What is 21+3 Blackjack?
Preface: Like so many other casino games, blackjack is also available in multiple variants. A popular attraction among online blackjack players and land-based blackjack players is 21+3 Blackjack. This game brings together two popular casino card games in traditional Blackjack and 3 Card Poker. The result is the eponymous 21+3 Blackjack. This blackjack game showcases many of the traditional blackjack elements such as tactical and strategic plays, as well as the chance-based elements of 3 Card Poker.
How to Play 21+3 Blackjack?
21+3 Blackjack is best thought of as a traditional blackjack game with an optional 3 Card Poker side bet. All the lessons learned from blackjack strategy charts, blackjack odds calculations, blackjack card counting, and blackjack budgeting can be put to good use in this version of the game too. The inclusion of an optional side bet in the form of ‘+3’ relates to the 3 Card Poker element of the game. Casinofy blackjack experts typically discourage players from participating in side bets with blackjack. Recall the blackjack insurance side bet? This bet only wins 31% of the time, giving the house a much bigger edge.
In 21+3 Blackjack, the payout from the side bet is as high as 100:1 of your original bet. This means that a $50 side bet – a side hustle in blackjack – would pay up to $5,000 if it came good. As with all standard blackjack games, the same actions are available to players in the main game. These include Hit, Stand, Double, Split, Insurance, and Surrender where applicable. In 21+3 Blackjack, 6 decks of cards are typically used. It’s always advisable to validate the number of decks in use, to correlate with the required actions indicated on blackjack strategy charts.
In online blackjack games, the cards will be shuffled after every round of play. The action commences with players betting and then receiving 2 x cards face up on the table. There is no deviation from traditional blackjack in this sense. As is standard practice, the dealer will reveal 1 x face up card. This is in line with the imperfect information in blackjack games. Players are permitted to take any action they see necessary to beat the dealer’s hand total. These include the following:
- Hit – take another card
- Stand – don’t take another card.
- Split – split pairs and play multiple hands. With splitting, players can also re-split once for every split card.
- Double – double your bet size and take just 1 more card.
- Insurance – when the dealer’s up card is an Ace and players believe the dealer has blackjack. The insurance bet pays 2:1, and the size of the insurance bet is 50% of the original bet.
Once again, the objective of 21+3 Blackjack is not 21, or blackjack, it is simply to beat the dealer’s hand total without busting. All the royals and the 10s count as 10. Aces are either 1 or 11, depending on the other cards in the hand. In 21+3 Blackjack games, the blackjack payout is 3:2, not 6:5. The dealer is required to draw to 16 and stand on all 17s (hard and soft). In other words, the dealer has to keep on hitting until a hand total of 16 is reached, but cannot draw on a hand total of 17 – 21. This rule is designed to help players and dealers, why?
From a player’s perspective, there are several cards that the dealer could draw to get a better hand total than 17, including Aces, 2s, 3s, and 4s. Given that there are 4 suits, that means there are potentially 16 cards/52 cards in every deck that could potentially help the dealer to beat the player. That’s a 30.77% chance that the dealer will beat the player, but it’s also a 69.23% chance that the dealer will lose to the player. That’s why casinos require dealers to stand on 17+.
The 3 Card Poker Component of 21+3 Blackjack
Remember the +3 component of the game refers to the 3 Card Poker element. This part of the game is known as an optional bet, or a side bet. It is not mandatory, but since the name of the game is 21+3 blackjack, many blackjack players prefer to make this optional side bet from the get go. Much like other games with side bets, there is a betting box on the table for placing the +3 side bet. This bet is made at the commencement of play, not during the blackjack game. This exciting element of the game requires 3 cards to make up one of the following hand combinations:
- A Flush – all cards in the same suit, but not in order
- A Straight – all cards in sequential order, but not suited
- Three of A Kind – trips a.k.a. three cards of the same rank
- A Straight Flush – three suited sequential cards
- Suited Three of a Kind – 3 cards of the same rank in the same suit
The blackjack dealer doesn’t deal 3 additional cards to play the +3 element of 21+3 blackjack – the player’s first 2 cards and the dealer’s up card are used for this optional side bet. The payouts for 21+3 blackjack will vary from one online casino to the next, or from one land-based blackjack table to the next. It is incumbent upon players to carefully pick the highest-paying 21+3 blackjack games, for maximum return.
Of course, there are additional rules in play with this particular blackjack variant, notably that players are allowed to hit only up to 8 cards. Any 8-card player hand will beat the dealer’s hand, provided the hand total does not exceed 21. Of course, if the dealer has a blackjack that beats any player hand total, with the exception of a player blackjack in which case the result is a push.
A caveat is in order: The 21+3 blackjack game adds the optional side bet to increase the house edge in this game of blackjack. Since blackjack typically has a low house edge to begin with, the +3 component, while featuring generous payout odds, generally lowers the player’s chances of winning.