Despite the title of the, ‘Game,’ Perfect Pairs Blackjack is neither perfect not is it an actual game of Blackjack. Perfect Pairs Blackjack is a game based on a player’s starting two cards (in the case of an actual Blackjack game) being of the same rank, or alternatively, the player’s only two cards being of the same rank if the player is playing the Perfect Pairs bet as a separate game.
Perfect Pairs can be presented as its own game, or alternatively, it can be presented as an optional side bet to the base game of blackjack. This game is typically found in online casinos, but it can also sporadically be found in brick-and-mortar casinos around the world. However, in these brick-and-mortar casinos, it is usually not presented as its own game and would typically require a bet on the Blackjack base game in order to play Perfect Pairs as an optional side bet.
The game is essentially a dice roll for a chance at winning a few times your bet over, and not even a particularly good one, considering single-zero Roulette is a better bet than most variations of Perfect Pairs. In any event, the goal is simply to be dealt a pair that are of the same suit, the same color, or are not of the same color.
The Rules do not change from one variation of this game to another with exception to the payouts and how many decks are used. In terms of the basic rules of the game, a suited pair (such as fours of spades) would pay the best, an off-suit pair of the same color (one four of spades and a four of clubs) would pay the second best and an off-suit pair of different colors would be the lowest paying hand. All other hands lose.
The payouts vary from game to game with the house in question deciding how much it wants to pay for each result. An off-color pair, for example, usually pays 5:1 but can pay 6:1 sometimes. Just because the off-color pair pays 6:1 does not make it a better paytable, necessarily, as it also matters what the other possible winning hands pay in order to determine an overall house edge. The number of decks is also relevant.
Assuming that there are eight decks, of the known paytables, the House Edge can range from 2.1687%-7.9518%, the latter of which is horrendous with the former being somewhat reasonable for a side bet. With other numbers of decks, I will now present the other House Edge ranges based on the payouts:
Six Decks: 4.1801%-9.9678%
Four Decks: 8.2126%-14.0097%
Two Decks: 20.3883%-26.2136%
A player might be curious why the returns for Perfect Pairs get worse with fewer decks when, given the same set of rules, the standard game of blackjack has a better return-to-player and the answer is the same, ‘Effect-of-removal!’
Let’s look at just one example, here, and we’ll assume that a player has started with an Ace of Spades and has made the Perfect Pairs bet. The rest of the paytable is irrelevant because we are just going to look at probabilities. In an eight-deck game, there would be seven other Aces of Spades left, eight Aces of Clubs and sixteen Red Aces out of 415 remaining cards:
Ace of Spades: 7/415 = 1.6867%
Ace of Clubs: 8/415 = 1.9277%
Red Ace: 16/415 = 3.855422%
The above reflects the deck composition for those cards that would result in a player win, however, a two-deck game would have one Ace of Spades, two Aces of Clubs and four Red Aces out of 103 cards remaining:
Ace of Spades: 1/103 = 0.9709%
Ace of Clubs: 2/103 = 1.9417%
Red Ace: 4/103 = 3.8835%
While the probabilities of the lower end pays are slightly better, that does not compensate for how much the removal of the first card hurts the probability of the second card rendering a Perfect Pair. Just for an example, we will use the 25-15-5 (best) paytable to illustrate:
(.016867 * 25) + (.019277 * 15) + (.03855422 * 5) = 0.9036011
(.009709 * 25) + (.019417 * 15) + (.038835 * 5) = 0.728155
Now, we will look at the, ‘Value,’ of losing:
.9036011 – (384/415) = -0.02170010481
.728155 – (96/103) = -0.20388383495
As you can clearly see, the eight deck game is significantly better than the two-deck game given the same set of rules because the probability of hitting a, ‘Perfect Pair,’ is far less in the two deck game.
This side bet should not be played, but if you absolutely insist on playing it, at least make sure that the shoe has eight decks.
I would only recommend playing Perfect Pairs, either as a base game or a side bet, if you really really just hate money. Not only does this game come with an unjustifiably large house edge given how simple it is and how quickly it is resolved, but compared to the house edge of the game, the potential payouts are not even that high! Many Video Poker games, single-zero Roulette (in most cases) and some slot machines are probably better than this game depending on the paytable this game is using, and they also offer the potential for larger payouts as a multiplier of the wager.
This side bet can be found at PlayTech powered casinos as an optional bet of their, ‘Perfect Blackjack,’ game and can perhaps be found elsewhere. The House Edge on the Playtech version of the game is slightly north of six percent, in other words, pretty appalling. Double-Zero (a.k.a. American) Roulette is better than this side bet.
Side bets in Blackjack are sucker bets absent any sort of card counting and otherwise basically without any exceptions. The, ‘Perfect Pairs,’ bet is certainly not an exception to this rule and it should be completely avoided. Players who play Blackjack generally do so because of the extremely low house edge (generally under 1% if Blackjack pays 3:2) and making a side bet such as this would completely defeat the purpose of playing an otherwise good game. If you need the potential for a bigger payoff in order to get excited about a game, rather than eating such a huge house edge, just learn Video Poker.