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# More Side-Bet Games by Tom Hagen and Sonia Weiss

We told you that casinos love to come up with new variations of these games, didn't we? These are just a few more that you might encounter.

Are there any side-bet games worth playing?

For the most part, no. You're always going to be better off playing good old-fashioned blackjack. Another good reason to stick to basic blackjack: you won't have to learn lots of other basic strategy charts, which you should do if you're going to play games with uncommon sets of rules.

## Dealer-Player Blackjack

In dealer-player blackjack, you simply bet on whether you or the dealer (or both) will have a blackjack in the next hand dealt. If you guess right, the payoff is at 7:1. If you wager that only the dealer or you have a blackjack, and you guess right, the odds increase to 15:1. The house carries a big edge — close to 10 percent — on all bets, as there is only a 4.73 percent chance of a blackjack showing up.

## Perfect Pairs

This multideck game (usually eight decks) asks players to wager on whether their first two cards will be a pair. A perfect pair, which is a pair of the same rank and suit, pays 30:1. Colored pairs, which are pairs of the same rank and color, pay 10:1. A mixed pair (black and red) pays 5:1. Perfect Pairs gives the house a 3.45 percent advantage over players, which puts it into the category of games to be avoided. Pair Square, a variation of Perfect Pairs, pays off when the first two player cards are of the same rank. Payoffs vary, but the house edge is around 6 percent, and can be more.

## Suited 6-7-8

If your first three cards are 6-7-8 of the same suit, you win this simple side-bet game. Play it right, which means hitting a 6-7 when the dealer shows a 2 (yes, it goes against basic strategy, which is why you have to learn the strategy variations for these games), and you will have a slight edge over the house. It's only about 0.01 percent, which equates to a penny for every \$100 you bet, but it's something.

## Super 7s

This isn't one of the more popular variation games, as its odds are simply too long for players to embrace, but it still crops up from time to time. It calls for making a side bet on whether you'll be dealt consecutive 7s. If you get two 7s, you'll be dealt another card, even if the dealer has blackjack. Payoffs depend on the cards you get and vary from casino to casino. They start small and increase significantly from there:

• First card any 7. Typical payoff: 3:1.

• First two cards any 7. Typical payoff: 50:1.

• First two cards 7s same suit. Typical payoff: 100:1.

• First three cards any 7. Typical payoff: 500:1.

• First three cards 7s same suit. Typical payoff: 5,000:1.

This game carries an astronomical 11 percent house edge. Avoid it like the plague.

## Bust Out

This older side-bet game is a little like taking insurance, and makes about as much sense as that player option does. Here's how it works: After the dealer turns over his hole card, but before he finishes his hand, players bet on whether the dealer will have a stiff hand (hard 12 through hard 16). If the dealer draws a 10, you win. The payoff is 2:1. This game is a cakewalk for card counters. As such, it crops up very rarely. You might never see it.

## Five-Card 21

A very simple side-bet game, Five-Card 21 pays 2 to 1 if a player gets a five-card hand that totals 21. The odds of this happening are pretty good, which makes this side-bet games one of the better ones you can play.

## 21 + 3

This game adds a poker-like element to blackjack, which may seem a bit odd at first. How can these two games go together? Here's how: players bet that their first two cards, when combined with the dealer's up card, will make a flush, a straight, a straight flush or a three of a kind. A win pays 9:1.

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