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Blackjack Odds: How to Increase Your Chances of Winning

One of the best things about blackjack is its low house edge and multiple player advantages. In this guide, we will provide you with tips on how to improve your blackjack odds and illustrate what factors influence the house edge. Every little bit counts; removing just a fraction of the house edge percentage will make you a more profitable blackjack player.

Blackjack Odds: How to Increase Your Chances of Winning

The House Advantage in Blackjack

The house advantage, or house edge, is the percent of a player’s initial bet that the casino will expect to make in the long run. Flip it around, and it is the amount you would expect to lose. The house has an advantage in every single game – that is how casinos make their money – but not all games are created equal.

Fortunately, blackjack has one of the lowest house edges of any casino game. If we assume a standard game in which is a 6-deck shoe is used, dealer stands on soft 17, the player may double on any first two cards, the player may split up to four times, and the player may double after splitting, the house edge with basic strategy is only 0.4062%. Here, we are assuming the deck is shuffled after every hand.

Thus, over an infinite number of hands, the house will win just 4 cents for every $10 you initially bet. This doesn’t mean that you will never have a winning session, nor does it mean that you won’t have a terrible session sometimes. Anything can happen in the short run. The probabilities are for giant, long-term samples.

When it comes to blackjack’s house edge, one thing to keep in mind is that the number of decks used will alter the house advantage. Single deck blackjack has the lowest casino edge of 0.16%, which gives the player better odds. Double deck games have a considerably low edge at 0.46%. Most land-based resorts and reputable online casinos use six to eight decks for blackjack.

There are dozens of rules variations at different casinos, all of which also change the blackjack house edge. The table below lists just a few that you might see and how they affect the edge. Positive values increase the house edge in blackjack, while negative values decrease the house edge.

Blackjack Rule Variation Effect on House Edge
Natural pays 6 to 5+1.3597%
Dealer hits on soft 17+0.2125%
Double down on 9-11 only+0.0961%
Eight decks+0.0266%
Four decks-0.0532%
Late surrender allowed-0.0726%

To figure out the new house edge with a different blackjack rule, simply take the baseline blackjack house edge and then add or subtract the percentage above. There are loads more rules variants – the above are just a few common ones.

For example, if you find a blackjack table that pays 6 to 5 on a blackjack (a “natural”), run away. The house edge in that game, assuming all other rules are equal, is 0.4062% plus +1.3597% for a whopping 1.7659%. The change in house edge alone is more than three times the original blackjack house edge.

A rule of thumb is anything that pays you less, gives the dealer more flexibility in actions, or gives you less flexibility in your actions increases the house edge.

The Player’s Advantages in Blackjack

Though the house always has the advantage in blackjack, that edge exists entirely because you, the player, must act first. You can bust before the dealer does anything with his hand, so even if the dealer were to also bust, you already lost. The player has an advantage, however, in the decisions you are allowed to make.

You can boost your winnings by doubling down if the situation is in your favor. You also automatically get paid more on a blackjack (3 to 2 in most cases), whereas you don’t have to pay any extra if the dealer makes blackjack. Conversely, you can reduce your losses if strategically optimal by taking insurance when available or by surrendering a weak hand.

The dealer also has no flexibility in his actions. The dealer must hit in certain situations and stand in others. You, on the other hand, can reduce the house edge by hitting, standing, or splitting pairs whenever you would like. Every rule favors the player except for the one dictating he or she has to act first.

The Player’s Advantages in Blackjack

The Importance of Blackjack Odds

Unless you want to become a professional gambler, we aren’t going to sit here and tell you that you need to memorize every probability. At least understanding blackjack odds is important, however, if you want to be able to make the best decisions at the table every time.

Blackjack is one of the few casino games in which you have a reasonable chance to win in any given session if you have the proper skill. Understanding blackjack odds and how they work gives you the best chance at winning. Take a look at the following table that shows your hand value and the chances of busting with one more card:

Probability to Bust on An Extra Card

Hand Value Probability to Bust
11 or less0%

12 seems pretty safe, right? Safer than the other totals, but the next card will still bust you almost one-third of the time. And check out the jump from 13 to 14. You’re already living on the edge at that point. It’s obvious that with any holdings equal to 12 or more that you’re at risk, but you need to know how much you are at risk. Let’s check out the next table:

The Dealer’s Probability to Bust

Dealer’s Card Probability when standing on soft 17 Probability when hitting on soft 17

As we’ve discussed, the blackjack house edge comes from the dealer acting last. You are going to bust fairly frequently no matter what you do but understanding the dealer’s bust probability combined with your own bust probability can improve your chances of winning at blackjack.

How to Reduce Blackjack’s House Edge and Improve Your Odds

The blackjack house edge is determined by the rules of the game. We showed you some tidbits earlier to help you find the best games to reduce that house edge. But the VSO team have a few other pointers to decrease the house edge even further and get the most out of your gameplay. For this, we are assuming that you already know about the benefits of winning with basic strategy and at least have access to a blackjack strategy chart. If you don’t, we recommend you check out our in-depth blackjack strategy guide.

Composition-Dependent Strategy

When using basic strategy, we look at the total of our cards compared to the dealer’s up card. But not all card combinations are created equal. The cards that comprise your total can actually make a difference in the action you take, further fine-tuning your strategy and reducing the house edge.

For example, let’s look at a situation where you have 16 and the dealer is showing a 10. Basic strategy will require you to hit. Ok, easy. But what composition-dependent strategy says is that you would stand on a 4-5-7 because you have a couple of low cards that could keep the dealer from busting. That means that there are more high cards left in the deck and the dealer has a better chance to go over 21.

Hand Interaction

Hand interaction is a technique that allows you to take over the edge of a hand. This is something that is only going to be available in a brick-and-mortar casino. It is not something most players think about because it requires you to bet on another player’s hand or have another player bet on your hand. For example, if the player next to you is dealt 11, but is a timid player and doesn’t want to double-down, you give him the doubling chips in exchange for those chips’ winnings. Of course, the player has to be ok with this.

In a reverse situation, there are times where what looks like an obvious split scenario is a losing play. You may be able to convince a fellow player to pay the split cost for you, perhaps by appealing to their ego as the “more knowledgeable” player.

Card Counting

Card counting to reduce the house edge in blackjack is fairly simple, though very difficult to master. In its basic form, you assign a value of +1 to cards of rank 2-6 and -1 to 10-Ace. Whenever one of those cards is revealed from the deck, add the values. When the running total is positive, that means there are more high cards in the deck, which is good for you, as you have a better chance at making a blackjack and the dealer has a better chance to bust. It is when the total is positive that you increase your bet size.

This cannot be done in a typical online blackjack game, as the computer reshuffles the deck after every hand (or every few hands at most). It is possible to do in a live dealer online casino game that uses an actual shoe like a brick-and-mortar casino, but it usually won’t be very useful. The cut card is usually placed too early in the shoe and the hands are dealt too slowly to be profitable. If you’re looking to become a card counting pro, we recommend you take a look at our comprehensive blackjack card counting guide.

Loss Rebate

Again, this is something that is usually only found in land-based casinos. It is also a technique that is almost always reserved for high rollers, something they need to negotiate with the casino ahead of time. When online casinos do have loss rebate, it is generally as a limited-time promotion and open to everyone.

With a loss rebate, the casino refunds a percentage of your losses after you make a certain number of bets. The fewer the bets, the higher the advantage is for the player. After a while, the advantage shifts to the casino and the house has the edge. Knowing at what point in the session to quit and take the loss rebate can give the player a nice boost.

Casino Comps

To get comps at a brick-and-mortar casino, signup for a player’s card (they are free) and give it to the dealer when you sit down at the blackjack table. A supervisor will write down your information and note your average bet and how long you play. When you are done, the supervisor will figure out how much you should have lost based on your total wagers and the average house edge, then give you a fraction of that in comps.

The thing is, though, you are using proper blackjack strategy (right?), so the house edge over you is lower than what the supervisor calculated. Thus, your comp may end up being more valuable than the house edge. Keep in mind that the supervisor isn’t going to watch every hand you play, often just the beginning and the end. Thus, if you bet a little higher at the start, their calculation might bend in your favor. And if you slow down and take a couple breaks, you might still get credit for more hands per hour than you actually play.

Online Casino Bonuses

You may be wondering if you can get casino comps at an online gambling site. You can’t get casino comps at online casinos in the same way that you do at a brick and mortar one, since the software monitors every bet you make. However, if you play blackjack online, virtually every casino site has deposit bonuses, which you can use to boost your gameplay. The blackjack site will give you a percentage of the money you deposit as a bonus. This bonus is set aside and unlocked as you play. Some online casinos also offer re-deposit or “reload” bonuses for follow-up deposits.

Be sure to read the playthrough requirements, which tell you how much you have to bet and on which games in order to unlock your deposit bonus. Typically, the bonus is released piecemeal and has an expiration date. Most bonuses can be withdrawn after they are unlocked but check the rules to be sure. The online blackjack sites we recommend at VSO have been thoroughly vetted for some of the best bonuses in the industry.

Put Your Odds Knowledge to the Test at Our #1 Blackjack Casino

One of the great things about playing blackjack online is that you can play for a wide range of stakes and you can play at your own pace. Using proper blackjack strategy to reduce the house edge is no problem online. When you are ready to test your skills and have some fun, join our #1 blackjack casino site below:

Blackjack Odds FAQ

Each of the house rules for a blackjack game influence the house edge. Utilize some of the tips we laid out above in our blackjack odds guide to know which rules push the odds in your favor, and which rules are a disadvantage to you.

The odds of getting 20 in the first two cards is 10.26% in a single-deck game and 10.46% in a two-deck game. This percentage continues to vary depending on the number of decks used. Most reputable online casinos use six to eight decks for blackjack games.

The odds vary depending on the game rules and the number of decks, but the odds of a dealer busting in blackjack are about 30%.

The house edge in blackjack is the percent of the player’s initial bet that the casino should expect to win in the long-term.

The two easiest ways to reduce the house edge in blackjack are finding a blackjack table with rules favorable to the player and understanding basic strategy. Read our tips on this page to learn other ways to improve your blackjack odds.

Simply put, no. Even the lowest house edge on some side bets is over 2%. Why would you want to quadruple or quintuple the house edge when you are working so hard to reduce it?

Blackjack is one of the few gambling games where it is possible to win on a consistent basis because the house edge is so low. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of time, and a sizeable bankroll, though, so most people should not expect to be able to make a living on it. Just play for fun, learn how to improve your odds of winning at the blackjack tables, and be content winning more than the average person. You can perfect your skills stress-free with our free blackjack game, which you can play instantly via your web browser.

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