Side bets are quite common in the game of blackjack, whether you play at an online casino or the brick and mortar variety. One of the reasons for the popularity of side bets is that players (incorrectly) see them as an easy way to win extra money. Another reason for their popularity is that casinos know that they are an easy way for the casino to take more money, since the house edge for the side bets are usually higher than on the regular game of blackjack. They also provide a sense of variety for the players who like to mix things up.
One of the more popular side bets at online casinos and land-based casinos is the royal match bet. This side bet, like with the perfect pairs side bet, only concerns the first two cards dealt to the player. In this bet, the player wins if the first two cards are in the same suit (an “easy match”) and gets a higher payout if they are in the same suit and one is a queen and the other a king (a “royal match”).
It’s really that simple. So what are your odds? There are two different common pay tables for this blackjack side bet, which I will call Pay Table A and Pay Table B. Pay Table A, which is more common, pays 2.5:1 for an easy match and 25:1 for a royal match. In Pay Table B, which you don’t see quite as often, the casino pays 3:1 for an easy match and 10:1 for a royal match. Players have a 23.2% chance of drawing an easy match and a 0.3% chance of drawing a royal match.
As you can see, Pay Table A pays slightly less for an easy match but significantly more for a royal match. However, since easy matches are much more common, Pay Table B is a much better deal. In fact, if you’re playing with 4 or more decks, there is actually a player advantage for this side bet (which is why the first pay table is more common at casinos).
The house edge for this blackjack side bet varies greatly depending on the number of decks in pay, for obvious reason. The more decks are being used, the more cards there are. The more cards there are, the more pairs are available to draw. Therefore, though the house edge for the regular blackjack game increases as the number of decks increases, your odds in the royal match side bet are the best in an 8-deck game.
In Pay Table A, there is a 10.85% house edge with one deck, an 8.32% house edge with 2 decks, a 7.07% house edge with 4 decks, a 6.67% house edge with 6 decks and a 6.46% house edge with 8 decks. In Pay Table B, there is a 3.77% house edge with one deck and a 0.82% house edge with 2 decks. With 4 decks, there is actually a player advantage of 0.63%. There is a 1.11% player advantage with 6 decks and a 1.35% player advantage with 8 decks.
Therefore, if you can find an online casino that offers the blackjack royal match side bet with Pay Table B, you should take that bet every time.