Every decision you make in a game of blackjack impacts the odds of winning in the long run, with the house edge kept to a minimum, maximum or somewhere in between based on your thought patterns.
As with every card game, there is an element of luck. However, it is what you do with the cards that are dealt to you that separates the lucky players from the smart players. This is where a solid card strategy comes into play. However, before you can even contemplate learning about strategy, you need to know what odds you are facing.
All that you have in blackjack are the cards dealt to you, the dealer’s up card and what many players forget – the cards that the other players are holding. The other players’ cards may not seem that important, but if you are hoping to hit a high card and you see that all the other players are sitting with high cards, this means that there are fewer high cards left in the deck/s. Knowing how to play your cards will help you ascertain whether you should hit, double down, surrender or stand.
Blackjack odds at a glance
Using a blackjack game that uses multiple card decks as an example, you will be expected to reach around a 0.50% house edge if you follow a simple blackjack strategy. This means that you are expected to lose around 5c for every €10 you bet. This is not an exact science, however, it has been calculated both mathematically and over time with trial and error. This also does not mean that every player will lose 5c for every €10 bet. It means that on average this is how it will pan out. One player could win €100 where another player could lose €100.50. The house edge would still be at 0.50%.
One thing you need to remember when playing blackjack, both online and offline, is that not every table will have the same house edge, or odds. In fact, tables at the same gambling sites can have different odds. The blackjack odds on offer really do come down to each individual table and then the decisions the person playing makes.
One of the biggest factors online blackjack players are faced with when trying to find the best odds is the number of decks used at the table. It’s a general consensus that if your table has six to eight decks in action, perfect blackjack strategy will bring the house edge down to around .05 per cent.
Blackjack payout odds
Blackjack payout odds change from casino to casino and table to table. A table’s payout rate generally gets displayed as a ratio, with 3:2 being the best you will find for a natural blackjack. In short this means if you bet $20 and get a blackjack you would have $30 returned to you along with your $20 stake. How is this calculated you might ask? It’s simple really. (3/2) x 20 = 30.
If you were to place this same bet at a table with 6:5 odds and won in the same circumstances you would calculate your odds with this equation, (6/5) x 20 which gives you a $24 winning result.
Out of all of the factors that influence a casino’s house edge, the blackjack payout odds at a table have the biggest effect. A table’s payout is normally expressed as a ratio. The most favourable payout you will see for a natural blackjack is 3:2. The least favourable payout you will often encounter is 6:5.
It’s important to remember that the payout table won’t actually impact how often hands will come up, rather it just impacts the overall house edge of the casino.
At any reputable online casino the blackjack odds will be displayed prominently at the table, but it will be up to the player to calculate your specific odds.
How does Insurance and Surrendering impact blackjack odds?
Many online blackjack casinos offer you the option of surrendering in blackjack. This means that you are allowed to throw in your cards if you believe that you do not have a winning hand and the casino gets to keep half your bet. However, the house edge for the casino (when looking at surrendering in isolation) sits at around 7% – far too high for any blackjack player who plays the odds to contemplate. There is always a place for surrendering, but this should be done sparingly. When you use the surrender to your advantage then it can drop the house average.
Choosing a blackjack game with favourable odds
You should look out for online casinos which make the dealers stand on a soft 17. When a dealer is allowed to hit on a soft 17 it increases the house edge by around 0.20%.
You should also look out for what the odds payouts are. Some casinos may only offer 1:1 for blackjack, but they offer other bonuses to counter-balance this. However, in Spanish blackjack, for example, the casino may offer very good blackjack odds but the tens are removed from the deck, thereby reducing the ten-ranked cards by up to 25%.
It is imperative that you understand all these odds properly before embarking on any blackjack game.