The Safe Bet in Blackjack

Introduction

One of the things that makes the game of blackjack exciting is the wide range of variants available. One thing about a standard blackjack game is that the payouts are not high enough compared to some other popular gambling games like slots. What adds to the fun and also ensures higher payouts in a game, apart from the standard blackjack payouts, are the side bets possible within a game. Not all side bets work for all games; one side bet that is worth taking a look at is the Safe Bet side bet.

As mentioned earlier, not all side bets are available in all blackjack variants. This is true of the Safe Bet side bet as well. It is found in the standard blackjack game from Dragonfish, a well-known provider of casino software to online casinos. As the name suggests, this bet gives a player a safety net: he can win money even if he doesn’t have a very strong hand.

The Safe Bet side bet works on the first two cards of the player’s hand. The game has the same card value as in any blackjack game.

  • The cards from 2 to 10 are valued at face.
  • The cards Jack, Queen, and King have a value of 10 points each.
  • The Ace is a dual-value card – 1 and 11. The player has the luxury of choosing the value depending on his hand.

Safe Bet Rules

The following are the basic rules that apply to the Safe Bet side bet.

  • The player can use the Safe Bet side bet on a single hand or more hands if the game is a multi-hand variant.
  • The Safe Bet side bet works only on the first 2 cards of a player’s hand.
  • The player wins the side bet if his first 2 cards have a total low value of 12, 13, 14, 15, or 16.
  • The player cannot win this bet if his hand has an Ace.
  • The player cannot win this side bet if his hand has 2 identical-value cards.
  • The payout for this bet is 3 to 2.

Playing the Safe Bet Side Bet

The Safe Bet side bet works quite simply.

  1. Place the original blackjack wager by placing the chips on the slots provided at the table.
    1. If the player is playing just one hand, he places the original bet on the slot meant for the hand he wants to play.
    2. If the player is playing multiple hands, he places the original bets on the slots for the hands he wants to play.
  2. The next option is to place the Safe Bet side bet.
    1. The player places the side bet on the slots provided on the table.
    2. He can place the side bet on a minimum of one hand.
  3. The deal is completed once the cards are dealt.
    1. The player gets 2 cards per hand, both face up.
    2. The dealer gets two cards.
      1. The first card is dealt face up.
      2. The second card is dealt face down.
    3. Once the deal is complete the player chooses from the options below to complete his hand:
      1. Hit: The player picks another card, and continues to do so to get close to 21 as possible without busting.
      2. Stand: The player refrains from picking a card as he has a hand that is 21 or close enough to 21. This is a safe option also if the player’s hand total is one where the probability of going bust is high. E.g. a hand valued at 17 or above.
      3. Double down: The player doubles his initial wager and then picks an additional card to strengthen his hand. After picking the additional card he stands.
      4. Split: The player splits a hand containing 2 cards of identical value. Each split hand is then played separately, with an individual wager for each. Re-splitting is allowed in some games.
    4. Some games offer the Insurance bet if the dealer’s open card is an Ace.
    5. Once the player completes his hand, the dealer plays his hand, choosing to hit or stand.
    6. The hand with the higher value is the winner.
    7. The player wins the Safe Bet side bet if his original hand has a total value of 12, 13, 14, 15, or 16.
      1. The Safe Bet side bet does not work on an original hand that is a pair.
      2. The Safe Bet side bet pays out 3 to 2 to the player if he wins.

House Edge When Using the Safe Bet in Blackjack

The house is high when the player uses the Safe Bet when playing blackjack whenever it is available. There is variation in the house edge depending on the number of decks used. It increases progressively as you increase the number of decks. The following table shows the house edge for the Safe Bet side bet in blackjack based on the number of hands.

Number of Decks House Edge
1 6.49%
2 7.39%
4 7.84%
5 7.93%
6 7.99%
8 8.06%

Analysis for the Safe Bet in Blackjack

We analyze the Safe Bet side bet in blackjack below. The basic assumption for the analysis is the game uses a 4-deck shoe of cards.

Game Result Payout Possible Combinations Probability Returns
Win 1.5 7,936 0.368636 0.552954
Loss -1 13,592 0.631364 -0.631364
Total 21,528 1.000000 -0.078410

Strategy when Using the Safe Bet in Blackjack

The Safe Bet is a side bet, and there is not much one can do in terms of strategy when it comes to use it. You would need to formulate your options of using this bet based on the number of hands you want to play and also the number of decks the game uses.

As the above table shows, the house edge increases with an increase in the number of hands. That is not all; the house edge is already high for this bet compared to what it is for a regular game without this side bet. Depending on the number of decks, it varies between an already-high 6.49% to 8.06%.

That makes one thing clear: this is not a bet to opt for if the player is on the cautious side and is careful about not too much. A win also pays just 3 to 2, though that is not a bad number at all. The 3 to 2 payout across multiple hands makes it a good option to use once in a while.