The House Edge in Blackjack (Facts You Need to Know)
Published on Sunday, December 5th, 2021, Updated on Monday, March 21st, 2022
Whether you enter a traditional or an online casino, one of the first games that will grab your attention is the Blackjack. And this has been the case with numerous gamblers ever since the game was created. But why is Blackjack such an attractive option in the casino? What makes the game so interesting is that players have their destiny in their hands when they play Blackjack.
Aside from many other casino games where players rely only on luck, they can impact their win rate and results when using the proper strategy and understanding the Blackjack world’s mechanics. But before they even get to that, players have to know how significant the casino’s house edge is when it comes to Blackjack. That’s the only way for Blackjack enthusiasts to understand why they follow a particular strategy, improving their results.
What Is Blackjack?
Without a doubt, everyone connected in any way to the gambling industry has heard of Blackjack one way or another. But there might still be some players who haven’t played the game and don’t even understand its rules. At its surface, Blackjack is a straightforward card game with a very defined goal.
Players get into a battle with the dealer and just need to end the round with a better hand to conclude a win. There might be more than a few players in a single Blackjack table, but all of them are against the dealers’ hand. That said, the game can’t be compared to some of the most advanced strategy games like poker, where players go against one another.
In Blackjack, every player receives two cards, while the dealer ends with only one. This is an advantage for players because they see the power of their hand, as well as the first hole card of the dealer. This allows them to make the best decision, considering every particular situation.
However, even with advantages like this, it’s not enough for players to have an easier path to winnings. The reason for that is the house edge that every casino had in the Blackjack table. But we will learn more about that in the following lines.
Blackjack Main Rules
You already understand that each player gets two cards, and everyone can see the first hole card of the dealer. But what are the main rules of Blackjack you should know, and what makes you win a particular hand? The main goal at the Blackjack table is to get exactly or as close as possible to 21 points. If you get 21 points, you are winning automatically. The game of Blackjack is straightforward because of its easy-to-remember point system. Every new player can get the hang of the game and play freely immediately after a few hands.
Every number card brings points that correspond with its shown number. For example, if you draw a seven, you get seven points. Aside from that, every picture card will bring you 10 points. However, if you get two cards that bring 10 points, you automatically go to 21, and you win the particular round, claiming your winnings.
This is one of the exceptions you have to remember. In case you get an Ace, you can easily switch it for 1 or 10 points. There are also rare instances in which you get two cards with the same value. In that case, you can do two different things. You can easily decide to play the specific hand with these cards. However, you will eventually learn that sometimes it’s better to split these two cards and play them like separate hands.
After you get your two cards, you have two main options you can choose from. If you are not happy with the strength of your hand, and you are almost sure that the dealer will end with a better hand, you might have to hit “Stand” and draw one more card.
The great thing about Blackjack is that you can draw as many cards as you want until you are satisfied with the strength of your hand. However, you should keep in mind that you automatically lose to the dealer if your hands’ points go above 21. This is the risk you take, and that’s why you have to be very careful when deciding to draw more cards.
If you end with a hand strength of 18 or 19, the best decision for you will be to “Stand” with your hand, which will automatically give an end to your activity in the round, and you will have to see what is the dealer hand, ultimately deciding if you will win or lose. The good thing in situations like this is that the dealer must draw cards until he gets a better hand or goes above 21 and loses.
These were the main rules that you will have to keep in mind when playing Blackjack for the first time. Some casinos even have a double-up option that you can activate any time, when you are satisfied with the strength of your hand or when you draw the same cards. Of course, this can’t be possible if you make Blackjack with your first two cards.
What Are the Odds of You Winning in Blackjack?
Generally speaking, when talking about the different casino games, we can say that the house edge can go up to 29%-30%. But don’t worry if you are not too familiar with what house edge is. We will explain everything in detail. If a particular casino game has an advantage over players of 20%, this means that mathematically players will get back 80% of all their wagers in the long run. This might sound a bit stressful and harsh, but you should know that the situation is very different regarding Blackjack.
What makes Blackjack unique is that the game has many different versions, but at its core, the house edge doesn’t change that much because there aren’t too many changes that the game of Blackjack can implement successfully. That said, you can expect the house edge when playing Blackjack to be roughly around 2%. This means you will return approximately 98% of your wagers in the long run. Looking at that objectively, this should come as fantastic news for most players that want to enjoy a fun gambling experience.
But we also have good news for the players who want to engage in Blackjack gambling solely to realize some winnings. If players apply a proper strategy, they can reduce the house edge even as down as 0.2%. This might not seem significant, but if you can return 99.5% percent of your wagers in the long run, you can quickly get into a groove and register a fantastic winning streak.
In that case, you can cash out on your winnings, making your strategy and approach a massive success. But as we briefly covered, for this to happen, you need to understand better how house edge work, especially when it comes to Blackjack.
16 Things You Need to Know About Blackjack House Edge
To get to the level where you can take the fruits of your work and make your strategy a success, you will need to understand every little detail about the house edge that the casino has over you at the Blackjack table.
After going through the following 16 crucial things, you will learn about Blackjack house edge, you can consider yourself an expert, and after some actual practice, you can begin your adventure at the Blackjack table. That said, let’s get right into it.
- What Exactly Is House Edge in Blackjack?
We already touched upon this, but basically, the house edge in Blackjack shows what amount of your total wagers you will get back in the long run. As we mentioned, if a particular Blackjack game has an edge of 2%, you will get back 98% of your bets as long as we are talking about an extensive period.
You can’t possibly expect to return around the same number if you have been playing only a few hands. You can either get much more significant returns or not be so lucky and end up with a few wager amounts in the red. This leads us to the next crucial point about house edge we have to mention.
- Can We Measure the House Edge Over A Few Hands?
You might get exact numbers for what you can get on average from a particular Blackjack game, but they mean nothing when it comes to only a few hands. It’s incredibly challenging to calculate the house edge over an extensive period, but this is impossible for a few Blackjack hands or even a whole daily session. That’s because the results of casino games like these fluctuate significantly.
That’s evident if you apply a particular strategy, for example. You might be playing the same way a few days in a row but end up with entirely different results in terms of winnings. This is because there is something called variance, which is something you can’t escape as a wagering enthusiast.
But it would be best to consider this variance as your ally because you wouldn’t be able to realize any winnings without it. After all, how could this be possible if you are getting only 98% of your invested funds, even after only a few hands?
- Comparing The Blackjack Edge to the Edge in Other Casino Games
You should already know that Blackjack is one of the most user-friendly games regarding the house edge over players. But some of you may be wondering how it compares to some of the other most popular casino games. As you have already learned, the average house edge across the different Blackjack types is around 2%.
If you have been playing Baccarat, you will enjoy a house edge of only about 1.2%. The situation with the thrilling Roulette is different, though – 2.8% for the game with one zero, and more than 5% if the Roulette table has two zeros. On the other hand, slot machines are an entirely different beast.
You can find slots with a house edge as low as 1%, while games with a house edge are also available that can go as high as 10%. Video Poker is the same story. There are tables with a house edge as low as 0.5%, while you can also come across Video Poker tables with a house edge of around 10%.
This is why it’s crucial to be careful about the versions of a casino game you play and use proper strategies to get that advantage to the absolute minimum.
- Blackjack House Edge When Using a Simple Strategy
We stressed a lot about how you can influence your win rate and the house edge on the Blackjack table when using a strategy. However, your impact also depends on the type of strategy for a particular Blackjack table. For example, if you use a simple strategy, you can’t expect excellent results unless you don’t get into a prolonged winning streak, but this is not as likely.
But you should know that the basic Blackjack strategy includes understanding the game’s core values and how to exploit certain spots. In other words, if you make the correct decisions like stand if your hand strength is over 17, split the cards if you have two 8s, or hit if your hand is very weak, you can say that you are already implementing basic Blackjack strategy.
Still, as this is not too advanced, you can expect to reduce the house edge just a little bit. If the edge of the particular Blackjack table you play is 2%, you can maybe decrease it as low as 1.5% or even 1.25% in some cases. This is very good, but the real opportunity presents itself when you are using a more advanced Blackjack strategy.
- Blackjack House Edge with an Advanced Strategy
By using an advanced Blackjack strategy, you can skyrocket your win rate and leave the Blackjack tables with significant winnings much more often. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Implementing a simple strategy is an excellent way to reduce the house edge, and it’s elementary. But doing the same with an advanced system is a much more challenging task. An advanced strategy can be considered an extensive game plan that you can follow in almost every situation.
On top of that, you should have information about specific situations where you can slightly break that plan to adjust to a particular hand. An example of a strategy like this will be counting cards and implementing different adjustments when necessary. But knowing the information and the process is not quite enough. You should understand it so well, so you don’t make even a single mistake.
With these game plans, even the slightest confusion can lead to the fall of the strategy. This is the most significant downside of the advanced Blackjack strategy, which is why there aren’t so many players keen on gaining that considerable edge. But is it worth it to go to such lengths?
Well, if you successfully implement an advanced Blackjack strategy, you can expect to decrease the house edge to as low as 0.2% sometimes. This means you will get over 99% of your total amount invested, which is an incredible payout. As we mentioned, that way, you are much more likely to get into a winning streak and close particular sessions with fantastic results.
- How To Possibly Get the Edge in Blackjack?
Some players might not be keen on implementing different strategies to gain an edge over casinos. However, we have bad news for enthusiasts like these. Unfortunately, implementing even a basic strategy is the only way you can get the edge. And this is not only Blackjack but also in every other casino game.
It would be best if you understood that taking a basic strategy into action doesn’t require that much effort but will drastically increase your chances of success. As a matter of fact, as players that don’t want to invest that much time and effort, getting into a basic Blackjack strategy is one of the best options you can choose.
- Is House Edge Fixed for Every Blackjack Situation?
If you have been paying close attention up until now, you should already understand that the Blackjack house edge is fixed, but for long periods. As the house edge in Blackjack can’t possibly be calculated for shorter periods, we can confidently confirm that the house edge is not fixed for every hand you play on the Blackjack table.
The high variance of games is the sole responsible factor for this. As we already once mentioned, if the house edge in Blackjack was fixed for every situation, you were going to take back, let’s say, 98% of your wagers after every hand, which is impossible, considering the game rules.
- More Decks Equal More House Edge
Previously in the article, we pointed out that the Roulette with two zeros has a significantly higher house edge over players. The situation is the same with Blackjack when there are more than one decks in play. The reason is simple. When there are more decks, the chances of you getting a better hand are worse.
After all, there are many more number cards in the decks, which bring you fewer points. And by increasing the decks, the casinos automatically increase the number of worse hands you can get. All this results in a much more significant house edge.
That’s why you should never choose a Blackjack table that has more than one deck in play. Even if you use the proper strategy, you won’t be able to get great results. And on top of that, it will be much more challenging.
- You Get the Edge If You Double Down After Splitting
Splitting in Blackjack can sometimes be a bit of a controversial topic. That’s because there are no two identical situations when you enjoy the game.
However, after extensive research, we can say that it’s more beneficial to double down after splitting your cards, especially if they are 8s, 9s, or 10s.
This can increase the edge you get on the particular hand by 0.2% or even better, which is significant.
- Using The Option to Surrender Lowers the House Edge
There are some speculations that surrendering from a particular Blackjack hand decreases the house edge of the casino. In practice, this is true because you have the option to forfeit your hand, getting back half of your original stake.
It will always be profitable to get the worst hands out of the way in the long run because you can rarely realize a win with them. The problem with this is that not many Blackjack tables offer the “Surrender” option.
And the ones that do have a higher house edge because of other factors. That’s why you should also be very aware of that when choosing a Blackjack table for your gambling experience.
- Lower Payout of Blackjack Means Significantly Higher House Edge
Playing on a Blackjack table that offers a lower payout when you draw a “Blackjack” is one of the worst things you can do. Generally, in the majority of Blackjack games, getting exactly to 21 points pays out 1:1.
In other words, you will double your stake. But some games will pay out around 95% on top of your stake. This might not seem significant, but the truth is that “Blackjack” is one of the most crucial and frequent outcomes you can come across in this game.
And when the casino starts to pay out less than double your stake, in this case, the house edge goes through the roof and can increase a few percent, which now makes sense why there are tables like these.
- Blackjack With Ante Has Much More Edge in Favor of the House
Similar to the reasons we mentioned in the previous points, every single part of the bets and payouts you have, in particular, has a significant impact on your winnings in the long run. Some Blackjack tables require an ante on every hand you play.
At first sight, this ante is not something significant as it’s either $0.50 or $1, but if you play with lower bets, like $10, you lose 10% of that every single hand before even playing.
This is why your potential winnings will take a significant hit, as the ante will turn even a proper strategy into a losing one. We recommend never to play at a Blackjack table with an ante, and if you do, it better be to have some fun.
- The House Edge In Video Blackjack Is Higher Than On Live Tables
It should be common sense that every video casino game has a much more significant house edge than the live versions of the same games. That’s because when casinos have a video game, they can control the outcome much easier.
Or rather, we should make sure that they won’t make any mistakes across the whole length of the rounds. While if you are playing live Blackjack, many different factors get into play. For example, the dealer can make a mistake, which will give you an edge in the particular edge.
There might be unnecessary slowed hands, allowing players to make better decisions and many other factors like that. As a result, while the average house edge of live Blackjack is around 2%, the one at the video Blackjack tables can go well over 3%.
- You Can Still Lose in the Short Run Even If You Are a Profitable Blackjack Player
You should already understand that the variance has the last word about whether you will leave the table with winnings or significant losses.
As we stressed out a few times in the article, your winnings are not guaranteed even if you are playing a perfect advanced strategy.
In the long run, it’s a different story as you will always bear fruits from the proper approach, but when it comes to the results of a few hands, you can’t have any expectations.
- Online Blackjack Games Could Have the Lowest House Edge
The video Blackjack tables can provide players with the worst house edge they can take advantage of. The general online Blackjack games can prove to have the lowest house edge that players can ever exploit.
Why is that? Well, there are quite a few different factors that impact the house edge one way or another.
And some Blackjack tables have been created explicitly, so players have the best chance of realizing some profits. That’s why when you go online, you can find Blackjack tables with a house edge of even less than 1.5%.
These tables include the best features and flexibility you can use to the fullest. So the only thing left for you is to dive deep into these games and crush the games with proper strategy.
- Only Video Poker Has Lower House Edge Than Blackjack
Some claim online that Video Poker is the only casino game with a lower house edge than Blackjack.
Generally, Video Poker is a game that can reach a shallow house edge, creating an excellent environment for players who want to win. However, this claim is not as accurate as you may think.
If we come across the Video Poker games with the lowest house edge, we can find individual options where the casino’s edge is only around 0.25%. This is incredible, and after reading this, you might think that the question is settled. But this is not the truth.
However, there are Blackjack games with a house edge of around 1%, or a bit less sometimes.
If you take the Blackjack game with the lowest edge and apply a proper strategy, you get to a house edge even below this 0.25% that the Video Poker games provide.
In other words, if you maximize your options when it comes to playing Blackjack, you will get a laughable house edge that will rarely prevent you from making the bank gains you want.
Playing Blackjack – Is it worth it? (Conclusion)
So, is playing Blackjack worth it at all? The answer to this question depends on what you are looking for precisely, and the time you are ready to invest in playing the game. Without a doubt, the Blackjack games are very entertaining, and you can easily enjoy them just for the sake of gambling and a good experience.
However, with their shallow house edge, you can exploit that fact by applying a simple strategy and turning yourself into a winning player. This won’t take too much of your time, but you will still need to understand house edge a bit better than anyone else, so you don’t make unnecessary mistakes at the tables.
On the other side of that, you can put as much time as possible into learning one of the advanced Blackjack strategies, which will almost guarantee you will make significant profits in the long run.
But you must understand that to pull this off, and you will need to play perfect strategy day in, day out. The variance will also play a significant role in how much you are winning, so you will need the mental toughness to go through the bad beats until you eventually profit.
But all in all, no matter what your goals are with Blackjack, it remains one of the most popular casino games in the industry, consistently providing players with some of the most thrilling gaming experiences.