# Betting the ‘Set’

Dec 27, 2005 1:57 AM

I never know how to write an article for sidebets. I can describe the game and go through all the math. I can present the facts of the game. But since most sidebets pay so poorly, I can’t really recommend playing them.

So, sometimes, I feel a little guilty for even writing about them. I have to remind myself that for 99% of my readers, gambling is simply a form of entertainment. I can present you with the numbers, but in the end, you have to decide for yourself if a game with a low payback will bring you enjoyment.

As I’ve frequently stated, games with no strategy will have lower paybacks. The casinos cannot rely on player mistakes to increase their hold, so they make sure the game’s payback is considerably higher than the base game, which includes strategy.

Sidebets for blackjack fit this mold. Of course, it’s very hard to beat or even meet blac kjack’s payback, potentially at 99% or higher. At the same time, blackjack has a relatively low level of volatility. Most hands are played at a single unit wager, and occasionally you split or double down risking additional money. Barring a hot streak, it’s very difficult to achieve a big win while betting small. Blackjack sidebets are alluring to players because they offer them a chance for a big win with a small wager.

Bet the Set 21 is no different. It is a very simple and straightforward sidebet. If you are dealt a pair, you win. If you are dealt a suited pair, you win more. It doesn’t matter what the dealer has, not even blackjack. You can win anywhere from 10- to 25-to-1, depending on your hand and how many decks the game is playing with. Let’s take a look at some of the math behind the game.

Bet the Set 21 has three different paytables depending on the number of decks being used. Different paytables are required for different numbers of decks because the probability of a pair or a suited pair changes significantly as the number of decks change.

As the table shows, there is no such thing as a suited pair with a single deck. The paytables are shown in the accompanying table.

Bet the Set 21 Paytables

Single Deck Double Deck 4, 6 or 8 Decks

Pair 15 10 10

Suited Pair N/A 25 15

Calculating the payback of each of the above paytables is relatively easy. We can use combinatorial math to determine how many of each type hand can occur, or we can create a simple computer program to run every possible hand. Both will yield the same results. When we do this, we find a wide range of paybacks between the different paytables, and even within the paytable, depending on whether we play 4, 6 or 8 decks. The paybacks are shown in the chart.

Decks Payback Win Rate

1 94.12% 5.88%

2 89.32% 6.80%

4 86.96% 7.25%

6 89.39% 7.40%

8 90.60% 7.47%

of decks increase. The frequency of suited pairs increases even more dramatically, from 0% for 1 single deck game to 1.69% for an 8-deck game.

As I stated earlier, I can’t recommend playing sidebets like this. I can only recommend that you learn the games before you play. Good luck, happy holidays and a happy new year!

a winning hand increases. This is because it is more likely to be dealt a pair as the number of decks increase. The frequency of suited pairs increases even more dramatically, from 0% for 1 single deck game to 1.69% for an 8-deck game.

As I stated earlier, I can’t recommend playing sidebets like this. I can only recommend that you learn the games before you play. Good luck, happy holidays and a happy new year!