War Blackjack Side Bet: Rules and Strategy

War Blackjack is an interesting combination of the card game War and then standard Blackjack, with the War game being played based on the first card of each player versus the dealer’s first card.  War Blackjack was the 2013 Raving Table Games Conference Best New Table award winner at the annual Las Vegas Convention.  Shortly after winning this prestigious award, long time slot machine distributor AGS purchased the rights to the game in 2014 to help them delve into the Table Games market for the first time.

How to Play War Blackjack

There are no paytables in War Blackjack.  The basic play rules make the game very easy to learn, but also exciting to play due to the fact that if the player wins their War bet, they have the option to either take the winnings and original bet as a win and continue playing standard blackjack or have the dealer add the winnings to the original blackjack wager, while keeping the original War bet amount.  This is an amazing feature because this decision is made after knowing the players first card and the dealers up card.  This is the only game on the market that basically allows a player to cap or add money to their blackjack bet after the game has begun.  So for example, if the player bet $20 on the main blackjack bet and $10 on the War bet and received a Jack as the first card compared to a 6 for the dealer up card.  The player could choose to take the winnings of $10 and the original bet and just continue to play as normal.  Or, the correct way to play it would be to have the dealer add the winnings of $10 onto the original blackjack bet, making it now a $30 blackjack bet instead of $20.  The original War bet is then pushed back to the player.  Who would not want a 50% increase in their blackjack bet anytime they had a face card versus a dealer 6?

Of course, all casino games have to have a house advantage, so the way the house get the advantage in War Blackjack is that all ties go to the house.  Any matching first cards are losers.  The ranks of face cards do matter though, so two face cards are not an automatic tie.  A Jack beats a 10, a Queen beats and Jack and a King beats a Queen.  An ace is considered low in the War Blackjack portion of the game, so a King is the highest possible card.  The good thing about this rule is that even though the player loses the War bet when receiving an ace, they still have that ace to start of their regular blackjack hand.

House Advantage

The house advantage on the War Blackjack side bet is a minuscule 1.16%.  This is one of the best blackjack side bets you will find anywhere.  The strategy of when to use the winnings to add to the main bet is also very easy to remember with only 3 rules to memorize for perfect play.

  1. Never cap your bet when the dealer has a 10, face card or Ace.
  2. If the total of the player card and the dealer card when added together is 11 or more, cap the bet.
  3. The only exception to this is if the player has an 8 and the dealer has a 2 the bet should be capped.

If this side bet is available where you are and you want to play blackjack with a side bet, this is one of the best to do that with.  There is no chance of huge payouts like in Lucky Ladies or other odds based side bets, but you will have a much better chance of winning overall, or at least losing slower.

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