What Is Free Bet Blackjack? An Exiting Twist on a Classic Game

What Is Free Bet Blackjack? An Exiting Twist on a Classic Game

Free Bet Blackjack is a relatively new variation of blackjack. It was created by Geoff Hall, a casino game inventor known for developing several hit casino games, such as Blackjack Switch. But, as Geoff himself admitted, Free Bet Blackjack remains his most popular game so far.

The main feature of Free Bet Blackjack is that players can double and split for free. The first casino to introduce this blackjack variation was the Golden Nugget back in 2012. The variation became an instant success among the players and quickly spread to many other casinos.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Free Bet Blackjack, including how to play it, the rule changes, and strategic tips to give yourself the best long-term winning odds.

How Does Free Bet Blackjack Differ From Traditional Blackjack?

There are a few notable differences compared to standard blackjack. The first is the free double option on all hard totals of 9, 10, or 11. When the player picks the free double option, their initial bet is matched and they receive a free bet button. They will also receive only one more card.

The free double option allows the player to win more without risking any extra money. If they win the bet, they will win double the original amount that they wagered and get their initial bet back. If they lose the hand, they will only lose their original bet instead of losing twice as much as they would in a standard blackjack game.

The second big difference compared to standard blackjack is the free split option. Players can split any pair except 10s without adding extra money. The split works like it does in standard blackjack. However, just like with the free double option, when the player splits, they don’t have to match their original wager, but instead get a free bet button next to their second hand.

Another interesting difference between standard blackjack and Free Bet Blackjack is that the latter becomes more favorable for the player as there are more decks in the game. The main reason for this is that players have more free splitting options with a six or eight-deck variation than a single-deck one.

Push 22 Side Bet

Lastly and most importantly, the dealer pushes on 22. This means if the dealer busts with a total of 22, and you have 21 or under, the result is a push, and you get your wager back. You can place a Push 22 side bet if you think that the dealer will bust with this total. The payouts for the Push 22 side bet are:

  • Dealer 22 Total With Same Suit – 50:1 Payout
  • Dealer 22 Total With Same Color – 20:1 Payout
  • Any Other Dealer 22 – 7:1 Payout

While these payout numbers might look enticing, the Push 22 side bet is generally not a good option. This is because the probability of the dealer landing a 22 total is just over 7%. Knowing this, it’s a fun bet to take occasionally for entertainment value, but it’s not a good wager to place regularly, as your bankroll would suffer.

Pot of Gold Side Bet

In addition to the Push 22 side bet, some land-based and online casinos also offer a Free Bet Blackjack side bet called Pot of Gold. This side bet rewards players with increasingly generous payouts for every additional free bet accumulated during the hand.

This optional wager is potentially even more rewarding than the previous one. However, note that the house edge jumps to around 5.7% when taking this side bet. With that in mind, here’s the rundown of the payouts for the Pot of Gold side bet in Free Bet Blackjack, depending on the amount of free bets accrued:

  • 7 Free Bets – 1,000:1 Payout
  • 6 Free Bets – 300:1 Payout
  • 5 Free Bets – 100:1 Payout
  • 4 Free Bets – 60:1 Payout
  • 3 Free Bets – 30:1 Payout
  • 2 Free Bets – 10:1 Payout
  • 1 Free Bet – 3:1 Payout

Free Bet Blackjack Rules

Most of the Free Bet Blackjack rules are similar to those in standard blackjack, so it’s not difficult for players to transition to this variation. The game is typically played with six standard decks, and blackjacks pay 3:2.

Your goal is to hit 21, or as close to it as possible, without going over that amount.

The dealer hits on soft 17. Players can take insurance, but there’s no surrender option. Additionally, players can double after splitting and resplit pairs for up to four hands. That said, players can double on two cards only.

How To Play Free Bet Blackjack Step-by-Step

Free Bet Blackjack plays very similarly to standard blackjack. But, to make sure you understand how the entire hand plays out, here’s a close step-by-step overview of how to play Free Bet Blackjack:

  1. The players place their bets for the upcoming round.
  2. The dealer distributes two face-up cards to every player in the game. They also deal themselves one face-up card and one face-down card.
  3. If the dealer’s up-card is worth ten points, they will check for blackjack. If their face-up card is an Ace, they will also offer the players the option of taking insurance.
  4. Depending on their cards, the players will be offered the option of splitting or doubling for free.
  5. The players play out their hands until they stand on their total or bust out. After this, the dealer completes their hand.
  6. The dealer compares the cards of the remaining players to their hand to determine which players have won.
  7. The dealer pays out the winning players, and a new round of Free Bet Blackjack begins.

Strategies For Free Bet Blackjack

Like standard blackjack, Free Bet Blackjack has a basic strategy you should always follow to make sure you make the right decision for every hand you receive based on what the dealer is showing.

That said, in general, the strategy is more aggressive compared to classic blackjack, as the dealer pushes on 22, which is very unfavorable for the player. To counter this, a simple rule of thumb is that you should take advantage of every opportunity for a free split or free double.

Specifically, regardless of the dealer’s hand, free double any hand total between 9 and 11. When playing with your free hand, you can also afford to be more aggressive and hit on up to 17 if the dealer’s up-card is at least a seven or higher.

To ensure optimal decision-making, it’s best to use a detailed Free Bet Blackjack strategy chart that will tell you exactly what you should do based on your hand and the dealer’s face-up card.

Pros & Cons Of Free Bet Blackjack

In order to decide if this blackjack variation is the right pick for you, it’s important to understand the most significant pros and cons of this version compared to the standard one. So, let’s go over the biggest benefits and drawbacks that mark this game.

Advantages Of Free Bet Blackjack

Free Bet Blackjack has several clear advantages, which include:

  • Free Split – Free Bet Blackjack allows splitting on all pairs except 10s. Moreover, players can resplit up to four hands.
  • Free Double – Players get a free double option and can even double after splitting without having to bet any additional money.
  • 3:2 Payouts – Another advantage of Free Bet Blackjack is that it generally offers 3:2 payouts for blackjack in most places where it’s available. This is better than classic blackjack, which typically pays just 6:5.

Disadvantages Of Free Bet Blackjack

As no casino game comes without its drawbacks, it’s always essential to look at the other side of the coin. Considering that, here are the biggest disadvantages of Free Bet Blackjack:

  • Higher House Edge – Although Free Bet Blackjack still offers a pretty decent house edge of around 1%, this isn’t as low as what you can get when playing the simplest, classic blackjack variation.
  • No Surrender Option – Like the previous disadvantage, this one is also likely a deal-breaker for advantage players looking for maximum value. Having the option to surrender and get half of your stake back is a very valuable feature for those looking to maximize their blackjack bankroll.
  • Dealer Pushes on 22 – This rule practically negates any advantage you obtain by the free split and double options, and your Free Bet Blackjack odds are evened out. This is a small but significant change, as you would otherwise win all such hands in standard blackjack.

Considering all of the above, Free Bet Blackjack is a fun and unique variant with a lot to offer. It is even a better choice than most other blackjack variations. Nevertheless, this version is still less favorable than classic single-deck blackjack for those looking for the best long-term value.

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