Blackjack online free bet? Sounds awesome, right? People tend to be attracted to anything that’s free. The sense of having something without paying anything is everyone’s guilty pleasure. And if you find it in a blackjack game, there’s probably no reason not to take it.
Free bet blackjack is one of the most popular variants of the card game invented by the genius Geoff Hall. Under this variation, the player can split and double down without placing additional wagers. Basically, the hands are played like standard blackjack. But if you’re given the chance to split or double down, you can do so for free.
For example, if you’re waging $10 for your original hand, you can double down or split without adding anything more than that. If you lose you lose nothing but if you win, you’ll get paid even money based on your original hand. So if you double down and win, your $10 becomes $40 instead of just $20.
But why would casinos give such luxury?
Too good to be true, right? Considering the nature of casinos, it’s odd why they would give players such advantage. You can easily bring the house down with this allowance. But beware, because the free bet variant comes at a certain price.
If the dealer gets a 22, s/he doesn’t bust but pushes to all winning hands of the players
Also, the house edge is around 1%. Compared to Super Fun 21, it’s best to stick to the free bet variant.
The idea that you’re not going to risk more money lures dozens of people on these tables. It’s like having the dealer as your rich boyfriend who gets to pay for your extra wagers.
The free bet blackjack is just a new variant which emerged in 2012 at Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. More splits and doubles were allowed and there’s no doubt that every single free bet tables are always filled with people. Nowadays, casinos can impose their own limitation on the number of splits and double downs.
However, this type of game is only available in the Golden Nugget as of last year. Some casinos may have acquired the game but it would be very rare to find one.
Pros and cons of the free bet game
Like any other variant, there would be some upsides and downsides with the free bet. If you’re planning to play this card game, take time to weigh into these points:
Just because there are downsides to this game doesn’t mean you’re going to shy away from playing it. A lot of players, even expert gamblers, like this variation due to the freedom it gives the players. It may not be available as blackjack online free bet, but casinos in Nevada are starting to take an interest.
How do you play the free bet variant?
If you’ve played standard blackjack before, we only have very little work to do here. The rules are based on standard blackjack but with very minimal differences to give the casino a reasonable edge.
The early surrender feature is removed but I think it’s just a fair bargain for the free betting that you’ll enjoy. But to guide you on specific rule variances, here are some points to remember if you are to play the free bet variant:
In this video, Canterbury Parks teaches us how to play the free bet variation:
Just remember that all standard blackjack rules apply here as well as the table limits set by the casino. The free bet variant is usually played on six decks without wild cards or jokers in the shoe. You can find a single-deck table in Golden Nugget but it pays 6:5 with bikini-wearing dealers. Not worth it, if you’re going to ask me.
So is everything free?
Nah, just because it’s called “free bet” doesn’t mean you can get away with all free splits and doubles. Sure, blackjack online free can be played without real money, but it’s not the case with this variation. Casinos need to earn money so there would be exceptions to the rules. Here are two of the major changes you should keep in mind if you’re going to play on Golden Nugget:
Exceptions in free splits. You can split all pairs except 10s and depending on the table, all pairs of 4. When you split, your original wager will be placed in one hand and then a “free split” button on the other. You’ll then play the hands like how you play typical blackjack. You can resplit if you have another pair or double down if you the covered hard hands.
Exceptions in doubling down. You can have free double down only on hard 9, 10, and 11 hands. As for the other hands, you can double down but with additional wagers. There are three possible scenarios here after you’ve been dealt with one last card after doubling down with a free bet:
- If it’s a push, the dealer retrieves the supplemental bet s/he gave you.
- In case you lose, the dealer will get his free bet button and your original wager.
- If you win, you’ll get your original bet plus winnings that equates to the double wager amount.
This is already a very great opportunity for those who want to protect their money without missing the chance the win more. However, remember that a 21 pushes with a dealer’s 22. With the dealer hitting at Soft 17, there’s a high chance that s/he can yield a push during a game session.
For those who are calculating their EV, it’s important to identify the house edge before heading to the casino. Based on the Golden Nugget rules, the lowest house edge you can get for free bet blackjack is around 0.7%. This isn’t the best of all blackjack variants but not the worst either.
But if we’re to stick at the standard rules of the free bet variation, the house edge is at 1.04% – not very inviting for those who want to make profits per hour of play.
Rule variances will affect the expected return of players. Here’s a computation of Michael Shackleford from Wizard of Odds:
Two decks: -0.06%
Eight decks: +0.01%
Payout of 6:5: -1.36% (jeez!)
If you’re going to play free bet, don’t consider tables that play 6:5. It’s not worth it even if you’re a card counting geek. It’s much better to invest your time and effort on a more rewarding payout rate.
There also different side bets in the free bet variation. One of the most common is the Push 22 bet. This is like placing an insurance bet in case the dealer will push a 22 hand. Don’t worry since blackjacks won’t be affected in case the dealer pushes at 22 since it will be paid before the dealer plays his or her own hand. However, it’s not always like blackjack online free bet.
Just remember that betting on a Push 22 isn’t free. If you lose, your money is taken by the dealer.
These are some of the side bets you can in a free bet table:
♥️Same suits. If the dealer pushes at 22 with same suits, your side bet will be paid 50:1
♥️Same color. If the dealer pushes at 22 with same color cards, you’ll be paid 20:1
♥️Any combo. Any combination of the two aforementioned compositions will be paid 8:1
Sounds like a lucrative side bet, huh? Don’t forget that casinos won’t risk their money if they’ll know that there’s a high chance you’re going to win. The higher the payout is the higher the house edge as well.
The payout for the free bet variation is the same with standard blackjack game. Blackjacks are paid 3:2, sometimes 6:5 based on the casino’s discretion. Even if you’re not going to wager your money on free bets, you’ll be paid like how standard blackjack does whenever you win the hands.
Just a friendly tip, though. Stir clear of side bets. If you want to earn a certain EV, it’s best to stick to a solid strategy.
Strategy in playing the free bet variation
Basically, the basic strategy applies for this game, but we have to acknowledge the fact that the dealer won’t stand on Soft 17. In this strategy courtesy of Wizard of Odds, you’ll know what to do in different hands and dealer’s up-card:
For splitting, always free split the pairs but free double if you have a pair of 5s. One exception is you should always stand with a pair of 10s.
To make it simple, always grab free splits and doubles when it arises. There’s nothing to lose here and you also get the chance to win more money with no risk.
Is the free bet variant more profitable?
If we are to look at it on first glance, it’s definitely worth the money. However, we need to factor in the house edge and your expected profit at the end of the session.
For those playing with an optimal strategy and card counting, the free bet blackjack can be profitable. But given the fact that the dealer won’t stand on soft 17s, it reduces your upper hand against the house.
Remember, too, that free bet has a house edge of between 0.7% and 1.04%. This is higher than standard blackjack’s edge of 0.5% tops.
But if you want to have fun while enjoying the chance to gamble more without losing too much money, you can try free bet once in a while.
Bad news for those who want to try it online, the free bet variation of blackjack is currently available in Golden Nugget alone. It’s either you fly to Las Vegas just to play or explore other variants available online or in your local casinos.
As much as the free bet game is yet to find its way on online casinos, this is worth looking forward to. Somehow, knowing how to play blackjack variants sharpens your gambling skills aside from blackjack online free. Besides, why restrict yourself to standard blackjack if you can enjoy playing under different rules?