Blackjack House Edge Explained

Blackjack School

The game of blackjack, like all other casino games, provides the casino with a predictable advantage over the life of the game. This predictable advantage is expressed in percentages and is commonly referred to as House Edge or House Vigorish.

The casino house edge indicates what the casino is expected to profit as a percentage of the player’s wager. For example if playing a game that has a house edge of 3.5%. This means that for this game the payout percentage to the player is 96.5%.

In money terms it would mean that on average for every €100 wagered on this game the casino stands to make a profit of €3.50 and the player will get back €96.50 of the €100 they wagered.

It is important to remember that these figures express the average and it is very possible that a situation will occur when one player wagers €100 and lose it all, while another player wagers €100 and wins €300 on top of their original wager.

The house edge and payout percentage are calculated based on a theoretical countless trials and they always consider optimal play which in blackjack means playing according the basic blackjack strategy.

House Advantage in Banker Games

Many casino games such as roulette, baccarat, craps and blackjack are defined as “bankers’ games” because the player plays against the house (the dealer or croupier is the house representatives in the game) and the house has an unequal chance against the player.

The game is structured in such a way that gives the house a greater overall chance of getting some of the money the player wagered regardless of how they are playing.

In blackjack the dealer will win all bets made by losing players regardless of the value of the dealer’s own hand. So the player must beat the dealer to collect their payout but the dealer only needs the player to bust out in order to collect the player’s bet.

True Odds vs. Casino Odds

The house has another advantage that derives from it being the one setting the payouts for each game. All casino games, including blackjack, have true odds and have the odds the casino is willing to pay for the game. As a player you have no choice but to accept the odds the casino is offering.

The best way to illustrate the difference between the true odds and casino odds is by taking a single regulation playing die with numbers ranging from 1 to 6. The true odds of throwing for example the number 2 are 1 in 6 so a player has a chance of 16.666% to have the die land on 2.

However, most casinos will not pay 6 to 1 if you made a wager on the die landing on 2. They would probably only pay 5 to 1 or even 4 to 1, thus increasing their advantage by taking all of the player’s money when they lose but not paying the player the true odds of a wager when the player wins.

Low House Edge

Notwithstanding the overall advantage that the casino has over players in most casino games, blackjack is a game that usually has one of the lowest house edge of all casino games. For example if compared with Keno that has a 25% to 29% house edge or American roulette that has a house edge of 5.26% for single number bets, it is clear that blackjack is a very player-friendly game.

The reason for this is that blackjack is not just a game of chance but also incorporates a strong element of skill. Players that adhere to basic blackjack strategy would usually be playing a game with an average house edge of 0.17% in a single deck game and up to 0.66% in an 8 decks game.

The fewer decks are used the lower is the house edge. Single deck blackjack games would normally have lower payouts for hitting a natural blackjack in order to provide the casino with some edge over the player.

It is important to check the house edge on your chosen blackjack variant as some types of blackjack have rules that are more favorable for the casino which increase the house edge to 1% or higher.

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