Free Bet Blackjack redefines one of the most popular card games, adding an unusual twist to it. The game first appeared in Las Vegas in 2012. Fortunately, online casino players now can also try this unique game with real money, thanks to the release from Evolution Gaming with a live dealer.
Free Bet Blackjack is based on the Classic Blackjack rules. On the flip side, there is an essential difference in this game — the presence of free bets. Understanding how they work is the key to developing the right Free Bet Blackjack strategy and reducing the house edge in the long run.
Free Bet Blackjack Odds vs Regular Blackjack
According to the game specifications, the return to player (RTP) in Free Bet Blackjack is 98.45%. That’s less than in Evolution’s Classic Live Blackjack with an RTP of 99.29%.
The difference in RTP is attained because, in Free Bet Blackjack, the bet is returned to the player if the dealer’s total is 22. In Classic Blackjack, dealer’s 22 is considered a bust, so the player automatically wins unless, of course, he busts himself.
On the other hand, in Free Bet Blackjack, you can place certain extra bets for free, whereas in other versions, you would have to double your main bet to do the same thing. Free bets are an essential advantage for the player and necessary to increase your chances.
There are two types of free bets:
- Free doubling — available on all 9, 10, and 11;
- Free split — available on all pairs except 10, J, Q, K.
If you’ve played Blackjack before, you know that doublings and splits are the best way to beat the dealer.
Blackjack free bet odds are lower than of the same bets in regular Blackjack, since the dealer’s 22 is played as a push. However, in Free Bet Blackjack, you place such bets for free. Most players would agree that there is a substantial difference if you bet, for example, $500 and have to pay another $500 to double or split or can try your luck for free.
Four Types of Side Bets
Alongside the free bets, there are four types of side bets in Free Bet Blackjack. Unlike the free bets, the player pays for the side bets.
Free Bet Blackjack offers the following types of side bets:
- Hot 3 — Pays out if the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s open card total 19-21.
- Any Pair — Pays out if the first two cards form a pair.
- 21+3 — Pays out if the first three cards are Flush, Straight, or 3-of-a-kind.
- Bust It — Pays out if the dealer busts.
Side bets comprise a great way to diversify your Blackjack game. Please note that most side bets come with an RTP of 95-96%. This value is lower than the RTP of Free Bet Blackjack itself, so when using side bets, you will lose more than without them.
That said, side bets do provide an opportunity to win big. For instance, if you place a bet on 21+3 and hit the 3-of-a-kind, the payout will be 30:1. Moreover, it is not necessary for the side bet to be equal to your main bet. Thus, you can risk a small amount for a potentially significant win.
Free Bet Blackjack Basic Strategy
As mentioned above, Free Bet Blackjack is based on the Classic Blackjack rules. Therefore, the Free Bet Blackjack strategy is in many ways similar to the standard Blackjack strategy. This strategy allows you to maximize your chances in the long run and bring the actual RTP closer to the stated by the provider.
In Free Bet Blackjack, the player’s decision depends entirely on what cards were initially dealt to him and the dealer. First, you need to understand what kind of hand you have: hard or soft. If one of the player’s starting cards is an ace, this is a soft hand. All other hands are hard hands.
Playing a Soft Hand
When playing a soft hand, the following principles apply:
- Always hit on total from 13 to 15:
- Hit on soft 16 unless the dealer has 6. In the latter case, you should double;
- Hit on soft 17 unless the dealer has 5 or 6. Double otherwise;
- Stand on soft 18 if the dealer has 2, 3, 4, 7, or 8;
- Double on soft 18 against dealer’s 5 or 6;
- Hit on soft 18 if the dealer has 9, 10, or A;
- Stand on soft 19 or higher.
When playing a soft hand, the player cannot bust, so he can draw cards more freely or double up to improve the hand.
Playing a Hard Hand
Conversely, with a hard hand, the player can bust, so it should be played more carefully:
- Hit on 8 or lower;
- Hit on 12 if the dealer’s upcard is not 5 or 6. Otherwise, you should stand;
- Hit on 13 if the dealer has 3, 4, 5, or 6;
- Hit on 14, 15, and 16 if the dealer has from 2 to 6. Otherwise, you should stand;
- Stand on all hands from 17 and up.
A hard hand is less favorable for the player than a soft hand. But even a hard hand can be played rather profitably following the strategy.
Features of the Free Bet Blackjack Strategy
The main feature of Free Bet Blackjack is free bets. Essentially, the house covers the costs of your doublings and splits. Therefore, the player must take advantage of the free doubling and splitting opportunities whenever possible.
The most optimal decisions when playing Free Bet Blackjack, regardless of the dealer’s card, would be:
- Take free split of all available pairs except 5, 5. Pair of 5 must be doubled.
- Take free doubling of all available hands.
After the split, the resulting hands are played according to the standard Blackjack strategy.
Here is the Free Bet Blackjack Strategy chart that clearly shows the player’s actions with every hand.
Can I Use Card Counting When Playing Free Bet Blackjack?
Card counting used to be a highly successful Blackjack strategy to gain an edge over real-world casinos. However, modern Blackjack games played online have been optimized to eliminate any advantage from card counting. The same applies to Free Bet Blackjack.
Card counting is elementary when playing single-deck Blackjack. However, in Free Bet Blackjack, the number of decks has been increased to 8. This aspect complicates the task.
Moreover, of these 8 decks, only half of the cards are placed in the shoe. Thus, you cannot precisely know what cards got into the game, making card counting impossible.
Should I Take an Insurance Bet?
Lastly, we should note that it’s better to avoid the insurance bet.
Insurance is offered to the player if the dealer’s upcard is an ace. The insurance bet costs half of the main bet and pays 2:1 if the dealer has Blackjack (A+10). This way, the player can cover his losses in case of the dealer’s Blackjack.
While it may seem that the dealer’s ace foreshadows Blackjack, using insurance is not a good idea. In fact, with an opening ace, the dealer has Blackjack in less than one-third of the time. Thus, in the long term, insurance is a losing bet for the player.
Where Can I Play Free Bet Blackjack and Win?
The Free Bet Blackjack version played online was developed by Evolution, a leading provider of live casino games. Consequently, you can play Free Bet Blackjack at one of the numerous online casinos.
Nevertheless, if you want to get the most enjoyable gaming experience, we’d like to draw your attention to LTC Casino. LTC Casino ensures a high quality of service and fast withdrawals while supporting a wide range of live casino games.
Free Bet Blackjack is played with a common hand and an unlimited number of players. Therefore, you can join the game at any time without waiting for other players to make room for you at the Blackjack table.
Our Take: Is It Worth Playing Free Bet Blackjack?
Free Bet Blackjack is an entertaining version of the Blackjack game played online. Occasionally, it may be hard for the player to decide on doubling or splitting, especially when playing at high stakes. In Free Bet Blackjack, the casino bears associated costs, allowing the player to extract double potential from certain hands for free.
When choosing the variation of Blackjack, it is important to compare Free Bet Blackjack odds vs regular Blackjack. Indeed, the house edge in Free Bet Blackjack is slightly higher than in some other Blackjack games. Even so, Free Bet Blackjack outperforms most slots and other table games in terms of RTP.
Thus, if you enjoy playing Blackjack and have been looking for a way to diversify the game, you should definitely consider Free Bet Blackjack!