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What is a Free Bet Blackjack Table?

A free bet blackjack table is a standard blackjack table where players can double down or split certain hands without having to place an additional wager. The key benefit is you get to double your bet in favorable situations without adding more money to the table.

As an avid gamer and data analyst, I‘ve played countless hours of blackjack both online and in casinos. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll teach you everything you need to know to master free bet blackjack.

How Free Bet Blackjack Works

The rules of free bet blackjack are similar to classic blackjack with a few twists:

  • Dealer hits soft 17
  • Player can double down on 9, 10 and 11 vs any card, for free
  • Player can split up to 3 times on any pair, for free
  • 22 is a push (tie) instead of automatic dealer win

When you double down on a 9, 10 or 11, or split any pair, you do not have to place another wager. You simply get to double your bet or split into two hands without adding money. This gives you a statistically better chance to win without increasing your risk.

For example, let‘s say you bet $10 and are dealt a 10 and a 3. Against a dealer 5, basic strategy says you should double your 10. In regular blackjack, that would require adding another $10 from your stack to double the bet.

In free bet blackjack, you can double for free, keeping your original $10 on the table but getting to play with a $20 hand against the dealer. This increases your chance to win without spending more money.

The House Edge – Advantage Goes to the Player

So how much better are the odds in free bet blackjack compared to regular 21? According to blackjack expert Henry Tamburin, the house edge is just 0.61% with 6 decks in free bet blackjack.

The house edge is the built in advantage the casino has over players long term. In regular 6-deck blackjack, the house edge is around 0.75% according to Wizard of Odds.

So you gain a statistical advantage of 0.14% in free bet blackjack over the standard game. While less than 1% seems small, it adds up tremendously over thousands of hands.

One example – with $10 average bets, you will lose $7.50 per hour on average in regular blackjack, but only $6.10/hr in free bet blackjack. That‘s $1.40 saved every hour at the free bet game.

Adjusting Basic Strategy

To fully capitalize on the free bet benefits, you‘ll need to adjust your basic blackjack strategy:

Always Double Down On:

  • 9 vs dealer 2 through 6
  • 10 vs any card
  • 11 vs any card
  • Soft doubles A-8 and A-9 vs any card

Always Split:

  • 2s and 3s vs dealer 4 through 7
  • 8s vs any dealer card
  • Aces vs any dealer card (up to 3 times)

A quick cheat sheet will help you memorize the changes. Be sure to take advantage of splitting and doubling hands for free that you may have avoided before.

Side Bets – Should You Play Them?

Free bet blackjack tables also typically offer some additional side bet options:

Push 22 Bet: Wins when dealer busts with a hand totaling 22. Payout is 10 to 1.

Pot of Gold Bet: Wins when player gets a 6, 7, or 8 of the selected suit. Payouts range from 3 to 1 up to 2500 to 1 for three suited 8s.

These side bets may seem enticing, but they dramatically raise the house edge. The Push 22 bet adds 1.39% edge, while Pot of Gold carries a massive 10.23% advantage for the casino.

My advice is avoid these sucker bets. They seem exciting but will cost you big money over time. Stick to optimal basic strategy for the best odds.

Should You Play Free Bet Blackjack?

So should you take a seat at a free bet blackjack table or are there better options? Here are a few pros and cons to consider:

Pros:

  • Lower house edge than regular blackjack
  • Free double downs improve player odds
  • Simple basic strategy adjustments
  • Dealer hits soft 17
  • Late surrender allowed

Cons:

  • Limited availablity – not offered everywhere
  • No chance to count cards
  • Can only split up to 3 times
  • Optional side bets increase house edge

The player friendly rules and free bet opportunities make free bet blackjack one of the best casino choices you can find. Just be sure to learn proper strategy, avoid side bets, and manage your bankroll wisely.

Tips for Playing Free Bet Blackjack

Here are my top strategic tips for getting the most out of your free bet blackjack play:

  • Take insurance only when you have a blackjack. It‘s profitable in this rare case.
  • Avoid side bets like Push 22. These seem good but give the house a massive added edge.
  • Manage your bankroll carefully and bet the table minimum when the deck isn‘t favorable.
  • Use the free double down opportunities on 9, 10, 11 aggressively. This is mathematically the best play and reduces the house edge.
  • Refer to a basic strategy cheat sheet, adjusted for the free bet rules. Perfect strategy is a must.
  • Play at full tables. The fewer hands per hour you play, the less the house edge impacts your bankroll.
  • Card counting is impossible. But you can still watch for extra 10-value cards to determine when to bet big.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully this guide gave you a complete overview of free bet blackjack. The game‘s player-friendly rules, free double downs, and reduced house edge give you a great shot at beating the casino. Just be sure to master the proper adjusted basic strategy.

With the extra betting opportunities, you‘ll be playing more hands and enjoying more time on a casino‘s dime. So sharpen your strategy, take advantage of those free bets, and enjoy the best odds you can find in blackjack!