Blackjack is a great and popular game but there are limited spaces at the table. This can make it difficult to get a seat at busy times so in a way the game’s popularity creates one of its more restrictive aspects.
Of course, this isn’t an issue if you are playing a computerised version of the game alone, but in a real casino or a live casino you could be waiting a while for a seat.
Betting behind, or back betting as it is more often called in real casinos, is the solution. It allows an infinite number of players to bet on a hand that is being played by someone else while they wait for a seat to become available.
We will take you through how this works below, as well as deliberating on whether it is an option worth taking.
What is Betting Behind in Blackjack?
When a blackjack table is full you have no option but to hang around for one of the players to lose interest and vacate their seat. This would make for a pretty dull wait if it wasn’t for betting behind.
Betting behind allows you to bet on another player’s hand without actually playing the hand yourself. In reality you are betting as much on the player in control of the hand as you are on the hand itself, because they make all the decisions so your fate is in their ‘hands’ in every sense of the word.
You can bet behind as many players as you want – you can even bet behind other players if you have a seat at the table – and you can choose different stakes for each player too, but this is where your control ends. Once the cards are dealt it is the seated player who decides whether to stand, hit, split, double, etc.
This obviously has pros and cons:
- Pro – You are able to play even when the table is full
- Pro – You can benefit from a better player’s strategy
- Pro – Lower stakes are often permitted when betting behind
- Con – You have no control
- Con – Your player might make a bad decision
- Con – You can’t use strategy
There isn’t really any way to protect yourself from a bad player other than not betting on them, so if you are going to bet behind it’s a good idea to watch a few hands first and see which players seem to know what they are doing and which are just betting on a hunch.
You should also make note of the yellow trophy or star symbol next to each player’s name, it shows you how many wins they have had in a row which can be a good indication of their ability; although of course, all players lose fairly regularly so base your decision on a good number of sample hands, don’t just judge them on the first hand you see when you log in.
Splitting and Doubling
Obviously splitting and doubling is a tricky situation because it requires an extra bet.
Most game rules state that you will have to do whatever the player in control of the hand does, including splitting and doubling, unless you don’t have sufficient funds to do so.
In this situation, if the player doubles you will hit for the extra card and then stand as normal with your original stake, and if they split you will follow the hand on the right and ignore the extra hand on the left.
Some live casino providers allow you to change your settings to disable doubling and splitting, so no matter what the player controlling the hand does your stake will stay the same. Evolution is one of the providers that does this, whereas Playtech do not give you this option.
How to Bet Behind in Blackjack
As mentioned, this is an option in real life casinos as well, but since this site is all about online blackjack we will focus on how betting behind works in a live casino.
Take a look at the image below:
This is mid game and you can see the seated players’ current hand values in black circles, then their bet amount, followed by their usernames and win record underneath. The two players on the left also have side bets on, and the green + indicates the player is hitting while the red x indicates that they are standing.
This table is full, and seats work on a first come first served basis, so you can just hang around and wait for one to become vacant at which point it becomes a fastest finger first situation – if you click on the empty seat before anyone else then it’s yours for as long as you want to keep betting.
Once seated you can skip a hand or two, but you will be kicked off sharpish if you are inactive for too long.
While you are waiting, your only option if you want to gamble is to bet behind, and you can do this by clicking the aptly named area below each player’s chips. You don’t have to bet the same amount as the person in control of the hand (sometimes this amount will be hidden, you can toggle this option in the settings), and you can bet different amounts behind different players too.
After that it’s just a case of watching and hoping that a) your luck is in and the cards fall in your favour, and b) that your player understands basic strategy and doesn’t make any rookie errors.
Some live blackjack games also have side bets such as perfect pairs, 21+3 etc.
These are optional but can only be used if you also have a bet behind on the main game. You just need to select your bet amount and click on the correct area to place your bet.
These side bets are all about luck so the player in control of the hand has no real influence on whether they win or not.
You can totally ignore them if you like, and some game developers even have the option to turn them off so you can’t click them by mistake.
Questions About Betting Behind
Can I Bet Behind More Than One Player?
You can bet behind all of them or none of them, it’s your call. Although inactivity will cause you to be kicked from the game even if you aren’t seated.
It’s free reign though when it comes to who you bet behind and how much you wager.
What if the Player I Bet Behind Does Something Stupid?
That’s tough luck unfortunately. This is why we suggest watching a few hands first so you get the measure of all the seated players, that way you can see who plays well and who is just guessing.
If you bet behind another player you are at their mercy.
Can I Take Insurance When Betting Behind?
No. Insurance is not available to those betting behind.
It’s a terrible bet anyway and you should never do it so this doesn’t really matter.
Is Betting Behind a Good Idea?
This is subjective. It can be, but it has its restrictions as covered above. We would always prefer to be in control of our own fate, but if there is no room at the table and you see a player that you think you can trust to play sensibly then it serves a purpose.
Equally, if you are seated and see another player who clearly knows their onions you could capitalise on that and try to boost your balance double quick by betting on your own hand and betting behind theirs.