How to play perfect pairs in blackjack

How to play perfect pairs in blackjack

The Perfect Pairs side bet is a popular choice for blackjack players who like to add a little bit of zest to proceedings. It is widely available at our recommended online gambling sites, both in digital games and live dealer 21, and can be found at land-based casinos in Australia, Asia and the UK.

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The Perfect Pairs side wager pays out when the bettor’s first two cards are of identical rank. Pairs of the same colour or matching suits pay extra. While the basic rules are more or less uniform the world over, payout charts can vary from casino to casino.

Like all blackjack side bets, the potential rewards of Perfect Pairs come at a cost. We’ll explain how it affects the house edge and show you where to play the best Perfect Pairs blackjack games online.

How do Perfect Pairs side bets work?

Blackjack games which offer this side bet will feature an additional Perfect Pairs section next to each standard betting box. To play the wager you must place a bet in this side-bet box before the hand is dealt. In most cases the amount staked on Perfect Pairs must match or exceed the table’s minimum bet limit (e.g. if the minimum is $5, the side bet must be at least $5).

Once all bets are on the table, the hand is dealt as per usual. If your first two cards are of different face value (i.e. not a pair), you lose the side bet and the dealer claims your stake. But if you draw two cards of the same rank on the deal, you win a payout according to the Perfect Pairs pay table. Win or lose, the side wager is settled immediately.

There are three types of winning hand:

  • Mixed pair
    Two cards of the same rank but in different-coloured suits (e.g. Seven of Clubs and Seven of Hearts)
  • Coloured pair
    Two cards of the same rank and colour but in different suits (e.g. 10 of Diamonds and 10 of Hearts)
  • Matched pair
    Two cards of the exact same rank and suit (e.g. two Kings of Hearts)

As with all side bets in blackjack, the outcome of the Perfect Pairs wager has no bearing whatsoever on your regular hand. Thus, you could win the side bet and yet go on to lose the hand overall, and vice versa.

Perfect Pairs payout odds

As we mentioned earlier, the Perfect Pairs pay scheme can change depending on where you play. This is as true for online blackjack games as it is for land-based tables. All versions, however, follow the same essential premise: a mixed pair pays the shortest odds and a matched pair pays the longest.

For example, the pay table for a standard game at Crown Casino in Melbourne looks like this:

  • Mixed pair – 6 to 1
  • Coloured pair – 12 to 1
  • Matched pair – 25 to 1

On the other hand, these are the side bet returns for Microgaming’s online Perfect Pairs European Blackjack:

  • Mixed pair – 7 to 1
  • Coloured pair – 15 to 1
  • Matched pair – 30 to 1

It might seem like a silly question, but we’ll riddle you this: which of those two side games is better value for money?

How pays and decks affect house edge

As with every side wager ever devised for a real money casino game, the house edge skyrockets when you opt to play the Perfect Pairs bet. Exactly how much it hurts your chances of a long-term win depends on a number of factors – chiefly the pay scale used and the number of decks in play.

For instance, look at the two pay charts listed above. The Microgaming version looks like much better value, doesn’t it? However, that game uses only 104 cards (two decks), meaning there are far fewer winning combinations in play than the 86,320 available in an eight-deck Crown Blackjack shoe. As such, the house edge on Perfect Pairs is much higher in European Blackjack Gold (7.71 per cent) than in the shorter-paying Crown game (4.10 per cent).

Regardless of what the exact odds are, playing the PP side bet always swings the advantage further in the casino’s favour. Some people won’t be put off by that simple truth, and there’s nothing wrong with that – to each their own. But if you’ve taken the time to learn basic strategy in order to keep the house edge as low as possible, it would be utterly counterproductive to then play a side bet such as Perfect Pairs.

Where to play Perfect Pairs blackjack online

Several of the world’s leading casino software developers offer real money blackjack games with Perfect Pairs. These popular titles are available now at our top-ranked casino sites:

Our other top-rated blackjack sites are listed in the casino table at the top of this page – we recommend Raging Bull Casino as our top-rated casino site for players from United States, which has a great range of blackjack variants which can be sampled for free in practice mode or played for real money bets.