casino news

What happens if you tie in blackjack?

Profile Picture: Simon Young

Simon Young

January 21st, 2021

Blackjack scoring is nice and straightforward: if you have a higher hand than the dealer without busting, you win. If the dealer beats your score without busting, he wins.

But there is an obvious exception as to what happens if both of you have the same finishing hand. If the dealer must stand on 17, it’s possible for you to both end up with 17, 18, 19, 20, or 21.

If this happens, the result is a tie or the term you’re more likely to hear in a casino, a push. In this case, you don’t win, and you don’t lose, so your original stake is simply returned to you, and you move on to the next hand. This rule even applies if both of you make blackjack – a ten and an ace in your starting hand. That would be incredibly unlucky, but at least you don’t lose!

Depending on the casino, you might encounter a variation to the side bet rules so that you can bet on the chance that you may tie with the dealer. This option is rare in land-based casinos and virtually unheard of in online casinos.

Blackjack tie side bets

When you visit a casino, study the rules on the blackjack tables closely to see if they offer side bets. The usual bets are 21 + 3 and perfect pairs, but you want to find something like Tie, or Push, or Push Your Luck.

This will be a standard side bet, where you must place a stake in the side bet box next to your main stake. If the side bet doesn’t work out, you lose the side bet, even if you win the main hand. In the case of 21+3 and perfect pairs, you can win the side bet even though you might go on to lose the main hand.

Tie side bets will have set odds in the event of you and the dealer finishing on the same total. Something like 10 to 1 is the usual, and often you can only bet half of your main stake on this side bet. However, if you need to split your hand, you must also split the side bet. But if you double down, you will leave the side bet in place.

Specific blackjack tie rules

While the side bet we describe is extremely rare, there is another version that is rarer still. It has been seen on occasion at a Las Vegas casino, but that’s it. In this twist on the side bet rules, you do not simply bet on whether you will tie with the dealer – you can bet on the exact score that you will tie with. So, 17, 18, 19, 20, or 21.

And if that wasn’t enough detail for you, you can even choose to select more than one number at a time – even all of them.

Each of the numbers pays out differently, like so:

  • 17 tie 50/1
  • 18 tie 45/1
  • 19 tie 50/1
  • 20 tie 25/1
  • 21 tie 125/1

There is some logic to the difference in payouts. A total of 20 is most obvious since there are way more cards valued at ten in the deck (as jacks, queens, and kings are all ten). 17, 18, and 19 you are most likely to stand when you reach that total, so the odds remain similar. But the tie odds for 21 are far higher at 125/1 – specifically because players tend to stand on high totals while the dealer must stand on 17 through 20, so they are unlikely to make it to 21 unless they hit it on the nose.

A clever person with more mathematical skills than I worked out the blackjack house edge with all these side bets, and found that there is a good house edge with six decks in play (normal in a live casino).

Why, then, you might reasonably ask, don’t more casinos put on the tie side bets since they would surely make more money? It’s a good question. The suspicion is that the cost of changing felt layouts and educating players about the new side bet rule would be too high. Further, it could slow games down a little. So, while the house might make a slightly higher profit from the side bets, they might lose more by getting through fewer hands with the table.

Play blackjack today

If you have not done so already, sign up with BetAmerica Casino and experience the many blackjack games for yourself. You won’t find the tie side bets, but there are more traditional 21+3 and Perfect Pairs side bets to try. See the table rules for full instructions.

Remember to claim your welcome package when you join, and good luck at the tables!