21 + 3 Side Bet: How Does it Work?

Players making 21 and 3 side bet in roulette.

21 + 3 is two games in one: you play a standard game of blackjack while playing a small game of Three Card Poker. The player uses their original two cards and a dealer’s up card to make a ranking three card poker hand. Thus, you can stand to win a sizeable amount of money if fortune falls in your favour.

How to Make the 21 Plus 3 Blackjack Side Bet

Before the cards are laid out, when you are placing your wager, you have two choices. The first is on your blackjack bet and how much you want to stake. Making this bet is not optional if you want to continue with the Three Card Poker wager. Once the minimum amount is staked on blackjack, you have the option of making the Three Card Poker side bet.

The side bet is played before the hand of blackjack. Once the player has received 2 cards the dealer will lay down a 1 up card. These are the 3 cards used in the bet. If they total a straight flush, 3 of a kind, straight or flush then the side bet gets paid out and the hand continues as a standard game of blackjack.


Variations on the 21 + 3 Side Bet

There are variations to the game, depending on the casino you play at. A standard version will pay out with a 9 to 1 ratio for each winning hand. This is irrespective of its ranking, so a straight flush would pay out the same as 3 of a kind. If you want one that uses a sliding pay scale based on the hand, then you need to look for a game of 21 + 3 extreme.

When playing a standard game of 21 + 3, you can expect a house edge of around 13.39% This may contain variations depending on the casino you are in, which can shift the house edge from anywhere between 1.60% to 33.44%.

It has many ways in which the player can win and has a return to player of over 95% depending on which version is played.

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21 + 3: Winning Odds and Payouts

Flush – A flush contains 3 cards all in the same suit. It has 292,896 combinations with odds of 73:117. A flush will give a payout of 5 to 1.

Straight – A straight occurs when the two cards dealt to the player and the dealer’s up card run in consecutive order. For example, this may be a 5-6-7. This is irrespective of the suit. A flush has 155520 combinations with odds of 31:969. It gives a payout of 10 to 1.

3 of a Kind – These are 3 cards of the same value or face cards. When they all belong to the same suit, it becomes a suited 3 of a kind in version 7, which pays the maximum on a live dealer game of 100 to 1. A 3 of a kind on 21+3 Xtreme has 26,312 combinations with odds of 1:199. It provides a payout of 20 to 1.

Straight flush – A straight flush is the same as a flush, being that the 2 cards of the players and 1-up card of the dealer must be in consecutive order. However, for a straight flush, they must be of the same suit. A straight flush has 10,368 combinations with odds of 1:499. It also has a payout of 30 to 1.

21+3 Blackjack with Top 3

The top 3 is another propositional bet some casinos offer used in conjunction with the 21 + 3 game. You can find it on blackjack tables offering 21 + 3 that have a 4, 6 or 8 deck shoe.

Bets of this kind can only take place if both the blackjack wager and the 21 + 3 poker wager are made. It is based on a 3-card hand using the dealer’s 1-up card and the player’s 2 initial cards to form a 3-card poker hand. 3 of kind, straight flush and 3 of a kind suited get paid according to the pay table.

Winning occurs when the player’s original 2 cards with the dealer’s card combine for a winning hand. The odds are 3 of a kind suited at 270 to 1, a straight flush at 180 to 1, and 3 of a kind at 90 to 1.

Advantages of 21 + 3 Bets

For a basic strategy when playing the game, you don’t need to deviate too much from normal Three Card Poker and blackjack strategy. As decks get shuffled after each round, it does make it hard to predict what cards may come up in the side bet. The only way you can tip the odds in your favour is by utilising any casino bonuses.

One of its advantages is that it is an easy game to get to grips with, excellent for beginners who have a rudimentary knowledge of blackjack and poker. However, not all casinos will offer the game, even online, so you may need to search around for it.

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Heather Ferris is the CEO & Founder of Vegas Aces, with over 15 years of experience in the casino industry. She’s also an adjunct professor at UNLV, as well as a table games consultant. Heather has been writing articles and making videos about the casino industry for a decade and her marketing business helps new table game inventors break into the industry.

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