Blackjack has some of the best odds of any casino game, offering players a significantly greater chance of winning than games like roulette, craps, slots, and pretty much everything else. But not all blackjack games have the same odds and in this article we’ll look at the features that change those odds and the ways they impact on your chances of success.
Understanding Blackjack Odds
All casino games have odds, and these odds dictate how frequent wins will be. This is true whether you’re playing slots, which use in-built random number generators, or card games, which rely on strict rules and carefully coordinated moves.
There are two ways of showing the odds of a casino game. The first is known as a Return to Player average and is most commonly used on slots. Also known simply as “RTP”, this is a high percentage number, such as 97%, and tells the player how much of a return they can expect for every $100 they invest. Simply put, an RTP of 97% typically means a return of $97 for every $100 spent.
The second is known as the House Edge, and is more commonly used in online and offline cards games. The House Edge is similar to the RTP, but instead of telling you how much you can expect to win, it tells you how much you can expect to lose. A 97% RTP, for instance, can also be written as a 3% house edge.
Basic Blackjack Odds
Blackjack has some of the best odds of any casino game. It averages a house edge of just 0.5%, which is significantly less than the average of 3% to 5% offered by slot machines and the average of 5% to 6% found on roulette wheels. There are games with even better house edges and there are games with worse ones—the average typically ranges from 0.20% to 1%.
How Blackjack Odds are Set
In its most basic form, blackjack has a very low house edge. There are a few things that can change this and push it further into the casino’s favour, but the main thing that impacts on the house edge is the number of decks used.
A game of blackjack can be played with anywhere from 1 to 8 decks, although in practice it’s rare to find games played with more than 6 decks. The fewer the decks, the lower the house edge will be, with each additional deck increasing the house edge slightly.
If there are no other factors at play, a single deck game of blackjack will return a house edge of 0.17%, while a 2 deck game returns odds of 0.46% and an 8 deck game offers 0.66%. There is significant growth from 1 deck to 2, but the growth slows down beyond that, with a minimal 0.02% growth from 6 decks to 8.
Side Bets and Special Features
There are a few other things that can impact on the game’s house edge that don’t form part of a standard game of blackjack:
- Exposed Cards: Games like Double Exposure Blackjack show both of the dealer’s cards at the same time, giving the player a better idea of how strong their hand is compared to the competition. This significantly reduces the odds when compared to other special games of blackjack.
- Switch Blackjack: This variant of blackjack lets the player play two hands at once and switch the cards in those hands as they please. There are other features in this game that increase the odds slightly in the house’s favour, but this feature helps to tip them a little more in the player’s favour.
- Perfect Pairs: This is a very popular side bet that lets players stake an additional amount of money in order to win a sizeable sum if they match a pair of cards. However, while it looks like a promising bet, it has a very low chance of return and the player will lose many more times than they win.
How to Beat Blackjack Odds
Blackjack is one of the only casino games played against the house that can actually be played professionally. The casino knows this, but they don’t care, because for every professional player ready to give their dealers a real challenge, there are hundreds of have-a-go casual players ready to give-up their weekly wages.
If you want to beat blackjack on a consistent basis then checkout these top tips:
- Look for Bonuses and Perks: All online casinos have bonuses and all offline casinos have perks. These can reward you for regular play and even give you free chips to start with. The best way to make a profit is to use someone else’s money.
- Play the Right Game: Take a look at the blackjack house edge information discussed in this guide and use that knowledge to look for the best games with the lowest house edge. Look for fewer decks, fewer side bets, and more dealer exposure.
- Use Strategy: There are strategies for all gambling games and everyone has their own idea of what works and what doesn’ The beauty of blackjack is that there is only one true strategy and everyone agrees that it works. It’s called Basic Blackjack Strategy and it’s based on mathematical probability. It’s easy to learn and if used properly it will keep the casino’s edge as low as possible.
- Count Cards: If you’re playing in a land-based casino or a live dealer casino, you can count cards. It’s not illegal. They can kick you out of some casinos if they suspect you, but they can also kick you out just because you’re winning a lot of money, so you might as well go all-in and guarantee a big return.
Does the House Have an Edge?
To bring this article back to the original question, yes, the house does have an edge. But they always do and they always will. The casino is not there to lose money. They are not an ATM. The gambling industry was built on hope, on players who believe that they are going to be one of the few winners, only to end up being one of the many losers.
However, if it’s played properly, as discussed above, then it is possible to turn blackjack into a profitable game. If you’re looking for a casino game that gives you a genuine chance of winning every time you put your chips on the table, a game that can be played professionally and beaten consistently, then blackjack could be that game.
Sure, the house will win when you look at the bigger picture, but you’re only a small part of that bigger picture, and there’s no reason why that part can’t be a successful, profitable one.