Blackjack is one of the most popular games in casinos worldwide. This simple card game has been around for centuries and has evolved over time to become one of the most exciting games in the casino. One of the reasons why blackjack is so popular is because of the house edge. So let’s explore what the house edge is, how it works in blackjack, and what it means for the player.
What is the house edge?
The house edge is a term used to describe the mathematical advantage that the casino has over the player. This advantage is built into every casino game and is calculated based on the rules of the game and the probabilities of the outcomes. The house edge is expressed as a percentage, and it represents the percentage of every bet that the casino expects to win over the long run.
For example, if a casino game has a house edge of 5%, it means that the casino expects to win $5 for every $100 that is wagered on that game. This doesn’t mean that every player will lose 5% of their money every time they play. Instead, it means that over the long run, the casino will win approximately 5% of all the money that is wagered on that game. You can read our full guide on house edge at the casino here.
How does the house edge work in blackjack?
The house edge in blackjack is dependent on a few different factors. First, it is dependent on the rules of the game. Different casinos and different blackjack tables may have slightly different rules that affect the house edge. Some of these rules may include how many decks of cards are used, whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17, and whether players can surrender or double down.
Second, the house edge in blackjack is dependent on the player’s strategy. Blackjack is one of the few casino games where the player can use strategy to affect the outcome of the game. By using basic strategy, which involves making mathematically correct decisions based on the player’s hand and the dealer’s upcard, players can reduce the house edge to as low as 0.5%.
Finally, the house edge in blackjack is dependent on the skill of the player. Skilled players who can count cards can further reduce the house edge to as low as 0.2%. However, card counting is a difficult and controversial technique that is frowned upon by many casinos.
Examples of the house edge in blackjack
To illustrate how the house edge works in blackjack, let’s look at a few examples.
- Example 1: A single deck blackjack game where the dealer stands on soft 17 and players can double down on any two cards. The house edge for this game is approximately 0.17%.
- Example 2: A six-deck blackjack game where the dealer hits on soft 17 and players can double down on any two cards. The house edge for this game is approximately 0.62%.
- Example 3: A six-deck blackjack game where the dealer hits on soft 17 and players can’t double down after splitting. The house edge for this game is approximately 0.67%.
As you can see, the house edge can vary significantly depending on the rules of the game. It is important for players to understand the rules of the game before they start playing, as this can have a significant impact on their chances of winning.
Blackjack Variants and House Edge
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world, and for good reason. It’s easy to learn, exciting to play, and can offer players some of the best odds of winning when compared to other casino games. However, not all blackjack games are created equal. Each variant of the game has its own unique set of rules, which can significantly impact the player’s odds of winning. Let’s look at the house edge when playing different blackjack variants.
Classic Blackjack, also known as Traditional Blackjack or 21, is the most basic form of the game. In this variant, the dealer must stand on a soft 17, and players are allowed to double down on any two cards and split pairs up to three times. The house edge for Classic Blackjack is typically around 0.5%.
European Blackjack is similar to Classic Blackjack, with the main difference being that the dealer is dealt only one card face-up at the start of the game. This variant is popular in Europe and has a lower house edge than Classic Blackjack.
The house edge in European Blackjack is typically around 0.39%, making it a good option for players who want a slightly better chance of winning. However, the lack of the dealer’s second card can make it more difficult to use certain strategies, such as doubling down.
Atlantic City Blackjack
Atlantic City Blackjack is played with eight decks of cards and allows players to double down on any two cards and after splitting. The dealer must stand on a soft 17, and players can split pairs up to three times. In addition, players can surrender their hand and receive half of their bet back. The house edge for Atlantic City Blackjack is typically around 0.36%.
Double Exposure Blackjack
In Double Exposure Blackjack, both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face-up. This gives players an advantage, as they can see the dealer’s hand and make more informed decisions. However, to compensate for this, the game has several other rules that increase the house edge. For example, the dealer wins all ties except for a natural blackjack, and players can only double down on hard 9, 10, and 11. The house edge for Double Exposure Blackjack is typically around 0.69%.
Spanish 21 is a variant of blackjack that is played with a Spanish deck, which is a standard deck of cards with all of the 10s removed. This gives the casino an advantage, as the absence of 10s reduces the player’s chances of making a natural blackjack. However, Spanish 21 has several other rules that benefit the player, such as the ability to double down on any number of cards and the ability to surrender at any time. The house edge for Spanish 21 can vary depending on the specific rules, but it typically ranges from 0.4% to 0.8%.
Blackjack Switch is a variant that allows players to swap cards between two hands. For example, if a player is dealt a 10 and a 6 in one hand and a 5 and an Ace in the other, they can switch the 6 and the Ace to create a hand of 10 and Ace, and a hand of 5 and 6.
The house edge in Blackjack Switch is typically around 0.6%, making it a favorable option for players who enjoy strategic gameplay. However, the ability to switch cards can also make the game more complex and difficult to master.
The house edge is a fundamental concept that all casino players should understand. While the house always has an advantage over the player, the house edge in blackjack can be reduced significantly through the use of basic strategy and card counting. By understanding the rules of the game and using the appropriate strategy, players can increase their chances of winning and enjoy a more enjoyable and profitable gaming experience.