One of the main reasons why blackjack is such a popular card game is that it offers very beneficial odds in comparison to the rest of the casino classics. Its low house edge is another aspect which appeals to many players. Generally speaking, the most beneficial casino games are the ones whose outcome can be influenced by the right amount of knowledge and a set of skills. In this aspect, blackjack is one of the most advantageous casino games as in it, an efficient preparation and strategy can really make the difference between winning and losing.
Not many other casino games give you the opportunity to make a profit in the long term while getting a first-class entertainment. While it is true that it is possible to calculate your odds and learn a strategy and this way, overcome the house edge to a huge extent, this task is not easily achievable in any case. In order to become a consistent winner, you need to fully prepare yourself and to get familiar with all aspects of the game.
Even then, there is never a guarantee that you will win a particular hand as at the end, it all comes down to the cards you will get or in other words, to your luck. However, knowing the odds of winning and the probability of getting a certain card can help you improve your game significantly and win more. In order to become a winner in the long term, you need to focus on making small but frequent profits.
As already indicated, in order to make the most of every session, you need to understand the odds the respective variant offers you. When it comes to blackjack, the odds are represented in percentage and they are used to determine your probability of winning or going bust in a particular situation. They can be defined as rather dynamic since they are influenced by a number of factors. Your odds change dramatically, depending on the rules of the game, the house edge and the number of decks in use.
Knowing your odds of busting in a particular situation or your odds of getting a blackjack can help you make better choices for your hand. For instance, if you know that you have a high chance of surpassing 21, you will refrain from hitting. This way, you will increase your chances of winning as you will make the right choices at the right time. In order to get the desired result and succeed in winning more often, you should know your odds and apply a strategy. Without a reliable plan, you are bound to lose more in the long term, even if you are familiar with the odds and with the house edge.
One interesting probability theory known as the law of large numbers partly explains why the casinos still manage to make a profit in the long term even from advantageous games such as blackjack. It shows us that the bigger picture is what truly counts. In other words, even if the casinos lose money every time a player wins at blackjack, it doesn’t really matter because their earnings are accumulated over a large number of hands. This means that regardless of how many winning streaks you get if you don’t use a strategy which reduces the house edge, you can’t do much to alter this reality.
Odds & Probability Explained
The branch of mathematics which examines the likelihood of a particular event to occur or a certain result to be achieved is called probability. As you might have already gathered, this branch comes especially handy in the gambling world as it is used for analysis related to the casino games. In order to determine the probability of an outcome, you have to use the probability formula – the number of ways divided by the number of possible events.
For instance, if you want to figure out the probability of getting an ace of diamonds, you need to take into account the fact that in a single pack of cards, there is only one such card. However, the cards in a standard deck are 52 in total which leads to the conclusion that the probability of receiving this card is 1/52. Each outcome that can possibly occur at some point during the game can be represented in a percentage that ranges between 0 and 100. In this sense, if you know the exact percentage for an event to happen, you can also estimate the probability of this event not taking place.
For example, if your chances of winning in a particular situation are 30%, you can easily draw a conclusion that you have 70% chances of losing. It should be noted that in some cases, the probabilities can be expressed as odds. Let’s imagine that you want to determine the odds of drawing a single ace of diamonds. There is only one such card in a single deck and the rest of the remaining 51 cards are not an ace of diamonds for sure. Therefore, the odds in this situation will be expressed as 51 to 1.
When it comes to blackjack odds, there are two useful terms which can help you understand the game better. Positive and negative expected win rate is used to describe the odds you have under certain circumstances during the game. There is also one more commonly used term which you might encounter – true odds. Professional gamblers refer to it when a certain wager turns out to pay out at the same rate as the probability percentage suggests.
Your ultimate goal in blackjack is to manage to form a higher total than the dealer’s but without surpassing 21 as in this case, you automatically lose. During each session, the two main options you have are hitting and standing and the right move can make the difference between winning and losing. In order to manage to make the best possible decision, it is best to use the basic strategy chart which suggests which move to make.
However, it is also a good idea to know your odds of busting so that you have a general idea of the position you are currently in. This way, you can understand the logic behind the suggested moves and remember them easier. For instance, if you have a total of eleven or less in your hand, there is no need to do the math as your odds of busting are 0%. If you happen to have a total of 12, 13 and 14 in your hand, your odds of busting are respectively 31%, 39% and 56%.
The higher the total in your hand gets, the more your odds of busting increase. If the two cards in your hand total 19 and 20, hitting might not be your best option since your odds are respectively 85% and 92%. Another interesting odds percentage which deserves mentioning is the one that concerns your probability of getting the highest paying combination – blackjack. It has been calculated that the probability of receiving an ace and a 10-valued card from the initial deal in a single deck game is 4.83% and if the game is played with two decks – 4.77%.
Return to Player
Another important term which you would inevitably bump into if you were to further seek information about your odds in blackjack is Return to Player. The RTP is measured in percentage as well and it is used to indicate the payout you will get in theory. Its percentage shows the expected return of all wagered money in the long term.
It is directly linked to the house edge and it greatly depends on it. Therefore, this factor differs from one blackjack variation to another. In general, the higher the RTP percentage is, the more beneficial a particular game is. If you know the house edge, you can easily figure out the RTP percentage the respective version offers as these two terms are interdependent.
For instance, Atlantic City Blackjack by Microgaming is played with eight decks with the standard rules and its house edge is 0.46%. In this case, the RTP is 99.64% which means that in theory if you place a $100 bet, the expected return is $99.64. However, in reality this is not the case since the RTP percentage applies to everyone. The reason why the games which offer a low house edge are more beneficial is that in them, your bankroll will last much longer.
|Variant||House Edge (%)||Return to Player (%)|
|Vegas Strip Blackjack||0.35||99.65|
|Atlantic City Blackjack||0.36||99.64|
|High Streak Blackjack||0.42||99.58|
House Edge Definition
The house edge is another concept which deserves mentioning when it comes to blackjack odds. It is basically the built-in advantage all casinos have over the players and it is the reason why they are always guaranteed a profit over long periods of time. It is used to indicate the percentage of every bet that the casino is expected to retain in the long term from the players.
For instance, if a blackjack variation has a house edge of 1%, this means that the casino is expected to get 1% of all bets that are placed on this particular game. In theory, if you wager a $100, the amount you are expected to lose will be $1 per bet. In this sense, if you manage to make 60 bets every hour, you will lose $60.
Now, let’s assume that you are playing a game whose house edge is close to 5% such as Double zero Roulette (5.26% precisely), in this case, you will lose around $300 every hour. It should be also noted that the house edge is a statistical percentage which is true only for long periods of times or in other words, for a large number of wagers. The reason why is that the outcome of every hand can be different every time, meaning that the result can be a loss, a win or a tie.
How to Reduce the House Edge
Blackjack is a card game which is famous for having a low house edge that you have the power to further reduce by using a strategy. The reason why the house edge is so important is that it directly influences your chances of winning. Therefore, the variations which have a high house edge are considered to be disadvantageous for the players. In general, most blackjack versions have a house edge which is lower than 1%, providing that you use a basic strategy.
In fact, when it comes to blackjack, it is so crucial to follow such a plan that in most cases, the house edge is calculated on the assumption that one uses the basic strategy. If you manage to apply it correctly throughout the game, you can reduce the house edge greatly and make it as low as 0.5%. However, if you fail to do so, the house edge can be significantly increased and it can reach 2%.
It is important to understand that in blackjack, the house edge is determined by the specific rules. However, as already indicated, you can greatly influence this aspect by preparing yourself in advance for all of the possible hands and situations that you might encounter during the course of the game. Unfortunately, it is not enough to know the basic strategy in order to succeed in reducing the house edge. You also need to be disciplined enough to implement its plan when needed.
Many players struggle to achieve this goal as they fail to remember its suggested moves or they simply lack the self-control that every player needs to possess in order to become a consistent winner. If you want to make the most of every blackjack game, it is really important to manage to follow the strategy all the time, even when you lose a few hands. This means that you shouldn’t deviate from it in any case in an attempt to recoup your losses as this will most likely result in more losing hands.
In order to be able to increase your chances of winning, even more, you can also learn a card counting system and some other useful tips on how to improve your overall performance on the table. Card counting is a method which is used by more advanced players as it is much more complicated because you are required to keep track of the cards on the table during the game. This method works best when combined with the basic strategy. This is the reason why you need to master the latter first before you proceed to learn a card counting system.
However, even if you are a novice player, you can still take advantage of a card counting system by simply using one which has a low level of difficulty. Card counting gives you the chance to determine the ratio between high-value cards to low-value ones. You can also use this extremely valuable information to figure out the expected average win rate per hour. Nevertheless, always bear in mind that after all blackjack is a casino game and as such, the house edge will always take its toll eventually. In order to achieve your goal, you need to focus on the bigger picture as these strategies come into effect only in the long term.
Another thing that should be mentioned when it comes to reducing the house edge in blackjack is the casino comps. Getting high-value comps is another useful technique that can help you succeed in gaining the upper hand while playing blackjack. For those of you who are not familiar with the so-called casino comps, this is simply an abbreviation for complimentary. The casino comps are perks which you receive for placing bets and playing blackjack.
Not all players get the same comps as they depend on various factors such as the amount of the bets you place and the time you spend playing. In this sense, blackjack is a great opportunity to take advantage of such perks whose value can even surpass the house edge. Bear in mind that in order to be able to receive the casino comps at the end of your session, you need to possess a Player Card which you should hand to the dealer at the beginning of the game.
There are various useful tips which you can use in order to walk out of the casino satisfied with the comps you have received. For instance, it is recommended to join a table which is already full of players as this way, your play will be much slower. The idea is to try to reduce the number of hands you play as much as possible in order to minimize your expected loss. This way, you will still get casino comps but you will be also ahead. Furthermore, bear in mind that if you manage to minimize the house edge by using the aforementioned methods, you will also get comps with a better value.
Rule Variations and How they Influence the House Edge
As already mentioned, every time the rules are changed, the house edge is directly influenced and so is your potential profit. This is the reason why every variation offers a different house edge as it features different rules. Also, bear in mind that some variations have a fixed set of rules, whereas others don’t and the casinos have the power to alter them. For this purpose, before you start playing a particular version, it is always best to consider this factor in advance.
One of the main rules which vary, depending on the version of your choice, is the number of decks included in the game. Generally speaking, the fewer decks in use, the lower the house edge is. Every time more packs of cards are added, the house edge automatically goes up. The reason why is that fewer packs mean that you have a better chance of getting a natural blackjack. For instance, if eight decks of cards are used instead of a single pack, the house edge increases by 0.61%.
Another factor which has a significant impact on the house edge is the soft 17 rule that concerns the dealer’s play. The rule whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17 varies, depending on the casino and the variation of your choice. You should look for the games which enforce the dealer to stand on soft 17 as this rule works in your favor. If the case is the opposite and the dealer must hit on soft 17, the house edge increases by 0.21%.
Whether or not you are allowed to double down or split also play a crucial role in forming the overall percentage of the house edge. In general, the more options you have for these two moves, the lower the house edge is. If you are not allowed to double down after splitting, this increases the house edge by 0.14%. In case that you are deprived of the opportunity to hit split aces or to re-slit them, the house edge goes up respectively by 0.18% and 0.07%. You should also consider the payout for blackjack. If it deviates from the standard 3 to 2, in most cases – 6 to 5, this increases the house edge by 1.30%.
|Variant||House Edge Influence (%)|
|Eight Deck of Cards||+0.64|
|Dealer Hit on Soft 17||+0.21|
|Forbidden Double Down after Split||+0.14|
|Forbidden Hit after Split Aces||+0.18|
|Forbidden Resplit Aces||+0.07|
|6/5 Blackjack Payout||+1.30|