One of the appealing things about blackjack is that there are a number of variations for the standard game that can keep things from being too repetitive. One of those variations is the side bet, of which there are countless combinations. One popular side bet is perfect pairs.
The perfect pairs side bet is common in casinos in Australia and London as well as online casinos. This blackjack game is simple. You play everything else like the traditional blackjack game. However, if you choose to do so, you may also place a side bet on whether or not you will draw a pair in your first two cards. Any pairs after that mean nothing; only the first two cards for this side bet count.
There are three types of pairs that you might draw in this blackjack game. The first is the “perfect pair,” which is two identical cards, such as two ace of clubs. The second type is called a “colored pair,” which is two cards that match in rank and color, such as an ace of spades and an ace of clubs (both suits are black). The third type of blackjack pair is sometimes called a “mixed pair” and other times called a “red/black pair.” This is a pair that matches in rank but is opposite color, such as an ace of hearts and ace of spades.
There are three different pay tables that are common for the perfect pairs blackjack side bet. These examples show your odds when playing with 8 decks. While the house edge for the general game of blackjack increases as the number of decks increases, the house edge on the perfect pairs strategy actually decreases. That is because the more cards there are, the more pairs exist.
In the three common pay tables, a perfect pair pays either 25:1 or 30:1, a colored pair pays either 12:1 or 10:1 and a mixed pair pays either 5:1 or 6:1. Those may sound good, but look at your probability of drawing those pairs. In an 8 deck game (these are your best odds), you have a 1.7% chance of drawing a perfect pair, a 1.9% chance of drawing a colored pair and a 3.9% chance of drawing a mixed pair.
Because of the low probability of drawing those pairs, the house edge on the perfect pairs side bet ranges from 3.37% to 7.95% with 8 decks. If you think those are bad, the perfect pairs side bet has a house edge up to 26.2% when playing with 2 decks. Compare that to the 0.5% house edge for the regular blackjack game and you see how bad your odds are with this side bet.
Most online casinos allow this side bet simply for that reason: It is an easy way for the casino to take your money. Therefore, play this side bet if you wish, but you should realize that the odds are stacked against you.