Online casinos do their best to make playing their games as simple as possible, and they also often seek to replicate how casinos in the real world operate. By that, we mean they try to make sure the games work in exactly the same way online as they would in your local bricks and mortar establishment. This is not possible in every way, of course, but one option that has long been missing from blackjack is the facility to “bet behind”.
This way of betting on blackjack was not offered by blackjack sites in the past, even in their live casinos. Live casinos feature real dealers and croupiers, dealing real cards, spinning real roulette wheels, all relayed to the customer by live streaming. They are the most authentic way to play casino games online and are very popular for a range of reasons.
Relatively recently some live casinos have begun to offer betting behind in blackjack. If you have never been to a real casino, or even if you have, you may not be familiar with this and how it works. Luckily, we’ll explain all you need to know, starting, as ever, at the beginning.
What Is Betting Behind In Blackjack?
The concept of betting behind is simple and it basically means that you can bet on someone else’s hand. The idea probably originated from times when all the seats at a real, physical table were taken. Any impatient punters waiting on the side-lines were given the option to place bets on the hands of one of the players seated at the table. It’s great for the casino too because they can take more money in the same amount of time and without paying an extra dealer! This is called betting behind, as your physical stake is placed behind that of the active, seated player.
In most land-based casinos a maximum of two players can bet, or play as it is sometimes called, behind. Whilst their fortunes are tied to the hand, they have no say over what decisions the main player makes and simply win or lose in line with the player.
It is not just players unable to get a seat at the table who can bet behind though; a player already controlling a hand can also choose to bet behind another gambler, or other gamblers. Someone may choose to do this to take advantage of a player they feel is “hot” or lucky, or simply skilled at blackjack, whilst alternatively they may do it just in order to bet more on multiple hands. You cannot bet behind your own hand, though really there is no reason why you would need to when you could simply increase your stake.
The only things you really need to be aware of are that if you choose to bet behind, you are at the mercy of the main player. If they decide to hit a 12 to a dealer’s 6 and go bust, there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, if they decide to hit a 20 there is nothing you can do about it! You are simply placing a bet on whether they win or lose and you are paid out accordingly in exactly the same way they are.
What Happens If A Player Doubles, Splits Or Surrenders?
Having said that you have no control over what a player does when you choose to bet behind them, you may be wondering what happens should the seated player decide to surrender, split or double down. When it comes to surrendering, things are very simple and as with standard play, the fate of the player or players behind is tied to the controlling player. If they opt to surrender, whether that is a good call or not, those betting behind will lose half of their stake.
Things are slightly more complex when it comes to doubling or splitting (and re-splitting if allowed). Of course, in either situation the controlling player must increase their stake and wins more should their hand or hand beat the dealer’s. But what of a punter who is behind such a hand? Must they also throw down additional chips? Do they have any choice as to what happens? Do they still get the bigger win? Well, this is the only time someone behind may have any degree of independence to make a decision that affects their overall outcome.
In a traditional casino, the player behind usually has a choice to make in this scenario. When it comes to doubling, they are bound by the controlling player’s decision to only receive one further card but can typically opt out of doubling their stake. With regards splitting, likewise, they can choose to stick with just one hand and thus not double their stake.
Precise rules in both situations vary from one land casino to another. So some will require a player behind to double their bet as well and when it comes to splitting and some will allow players to choose which hand they want to play (before the second cards are dealt of course), whilst others will automatically assign them the first hand made from the split pair. This variation in rules is mirrored online.
First of all, as implied, not all casinos, even live dealer ones, offer bet behind at all. Those that do will have a range of minor differences including what happens with splitting and doubling, and also as to who can actually bet behind. Some sites will only allow one person to bet behind whilst others allow more. In addition, some will only allow unseated players to bet behind (whilst they wait), others will only allow seated players to bet behind other players, whilst most live dealer casinos offer both facilities.
When it comes to doubling/splitting and further staking, many casinos will automatically match the main player as their default setting. However, most have the facility to alter this, usually via game settings, and possibly specific bet behind settings. Where it is not the default option, the majority of live casinos let you select on a hand-by-hand basis whether you want to match the controlling player’s stake. That said, you may find there are some online casinos that only allow, which is to say they require, the player behind to increase their stake.
As with all casino games and promotions, it is always best to know the rules, terms and processes before you play.
When it comes to insurance, at most casinos that we know of, a player betting behind has total agency. Because the decision whether or not to take insurance is independent of the gameplay and only affects returns, the controlling player and the player behind are free to do as they wish. So, if you are betting behind a player you can choose freely whether or not you want insurance, irrespective of what the seat holder does.
Pros And Cons Of Blackjack Betting Behind
In reality, it is only a small proportion of players who will tend to use the bet behind option at a live casino, as is the case, in fact, at a land-based operation.
There are so many tables available online that it is not necessary to bet behind a lot of the time.
Whilst not all live casinos offer it at this time, the biggest live casino providers do, and it is also plausible that it could be offered for non-live blackjack too in the future.
Where it is available, is it something you should be taking up?
Here are the pros and cons of betting behind when it comes to online (or indeed offline) blackjack.
Advantages of Betting Behind
- No waiting for a seat – especially on lower stakes tables there is often a lack of availability of seats but betting behind means you can get involved with some action whilst waiting for a free spot
- Lower stakes – some bet behind tables have lower minimum stakes than standard tables and may not require additional stakes for splitting and doubling
- Back hot players – the idea of a player being “hot” is highly debatable to say the least but there is no denying players sometimes go on streaks. Being able to bet behind allows you to cash in if you time it right
- Excellent stats – the best blackjack sites provide good statistical info on players to help you decide if you want to bet behind them, including at the very least which player is on the best winning run
- More chances to win – allows you to play more hands and potentially win more without having to focus and concentrate on more than one hand at once
Disadvantages of Betting Behind
- House edge may be worse – you can pick your player wisely but even so, there is no guarantee they will make all the calls you want them to. Assuming you are using basic strategy, any deviation from this by your player will leave you worse off
- Lack of control – many players like the challenge of blackjack and the skill involved: if someone else is making the decisions you don’t get this
- Lose more – if things go well you can rack up wins in double quick time but equally if the dealer hits a good run, you will lose twice as quickly