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Is it a good idea to do side bets (e.g. Perfect Pairs - Blackjack, Pot of Gold - Free Bet Blackjack) ever? Is it a good idea to ever take insurance or even money during the course of play? I'm asking this based on using Perfect Basic Strategy throughout the course of play.
Only one that's worked for me IRL is the wheel spin of various structures they have on some BJ tables (e.g. Kustom Kount motorcycle prize, but every spin is at least $50 on a $5 flat bet). The bet depends on getting at least one Ace dealt (even money) and getting a BJ gets you a spin. If you side-count the Aces in the shoe, there is a +EV point sometimes.
I say that as a seldom-BJ player. There are others, and people who know lots more than I do, but that's one example.
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I have heard the some side bets (and insurance) can favor the player in certain counts, but I'm not a counter.
Of course, if you’re counting cards, the count may OCCASIONALLY suggest you make those bets...
By my calculation taking even money would reduce house edge by about 6 basis points, which is a very small dent in the 6-5 edge. Bottom line is you still shouldn’t play that 6-5 game even if they pay even money insurance. My guess is that the cruise ship didn’t mean to give this little break to the players...they just don’t understand the reason and ramifications of even money. I even read of casinos that have had 2-1 and 3-1 promotions, not realizing the ramifications until they saw how quickly they began losing big $$.Quote: Joeman
One caveat would be to always take even money if it is offered at a 6-5 table. Note the only place I have seen this is on a cruise ship. But, other than that, all side bets and insurance will carry a higher (sometimes obscenely higher) house edge than the base game..
Incidentally, taking even money in a 3:2 game increases house edge by about 1 bip. In my opinion, this is one of those cases where it’s alright to go with your gut even though that may not be the highest expected return. I take even money sometimes (on 3/2, I would not be seen at a 6/5 table). It’s sort of like playing the pass line when when don’t pass has a higher expected return or standing on a hard 16 vs dealer 10. Once you get under a 5 basis point difference it’s splitting hairs. It would probably take a few lifetimes of playing for those few bips to make any discernible difference.