The Basic Blackjack Rules
The basic rules of blackjack remain in Free Bet Blackjack. This means that a player must try and get as close to 21 as possible, without exceeding and going bust. If a player’s hand is stronger than the dealer’s hand, they win the round. Number cards are worth their face values, all picture cards (Jack, Queen and King) are worth 10 whilst Ace is worth either 1 or 11. Thus, to form Blackjack the player or dealer must land an Ace with a 10-value card. This is the strongest hand.
A Round of Free Bet Blackjack
In Free Bet Blackjack, before a round starts, the players must set their stakes for each position they play at, plus an optional side bet. In online Free Bet Blackjack, every player is dealt the same hand, but can play it any way they please. In a land-based casino, each player is dealt their own hand. Once all bets have been placed, the dealer will serve two face-up cards to the player and receive one face-up card and one face-down card themselves.
At this point, should the dealer’s face-up card be an Ace, the player will have the option of placing an Insurance bet. This costs half the player’s initial stake and pays 2:1 – essentially offering money back in case the dealer has a Blackjack. If the dealer does not have Blackjack, the player will have the following options:
- Stand – The player does not wish to take any more cards and remains with the hand they are dealt.
- Hit – The player takes an additional card. The player can hit as much as they like but must try not to go bust by exceeding 21.
- Double Down – The player doubles their bet and takes on an additional card – just like in regular blackjack. However, in Free Bet Blackjack, the player will have the chance to Double Down without having to pay if they are dealt a hard 9, 10 or 11 (a hand that does not contain an Ace).
- Split – The player splits their hand – provided they are dealt two cards with the same value. Unlike in standard blackjack, Free Bet Blackjack allows players to split without doubling their bet – so long as the cards they split are not 10-value cards.
Free Bet Blackjack Dealer Rules
At the end of a round, the dealer must reveal their face-down card. If the dealer’s hand is worth 18 or higher, they will always stand. Likewise, if their hand is 16 or lower, they will always hit. The rules governing 17 are slightly more complicated, as they may vary depending on the casino or version of Free Bet Blackjack you are playing.
Typically, most online games of Free Bet Blackjack will see the dealer stand on all 17s. Land-based casinos will differ, as usually the dealer will hit on a soft 17 (a hand with an Ace) and stand on a hard 17. You may find different rules regarding the action a dealer takes on 17, so it is better to read the rules before you start playing.
Free Bet Blackjack Pays-Outs
In Free Bet Blackjack, the payouts are similar to standard blackjack payouts. All winning hands pay out even money at 1:1, whilst Blackjack pays 3:2. In some versions of the game, Blackjack pays 6:5. The other important thing to keep in mind is that in Free Bet Blackjack, if the dealer lands 22, the round ends as a push, unless the player has Blackjack.
Free Bet Blackjack Side Bets
Most Free Bet Blackjack games will offer a variety of side bets. The most standard ones on offer are the Any Pairs and 21+3 side bets, but some variants will also have Hot3 and Bust It side bets as well. Let’s take a look.
Any Pairs is a side bet that is placed on the player’s two initial cards. If the player’s cards are a pair, they will win the side bet. The standard pay-out for the Any Pair side bet is 8:1 for a mixed pair and 25:1 for a suited pair.
21+3 is another side bet that is usually offered, which requires the player to form a poker hand using their two initial cards and the dealer’s face-up card. Typically, 21+3 will pay 5:1 for a Flush, 10:1 for a Straight, 30:1 for Three of a Kind, 40:1 for a Straight Flush and 100:1 for a Suited Three of a Kind.
Hot3 is offered on some variants of Free Bet Blackjack and requires the player to form combinations using their two initial cards and the dealer’s face-up card. If the three cards can form a total of 19, 20 or 21, or are three 7s, the player will win. Hot3 pays even money for 19, 2:1 for 20, 4:1 for an unsuited 21, 20:1 for a suited 21 and 100:1 for three 7s.
Bust It is the final side bet that Free Bet Blackjack tends to offer and it all depends on how the dealer goes bust. If the dealer busts on three cards, the player is paid at 1:1. If the dealer busts on four cards, the player receives a 2:1 payout. Busting on five, six or seven cards sees the player receive 9:1, 50:1 or 100:1 respectively. Lastly, if the dealer busts on eight or more cards, the player will receive a 250:1 payout.
Free Bet Blackjack Basic Strategy
Free Bet Blackjack becomes easier to play when you follow basic Blackjack strategy charts. These charts show you the best decisions to take depending on your cards and the dealer’s face-up card. Once you become accustomed to using strategy charts, playing Free Bet Blackjack with basic strategy becomes second nature. Ultimately, there are three main rules that you should follow.
The first one is that you should always split a pair (other than a 10) as a free bet, unless you have a pair of 5s. With a pair of 5s, it is best to take a free bet Double Down. The second rule is to always stand on a pair of 10s. The third and final rule that must always be followed is to Double Down if you are dealt a hard hand of 9, 10 or 11.
You should always follow the three rules above, regardless of the dealer’s face-up card. In addition, there are several rules for soft hands and hard hands. Soft hands are hands that have an Ace, hard hands are hands without an Ace. Follow these rules for each:
Always Hit if your hand is worth 13 to 15.
Double Down if your hand is soft 16 and the dealer has a 6, otherwise, simply Hit.
Double Down if your hand is soft 17 and the dealer has a 5 or 6, otherwise Hit.
Stand if your hand is soft 18 and the dealer has 2, 3, 4, 7 or 8, otherwise Hit.
Double Down if you have a soft 17 or 18 and the dealer has a 5 or 6.
Hit if you have a soft 18 and the dealer has a 9, 10 or A
Stand if you have a soft 19 or above.
Always Hit if your hand is 8 or lower.
Stand if you are dealt a 12 and the dealer shows a 5 or 6, otherwise Hit.
Stand if you are dealt a 13 and the dealer is shown a 3, 4, 5 or 6, otherwise Hit.
Stand if you are dealt a 14, 15 or 16 and the dealer’s card is 6 or lower, otherwise Hit.
Always Stand on a hard 17 or above, no matter what the dealer has.