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Is Free Bet Blackjack Better Than Regular Blackjack? A Detailed Guide

To clearly answer the question right up front – no, overall regular blackjack gives the player better odds than Free Bet Blackjack. The house edge is lower in most standard blackjack games compared to Free Bet Blackjack. However, Free Bet Blackjack offers some compelling gameplay advantages that make it more appealing and engaging for many recreational players. So while regular blackjack gives you a better mathematical chance of winning, Free Bet Blackjack provides an exciting twist on the classic game.

As a gaming and data enthusiast, I wanted to take a deep dive into Free Bet Blackjack and break down how it differs from regular blackjack. In this guide, we‘ll look at the house edge math, strategy adjustments, and pitfalls to avoid so you can decide if Free Bet Blackjack is right for you!

What Makes Free Bet Blackjack Different?

For those unfamiliar, Free Bet Blackjack was introduced in 2018 as a new blackjack variant. It was created by Scientific Games, who develops gambling products for casinos.

Free Bet Blackjack incorporates the following key rule changes compared to regular blackjack:

  • Players receive "free" doubles and splits – no extra wager required to double down or split. The casino covers these extra bets.
  • The dealer pushes on 22 rather than busting.
  • Blackjacks only pay even money (1:1) rather than 3:2.
  • Late surrender is available. Players can surrender after the first two cards, including after splits and doubles.

The free doubles and splits make the game more exciting. But do the math, and you‘ll see the dealer push on 22 increases the house edge back in the casino‘s favor compared to regular blackjack.

Let‘s look at some example house edge percentages:

Game Variant House Edge
6-8 deck Free Bet Blackjack 0.62%
Regular 6-8 deck Blackjack 0.46%
Single deck regular Blackjack 0.13%

So in terms of pure house edge, regular blackjack gives you better odds of winning in the long run. But house edge isn‘t everything…

Why Free Bet Blackjack Might Be More Enjoyable

As a recreational blackjack player rather than a hardcore advantage player, here are some reasons you might actually enjoy Free Bet Blackjack more than regular blackjack:

Lower Variance

The dealer push on 22 dramatically reduces big swings and losses compared to regular blackjack where the dealer can bust. Your bankroll will have fewer huge drops, making Free Bet Blackjack less volatile.

Excitement of Free Bets

Not needing to place extra wagers to double down or split is both simple and exhilarating. You can take advantage of great strategic opportunities without worrying about betting more money.

Bigger Wins, Smaller Losses

The free split and double bets along with the dealer push on 22 means you‘ll experience more big wins and fewer huge losses. Free Bet Blackjack sessions are more consistently fun.

Late Surrender

Having the option to "give up" after seeing the dealer‘s upcard reduces the house edge. This is much better than early surrender or no surrender.

So while the overall house edge may be higher in Free Bet Blackjack, many recreational players are likely to find the gameplay more fun and exciting. The strategic changes also mean you‘ll need to adjust your approach…

Mastering Basic Strategy Adjustments

To play Free Bet Blackjack optimally, you‘ll need to learn the proper basic strategy adjustments:

Always Take Free Doubles

You should double down (for free) whenever the basic strategy says to. This includes soft hands like A7 vs 5 where you normally wouldn‘t double.

Split Freely When Appropriate

Always split pairs when the strategy recommends it except for 5s and 10s. The free splits make it profitable to split more hands.

Double After Splits

Since doubles are free, you can double after splits as many times as you want. Make sure to take advantage.

Double Soft 18

Doubling soft 18 becomes strategically correct in Free Bet Blackjack when the dealer has a weak upcard.

Learn Correct Surrender Strategy

Make sure to learn proper surrender strategy and know when to make this play based on the dealer upcard.

Here‘s a quick cheat sheet:

Hard Totals To Double
9 vs 2-6
10 vs 2-9
11 vs 2-9
Soft Hands To Double
A6 vs 3-6
A7 vs 2-6
A8 vs 6

Put in the time to memorize the proper strategy. It will pay off by dramatically reducing the house edge.

Avoid These Common Free Bet Blackjack Mistakes

While Free Bet Blackjack is fun, it presents some pitfalls for beginners. Be sure to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Not taking enough free doubles/splits – take advantage whenever mathematically correct.
  • Making plays based on regular BJ strategy – Free Bet strategy is different.
  • Not learning optimal surrender strategy – improper surrender hurts your edge.
  • Doubling/splitting incorrectly after splits – strategy changes from regular blackjack.
  • Betting too much too soon – master the strategy with small bets first.

Avoiding these pitfalls will help you maximize your edge and enjoyment when playing Free Bet Blackjack for real money.

Tips To Improve Your Winnings

Beyond basic strategy, here are some expert tips to increase your odds and winnings in Free Bet Blackjack:

  • Seek out 6-8 deck games rather than single deck to reduce house edge
  • Ensure the casino offers late surrender, not early surrender or no surrender
  • Start with small bets while learning proper strategy
  • Split 8s vs Ten and other non-standard splits when basic strategy says to
  • Be aggressive with free doubles on soft hands like A7 vs a 5
  • Use optimal surrender strategy – don‘t forget this important play
  • Manage your bankroll and bet size properly even with lower variance

Follow this advice and you‘ll boost your Free Bet Blackjack performance.

Should You Switch To Free Bet Blackjack?

Free Bet Blackjack offers an exciting experience, but should you switch from regular blackjack? Here are some factors to consider:

  • If you‘re a card counter, stick with regular blackjack and its lower house edge.
  • If you‘re bored with normal blackjack, Free Bet Blackjack revitalizes the game.
  • If you dislike volatility, Free Bet Blackjack‘s reduced swings are appealing.
  • If you crave simple classic blackjack, regular blackjack might still be a better fit.

For recreational players seeking a fresh take on blackjack, Free Bet Blackjack is absolutely worth a try. The free doubles/splits and surrender options reduce the house edge while making the game more engaging. Just be ready to learn the new optimal strategy. While regular blackjack offers better overall odds, Free Bet Blackjack provides an exciting way to change up your blackjack experience.

Have fun experimenting with this blackjack variant next time you‘re at the casino! Let me know if you have any other questions.