Blackjack is one of the oldest gambling games in the casino. The game would not have survived as long as it has without the presence of a house edge. This is what guarantees that the casino will be a winner in the long run. Without a house edge no game could survive in a casino, and no casino would make any money.
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The advantage of the casino can sometimes be a little bit hard to understand, especially for newcomers to online blackjack. That’s why Counting Edge has prepared this brief and simple explanation of the house edge in blackjack.
What the House Edge in Blackjack Means
Let’s start with some simple definitions and illustrations of the house edge in blackjack. What the house edge boils down to is the percentage of bets that the house wins on average. The size of the house edge has a direct impact on the ability of a blackjack player to win money.
Here’s an illustration using an arbitrary percentage. We’ll assume that the house edge in a blackjack game is 1.50%. Out of every $100 bet the player will lose $1.50 on average. The key here is on average. The player could lose much more money than that in a short period of online blackjack, or the player could win more. The house edge is all about the long haul.
The casino only offers games that guarantee they will win in the long run. This includes blackjack. The difference here is that blackjack is a game where the player can lower the house edge with smart play. Using basic strategy and card counting are methods of cutting down that edge. In some rare cases it may even be possible to swing it in the direction of the player.
Specific House Edge in Live and Online Blackjack
What we are going to do now is give you some figures that represent the house edge in blackjack. This is the house edge for a standard game of blackjack that uses from 1-8 decks of cards. The percentage here also assumes that the player knows basic strategy and applies this strategy at the blackjack table.
- Single deck – house edge of -0.03%
- Two decks – house edge of +0.25%
- Four decks – house edge of +0.38%
- Six decks – house edge of +0.42%
- Eight decks – house edge of +0.44%
Now, take a minute to look at those figures. If you play perfect basic blackjack strategy when one deck is being used the house actually has a slight negative expectation. Understand that we said here perfect basic strategy. Playing flawed strategy, even on occasion, will affect the house edge in favor of the house.
In most live casinos multiple decks are dealt from a shoe to a group of players seated at a blackjack table. In online blackjack of the virtual variety there is one deck of 52 cards used at all times. It is reshuffled after each hand. Knowing this, which type of blackjack do you think gives you the best chance of winning? Playing online blackjack is the correct answer.
The House Edge on Blackjack Variations
So, what about all those variations of the game of blackjack that you can find online or in a live casino? The truth is that most of these games give a sharp uptick in the house edge to the casino. That is why the house wants you to play those games. They have a better chance of beating you.
Here is a sampling of the house edge in some popular blackjack variations:
- Double Exposure Blackjack – +0.67%
- Spanish 21 – +0.37%
- Super Fun 21 – +1.40%
As you can see, Super Fun 21 is probably not going to be very fun for the player of blackjack. It has one of the largest house edge percentages of any blackjack game that has ever been created. Stay away from it and many other of the popular variations on blackjack.
Other Things that Affect the House Edge
You should also know that there are a few other things that affect the house edge in blackjack. Some casinos introduce specific rule variations that are designed to change the odds in favor of the house. Perhaps the most famous of these was requiring the dealer to hit a soft 17. This means when the dealer has an A-6. In most blackjack games the dealer is required to stand on any total of 17. Atlantic City is believed to be the first region to introduce this rule change.
It was done in response to card counters that were making a pretty good living in Atlantic City at the time. By making this simple rule change the house edge listed above for standard blackjack was affected this way:
- Single deck – house edge of +0.15%
- Two decks – house edge of +0.45%
- Four decks – house edge of +0.59%
- Six decks – house edge of +0.63%
- Eight decks – house edge of +0.66%
Just like that the player no longer has an advantage in single deck blackjack when playing perfect basic strategy. The casino does not like losing and will not lose for long.
Other rule changes that have affected the house edge include letting players only double on a total of 9-11 or 10-11. Some casinos have even begin making a blackjack pay 6-5 instead of the standard 3-2 payout. This is a big advantage for the casino, give the house a whopping edge of +1.36%
Blackjack Side Bets are Huge for the House
We’ll leave off our discussion of the house edge in blackjack by talking about side bets. Side bets in blackjack are bets that are made in addition to the original wager. They usually regard a separate event and do not depend upon the player’s hand.
Here is a short list of some blackjack side bet games that give the house its largest edge:
- 21 Madness – +23.00%
- Bonus Blackjack – +24.00%
- Super Sevens Blackjack – +11.70%
Can you even imagine sitting down to play a gambling game where the edge is so high in favor of the house? In Bonus Blackjack the player can expect to lose $24 out of every $100 wagered. That is ridiculously high and it why the casinos stay in business.
Why do players play blackjack side bets in the first place if the odds are so bad? Many of them don’t know that the house has such a large edge. Others are attracted to these games because they are gamblers plain and simple. A game like Super Sevens Blackjack appeals to the slot machine player more than the blackjack player.
Now that you understand a little more about the house edge in blackjack you might want to check out our recommended online casinos. Remember, single deck blackjack like that offered in an online casino is your best bet!