Why Does the House Have an Edge in Blackjack?

 Why Does the House Have an Edge in Blackjack?

Earlier this year, I was asked to speak to a group of inexperienced players before their casino trip. One who had just started playing blackjack said he was confused over why the house had an edge. After all, the dealer is stuck hitting or standing according to set rules, while players can make decisions, and the dealer can’t double down, split pairs or get paid 3-2 on blackjacks.

That’s all true, but those are all ways to make up for the one big edge the casino has:

Players can bust and lose before the dealer even plays his hand.

If you played the same strategy as the dealer, you would bust about 28 percent of the time and so would the dealer. You and the dealer would both bust about 8 percent of the time – 28 percent of 28 percent.

When either you or the dealer made a standing hand of 17 or better, you would win 46 percent of decisions and the dealer also would win 46 percent. But on the 8 percent of hands both you and the dealer busted, you’d lose.

Overall, the dealer would win 54 percent of hands and you’d win 46 percent, an 8 percent house edge that would be much too high to overcome. Hardly anyone would play.

However, you don’t have to make the same plays as the dealer. You can double down. You can split pairs. And you get paid extra on two-card 21s. All those factors help cut trim the house edge from that 8 percent starting point.

A  player who learns basic strategy can narrow the house edge to less than 1 percent – about 0.62 percent in a six-deck game in which the dealer hits soft 17, pays 3-2 on blackjacks, you can double down on any first two cards, and split Aces only once but other pairs up to three hands.

That’s a long trip below 8 percent, but all those wrinkles are necessary with the house having such a powerful edge from the start.

Posted by Alex on

This makes lots of sense, do you by chance happen to have a little bit of time to answer some simple questions I have?

Posted by Crispin on

This is interesting, thanks. I have another question. I have been playing a virtual world casino game, and it seems like the dealer is hitting 21 an impossible number of times. It’s like the dealer gets 21 more times in one sitting than I get in a week! lol Is there any explanation for this? I have to say it sure looks suspicious to me, but maybe you know of an explanation?

Posted by Robert E.Larson on

Good solid information !!!! Thanks !!!

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