The rules for Free Bet Blackjack are played like the traditional version except for the two variations listed below. The casino uses six decks of cards, the dealer hits soft seventeen, (hand containing an ace +6) a player blackjack pays 3/2, re-split certain pairs up to four hands, and double after splitting is allowed. Here are the two variations:
Double Down Rule – A player may double down on hard totals (hands with no ace) of 11, 10, or 9 only. Doubling on other hands is permitted however by doing so the player will not receive the free bet wager offered by the casino.
After a player makes the allowable double down wager, the house then gives the player a free double wager by matching the player’s original bet with a free bet button. If the dealer wins the player only loses his or her original wager. If the hand is a push, the player keeps the original wager only. If the player wins, he or she keeps the original wager plus winnings equal to double that wager.
Pair Splitting – A player may split any pair except 4’s or 10’s up to four times. The player receives one free split wager each time, where the player’s split cards are divided into two one card hands. The player’s original wager is placed on the first card and the second card receives the free bet button. Doubling after splitting is allowed. If the player so chooses to double after the split he or she will also receive a free double wager. For the winning hands, each free bet button is replaced with real chips. For a player loss or push, the house takes back the free bet button(s).
You may wonder why all this generosity? Instead of the dealer busting with a total of 22, where the house would pay winnings to all remaining hands, 22 becomes a push. Therefore, all remaining player hands also push.
Optional Side Wager
Push 22 Side Bet – This is an optional wager where a player may bet that the dealer will push with a total of 22. If the player wins, ascending payouts are made depending on the cards. Here is the pay table:
Suited Dealer 22 – Pays 50 to 1
Same Color 22 – Pays 20 to 1
Any other 22 – Pays 8 to 1
The house edge for Free Bet Blackjack is about 1.0% without placing a Push 22 side wager, but jumps to almost 6% if the option is made.
Strategy for this game is simple. Besides exercising basic strategy, take advantage of every opportunity to free split and free double.