A lot of blackjack variations have appeared in online casinos and live gaming venues in recent years but 21+3 Blackjack may become one of the most popular. Combining two popular table games—blackjack and three-card poker—21+3 retains the strategic aspect of blackjack with the gambling element of a three-card poker style side bet that can pay off in a big way for players. The side bet has the potential to pay up to 100-1 on the original wager.
The rules of 21+3 Blackjack
The primary game in 21+3 blackjack is as standard as any regular blackjack game found online or in a live casino. Six decks of cards are used and shuffled after each hand of online play. After placing their wager players receive two face up cards just as in standard blackjack while the dealer displays one of his/her two cards face up. Players are given the opportunity to act on their hands by hitting (taking a card), standing, splitting or doubling down. The goal is to try and beat the dealer by accumulating a card value total closest to 21 without going over. Aces are valued as either one or eleven and face cards count as ten. An ace combined with a face card on the original two cards is a blackjack for the player and pays 3-2.
Dealers in 21+3 blackjack are bound by the same rules found in standard variations of the game. The dealer must stand pat on any total of 17, hard or soft, and must take a hit on any total of 16 or below until his/her hand equals 17 or more. Going over 21 is a bust for the dealer and all players that have not busted before the dealer acts win the hand and collect an even money payout on their wager.
Splitting of any two paired cards is allowed and cards may be re-split one time per originally split card. Aces may be split, hit, doubled or re-split as well. Players may double down on any two original cards and receive one additional card after making a double. Players may also double down after a split.
Insurance is available when the dealer shows an ace and pays 2-1 on the insurance wager which is typically allowed to be up to half of the original bet.
The +3 side bet
Before the cards are dealt a player can make a side bet in order to qualify for the +3 pays. This bet is placed in a separate, marked box. Once a player has made the bet and the cards are being dealt the bet cannot be removed.
The +3 side bet is just like the table game known as Three-Card Poker. Instead of receiving three cards to make a hand the player used their two face up cards and the dealer’s face up card to qualify for the bonus payout. The following combinations are most common and pay varying amounts:
Suited three of a Kind: Three cards with the same rank, all of the same suit. For three cards to have the same rank, they must have the same number (like three s) or the same picture (like three Queens).
Straight Flush: Three cards of consecutive rank, all of the same suit e.g. 6-7-8 of Hearts.
Three of a Kind: Three cards with the same rank of mixed suits.
Straight: Three cards of consecutive rank of mixed suits. Ace can be high (Queen-King-Ace) or low (Ace-2-3).
Flush: Three cards of the same suit.
A listing of all bonus payouts is placed for players to see and can range from 8-1 for a flush to as much as 100-1 for a suited three-of-a-kind.
Additional rules of 21+3 Blackjack
Players may draw or “hit” up to a maximum hand total of eight cards. An eight-card hand beats the dealer in all circumstances so long as it does not bust (go over 21) or the dealer has a blackjack.
If the player and dealer both have a blackjack on their original two cards the hand is a push or tie. A blackjack can only be made with the original two cards.
21+3 Blackjack strategy
In most online blackjack games that offer a side bet the goal is to lower the odds for the player. The overall percentage in 21+3 blackjack is 99.70 % which means that the casino returns a shade over 0.99 cents on each dollar wagered. By enticing players to make the three-card side bet the online casino lowers that number.
Since the online casino shuffles six decks of cards after each hand of play it is almost impossible to depend on card counting as a viable strategy. The player can, however, use basic blackjack strategy to their advantage. This should be coupled with sound money management and an overall betting strategy.
There really is no strategy involved where the side bet is concerned. It is simply the luck of the draw. That’s not to say a player shouldn’t try it from time to time. The best time to do that is when the player has amassed a few winnings from the session. If the player is ahead and can make the side bet with the “house’s money” (their winnings) then the bet can potentially pay off a large amount. What is not advised is using the side bet in an effort to get even quickly when the session is a losing one.
Players should seek to limit their losses and maximize profits with good money management each time they play online blackjack.