Pairs:

– A perfect pair is made up of two cards that are identical; payout is 25
– A colored pair is made up of two cards of the same rank and color, just different suits; payout is 12
– A red/black pair is made up two cards of the same rank; payout is 6

Without one of those types of pairs you will lose your side bet.

Now let’s look at the house edge on Perfect Pairs versus the house edge on a standard version of blackjack:

– Perfect Pairs: 4.10%
– Standard Blackjack pre-basic strategy: 2-5%
– Standard Blackjack with basic strategy: 0.05%

Would you rather play against a house edge of 4.10% in which you can’t lower the odds? Or just stick to standard blackjack that you can influence?