Blackjack House Edge

All You Need to Know About the House Edge in Blackjack

One of the most appealing things about the game of blackjack is the fact that it has one of the lowest house edges - especially when playing with the basic blackjack strategy. Here, we will be looking at what the house edge is in blackjack, how it’s determined, how it works - and everything you need to know about blackjack house edge before you get started.

What Is the House Edge in Blackjack?

The blackjack house edge percentage represents the casino's actual advantage over blackjack players. The number essentially signifies the percentage of a player’s bet that the casino is likely to win on average over a long period of time. So, for example, if there is a 5% house edge, then for every £100 you spend, the casino should expect to keep £5 of that and pay out £95 back. This gives a rough indication as to what the chances of winning could be, however, this is just an average, and the ultimate outcome is based on chance.

If we are looking at a standard casino game of blackjack, where your aim is simply to beat the dealer's hand without going over 21, the house edge is generally around 0.5% (if playing blackjack with the basic blackjack strategy) to 1% - one of the lowest of all casino games. This simply means that for every £100 you bet, the casino should retain about £0.50 to £1 in profits in the long term. The good news, though, is that, unlike most other casino games, you can employ strategies, which can lower the house advantage.

How Is the House Edge Determined In Blackjack?

The house edge is a major factor which tells us how profitable the game will be - for the player and the casino. However, there are several different factors that can affect the house edge, and that’s why understanding how the blackjack house edge is calculated and what factors affect it is vital.

How to Calculate the Blackjack House Edge

If you’re frightened of numbers, then look away now! The house edge in blackjack is determined through a complex mathematical process that considers various factors - including the rules of that specific game and the decisions and bets you make. But, for the sake of simplicity, let’s take a look at an overview of how it is calculated:

The Basic Rules: You first need to look at the basic rules of the game you are playing - such as the number of decks used, whether the dealer has to hit or stand on a soft 17 and whether you are allowed to double down or split your hand etc.

Player Strategy: Then we factor in strategy. In blackjack, you have the option to either hit, stand, double down (double your bet and receive one more card only), or split (divide a pair into two separate hands). The house edge calculation will take into account whether you use the game’s best strategy - the basic strategy, which will minimise the casino's advantage.

Probability: Mathematical calculations are then used to determine the likelihood of the different outcomes in the game - which includes the probability of busting (your hand going over 21), getting blackjack (A and a 10 card), or getting other totals.

Payouts: The house edge calculation also considers the actual blackjack payouts offered for different bets and outcomes. So, for example, a standard blackjack payout is typically 3 to 2, which means that if you get a blackjack, you’ll get back £3 for every £2 you bet.

House Rules: Finally, we need to consider any additional rules or side bets offered by the casino. These could include things like insurance bets or whether you can ‘surrender’ - forfeit half of your bet after your hand has been dealt.

When all the above has been taken into consideration, you can then work out the overall house edge for that particular variant of blackjack. The percentage they work out from this will then simply predict how much the average returns are.

Factors That Affect the Blackjack House Edge:

There are a number of different factors that can influence the house edge of blackjack - so you’ll need to choose your game wisely. Some of the main things to consider are:

Number of Decks: The number used in the game can massively impact the house edge. The fewer decks used, the lower the house edge. Single-deck games offer the lowest house edge when compared to multiple-deck games. This is because multiple decks increase the casino's edge.

Dealer Rules: Whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17 is another factor you need to check out. If the dealer has to stand on soft 17, you’ll have a slightly better chance - and a slightly lower house edge.

Doubling Down and Splitting: Rules regarding doubling down and splitting can vary from one game to another. However, blackjack games that have more flexible rules on splitting and doubling down tend to have a lower house edge.

Blackjack Payout: The payout for a natural blackjack can also vary. Go for a game that pays out at 3:2 rather than at 6:5.

Side Bets: Some blackjack variants let you make side bets - but these side bets can have much higher house edges than the standard main game bets. So, you should be very cautious about making these side bets - as you’ll be taking a much bigger risk.

Surrender Option: Blackjack games that let you surrender your hand can have a lower house edge because, when used carefully, it can help you mitigate your losses.

The Blackjack house edge is worked out using various factors - game rules, strategy, probability and payouts. So opt for games with player-friendly rules, and you could apply the basic blackjack strategy.

How Does The House Have an Edge in Blackjack?

All games of blackjack will include a house edge.

Firstly, it has to do with the natural blackjack payout. Whilst you will usually be paid 3:2 for a natural blackjack, the dealer usually only pays even money when they get blackjack - which helps to shift the odds in the house's favour.

What’s more, as a player, you have to first make decisions like hitting, standing, doubling down or splitting etc. - and this means that you potentially risk busting before the dealer ever plays - so you could lose your bet before that dealer even plays his hand.

It’s also worth remembering that each online casino has its rules on when the dealer can hit or stand. If a dealer can hit on soft 17, this increases their chances of getting a better hand and beating you.

To up the house edge of blackjack, casinos may well only offer multiple deck cards - which not only decrease your advantage but make card counting practically impossible. Moreover, there are some forms of blackjack that come with higher house edges, but they can also offer bigger payouts, making them tempting.

Ultimately, the house will always make sure it has the edge in the long run!

House Edge Varies From Game to Game

So, to summarise, the blackjack house edge can differ quite a bit from one game to another, depending on the different versions and rules. Factors such as the number of decks in the game, the dealer rules, whether or not you can double down or split, the game payouts, side bets and other unique rule sets in the different blackjack variations all play a massive role in determining how favourable the house edge is.

So, if you’re after the best blackjack odds, make sure you pick a game that works with your strategy, your risk tolerance - and your knowledge! Ensuring you understand these variations will help you make more informed choices. However, whatever game you choose, whatever strategy you play, remember to only ever bet what you can afford.

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