A Simple Guide to Determining the House Edge of Any Blackjack Game

Blackjack Table With How to Determine Blackjack Odds Written Over it

When it comes to beating blackjack, you want to deal with the lowest house edge possible. A lower house advantage reduces the amount of luck needed to win in this game.

The best real money blackjack casinos online almost always provide the house edge or RTP on their blackjack games. In the case of RTP, you just need to subtract the payback from 100 to figure out the house advantage (e.g. 100 – 99.2% RTP = 0.8%).

What if the house edge or RTP isn’t available, as is the case with land-based casinos? How do you figure out your chances of beating the house in this case?

The following guide answers this question while also discussing crucial blackjack rules, tools for determining the house advantage, and what to do if some rules are unknown.

Know the Rules That Affect the House Advantage

Blackjack games can vary quite a bit on their rules. As a result, the house edge can range anywhere from 0.2% to 2.7%.

By knowing the main rules that impact the house advantage, you stand a better chance of finding player-friendly tables. Here’s a look at the most common rules and how they change the odds:

  • A 3:2 natural blackjack payout lowers the house edge by 1.39% in comparison to a 6:5 payout
  • A single-deck game makes the house edge drop by 0.49% when comparing it to an eight-deck game
  • Doubling down on any total reduces the house advantage by 0.25% compared to restrictions (9 through 11 only)
  • The dealer standing on all soft 17s lowers the overall house advantage by 0.20% when compared to hitting
  • Doubling down after splitting (DAS) always drops the total house edge at 0.17% compared to no DAS
  • Re-splitting aces reduces the house edge or advantage by 0.08%
  • Late surrender lowers the house edge by roughly 0.07%

Use a Blackjack House Edge Calculator

Not every blackjack table provides you with a nice, neat house edge figure. This is especially true in brick and mortar casinos, where no casino lists the house edge or RTP at the table.

In these cases, you need to first know a particular table’s rules. Once you determine the rules, you can input them into a blackjack house edge calculator.

These calculators are available at certain gambling sites. They save you the trouble of meticulously doing math on the rules yourself.

You might, for example, enter the following when determining the house advantage:

  • Six decks
  • Natural blackjack pays 3:2
  • Dealer stands on a soft 17
  • Double down after splitting (DAS)
  • Double on any two cards
  • Re-split up to three hands
  • No re-splitting aces
  • No late surrender
  • House edge = 0.44%

Again, you just need to know the rules and input them into one of these tools. The calculator will do all of the hard work and determine the house advantage.

What to Do If You Don’t Know All of the Rules

Unfortunately, learning blackjack rules isn’t normally as easy as walking up the table and watching a few hands. Below, you can see tips on what to do when you’re having trouble determining the rules. Keep in mind that most of this advice revolves around brick and mortar casinos.

Watch the Games

The most basic way to figure out blackjack rules is by watching the relevant game. When going this route, you simply watch as many hands as needed to figure out the previously discussed rules.

Assuming you have a good understanding of the game, observation isn’t a bad way to go. You may only need to watch for a short while before figuring everything out.

Additionally, the payout for natural blackjacks and whether the dealer hits/stands on a soft 17 are written directly on the table. You’ll know two of the most-important rules immediately.

However, you could spend many boring minutes watching hand after hand. If you’re somebody who’d rather be playing than watching, this time spent can be excruciating.

Check Out Blackjack Surveys

Some gambling experts go out in the field and conduct blackjack surveys. They do the painstaking work of contacting casinos and, possibly, watching games to determine their rules.

The same experts present their findings in an easy-to-read guide. You merely need to review such guides to learn the blackjack house edges at various land-based casinos in the US.

These surveys are better than visiting brick-and-mortar establishments and watching blackjack games yourself. You should ensure that you’re reading a modern and updated guide, though, because an outdated survey doesn’t help at all.

Contact the Casino

While blackjack surveys are great, they only cover major gambling destinations—most notably Las Vegas casinos. If you live in the Midwest or somewhere else without famous gaming hotspots, then you may feel out of luck.

However, you can always conduct your own survey. You could email local casinos and inquire about their blackjack rules.

Closeup of Blackjack Table

This approach might not always result in a satisfactory response. With enough effort, you could learn rules for some of the local casinos.

Search Online

Online research presents one more method for finding blackjack rules. You can run various searches on the rules regarding any particular casino.

Again, land-based venues are ones that don’t offer much information. Some online casinos, however, don’t provide the rules either.

In either case, you might try searching online to find rule sets. For example, you could search for “MGM Grand blackjack rules.”

Of course, MGM’s blackjack games are thoroughly covered by surveys. You can get the gist of how to perform this research.

The Importance of Knowing the House Advantage

Unless you’re using a card counting method, blackjack is a negative expectation game. The casino stands to beat the average player in the long run.

Luckily, you can shore up the odds by choosing games with low house edges. A low house advantage provides a stronger chance of winning money.

With that said, you don’t want to choose just any blackjack game. Ideally, your chosen tables will feature under a 1% house edge or better. In the best-case scenario, you’ll be dealing with between a 0.2% and 0.5% house advantage.

Here’s a look at what your theoretical losses under different circumstances:

Example #1

  • You bet $10 per hand
  • You play 80 hands per hour
  • You play for 20 hours in a month
  • The house edge is 2.0%
  • 10 x 80 x 20 x 0.02 = $320 in theoretical losses for the month

Example #2

  • You bet $10 per hand
  • You play 80 hands per hour
  • You play for 20 hours in a month
  • The house edge is 1.0%
  • 10 x 80 x 20 x 0.01 = $160 in theoretical losses for the month

Example #3

  • You bet $10 per hand
  • You play 80 hands per hour
  • You play for 20 hours in a month
  • The house edge is 0.5%
  • 10 x 80 x 20 x 0.005 = $80 in theoretical losses for the month

Factor Bonuses and Comps Into the Equation

You don’t have to rely on winnings alone to stay in the game. All land-based casinos and many online casinos offer rewards to blackjack players.

Blackjack Cards

At brick and mortar casinos, you can sign up for a players club card either online or in person. Afterward, you hand the card to the dealer when sitting down at a blackjack table.

The dealer will then pass your card off to the pit boss. The pit boss will rate your play based on your average stake and amount of time played. You’ll receive an appropriate amount of rewards based on your rated betting volume.

Here’s an example on how this works:

  • On average, you bet $10 per hand
  • The tables sees 70 hands per hour
  • You play for 5 hours
  • The casino comps blackjack players at a rate of 0.05%
  • 70 x 10 x 5 x 0.0005 = $1.75 worth of comps

Not all online casinos offer rewards to blackjack players. However, many gaming sites do give rewards and bonuses to blackjack gamblers.

As for bonuses, you can look forward to match deposit bonuses and free live dealer blackjack bets throughout the industry. I suggest only choosing mobile casinos that do reward blackjack players.

Be Sure to Learn Proper Blackjack Strategy

You can’t reduce the house edge to its lowest point without knowing blackjack strategy. That said, you should spend time studying the game before playing.

A blackjack strategy chart provides an easy way to master the game. It shows what decision to make in every situation.

The key, though, is to ensure that you have the proper strategy chart for the rules at hand. You wouldn’t want to use an Atlantic City rules chart, for example, when playing in Downtown Las Vegas.

A blackjack trainer provides another way to become an expert player. Trainers are programs that point out when you make mistakes. Over time, you’ll learn to play mistake-free.

So Now You Know How to Find the Odds at Any Blackjack Table

You won’t immediately know the house edge when playing land-based blackjack. Sometimes, you won’t even know this information in online casinos.

Luckily, figuring out the house advantage isn’t impossible. You can do so with knowledge of the rules and a blackjack house edge calculator. This combination ensures that you’ll always know the odds of winning.

Of course, you must also know the right strategy to improve your chances as well. Many different blackjack strategy resources exist across the internet.

With the right strategy and favorable rules, you’ll face less than a 0.5% house advantage. Few casino games can match this house edge.