Introduction to Blackjack Odds
Preface: Blackjack is a popular casino card game with a relatively low house edge. In fact, when players implement basic blackjack strategy, it is possible to reduce the house edge to as little as 0.5%. Those odds make blackjack one of the most player-friendly casino games to play. There are many facets to blackjack odds, including a choice between 6:5 blackjack tables, and 3:2 blackjack tables. This in-depth Casinofy guide provides detailed analysis of blackjack odds for the casual, intermediate, and expert-level blackjack player.
Blackjack is a casino card game played between a dealer and a player. Unlike poker, players don’t need to compete against one another in pursuit of blackjack paydays. This reduces the complexity of blackjack, since all of the action can be focused squarely on the dealer’s up card, and the decisions taken by the player in an attempt to formulate the strongest-possible blackjack hand. It is worth emphasizing that blackjack is any 2-card hand including an Ace and a 10-value card totaling 21. A 3-card hand, or more, that equals 21 is not blackjack, and it is actually considered weaker than Blackjack.
Understanding Blackjack Odds: The House Edge and the RTP
In blackjack, like any casino game, the house has a definite edge over the player. Were this not the case, casinos would fold and cease to exist. The reason the house always wins in all forms of casino games is simple: the true odds are different to the payout odds. In blackjack, the house edge of is around 0.5% +/-, depending on a player’s skill level. On the one end, a poor blackjack player who does not implement basic blackjack strategy, card counting, or bankroll management techniques will invariably play at a distinct disadvantage. The types of players have the worst cards in blackjack – giving the house a 2% edge.
Now let’s take a look at how the number of decks in play affects the house edge:
- 1 deck of cards – -0.03% house edge
- 2 decks of cards – +0.25% house edge
- 4 decks of cards – +0.38% house edge
- 6 decks of cards – +0.42% house edge
- 8 decks of cards – +0.44% house edge
*These percentages are calculated on the proviso that it is a 3:2 blackjack game, with a dealer draws to 16 and stands on soft 17s. Additionally, the player is allowed to double on any two cards and up to 4 hands can be split.
From a practical perspective, a house edge of 0.5% means that a player will lose $0.50 for every $100 that is bet over the long term. A 1.50% house edge indicates that a player will lose $1.50 for every $100 that is bet over the long term. These are theoretical concepts that hold true over millions of blackjack plays. However, it is important to point out that over the short-term it is entirely possible for a player to lose 100% of his/her bankroll during a blackjack session, even if perfect playing strategy is implemented. Luck can work for you, or against you in any casino game. Players have 0% control over the precise cards that they will be dealt, or that the dealer will be dealt. The best advice is to implement effective blackjack strategy to mitigate the effect of variance on your game.
Which Blackjack Games Have the Lowest House Edge?
Atlantic City Blackjack tends to be regarded as the blackjack game with the lowest house edge at approximately 0.42%. Provided the game is played with a 6-deck pack of cards, it is usually the most player-friendly blackjack game. Other blackjack games with comparable house edges include the following:
- Spanish 21 Blackjack – house edge of 0.37%
- Multiple Action Blackjack – house edge of 0.42%
- Pontoon Blackjack – house edge of 0.45%
- Blackjack Switch – house edge of 0.58%
- Double Attack Blackjack – house edge of 0.61%
- Vegas Downtown Blackjack – house edge of 0.62%
- Three Card Blackjack – house edge of 2.10%
Blackjack Payout Odds
There are 2 specific types of blackjack payouts available to players – 3:2 and 6:5. Nowadays, it is rare to find many 3:2 blackjack tables available, although this is preferable. For every $100 bet on blackjack, a winning result will pay $150 at a 3:2 blackjack table. However, that same $100 bet will only pay $120 and a 6:5 blackjack table. The difference in the blackjack payout odds makes a substantial difference to a player’s profitability over the long-term. Every time you pick a 6:5 blackjack table – inadvertently or not, you give the dealer an additional 1.4% house edge.
There are other blackjack rules that affect payouts. These include insurance and surrender options. As discussed in our comprehensive blackjack insurance guide, this is a sucker bet. Avoid insurance bet at all costs, except into particular cases: you are an expert card counter and it pays to take the insurance bid based on the cards on the table, or you’re trying to protect a high-stakes bet that you have already placed a table. In any event, the blackjack insurance bet will only pay 31% of the time. That’s because 4/13 cards in every suit are 10-cards. The other 9/13 cards are less then 10 and will result in a loss for players. With the insurance bet in play, the dealer’s house edge shoots up to 7.4%. Experts routinely caution against making any of these optional bets in blackjack.
The surrender option is an enticing prospect to players who believe their hand stands little chance of winning against the dealer. With the surrender option, you forfeit 50% of your bet this can save you considerable amounts of money over time. Unbeknownst to many players, the surrender rule can be extremely valuable. It is worthwhile surrendering if you have a hand total of 16 and the dealer’s up card is a 10. The rules of play will determine whether an early or late surrender is possible. Remember: in blackjack, the dealer is required to hit on any hand total of 16 or less, and the dealer must always stand on 17-21. This is not the case with the player. You can hit or stand on any hen total you feel comfortable with in blackjack.
Always pick a blackjack game with payout odds of 3:2 over 6:5. Additionally, try to play as few decks as possible; games like Classic Blackjack and Atlantic City Blackjack are preferable. If your hand total does not include any aces and is valued at 17-21, stand. If your hand total includes aces and is valued at 19-21, stand. It goes without saying that you should always hit if your hand total is 11, and never split 5s or 10s. There are some other rules that can help to increase the odds at the table. For example, avoid playing blackjack at a land-based casino that uses a continuous shuffling machine. Equally important – never play blackjack when you’re not of sound mind. These tips will help to boost your game every time.