The Odds of Winning a Blackjack Game Download Blackjack
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The Odds of Winning a Blackjack Game

Definition of the Casino House Edge for the Game of Blackjack

The casino house edge is a theoretical number. It is calculated by taking all the bets made at the blackjack tables, multiplied by what percentage the casino would keep. The calculations assume that player decisions will be statistically correct when playing blackjack.

Another theoretical number is the return percentage or pay out percentage. This is how much the blackjack player's get to keep of their own bets. Simply put, the return percentage is the percentage of the bet that would be returned to the players if every blackjack play decision were statistically correct. In other words, a 95% payout rate means 100 minus 95, or a 5% house edge. For the blackjack player, this means a loss of 5% of their blackjack bets. You keep 95% of the money you walk into the casino with, and the casino keeps 5%.

The game of blackjack offers the best odds of winning for the players, but only if you are aware of the variables that affect the odds. The variables are cumulative. In other words, the standard house edge plus all the rules in your favor minus all the rules against you = the real house edge for that blackjack table.

Blackjack Strategies and Their Affect on the Casino House Edge

Blackjack players who use Basic Strategy can affect the blackjack odds to the point where they are playing almost even with the casino. It's possible to find a blackjack game with a house edge of 0.5% or less once you know what to look for and how to play your cards correctly. If you don't use a specific strategy and just play on impulse, your house edge will be in the range of 2-5% in favor of the casino. You will lose $2 - $5 of every $100 you bet. If you play Basic Strategy, the house edge is approximately 0.5%. That is one half of one percent. The casino keeps 50 cents of every $100 you bet.

The term Blackjack Conditions or House Rules refer to the specific rules in effect at a blackjack table. One casino might have several different sets of blackjack rules, depending on the blackjack table you play at. There is a wide variety of blackjack rules, and these rules absolutely affect your Odds of Winning a game of blackjack. Some casinos have more player friendly rules than others. If you study the blackjack rules that different casinos offer, often the more out of the way casinos will offer better odds to the player. For example in Las Vegas, the casinos that are most accessible to tourists are not as generous in their rules as the casinos at the edge of town where most of the locals play blackjack.

In the blackjack strategy chart below, odds with a plus are in your favor, odds with a minus favor the casino. The following odds are based on blackjack conditions using 8 decks of cards, double down allowed on the initial 2 cards dealt only, double down allowed on any total, double down after splitting allowed, and resplitting allowed up to a total of 4 hands. Possible blackjack rules include:

Blackjack RuleDescriptionEffect on Odds
Remember:
Pluses increase YOUR odds of winning,
minuses decrease them.
Double ExposureThe cards are dealt face up, including the dealer's cards. + 8.80 %
Blackjack Pays 2:1Normally blackjack pays 3:2, which means you win $15 for a $10 bet. When blackjack pays 2:1, you win $20 for a $10 bet. Good rule. + 2.27 %
Five Card CharlieA player having 5 cards totaling 21 or less automatically beats anything except a dealer blackjack, even if the dealer has a higher total. + 1.46 %
Suited Blackjack Pays 2:1Normally blackjack pays 3:2, which means you win $15 for a $10 bet. When blackjack pays 2:1, you win $20 for a $10 bet. Suited blackjack means of the same suit. + .57 %
21 WinsA player's hand totaling 21 automatically wins. + .54 %
ESR - Early Surrender (Dealer Upcard = Ace)The option to give up without playing your hand before the dealer checks for blackjack. You lose half of your bet. + .39%
Player Wins Blackjack TiesWhen the dealer and player both have blackjack, the player wins. + .30 %
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ESR - Early Surrender (Dealer Upcard = Ten)The option to give up without playing your hand before the dealer checks for blackjack. You lose half of your bet. + .24 %
Double Down on 3 or More CardsThe option to double down on any number of cards. + .21 %
LSR - Late Surrender (Any Number of Cards)The option to surrender on any number of cards after the dealer has checked for blackjack. + .20 %
Hit on Split Aces Allowed, also known as Draw to Split AcesThe option to take as many hits as you want on split Aces. Usually split Aces are allowed only one card. + .19 %
Blackjack After Split AllowedUsually if a player gets a blackjack after splitting, it is payed out 1:1, rather than a normal blackjack payout. Allowing blackjacks the full payout after splitting is a rare, but good rule. + .19 %
Six Card CharlieA player having 6 cards totaling 21 or less automatically beats anything except a dealer blackjack, even if the dealer has a higher total. + .15 %
DAS - Double Down after SplittingYou are allowed to double down even after splitting. + .13 %
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RSA - Resplitting Aces AllowedThe option to split Aces on a hand that has already split on gotten another pair of Aces. + .08 %
LSR - Late Surrender (Dealer Upcard = 10)The option to give up without playing your hand after the dealer checks for blackjack. You lose half of your bet. + .07 %
Seven Card CharlieA player having 7 cards totaling 21 or less automatically beats anything except a dealer blackjack, even if the dealer has a higher total. + .01 %
LSR - Late Surrender (Dealer Upcard = Ace)The option to give up without playing your hand after the dealer checks for blackjack. You lose half of your bet. + .00 %
Split RescueThis is the ability to surrender after splitting. + .00 %
Resplit to 2 Hands OnlyCasinos may limit how many times you can keep splitting. - .01 %
No Peek (Dealer Upcard = Ace)The dealer does not check to see if they have blackjack until all players have taken their turn. This means you might double down or split, effectively betting more, and losing more. - .01 %
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Double After Split Allowed EXCEPT on AcesYou can double down after splitting, except when you've split Aces. - .08 %
D9 - Double Down on 9-11 onlyCasinos may limit your options to double down, only allowing it on certain hand totals. - .09 %
No Peek (Dealer Upcard =Ten)The dealer does not check to see if they have blackjack until all players have taken their turn. - .10 %
No Resplitting Allowed - .10 %
No Double Down after SplittingOnce you've split, you lose the option to double down. - .14 %
No Splitting AcesYou can not split Aces, period. - .18 %
D10 - Double Down on 10-11 onlyCasinos may limit your options to double down, only allowing it on certain hand totals. - .18 %
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H17 - Dealer Hits on Soft 17Normally the dealer stands on 17. But with this rule the dealer will hit on a Soft 17 (A-6). - .22 %
No SplittingYou can not split any pairs, period. - .58 %
D11 - Double Down on 11 onlyCasinos may limit your options to double down, only allowing it on certain hand totals. - .69 %
Blackjack Pays 6:5Normally blackjack pays 3:2, which means you win $15 for a $10 bet. When blackjack pays 6:5, you only win $12 for a $10 bet. Bad rule. - 1.39 %
No Double DownYou can not double down. - 1.47 %
Player Loses 17 TiesYes, this rule exists. If the player and dealer both have 17, the player loses. - 1.87 %
Blackjack Pays 1:1Normally blackjack pays 3:2, which means you win $15 for a $10 bet. When blackjack pays 1:1, you only win $10 for a $10 bet. Bad rule. - 2.26 %
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Player Loses 17-18 TiesYes, this rule exists. If the player and dealer both have 17 or 18, the player loses. - 3.58 %
Never Bust StrategyNever taking a hit on 12 or higher. This is NOT considered to be a good blackjack strategy. - 3.91 %
No InsuranceInsurance not offered (only affects card counters, the rest of you are not buying insurance.) - .46 %
Player Loses 17-19 TiesYes, this rule exists. If the player and dealer both have 17, 18 or 19, the player loses. - 5.30 %
Mimic The Dealer StrategyAlways hit on 16 or lower, stand on 17 hard or soft, never split or double. This is NOT considered to be a good blackjack strategy. - 5.48 %
Casino SurrenderThis has a payout of 1/2 of your bet. If you have two cards totaling 20, and the dealer has a 10 showing, asking for Casino Surrender let's you win 1/2 your bet before the dealer plays out his hand. This happens only after the dealer checks for blackjack. So for a $10 bet, you would win $5. Your odds are better to actually play out your hand, so this rule is in the casino's favor. - 5.48 %
Player Loses 17-20 TiesYes, this rule exists. If the player and dealer both have 17, 18, 19 or 20, the player loses. - 8.38 %
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Player Loses 17-21 TiesYes, this rule exists. If the player and dealer both have 17, 18, 19, 20 or 21, the player loses. - 8.86 %
Assume Ten in the Hole StrategyPlay as if the dealer's hole card is a ten, and hit/stand accordingly. This is NOT considered to be a good blackjack strategy. - 10.03 %
Rule variations, odds not shown:
D8 - Double Down on 8-11 onlyCasinos may limit your options to double down, only allowing it on certain hand totals.
Double Down RescueThe option to surrender after doubling down.
Redoubling AllowedThe player may redouble his bet.
Double Down on Initial 2 Cards OnlyThis is the standard double down rule.
Double Down on 2-3 Cards OnlyThe option to double down even after taking one hit. Some tables allow doubling on any number of cards, or 2 cards only, or 2-3 cards.
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Peek AceThe dealer checks for blackjack if they have an Ace showing.
Peek Ace or TenThe dealer checks for blackjack if they have an Ace or a Ten showing.
InsuranceInsurance is a side bet made when the dealer has an Ace showing, usually totaling half of your regular bet, where you are betting that the dealer has a blackjack. See Insurance Table Below

As you can see, a blackjack game that pays 2:1 on a regular blackjack will increase your odds of winning by 2.27%, while a blackjack game in which you lose any hand where you and the dealer are tied on hands totaling 17-21 decreases your odds of winning by 8.86%. In the latter, that means that of every $100 you bet, you will lose an additional $8.86 to the casino. This demonstrates how important small rule variations become on your overall odds of winning.

House Edge on Insurance

The first rule is never buy insurance even if you have a blackjack. The ONLY exception is when you are card counting. Card counters can make insurance bets when the deck is rich in tens but if you do not count cards, don't buy insurance. The house edge for insurance favors the casino, and it is cumulative. The following chart shows the house edge on the insurance bet depending on the number of decks used, and this is in addition to the standard house edge, so you would subtract this from your odds percentage.

# of DecksInsurance Affect on Odds
1- 5.882 %
2- 6.796 %
4- 7.246 %
6- 7.395 %
8- 7.470 %

Number of Decks and the House Edge

Every time a card comes out of the shoe it changes the make up of the cards remaining. The advantage can shift from player to house depending on which cards have been played and the skill in which you play your cards. The more decks, the better the odds for the casino. The following chart shows the house edge depending on the number of decks used, and this is in addition to the standard house edge, so you would subtract this from your odds percentage.

# of DecksNumber of Decks Affect on Odds
1- 0.20 %
2- 0.35 %
4- 0.51 %
6- 0.60 %
8- 0.63 %

The House Edge Using Continuous Shuffle Machines

A Continuous Shuffle Machine is like playing with a fresh shoe with every hand. This is actually to the player's advantage unless you are counting cards. The house makes up for the lost advantage by the fact that the dealer can deal about 20% more hands per hour. This means that the house's advantage is increased by sheer volume of hands dealt. For the player, this means that your losses will be greater. If the house edge is 95%, you are losing $5 for every $100 you bet. If you are playing 20% more hands per hour, your losses will increase accordingly.

# of DecksContinuous Shuffling Machine Affect on Odds
1+ 1.13 %
2+ 0.63 %
4+ 0.34 %
6+ 0.20 %
8+ 0.14 %

Other Factors That Affect Your Odds of Winning

The dealer will break 28.23% of the time (based on computer simulations of millions of rounds of play. Remember that you are unlikely to see millions of rounds of play.)

A Harvard Mathematician concluded that it takes 7 shuffles to randomize a single deck of cards. Multiply that by 8 decks and you can be sure that 8 decks will not be shuffled until they are totally randomized. This changes the dealer break ratio, bringing it to a much lower percentage than computer simulations calculate.

The difference between seat 6 and 7 is about .05% (seven being better for those counting cards). You will lose about .05% per seat as you move toward seat 1. The difference between seat 1 and 2 however, is .16%.

Counting cards will increase your odds of winning. However, casinos routinely ban card counters, even though it is not illegal.



ABOUT THE GAME OF BLACKJACK AND POKER

The History of Gambling

The History of Blackjack

The History of Poker

Blackjack Tutorial

Blackjack Terminology

Counting Cards

The Odds of Winning

The Men Who Beat Las Vegas Blackjack

Gambling Inventions

Blackjack Legends and Strange Casino Tales







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