Many online casino games offer a side bet. This is especially true of casino poker based games. In some games these side bets are known as "bonus bets", whereas in other games they are given specific names. In Microgaming 3 Card Poker it is called "Pair Plus" because it pays if the player draws a pair or higher. Side bets are popular because they add another dimension to the casino game and at the same time offer a chance of winning a large payout. Despite their apparent attraction side bets should be approached with caution and beginners should understand the various characteristics of these bets.
Most side bets have a much higher house edge than the main game, and from that perspective these bets are avoidable. However there will always be players who operate on a higher risk return curve and they will be willing to take that extra risk in the hope of winning the large payouts. In some casino games the side bet is linked to a progressive jackpot that keeps on increasing until it is hit. Caribbean Stud Poker from Realtime Gaming is an example. In these games the side bets become attractive if the jackpot amount exceeds a critical value. In most casino games the side bet offers a fixed payout that has been specified in a pay table. Blackjack Perfect Pairs from Vegas Technology is one such online casino game.
Usually the side bet is optional. The online casino does remind the player through a text or voice message that this option can be exercised by the player. However in some games the side bet is mandatory and automatically placed when the player places the main bet. If the beginner is not aware of this he may find his balance depleted by an amount more than he has planned for. Hence it is essential to check this out before wagering.
In some games the outcome of the side bet is linked to the outcome of the main game. Hence the side bet can win only if the player wins in the main game. Microgaming’s Roulette Royale is an example of this. In most casino poker games the side bet pays independent of the main game. For example if the side bet pays for a flush it does not matter that the dealer has drawn a straight and the player has lost. The side bet will be settled at the specified payout. However, most casino poker games require that the player continues with the main game till the end and does not opt out. If the player folds at some intermediate stage he will forfeit the side bet. There are some games that pay the side bet up front after the player places the ante wager. Thereafter the player may decide to raise or fold as his strategy dictates. This happens in High Speed Poker from Microgaming.
The question that should players wager on the side bet needs to be answered. If new players want to occasionally wager on side bets with the complete understanding of the risks then there is no harm. However if players want to regularly wager on side bets then they should do so only in the following conditions. The side bet should lead to a progressive jackpot that has grown to an amount to make the risk worthwhile. Or if the game allows them to configure the wagering such that the side bet is only a few percent of the main bet.