One of the more unique games in online casinos, currently, is 21+3 blackjack. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s essentially, two games in one. You get a bit of blackjack and a bit of poker at the same time. Usually, you’re just playing one or the other.
What do we mean by that? Well, technically, the game is a blackjack variant, and you’re playing hands of blackjack every round. The difference is, the +3 part of it is the poker spin.
Understand the Game: How Blackjack Works
This is a common casino game that’s frequently featured in movies, TV shows, and pop culture. Many know how to play it, but if you’re new to it, we’ll help you get a better understanding of it.
Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about it before you play:
The goal of the game is to hit a final score of 21 or get as close to 21 as possible. If you go over 21, you automatically bust and lose. If you stay under 21 during the game, you can win if you finish with a better score than the dealer (under 21 of course).
For example, if you land on 21 with your cards but, the dealer’s final hand is 16 or 18, you would win in that scenario. Even if you have a score of 14, 10, or 7, as long as you finish better than the dealer, you win. Keep in mind that the dealer can also go bust. In every round, the dealer will hand you two cards and the dealer also gets two cards.
💡 The strategy:
You can decide whether you want to hit (ask for another card), stand (stay with what you have), double down (double your bet while only getting one more card), or split (this only applies if you have two of the same cards such as a pair of sixes). That’s the general strategy of the game.
Typically, you’re going to hit until you’re comfortable with your final score. If you have something like 10, you’ll most likely hit because there’s no risk of busting, but you’ll get closer to 21. If you have 18 or 19, you’ll likely stand to stay with what you have.
After that’s done, the dealer starts to play and they follow a strict regimen. If they finish with a better score than you, they win. If not, you’re the winner.
How is 21+3 different from normal blackjack?
The short answer is in 21+3, you get the best of both worlds. In this game, you get a three-card poker side bet that goes alongside your main game. It is a mix between both games. Technically, it’s a variant, but it also adds in a poker element to it. That means, you get to play two popular games at the same time.
After you’ve placed your side bet, you go head-to-head in traditional online blackjack and see if you’ve won. Then you also see if you’ve won in 3-card poker and settle up. It’s standard to have the reward of a progressive jackpot. However, some modern versions of the game do offer this. Consider this before playing as you can maximize your payout potential.
Game Strategy 101: Maximise Your Advantage
When you’re playing 21 + 3 blackjack, you start by placing a traditional bet on your hand of blackjack. (that’s just normal). The difference comes in where you can then choose if you want to play the poker side bet. If you do, then you place a second bet. You can play a hand of blackjack without the side bet. However, you cannot play the side bet without a bet on the hand of blackjack.
If you’re in for the side bet, then what happens is, you have to shift your mindset to poker for the first portion of the game. Remember — you’re still dealt two cards as you are in regular blackjack, but the poker spin comes in because you pair your two cards along with the dealer’s up card to form a three-card hand.
Another thing to keep in mind here is the fact that the rules in casinos can differ, but generally, you’re going to win if your three cards form a straight flush, three of a kind, straight, or flush. Once the side bet is dealt with, the player and dealer then shift their focus to regular blackjack. From there, the rest of the hand plays out as per normal.
In the end, it’s possible you’ve won both bets, won one and lost one, or lost both. This form of blackjack is so exciting because it allows you to get a taste of poker while playing the casino classic and gives you access to a big payday – if the cards do fall your way. Typically, this game doesn’t offer huge payouts, and this gives you a winning opportunity.
Unpack the rules of payouts and odds
Now that you know how to win, let’s go over what you’ll win when the cards do land in your favour. A lot of this is going to depend on where you’re playing the game. The payouts for poker are going to vary based on the casino that you’re playing. Roughly, they should be in the 9/1 range. If there are more decks in the game and the house edge is smaller, meaning you have a better chance to win.
Again, it depends on which online casino you choose and what the payout table says, but generally, the payout is usually in the neighborhood of 9/1. That’s just a general number to keep in mind, as several things can change that.
For example, the amount of decks in the game changes your odds of winning and changes the potential payout. Two decks hitting a straight might pay 2.5 to 1, but you’ll have a 3% chance of landing that. With six decks, it pays 9/1 while you also have a 3% chance of landing it. That’s a lot to remember. If you can’t keep it all in your head, just remember the advice below.
We’ll even bold it for you:
💡 The more decks that are used in the game, the smaller the house edge = A big advantage for you as the player.
- 4 decks: 8.78%
- 5 decks: 7.81%
- 6 decks: 7.14%
- 7 decks: 6.29%
We advise that you check the payout table of the specific version you’re playing before playing.
Luck or Skill: Is There a Strategy for 21 + 3 Blackjack?
The short answer is no. As a player, the only decision you have is whether to engage in the game and play, or not to participate in the side bet. The only way you’ll see the cards is after you’ve placed your bet. You can’t get any inclination of what the cards are beforehand. Once you have the cards, then you’ll find out if you’ve either won or lost. At that point, there is no other decision-making.
Some 21+3 games, the more modern ones, have a progressive jackpot and that can help you out a little bit. If that’s in play, and the jackpot gets high enough, you will have a small edge. This isn’t an edge overall, but it improves your odds. The challenge is that it’s hard to calculate, and when the game is played with a low jackpot, the house has an edge on you.
Beyond that, there isn’t a lot when it comes to strategy for 21 + 3 in terms of the side bet. The focus should be on strategy with the game of blackjack and considering when to pick your spots for the side bet. In terms of the poker side bet, the only option is either to play or not to play. There is not much strategy beyond that.
Explore 21 + 3 Blackjack
When you’re looking for this type of blackjack at Canadian online casinos, you want to look for more options.
This is present in a number of ways:
1. Number of decks
Before deciding on the game selection, verify if the game portfolio gives you options for 21 + 3. If not, then check to see how many decks the game is played with. The more decks used, the smaller the edge for the casino. In that case, that’s better for you as a player. You want to have the option to play with more, so check to see what the casino is offering.
2. Number of payouts
Check the payout table before playing. See if the casino will give you a variety in terms of payouts. The standard paydays come with straights, flushes, three of a kind and straight flushes. There are times when a casino will offer more winning combinations.
Take a look at the rules and payouts of the game first. Some spots will pay out other winning hands, such as a pair. That’s better for you as a player, as it gives you more opportunities to cash in.
The more ways you can win, the more ways you have to cash in when playing the poker side of this game.
3. Does the version you’re looking at have a jackpot?
Nowadays, some online and land-based casinos will offer this game with a sweetener: a big progressive jackpot. That’s not the norm, though. If a casino offers it for 21 + 3, consider it a big plus.
4. Why it is fun to play
This variant is a game that gets much notoriety, but it’s a go-to for those in the know. If you love both blackjack and poker, this game combines the two and might be perfect for you. Fire it up and see for yourself just how fun it is.