The Lucky Ladies side bet is a worldwide favourite amongst punters and casino operators alike. Not only is it available at land-based gambling establishments all over the globe, but also at a number of online casinos and live dealer blackjack sites.
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The rules of the Lucky Ladies side game are simple: if your first cards total 20 points, you win a bonus payout. Certain combinations pay more than others, especially those involving a pair of Queens – hence the name of the game.
How to play Lucky Ladies blackjack
The Lucky Ladies wager can be made alongside a standard blackjack bet at the beginning of the hand. This is done by placing a stake in the designated Lucky Ladies betting box, which is usually located just above or to the side of the regular wagering area.
As with most side bets, Lucky Ladies can only be made when a seated player puts up a standard wager. Otherwise, there would be no hand dealt to that area. Back betting is often allowed, so you don’t necessarily need a seat at the table in order to play the side game.
Lucky Ladies is all about what happens on the initial deal. If the first two cards total 20 points exactly, the side bet wins; if not, it loses. The bet is settled immediately, with any winning wagers paid out according to the table’s pay chart.
While the exact rules for Lucky Ladies vary from place to place, most versions feature five types of winning hand:
Queens of Hearts + dealer blackjack
Two Queens of Hearts for the player and a natural 21 for the dealer
Queens of Hearts
Two Queens, both in the suit of Hearts
Two 10-point cards of the exact same suit and rank (e.g. two Jacks of Diamonds)
Two cards of the same suit which add up to a total of 20 points (e.g. King of Hearts and 10 of Spades)
Two cards of differing suits which add up to a total of 20 points (e.g. Ace of Spades and Nine of Clubs)
Lucky Ladies payout tables
There are a few different variations of the Lucky Ladies side game. The most common alteration to the rules listed above features a payout for any pair of Queens in the top two hands, rather than requiring them to be suited in Hearts. Odds for those hands are reduced, however, due to the increased likelihood of a player win.
Below we have drawn up two common payout tables for Lucky Ladies 21. The first features the Queen of Hearts rule, while the other allows any pair of Queens.
[table id=11 /]
[table id=12 /]
House edge of Lucky Ladies side bet
All blackjack side bets come with added risk compared to a standard wager. That’s part of the fun, in the eyes of many recreational punters. However, Lucky Ladies hurts a player’s long-term odds more than most side games.
Each of the pay tables shown above carries a house edge of over 22 per cent, regardless of how many decks are used. That figure can rise above 30 per cent for games which feature only one or two decks, as fewer cards means fewer potential winning combinations.
This is how the number of decks in play affects the house edge for Lucky Ladies wagers:
[table id=13 /]
But what does a casino advantage of 22 per cent or higher actually mean?
To put those numbers in perspective, let’s say a regular real money blackjack game has a house edge of around 0.50 per cent. That means a player using basic strategy would, in the long run, be expected to lose about 50 cents (or win back $99.50) out of every $100 played through standard wagers.
However, if that player was also taking the Lucky Ladies side bet each hand, his or her expected returns would plummet from around 99.50 per cent to as low as 61.84 per cent. That’s a gob-smacking 7532 per cent increase to the house edge, which makes Lucky Ladies one of the worst-value bets in the casino.