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.
You also need to take into consideration a number of criteria when evaluating a casino, the most important of which is that the gaming house uses accredited software guaranteeing randomness rather than tampering with the odds, if you can't physically watch the blackjack dealer shuffle the cards.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
The Odds of Winning
The Men Who Beat Las Vegas Blackjack
Blackjack Legends and Strange Casino Tales