In Blackjack the house maintains the advantage simply because the player makes the first move. The amount of advantage the house has depends on a number of factors including variations in the rules. To reduce the house advantage to its absolute maximum its recommended to play all hands according to basic strategy. This brings down the house advantage to around 0.5%. there are other ways that the odds of winning can be affected.
Count the decks
Knowing the number of decks in a shoe is not only important for card counters it also determines the odds. The less decks, the more the odds favor the player. The odds increase from a single deck by almost 0.5% for 8 decks. Bear in mind that tables with less decks in the shoe may have other rule variations shifting the odds back to the house.
Rule variations that favour the player
The rule variations make very tiny differences in the house edge but they add up nudging the house edge as close to 0 as possible.
- If the dealer is forced to stand on a soft 17 as opposed to a hard 17, this plays out in the player’s favor by 0.22%.
- An early surrender can affect the odds by up to .39% depending on the dealer’s up card.
- It is very important to know what Blackjack pays and if 21 is treated the same as Blackjack. In traditional rules Blackjack pays 3 to 2. When Blackjack pays 2 to 1 the player benefits by over 2.2% in their favor. Treating a player 21 as a tie against a dealer’s Blackjack reduces the casinos advantage by .35%.
- Allowing the player to double or split without restrictions regardless of which cards does play to the player’s advantage by up to 0.23%.
Rule variations that favour the house
- Being able to split and double are two decisions that when used optimally can reduce the house edge. Looking at these margins it becomes even more clear how much importance these decisions have on your every day game play.
- The house gains a .57% advantage when it doesn’t allow splitting. Bearing in mind that a single deck adds only .48% in the player’s favor it is not worth choosing a single deck table over the ability to split.
- Even more so than splitting when a player is not allowed to double the odds swing over to favor the house by a massive 1.48%. Not being allowed to split or double can severely disadvantage the player by 1.91%.
- A casino that denies the player the ability to double after a split adds .12% to the house edge.
There are a number of side bets that are commonly offered in Blackjack with a very high house edge but a very tempting payout ratio. One of the benefits of playing at a table offering many of these side bets is that it’s often combined with a very low house edge set of rules.
The most common side bet in Blackjack is the insurance bet essentially insuring the bet against a dealer Blackjack. With odds of about 9:4 of the dealer getting Blackjack, this small bet adds 12% to the house edge.
This is a bet that the first 2 cards will be a pair and can pay returns up to 30:1, which is tempting. However, this bet tacks on a little over 7% to the house edge for making this bet to a game that favors the house by less than half a percent.
Extra payouts for landing a 7 in your hand. The ideal of course is to land 3 suited 7’s, not only does this get you to 21 but it also has a massive payout of 5000:1. Despite the temptation to go for such a big win the house edge on this bet is over 11%.
Many casinos have been criticized for offering lower odds for getting Blackjack, how would you like to receive 15:1? And it only gets better from there paying even better for an ace king of spades combination. The only trouble with this version of Blackjack is that the house edge jumps from 0.5% right up to over 6%.
Keep the odds in your favour
This is a small section of only some of the Blackjack side bets available and while there are more, the common thread is simply that regardless of how tempting the reward seems to be, the odds are so far skewed in favor of the house that it is best to steer clear of side bets completely. The next best thing you can do it to play basic strategy even when you feel you are on a losing streak.