Blackjack Odds Explained
Blackjack players have the advantage of enjoying some of the best chances to win in the casino.
While roulette players can win 35/1 on a winning number, and Punto Banco 8/1 on two hands ending in a Tie, Blackjack players have the chance to win 3/2 for a blackjack (or 2/1 depending on your variant).
But that's just the beginning. Blackjack actually boasts the lowest house edge of any casino game. In fact, played with the most liberal rules, blackjack can have a house edge as low as 0.28%. This places it way above American Roulette (5.26%) or land-based video slots (10-15%) on the list of favourable house edges for players.
Let's take a look at the kinds of payouts you'll find in Blackjack and the ways the house makes their advantage pay.
Blackjack Payouts - Classic Blackjack
The payouts can vary wildly across different blackjack variants. But in general, a blackjack pays 3/2 or 2/1, with the Insurance side bet paying 2/1.
Let's take Classic Blackjack as an example.
If a player gets a Blackjack (dealt a hand worth 21 containing an ace and a 10 or picture card) they get paid 3/2 their money straight away.
If both you and the dealer get blackjack, the hand 'pushes' and you keep your original stake.
If the dealer busts, players automatically get paid a win worth 1/1 (even money).
Now compare that to a game like Playtech's 21 Duel Blackjack. Here, two 'communal' cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table which are shared by both the dealer and the player. A win, as in Classic Blackjack, is paid 1/1 but as community cards are in play there's no blackjack that can be won.
Know Your House Edge
As with any table game, it's vital to understand the house edge you're dealing with. The house edge is the statistical advantage the casino has over the player, and this can increase or decrease depending on the game.
For example, whether the blackjack variation is played with six or eight decks, whether the dealer stands on 17 or hits, and whether the player can surrender early or late; all of these factors can alter the blackjack odds dramatically.
So, which variants are best for the house edge? While the exact rules can vary slightly from casino to casino, Atlantic City Blackjack odds are considered the best.
Played with eight decks, Atlantic City lets players Surrender late if the dealer peeks to see if he has blackjack. This reduces the house edge for Atlantic City Blackjack to around 0.43%. Compare this to Spanish 21 Blackjack, which has a house edge of 0.76%, and Super Fun 21, which carries a relatively big 0.96% edge.
In short, the bigger the risk to the casino, the bigger the house edge. And where does the house have the edge? Simply, because the player has to take his turn first. The risk is always with the player as he never knows when to stand or take a hit on another card. Even if the dealer busts when the player busts too, the house will still take your stake.
Players Have the Power
To the uninitiated Canadian blackjack player, it would seem the odds are forever against them.
But players do have an advantage over the house is some pretty unique ways:
Players can double down - If players are dealt 11, an additional bet is allowed (the double-down) so they can have the chance to hit a 10 and make their 21.
Players can split pairs - Dealt a pair of 8s? Players have the luxury of splitting them to have the chance of making two winning hands.
Players have the option when to stand - In most blackjack games, dealers are forced to stand or hit on certain numbers. However, players have no such limitations.
Blackjack pays 3/2 - A player making blackjack gets paid 3/2 their money. The dealer, however, only 'wins' even-money, i.e. the wager from the player.
Improving the Odds
If you've come from roulette or punto banco in your local Canadian casino, blackjack can seem a pretty dull game in comparison, especially with regards to the payouts.
But blackjack is a game about lots of steady wins. The house edge is low compared to other table games, and it can be skewed even more in your favour by employing some simple tips.
Learn some basic blackjack strategy - As well as a cheat sheet (see below) it's important to understand the rules fully before you play. This can involve some basic card counting skills (more tricky in online games).
Finding the right games - The advent of software has led to some pretty new and exciting blackjack variants for Canadians. But with it brings games that might not look so good on the payout front. While a game like Blackjack Switch sounds pretty cool (players can swap cards from their two hands to form new hands) a blackjack payout is reduced from 3/2 to 1/1. Suddenly those odds don't look so good.
Also hunt out a good house edge. A liberal game that has a Late Surrender and the dealer standing on 17 gives the player a great advantage and reduces the house edge to under 0.30%.
Print a cheat sheet - Whatever game you play, it's vital to print out a blackjack cheat sheet before you play. Here you will find the optimum play for every move in that variant. This way you can skew the house edge slightly in your favour.
Frequently Asked Questions
Blackjack odds are based upon two things, the frequency of cards and the actual variety of blackjack game. These two things combined will determine the odds for that game. Remember all table games are in the house’s favour. The name of the game is to beat the house.
Yes. They're favourable, but can be even more so when taking into consideration how many decks are involved in some varieties. The odds can sometimes reach as high as 43%.
All online casino games are based on RNG - random number generators. Unlike many online games which are totally random, in the case of online blackjack there are a set number of cards per deck and an established number of decks.
This completely depends on the online blackjack casino that you're playing at and the variant that you've decided on. Many sites set maximum bets at C$200. In certain versions of the game, with a 'blackjack' hand, players can win staggering amounts of money.
Yes, but this only applies to land based blackjack play as multiplayer online blackjack does not exist. At a live blackjack table with many players, the odds are higher as it is easier to count cards and make strategic moves.
Strategies can help give you the upper hand when it comes to playing online blackjack games, but ultimately it is a game of chance. One of the most important things that an online gambler should always remember is that no strategy is air tight or guarantees you a win.