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Blackjack Odds

Blackjack has always been one of the most popular games in the casino. Aside from the simplicity of the game, it’s the odds that make the game an all time favorite. Many think blackjack has a negative expectation like all the other casino games. That’s true, but what makes blackjack different from the rest is that the players control the variation of that expectation.

To understand the blackjack odds you need to understand four concepts - the house edge, the pay out percentage, the vig (or vigorish) and the house hold.

The house edge is a theoretical number and does not consider real world experiences. This number is a portion of the total amount bet that would be kept by the casino if all playing decisions were considered over a long term. If the casino is expected to win 24 out of 38 rounds on a roulette table, the casino may not win this exact percentage in 38 rounds, but will be extremely close to this percentage over 38 million rounds.

The pay out percentage is the amount of money bet that is returned to players over a long term. If a slot machine has a 95% payout, the casino has a 5% edge.

In some casino games, the house charges a fee for some bets referred to as “vig” or “vigorish”. In some games this can be charged on a win (like a winning banker’s hand in Baccarat) or regardless of a win or loss. The vig must also be considered when calculating casino odds.

The house hold is a real world equivalent to the house edge. In the long term the house edge and the house hold is virtually identical. In blackjack, the house hold is the amount of cash the casino keeps out of the total amount of money wagered. This amount varies according to the decisions made by players during the game.

You can see why it’s the odds that make blackjack so popular. The game has a built in advantage for the player, as it is the player who controls a variable house edge. Players who play perfect basic strategy can reduce blackjack odds to nearly even. If you don’t play basic strategy and play based on hunches, you are playing with a 2% to 5% house edge.

The odds of a particular game depend on many factors. Blackjack odds will vary from table to table depending on the rules of the table. Most blackjack books contain information on how rules increase or decrease the expected wins or losses of a player. The list below details how individual rule variations affect blackjack odds. A positive sign means the casino advantage increases; a negative sign means the casino’s edge decreases and is favorable for the player.

Blackjack Odds Chart
Rule Odds Change
One deck no change
2 decks +0.35%
4 decks +0.52%
6 decks +0.58%
8 decks +0.61%
Dealer hits on soft 17 +0.20%
Double down on 9, 10, 11 only +0.10%
Double down on 10 and 11 only +0.25%
Splitting aces twice -0.05%
Double down after a pair split -0.13%
Surrender late -0.05%
Surrender early -0.62%
No ace splitting +0.18%
Double down on 3 or more cards -0.21%
Automatic win on 6 or more cards -0.15%

How does this help you? If you know the rules of the table you can add the odds change of each of the rules that apply to that table to do a quick calculation of the house edge on that game.

Many websites have blackjack odds calculators that allow you to input the rules of a game and instantly calculate the house edge. Check out this easy to use blackjack odds calculator at Wizard Of Odds. It is a very limited calculator, but is easy to use.

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