House edge means the percentage of the player's bet the casino wins on average. This is worth figuring out since the size of house edge has everything to do with how likely you're to win. Educated players always find the games with the least house edge possible and therefore win the most - or at least lose the least.
For example, if house edge is 1.89%, the player loses $1.89 on average out of every $100 bet he makes. Obviously the player doesn't lose that amount on every single bet; you might win two hands and then lose six hands in a row but in the long run the loss will be about $1.89 per bet. One of the goals of Gaming the Odds is to teach you all about perfect blackjack strategy and to minimize the house edge. You can find several house edge percentages for blackjack game variations below in order to help you to find the best games.
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The Amount of Decks
Firstly, what kind of an effect the amount decks has on casino's advantage? The table below displays the house edge for a standard blackjack game: blackjack pays 3:2, the dealer stands on soft 17, doubling is allowed for any two cards and splitting to four hands is allowed.
|Number of Decks||House Edge|
Under those rules it would actually be profitable to play according to basic strategy with a single deck. It's always optimal to play according to basic strategy but in the vast majority of cases you're still going to have negative expectation.
Game and Rule Variations
Let's move on to the next table, which features other blackjack game variations and their house edges. In order to make it easier to compare these games, all the house edge percentages are for six-deck gamesunless otherwise stated.
|Atlantic City Blackjack||+0.42%|
|Double Attack Blackjack *||+0.61%|
|Double Exposure Blackjack||+0.67%|
|Multiple Action Blackjack **||+0.42%|
|Super Fun 21||+1.40%|
|Three Card Blackjack||+2.10%|
|Vegas Downtown Blackjack||+0.62%|
|Vegas Strip Blackjack||+0.53%|
* Played with a specific amount of decks (which isn't six).
** Multiple hands played but probability equal to standard blackjack.
The table above was made to give you some idea of which games are better to play than others. It's also important to remember that some casinos may operate with slightly different rules which either increase or decrease the house advantage of the game.
Blackjack Rule Variations
What about other rule variations, then? I'm going to list some of the more common blackjack rule variations and their house edges. The tables below consists of changes made to standard blackjack rules:
|Dealer Hits Soft 17|
|# of Decks||House Edge|
|Player Can Only Double 9-11|
|# of Decks||House Edge|
|Player Can Only Double 10-11|
|# of Decks||House Edge|
|Dealer Doubles on 17|
|# of Decks||House Edge|
|Player Can Resplit Aces|
|# of Decks||House Edge|
|Blackjack Pays 6:5|
|# of Decks||House Edge|
A couple of conclusions: first of all, the last section ('Blackjack Pays 6:5') shows you how unprofitable it is to play those games. Never play a game where blackjack pays 6:5.
Secondly, games where the player can resplit aces are preferable for the player. Try to find those games. It's also good for the player when the dealer doubles 17.
Blackjack Side Bets
And finally, blackjack side bets and house edges for them.
|Side Bet||House Edge|
|Match the Dealer||+3.10%|
|Perfect Pairs Blackjack||+4.10%|
|Royal Match Blackjack||+6.50%|
|Super Match Blackjack||+2.60%|
|Super Sevens Blackjack||+11.70%|
|Bust It Blackjack||+7.00%|
No, casinos didn't include the 'side bet' option just to give players a better chance of winning. As you can see, side bets are good for the casino and bad for the player even if they might make the game a bit more exciting.
Favourable Blackjack Rule Variations for the Player
Here's a list of blackjack rule variations favourable for the player:
- The less decks the better. (Games with one deck are the best.)
- Double down on any 2 cards.
- Blackjack pays 3:2.
- Resplitting aces allowed.
- Dealer stands on a 17.
- Early/late surrender.
- Low deck penetration (for card counters).
- Insurance (for card counters).
Favourable Blackjack Rule Variations for the Casino
- Side bets.
- Double down on 10 and 11 only.
- Dealer hits a soft 17.
- The more decks the better.
- Blackjack pays 6:5
- Low deck penetration (against card counters).
- No doubling down after splitting.
- Not allowed to resplit aces.
I suggest trying to memorize these lists and look for games with beneficial blackjack rule variations for the player. Rule variations in favor of the casino should obviously be avoided.
Blackjack House Edge: FAQ
Do bet sizes impact house edge in blackjack?
It makes no difference whether you bet $10 or $10,000 - the house advantage stays the same. The amount you lose or win per bet changes, of course, depending on how big of an edge either you or the casino's got.
Which blackjack game has the smallest casino edge?
Suggesting all games are played with six decks - which is a common size for a blackjack shoe - Spanish 21 has the best house edge for the player according to the blackjack house edge table on top of this page. Standard 21 Blackjack is good too since you can actually have the edge by playing perfect basic strategy with a single deck.
How big is the house edge if I count cards?
This depends on many variables, such as which blackjack card counting systems you're going to use. In case you're using a highly complicated system, play perfectly and manage to find a good game to play, you may have a significant edge (even 3% or 4%).
The following list contains links to other blackjack related websites that we recommend. This page was updated on 7/23/2015.
www.gamblersanonymous.org - Gamblers Anonymous
Pagat's blackjack guide explains the basics and strategy of blackjack, and lists many excellent resources related to the game. This is just one page of his frequently updated site on just about every card game known.
www.championshipblackjack.com - Blackjack seminars from the MIT blackjack team. This is a great site with tons of learning materials for the prospective card counter and advantage player.
www.thoughts.com/online-blackjack - Online Blackjack Thoughts - A community site with countless bloggers writing on a variety of topics including slots, blackjack and other online casino games.
www.blackjackonline.org - Blackjack Online - Learn about online blackjack software providers like Microgaming, Playtech and Vegas Technology.
www.google.com - Blackjack using Google Search - They draw their directory of sites from DMOZ, so they're sometimes a little bit behind.
Blackjack Stats - This is a great website about blackjack strategy. The site is loaded with blackjack tables and charts fort just about every possible scenario. Its also one of the best blackjack sites on the Net.
www.blackjackhero.com - Blackjack Hero - Great site on blackjack, with a cool section of information about blackjack players. Features a section on mac blackjack for those of us who want to play 21 on our Macintosh computers.
www.lolblackjack.com - LOL (Live On Line) Blackjack - One of the larger blackjack sites on the internet, tons of information about various card counting systems and player profiles. Bossall softwares. Lots of strategy advice and over 100 articles of blackjack information.
www.onlineblackjackodds.com - Online Blackjack Odds is a new site from a friend of mine. Nice simple site with lots of useful information for beginning blackjack players.
www.onlineblackjack.org - Online Blackjack - free online blackjack games. Learn how to play blackjack and print out a copy of their basic strategy chart for quick reference when you're at the tables.
onlinecasino.net - Onlinecasino.net - Reviews of the best online casino games including blackjack.
These guys offer a realtime blackjack strategy software that will tell you the ideal play in any given situation that you input. Worth checking out.
www.strategic-blackjack.com - Play Blackjack - Strategic blackjack is more of a blackjack portal than anything else. Lots of information, but lots of online casino advertising too, which is fine if you're into that sort of thing.
www.iluvblackjack.com - Definitive Guide to Blackjack - They asked me to use that text to refer to their site, and it does have some good information, even though I don't know if it's what I would call 'definitive'. The site is refreshingly light on advertising though, which is a huge plus.
www.blackjack-strategycard.com - Blackjack-StrategyCard.com - Lots of information here about online casino bonuses.
www.gypsyware.com/gold.html - Blackjack Gold (Macintosh/Windows) - Shareward blackjack game.
onlinecasinosuite.org - Online Casino Suite - A great site for online casino ratings and free casino games that also has a boat load of casino news. OnlineCasinoSuite.org reviews the best casino sites online.
Play their free blackjack games for fun.
www.bingodiva.com - Bingo Diva - Free bingo games and bingo advice.
www.bingotactics.com - Bingo Tactics - Bingo strategies and bingo playing information.
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www.crapshero.com - Craps Hero - Learn how to play craps - information about Internet craps and dice control.
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www.crapsfan.com - Craps Fan - More information about how to play craps and what kinds of craps bets are available.
www.roulettehero.com - Roulette Hero - Analyzes roulette systems and describes how to play roulette. Includes a free roulette game.
www.roulettetactics.com - Roulette Strategy - Looks at roulette tactics and free roulette games.
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www.slotshero.com - Online Slots - More information about online slot machines than you could imagine. The section about slot tournaments is particularly good, and also the mac slots page.
www.slotsjam.com - Free Online Slots - From SlotsJam.com, as good as site about slots as you'll find anywhere online.
Slot Machines Message Board - A forum for slots players. Pretty active too.
www.poker-babes.com - Poker Babes - Shirley Rosario's brilliant and informative site about poker. Shirley's a former cocktail waitress, former prop player, and current poker writer and tournament player.
www.playwinningpoker.com - Play Winning Poker - Steve Badger's huge poker strategy site. One of the biggest poker sites on the Internet.
www.unknownpoker.com - Online Poker Rooms - Reviews of smaller cardrooms online.
pokersyte.com/glossary.htm - Glossary of Poker Terms - Part of Bullet Bob's terrific and informational poker website
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www.macpokeronline.com - Mac Poker - Where to play poker online if you're a Mac user. Tons of reviews of online cardrooms.
www.imaconlinepoker.com - Mac Internet Poker - More info for Mac poker players.
www.vegaspokerpro.com - Online Poker Rooms - Lots of free poker stuff available here.
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www.firbolg.com - Online Poker Strategy - Great poker strategy articles, especially if you like holdem.
www.kickasspoker.com/poker-rooms/mansion/mansion-poker-review.htm - Mansion Poker Review - Detailed review.
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