»»Blackjack Odds

# Blackjack Odds

Blackjack
2022 Oct 28 15 min read

Blackjack has long been one of the most popular casino games, beating out classics like poker and roulette. This simple card game can be traced back hundreds of years to games in Europe involving matching to come as close to a number as possible without going bust.

The game, also known as 21, pits the player against the dealer rather than against other players. For decades, casinos have scrambled to keep up with players studying strategies to beat the game.

Understanding blackjack odds are the key to potentially lowering the house edge and winning this game. However, studying the odds is not that simple and requires dedication and practice. Learning simple strategies can improve your chances and increase your winnings over the long term, though this is never a guarantee.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the timeless blackjack game, explaining the difference between odds and probability. You will also learn how to calculate odds and everything you need to know about the house edge.

## WHY ARE ODDS IMPORTANT IN BLACKJACK?

Behind all the numbers and statistics is one central question: What are the overall odds of winning a game of blackjack?

While there are different blackjack variants and different rules at different casinos, the odds of winning a classic game are estimated at 42.22%.

To understand the importance of odds in blackjack, let’s look at basic blackjack rules.

The goal is to have the cards you are dealt add up to 21, or get a value that is as close to this number as possible without going over. If you score a perfect 21, you have what is known as a blackjack hand.

The dealer hands out two cards to each player and two to himself. Only one of the dealer’s cards is visible. Players have to decide on their next move without knowing the value of the dealer’s second card.

In blackjack, when looking at all the cards you are presented with, you need to understand the odds of the hand going in your favour. This means getting a blackjack hand or earning a hand with a value that is closer to 21 than the dealer. You also need to understand the likelihood of going bust.

The simplest definition of odds is how likely it is that something will or will not happen. It is expressed as a ratio, such as 5:1, with five being the likelihood it will occur and 1 being the likelihood it will not. Player odds are often expressed as a positive expected win rate and a negative expected win rate. These are the odds players face throughout the game.

Blackjack probability can be zero or one. For example, in a 52-card deck that contains one ace of spades, the likelihood of randomly drawing that card from the deck is 1/52. When the ace of spades has already been removed, this likelihood will become 0/51.

Odds are the expression of the probability of winning. Because we play blackjack with a set number of cards, and their values are known, it is possible to calculate the odds to try and sway the odds in your favour.

Players have figured out how to use probability blackjack strategies to calculate the chances of winning or losing certain hands. This requires studying your hand and the dealer’s hand.

Blackjack is a game of both luck and skill. Understanding odds and the probability of possible events occuring will increase your skills and help you to make the most profitable decisions.

For example, if players have a hand between 12 and 17, it can feel like only luck will determine whether the player wins or goes bust. You may be tempted to randomly decide whether to hit, stand, split, or double down.

However, you can analyse the dealer’s upcard before making your call using odds and basic strategy.

The dealer will have to hit and take another card if it is a low number between two and six. The odds are they will either go bust or end up with a lower number than you. This can influence your decision.

Yes, you may lose. But if you play these odds over time, you are more likely to boost your chances.

## PLAYER’S ODDS TABLE

Blackjack has one of the best odds for players out of many casino games. However, the house still has a slight advantage over the player. Using the right strategy consistently may help reduce the dealer’s advantage.

One tactic is to memorise a probability table that you can use to make decisions for a particular hand. This is a part of the blackjack basic strategy, in which you use probability at every step to help you make the best decisions and give you a slight edge.

Before looking at the probability of going bust with specific hands, let’s look at the values of cards in this casino game.

• Cards two-10 retain their numeric value.
• Jack, queen and king are worth 10 each.
• A single ace card is worth either one or 11.

Any hand with an ace that can count as 11 is called a ‘soft hand’. A ‘hard hand’ is any other combination of cards where you have a high risk of your next card making you go bust. A ‘hard hand’ can include an ace when your only option is for it to count as one.

Once the dealer has dealt the cards, your combination will tell you the likelihood of going bust if you choose to hit and take another card.

Take a look at this list of card totals and bust probabilities.

 Hand Total Bust Possibilities 11 or lower 0.00% 12 31.00% 13 39.00% 14 56.00% 15 58.00% 16 62.00% 17 69.00% 18 77.00% 19 85.00% 20 92.00%

Next, let’s look at the dealer’s odds of going bust.

## DEALER’S ODDS TABLE

The dealer has the advantage because blackjack players have to make their move first. This means the player may choose to hit, and go bust, leaving the dealer the victor without much effort. Nevertheless, the player can still analyse the dealer’s odds of going bust before making their move.

After the cards have been dealt, you will only see one of the dealer’s cards before choosing your course of action.

In blackjack, the dealer has only two choices, to hit or to stand. Different online casinos have different casino rules regarding when the dealer must do one or the other.

Normally, if the dealer’s hand is 16 or less, they must hit. If it is 17 or higher, they have to stand. Some online casinos allow the dealer to hit a soft 17, an ace and a six. This gives the dealer a better chance of scoring a 21 or a higher number than you.

Here are the odds of the dealer busting based on their upcard if the rule is to stand on 17:

 Hand Bust Possibilities Ace 17.00% 2 35.00% 3 37.00% 4 40.00% 5 42.00% 6 42.00% 7 26.00% 8 24.00% 9 23.00% 10 23.00%

Using a perfect basic strategy, you can look at the combination of your cards and the dealer’s upcard to decide whether to take one of the following actions.

• Hit: Draw another card.
• Stand: Keep your current hand.
• Double down: Double your bet and take another card.
• Split: Divide an identical pair.

You can also choose to surrender your hand, in which case you only lose half your bet.

## ODDS OF WINNING A BLACKJACK HAND

Behind all the numbers and statistics is one central question: What are the overall odds of winning a game of blackjack?

While there are different blackjack variants and different rules at different casinos, the odds of winning a classic game are estimated at 42.22%.

The dealer’s odds of winning are at around 49% in most casinos.

In a third scenario, an average of 8.48% of the games you play will end in a push. A push occurs when there is a tie with the dealer or if the dealer draws a 22.

Your odds of winning will plummet if you are not playing with any strategy. You can use advanced blackjack strategies or stick to the basic strategy and blackjack charts to reduce the house advantage. Bear in mind that card counting is forbidden at casinos.

## BLACKJACK PAYOUTS

Another important facet to mastering the art of blackjack odds is understanding how payouts work and how they impact the house advantage.

Choosing the right blackjack games, whether in an online casino or in Las Vegas land-based casinos, will help you maximise your winnings and avoid wasting time on poor returns.

The first way to win a game of blackjack is to have a higher number than the dealer without going bust. However, the holy grail of winning blackjack is to score a 21 with your first two cards. Here are the payouts in a few other scenarios:

 Scenario Payout House Edge Winning against the dealer 1:1 (even-money) 2.80% Doubling down and winning 1:1 (even-money) 2.80% Hitting blackjack 3:2 or 6:5 0.5%/ 1.9%

Remember, the house edge varies depending on the rules and number of decks used.

## ODDS OF GETTING BLACKJACK

Getting dealt a blackjack, or 21, is the most profitable hand. But how often is this likely to happen? This depends on how many decks of cards are in play.

Casinos may offer a six-deck game or use an eight-deck shoe to improve their odds. Others may play with fewer decks. Casinos introduced multiple decks as it is much harder for players to count cards when multiple decks are in play — after all, card counting is forbidden.

Let’s assume a single deck is being used.

In this case, the only way to get a score of 21 is to be dealt an ace, which is worth 11 points, and a 10 or a face card.

To work out blackjack probability, you would multiply the probability of being dealt an ace by the probability of being dealt a 10-value card. This result would be multiplied by two.

So we see that in a single deck, there is a 4.82% chance of getting blackjack. That means one in every 20 hands.

The probability of getting blackjack evolves as follows:

 Number of Decks Odds 1 4.82% 2 4.77% 4 4.75% 6 4.74%

The more decks used by the online casino, the harder it can be for the player to win.

## BLACKJACK HANDS ODDS

This section will look at specific hands you may be dealt and how to handle them. Basic strategy tells us which rules to follow in some instances. For example, when to surrender, hit, stand, or double your bet.

### PAIRS

Basic strategy tells us how to play low pairs based on the odds of busting or winning.

The first rule is never to split a pair of fives or a pair of tens.

A pair of 10s gives you a total of 20. The odds are about 90% that you will win a game with this hand. That makes it far stronger than two weaker hands starting with a 10 each.

Meanwhile, splitting a pair of fives will likely give you two weak hands when 10 is a strong total to hit with.

Here is a list of suggested moves with pairs to put the odds in your favour:

• Pair of Aces: Always split
• Pair of twos or threes: Split vs dealer two to seven, otherwise hit
• Pair of fours: Split vs dealer five or six, otherwise hit
• Pair of sixes: Split vs dealer two to six, otherwise hit
• Pair of sevens: Split vs dealer two to seven, otherwise hit
• Pair of eights: Always split
• Pair of nines: Stand on dealer ace, seven, or 10, otherwise split

Let’s look at a few more tricky potential hands.

### HARD 16

In blackjack, hands totalling 14, 15 or 16 can be some of the hardest to play. This is due to the high likelihood of the next card making you go bust. Basic strategy players may find that some strategy charts make different suggestions on when to hit or stand with these combinations.

The Hard 16 is seen as the worst hand you can be dealt in blackjack, as your odds of going bust with a 16 are 62%.

If you get 16 as a pair of eights, you can split it. However, if you have a different combination, you will need to take a different approach.

The basic strategy indicates you should surrender your hand if the dealer has a nine, 10 or an ace. You should stand if the dealer has anything ranging from two to six and hit if the dealer has a card higher than seven.

However, some players argue you should stand with a 16 no matter what the dealer has.

### 11 VS DEALER 10

Suppose you are dealt a five and a six, giving you a total of 11, and the dealer is showing a 10. In this case, it may seem the obvious move is to hit.

However, by doubling down and taking another card, you have a 31% of drawing a 10 and getting a 21. You also have an 8% chance of drawing a nine and getting a 20.

The chances of one card giving you a 20 or a 21 offer a high probability — enough to make it worth doubling your bet.

### HANDS ODDS TABLE

 Hand Hit or Stand Odds 12 vs Dealer 4 Stand 60% Hit 58% 15 vs Dealer 10 Hit 22% Stand 23% 12 vs Dealer 3 – 5% Push

## ODDS OF ADDITIONAL BETS AND OTHER OPTIONS

There are a variety of bets you can place during a game of blackjack that can influence the odds and your blackjack payout. Let’s look at your odds in some other scenarios with these few examples:

### SPLITTING AND DOUBLING

When you split your pairs into two separate hands, your winning odds remain the same as in a classic blackjack game, which is 3:2; the same goes for doubling down. However, you will receive double the amount in winnings.

### INSURANCE

Blackjack insurance offers you an escape hatch from the game if the dealer’s visible card is an ace. This boosts the odds of the dealer getting a blackjack, and thus, the casino’s advantage, causing you to lose money.

The Insurance side bet lets you keep half of your original bet. However, winnings are only paid at 2:1 odds. Most experts advise against ever making an insurance side bet, as the probability of losing more money is higher in the long run.

### 21+3

A 21+3 side bet in blackjack wagers on the player’s hand and the dealer’s upcard combining to form a winning poker hand.

For example, your payout when scoring a flush, or three cards of the same suit, is 5:1. However, the odds of this happening in a game with six decks is 73:1117.

A straight, or three consecutive cards of the same suit, has 10:1 blackjack payout odds, while a suited three of a kind is paid out at 100:1.

The payout for these bets can be quite high. However, the house edge can be over 8%.

### PERFECT PAIRS

This is a side bet that the player’s cards will be two of the exact same card, in suit and number. The probability of this happening is only 1.69%.

You can also bet on cards of the same value and colour, which will only happen in 1.93% of cases.

Your final option is to bet on scoring a mixed pair of two cards of the same value, which will happen in 3.86% of cases.

As in 21+3, while the payout is good on these bets, they massively increase the house edge.

## CALCULATING BLACKJACK ODDS – MATH BEHIND BLACKJACK

The mathematics involved in blackjack requires calculating blackjack odds and probability. The mathematics involved in blackjack requires calculating blackjack odds and probability. Here’s how to calculate the true odds in a mathematically correct way:

Each deck of cards has 52 cards. There are four of every card in a pack.

Therefore, there is a 4/52 chance, or probability of 7.7%, of getting each card. Expressed as odds, the chance of drawing a specific number is 52:4.

These calculations change in different situations, according to cards that have already been taken out of the pack. Once one card has already been withdrawn from the pack, the probability of the same card being dealt drops to 3/51.

Every possible outcome can be expressed as a percentage. This brings us to positive and negative expected win rates. These terms describe your odds under specific circumstances. For example, if you have a 20% probability of winning a specific hand, you will also have an 80% chance of earning a losing hand.

Here’s an example of how to use basic math to analyse your odds:

Suppose you are dealt a four and a seven in a single deck game. Your total is 11.

Any face card or 10, of which there are a total of 16 cards, will give you the golden number of 21. Anything from six to nine will give you a strong hand ranging from 17 to 20.

The basic strategy recommends you double down on an 11, which is why it is highly profitable.

Computer simulations have run all the odds to determine the best way to play a specific combination when faced with a particular dealer card. Using a strategy chart can save you from having to do calculations in your head when playing blackjack.

## HOUSE EDGE IN BLACKJACK

Although blackjack is said to offer a low house edge, no matter what casino game you play, there must always be some expected return for the house.

Casinos would go out of business if this casino game had no long-term advantages. Blackjack has one of the lowest house edges out there, which is why it is profitable to advanced players.

### WHAT IS HOUSE EDGE IN BLACKJACK?

The house edge is the slight statistical advantage the casino holds over the player and is the small percentage of wagers the casino expects to win. The house edge is also what makes blackjack a fair game.

In blackjack, the player’s edge sits an expected value of around 2% for those with no deep knowledge of the game and is simply relying on luck. This drops to 0.5% when a player implements the basic strategy. Card counting was often used as a way to drop the house edge even further, which is why it has been banned.

However, as casinos know, it is very difficult to consistently apply the perfect strategy over a long session at a blackjack table. This means that even the best players will falter, and in the long run, players will always experience an expected loss.

A house edge of 2 means that you will theoretically lose 2% of every bet you make.

### HOUSE EDGE IN DIFFERENT BLACKJACK VARIANTS

Different blackjack tables have different house edges. Some will reduce the house edge, while in others, the house edge increases.

Different variants will include certain rules that can impact the use of basic strategy.

Here are a few different variants and their house edges.

 Blackjack Variant House Edge Classic Blackjack 0.50% Atlantic City Blackjack 0.35% European Blackjack 0.39% Double Exposure Blackjack 0.69% Blackjack Switch 0.17% Spanish 21 0.38%

The change in rules between each blackjack variation can impact your long-term returns.

### HOW TO REDUCE BLACKJACK HOUSE EDGE

The best way to reduce the house edge is by sticking to basic strategy and studying the charts to make the right moves at the right times. In particular, you should learn when to split, double down and surrender. All these moves can reduce the house edge even further.

Look for casinos that implement rules that are favourable to the player.

For example, the surrender rule can reduce the house edge by 0.6%, while allowing players to double down on more than two cards will reduce the house edge by 0.2%.

If the dealer hits on a soft 17, the house edge will creep up 0.2%, as this increases the dealer’s chance of hitting blackjack.

Allowing the player to split aces will reduce the house edge by 0.13%.

Other ways a casino will improve its edge include:

• Implementing a 6:5 payout regime.
• Allowing profitable side bets.
• Multi-deck blackjack games.

### DIFFERENT RULES AND HOW THEY INFLUENCE BLACKJACK HOUSE EDGE

As you can imagine, the rules can influence the house edge, and ultimately, your odds. Take a look at a few rules found on blackjack games:

• Dealer standing on soft 17.
• Resplitting aces.
• Late surrender.
• Side bets (21+3 and Perfect Pairs)

Here’s tables showing the odds of winning for each rule:

 Rules Odds of winning Dealer standing on soft 17 0,22% Resplitting aces 0,04% Late Surrender 0,02%

 Side Bets House Edge Number of Decks 21+3 4,24% 4 3,24% 6 2,74% 8 Perfect Pairs 21,50% 4 12,54% 6 8,05% 8

## WHAT ARE THE ODDS FOR DIFFERENT BLACKJACK VARIANTS?

The different Blackjack variants will not only require a change in strategy and rules, but they also offer different odds.

### EUROPEAN BLACKJACK

The main difference between classic/American blackjack and European blackjack is that the dealer in European blackjack will not receive his hole card until all players have made their move.

This reduces your ability to judge the odds and whether it makes sense to double down or lay any side bets.

Despite this key difference, the odds of winning are similar, at around 42%.

### ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK

This version of blackjack used to allow an Early Surrender, in which players could discard a hand before the dealer consulted their hole card. However, this reduced the house edge so much that most casinos changed the rule to a Late Surrender.

Atlantic City Blackjack is usually played with eight decks and has a lower house edge, coming in at 0.35%.

### FREE BET BLACKJACK

This version of the game allows the player to split or double certain hands for free. The house edge of this variant is around 1%. The payout odds are 3/2.

### ONLINE BLACKJACK

In online Blackjack, you can play an electronic version against a computer. This variant will pay out at odds of 1:1, which increases the house edge to 2.29 %.

The computer makes the game much faster, which can increase your losses over time.

You can also play with a live dealer online, which offers similar odds to classic Blackjack and a payout of 3:2.

## NUMBER OF DECKS IN BLACKJACK AND ODDS

Whether you play a six-deck game or a single-deck game, the probability of winning remains the same.

However, it is important to note that your odds of getting a blackjack decrease with more decks in play, while the house edge can increase drastically. Here are the odds:

• Two decks: 4.77%
• Four decks: 4.75%
• Six-deck games: 4.74%

A vital concept to understand in blackjack is the Return-to-Player (RTP). Choosing a game with the highest possible RTP will make you more money in the long run.

While the house edge tells us how much the casino will make over time, the Return-to-Player is how much money will go to the player.

For example, if the house edge is 0.5 %, the Return-to-Player will be 99.5%.

This means that if you bet €100, you will win back €99.50 over a certain time period.

## BLACKJACK ODDS VS OTHER CASINO GAMES

We have established that the odds of winning Blackjack are around 42%. Here are a few other popular casino games and their odds:

 Casino Game Odds Blackjack 42% Roulette 48% Craps 50% Baccarat 44%

## HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR ODDS AT BLACKJACK

While the odds of winning a single game are higher in these games, the house edge is often a lot higher too, resulting in lower winnings over time. Here are a few tips to improve your odds when playing blackjack:

• Choose tables with favourable house rules.
• Find tables that offer a high RTP.
• Keep blackjack strategy charts handy.
• Use a betting system — positive betting systems, negative betting systems or flat betting systems (betting the same amount).
• Practice playing blackjack online in the demo mode.
• Test out other strategies like the composition dependent strategy, for example.

Put these tips to good use when you go to play blackjack at an online casino. Bear in mind that, in any particular situation, winning is never a guarantee, so you may lose a few hands if you have bad luck. Be sure to manage your funds well as gambling can lead to serious financial problems.

## SUMMARY

Blackjack may seem like a simple game of luck. However, by studying strategy charts, you will understand which hands are more likely to make you or the dealer go bust. This is the key to shifting the blackjack odds in your favour.

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### WHAT ARE BLACKJACK ODDS?

Odds are how likely something will or will not happen and is often expressed as a ratio.

### WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF WINNING BLACKJACK?

Your odds of winning a game of blackjack are at around 42%. However, this decreases with the number of decks in play.

### WHICH BLACKJACK GAME HAS THE BEST ODDS?

Classic blackjack played with one freshly-shuffled deck will give you the best odds.

### WHAT ARE THE ODDS IF YOU PLAY PERFECT BLACKJACK?

Using the basic strategy, you can reduce the house edge from 2% for unskilled players to 0.5%. Experts who play perfectly may bring this closer to zero.

### ARE BLACKJACK ODDS BETTER WITH MORE PLAYERS?

The number of players at a blackjack table does not change the odds in any way.

### DOES HAVING MORE DECKS IN BLACKJACK CHANGE ODDS?

A higher number of decks will reduce your odds of hitting blackjack and increase the house edge. As a result, a higher number of decks will lower your odds of winning.

### WHAT HAS BETTER ODDS BLACKJACK OR ROULETTE?

Blackjack offers better odds than roulette. Your probability of winning roulette is around 47%. However, the house edge is around 5.26% compared to 0.5% in blackjack.

### WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO PRACTICE BLACKJACK ONLINE?

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