Blackjack table

Blackjack House Edge: How To Beat The Odds

The blackjack house edge is between 0.5% and 2%. While this house edge is quite low compared to many other casino games, it is still important to be aware of it and understand how to reduce it.

In this article, I explain how the blackjack casino advantage works, what you can expect in different types of blackjack games, and how to turn the odds in your favor.

The Math: How House Edge Works

House edge or house advantage is the mathematical advantage the casino retains over players in a gambling game.

Roulette is perhaps the simplest game to explain how the house edge works. On a European roulette wheel, there is a total of 37 numbers. Yet, if you make a straight bet and win, you will get paid 35:1. Your $1 bet will turn into $36 instead of $37.

This seemingly tiny difference creates a house edge of exactly 2.7%, which can add up pretty fast, depending on the size of your overall bet.

The advantage in blackjack is a bit more complicated to explain since it changes based on the player’s action and strategy. Plus, there are different blackjack variants you can play, and each of those comes with a different theoretical blackjack house advantage.

However, when all the rules and options in blackjack are considered, the casino will retain a small edge over the player, which can only be negated by card-counting techniques in some cases.

What Is House Edge In Blackjack?

The house edge in blackjack is anywhere between 0.5% and 2%, depending on which blackjack table you sit down at and how well you apply basic strategy.

If you were to play blackjack very badly, the casino could have an even higher advantage over you, but there is no reason to allow that to happen.

By applying basic strategy and optimally playing every hand, you can bring the house edge down to 0.5%.

But, before you think about the strategy you’ll apply, it’s critical to sit down at the right blackjack table where the house rules work in your favor.

Picking The Right Blackjack Table: Elements That Change House Edge

From the very beginning, the casino gains an edge by having you go first and possibly bust your hand before the dealer even flips over their cards.

However, the dealer must also obey a certain set of rules when playing their hand, which can work in the player’s favor.

These are the elements that you should look out for when picking your blackjack table in order to give yourself the best possible odds.

1. Number of Decks

The more decks that are used to deal hands, the higher the house edge. The likelihood of making a Blackjack is highest when just one deck is used. For example, 8-deck blackjack house edge can be up to 0.25% higher than a single-deck blackjack game.

2. The Soft 17 Rule

Another rule that can work against you is the dealer hitting on soft 17. While it might seem counterintuitive, the dealer having to hit on soft 17 gives the house another 0.2% edge over the player.

3. Double After Split

Another thing that can impact the house edge in blackjack is your ability to Double after Splitting. Being able to double after splitting will allow you to make bigger bets with strong hands. This way, you can reduce the house edge by approximately 0.15%.

4. Double Down on Any Total

Many blackjack games only allow you to double down with 10 or 11. In other casinos, you may be able to double down on any total. If you can double down on any total and know when to do it, you can take away about 0.2% of the house edge.

5. Multiple Splits

Another way you can negate house edge is by playing games that allow you to split your hand multiple times. Splitting a pair of Aces is great, but re-splitting when another Ace comes off is even better. You can take off some 0.05% of the house edge by being able to re-split.

6. Early and Late Surrender

Having the option to surrender early (before the dealer checks for Blackjack) is another advantage you should look for. Playing in a game with early surrender will help you reduce the house advantage a bit more.

7. 3:2 vs 6:5 Blackjack

One final thing that casinos do to tweak the house edge is paying you 6:5 for a Blackjack instead of 3:2. You should always play in a 3:2 game instead of 6:5 if you have any option, as this will directly win you more money every time you make a Blackjack.

Blackjack table

Overall, you want to look for games that are played with fewer decks, allow you to re-split your hands and double down after splitting, offer early surrender, and force the dealer to stand on soft 17. You should also always play 3 to 2 blackjack if possible.

Expert Tips: Strategies To Combat Blackjack’s House Edge

Now that you know what house edge is and how it works in blackjack, I’m going to give you a few additional tips that will help bring down the blackjack house advantage and improve your winning odds every time you play.

Expert Tip #1 – Sit at the Right Table

The most important thing of all when playing blackjack is that you are playing with favorable table rules.

Take some time to find games that will allow you to re-split, double down after splitting, and surrender before the dealer looks for Blackjack.

These little details may not seem that important, but will add up over time.

Expert Tip #2 – Never Deviate from Basic Strategy

If you want to enjoy the best possible returns and the lowest possible house edge in blackjack, you will need to play perfectly.

Fortunately, blackjack is a completely solved game, which means you don’t need to do much to play perfect strategy.

All you need to do is study basic blackjack strategy charts and stick to them in all situations and without any deviations. Do this, and the house edge will be minimized to begin with.

Expert Tip #3 – Learn How to Count Cards

Card counting is only possible in live casinos and only in some cases. However, it can give you a massive advantage that no other strategy can.

If you can find the right game and count cards in it, you may be as much as 2% or 3% favorite against the house, and that’s a massive advantage.

Learning to count cards is also fun, so study the techniques away from the table, wait for the right spot to apply them, and beat the house at their own game.

House Edge Across Blackjack Variations

There are many different versions of blackjack that you can play in live and online casinos worldwide.

Different versions of blackjack come with different rule sets, and this impacts the house edge.

Of course, you should always look for the game with the lowest house edge possible. Here’s a quick look at the payouts and house edge in some popular blackjack variations:

Blackjack VersionBlackjack PayoutHouse EdgeEuropean Blackjack3:20.39%American Blackjack3:20.61%Blackjack Switch1:10.58%Video Blackjack3:20.5% to 2%Live Dealer Blackjack3:20.49% to 0.72%Free Bet Blackjack3:21%Face Up 211:10.85%

Note that all of these house advantage percentages only apply if you play the basic strategy to perfection and don’t make unnecessary deviations from optimal play!

Does Counting Cards Give You An Edge Over The House?

While it’s true that the casino always has an advantage over players, this is only true if the game is played without any extra help. Blackjack house edge and card counting are closely connected.

By applying the card counting techniques that the likes of the MIT team did back in the day, you can turn the house edge in your favor.

This is especially true if the game you are playing already has favorable rules and is being played with just one or two decks.

In this case, counting cards and understanding when you have the highest chances to make Blackjack will give you an advantage over the casino and allow you to place your big bets when the odds are in your favor.

Card counting only works in live casinos and is only possible if the shoe does not contain too many decks that are often shuffled, which can be problematic these days.

Yet, if you can find a casino that does not pay attention to such details, you may be able to play blackjack profitably and win big at this game of chance.

House Edge in Blackjack vs Other Games

I have compared the different versions of blackjack and shown you that the house advantage can be as low as 0.39% and as high as 2%, depending on table rules.

But how does this compare to other gambling games, and is blackjack the best game to play in a casino? Here is a quick rundown of house edge in different casino games for reference.

Blackjack house edge: 0.39% to 2%

Spanish 21 house edge: 0.4% to 0.76%

Baccarat house edge: 1.06% to 1.24%

Craps house edge: 1.58%

Ultimate Texas Hold’em house edge: 2.19%

Three Card Poker house edge: 3.37%

Roulette house edge: 1.3% to 5.26%

Sic Bo house edge: 8%

As you can see, blackjack is one of the most favorable casino games you will find, even compared to games like craps and baccarat, which are traditionally considered to have a low house edge.

Master House Edge for a Successful Blackjack Game

Blackjack is a fun game to play, and if you play it right, you’ll always be very close to breaking even against the house.

If you’re playing in a live casino, the cost of the drinks you get for free at the table may very well cover the entire amount of your theoretical loss in any session.

Keep in mind that different blackjack rules can impact the blackjack house advantage, so make sure you always play at the best tables available.

Also remember that there is a lot of variance in gambling, including blackjack, and that some nights will go your way, and others simply won’t.

As long as you remember you are at the table to have a good time, and are able to quit when losing without chasing your losses, blackjack is one of the best games to enjoy in a casino.

Want to put what you’ve learnt to practice? Try blackjack for free or sign up with a recommended blackjack casino.

Author: Nathan Sanchez