Understanding blackjack odds and house advantages will help you decide how to choose the best possible type of online blackjack. Read all about online blackjack odds and house advantages.
If you understand what your odds are when playing online blackjack, you’ll also be able to tell how to maximize your chances. And you’ll also start to realize what facets of the game affect those odds.
Online blackjack players may get into the game without much planning. Maybe you’ve played a little casino blackjack and want to have some fun online. Or you could be new to blackjack and want to try it where there’s less pressure.
Still, you should always look at online gambling as you would an investment. Learn as much as possible about the potential of that investment. Understanding online blackjack odds and house advantages is a great way to start that process.
In this article, we’ll explain the concepts behind online blackjack odds and the house advantage. We’ll talk about how you can control the odds in some respect by knowing what factors affect it. And we’ll also answer some of the most popular questions people ask about these concepts.
What Is the House Advantage?
You’ll sometimes hear it called the house advantage or the house edge, but it refers to the same thing. Basically, the vast majority of casino-type games are stacked against the player over the long run. This is how casinos and online gambling sites stay in business.
Some games have bigger house advantages than others, based on the rules and built-in odds. The good news about the online blackjack house edge is that it’s one of the lowest among most casino games. That’s part of the reason why it’s so popular.
How is Blackjack House Edge Calculated?
House edge is always measured as a percentage and is the inverse of the player’s payback percentage. If a specific game yielded a percentage of 100% exactly, you could be expected to break even playing it over the long haul. That makes the house advantage zero.
There are very few real money casino or online casino games that come in at a payback percentage of 100% or better. If you want to calculate the house edge all you have to do is subtract the actual percentage of payback from 100.
For example, imagine a game that is listed with a 98% payback percentage. The house edge would thus be 100 minus 98, which is 2%. Think of it this way—the lower the online blackjack house advantage, the better it is for the player.
This figure doesn’t include loyalty rewards you might earn from casinos or top gambling sites. If you can find a game with a very low house edge (ideally less than 1%) and consistently earn these rewards, you can make a profit in the long run.
Online Blackjack House Edge
Assuming standard rules and a player who knows how to make the right decisions in every circumstance using basic strategy, you can expect a payback percentage of around 99.5% to 99.6% for online blackjack. That means an online blackjack house edge or around 0.4% to 0.5%, which is very small. That sounds great, right?
Well, as we’ll explore, you won’t always be able to get standard rules in the online blackjack games that you play. The other key part of is the one about the player using strategy.
If you go into your online blackjack game without learning the basic strategy about when to hit, stand, double, split, and so on, your percentage will drop and the house edge will rise. That’s why you should always prepare by learning proper strategy beforehand, which we’ll discuss more below.
What Affects Online Blackjack Edge
Here are some of the rule variations that will help you determine the online blackjack games with the best odds:
- Blackjack payback: You should be looking for the standard payback of 3:2 whenever you are dealt a two-card 21. If you play a game where the payback is 6:5 or lower, the house edge rises.
- Dealer “soft 17” rules: Ideally, you’ll play an online blackjack game where a dealer has to stand on a “soft 17.” This is a 17 with an ace where the ace is valued at 11 instead of one. In games where the dealer can still value the ace as one in these situations and hit, the house edge rises.
- Decks used: The more decks that are used in online blackjack, the worse it is for the player. That’s because it will make blackjack a little bit harder to get.
- Split and double rules: Ideally, you would be able to make these plays in any situation as often as you want. Some online blackjack games restrict how many times and which cards can be used. The more restrictions, the worse it is for the player.
- Surrender: Novice players might not realize it, but being able to surrender your hand after a disadvantageous deal to lessen losses is an excellent strategy. If surrendering isn’t allowed, it works against you as a player and raises the online blackjack house advantage.
Online vs. Offline Blackjack Odds
For the most part, the odds for online and offline blackjack are moreso affected by the rules listed above than anything else. The big difference in the two is created by the fact that card counting, which can give an expert player an advantage, is extremely difficult in online blackjack.
Card counting only works when a lot of cards are out of play. But computer dealers reshuffle decks after every hand in online blackjack. That keeps all cards in the decks constantly in play and eliminates any house edge reduction from card counting.
You might be able to find some online blackjack games using live dealers. Unfortunately, even these games feature much more frequent shuffling than you would find in a casino. Therefore, the card counting edge you might gain is pretty much minimal to nonexistent.
How Strategy Affects the House Edge in Online Blackjack
As we mentioned above, it’s crucial to play online blackjack with proper strategy. Many people go into the game with homemade strategies that are actually hurting their chances to win. The more mistakes you make while playing online blackjack, the higher the house advantage becomes.
For example, one basic strategy that beginners use is one where they assume that the dealer’s hidden card has a value of 10 when making their decisions about whether to hit or stand. The problem is that, in actuality, the dealer has a less than 1 in 3 chance of having a card with a value of 10 hidden.
You’re better off taking the time to learn proper online blackjack basic strategy as devised by experts. This should lower the house edge a few percentage points.
That might not seem like much. But when you’re playing many hands per hour, it can start to mean several dollars at a time, maybe more depending on the size of your bets.
Advanced Strategy and Online Blackjack House Edge
In most cases, when people are talking about advanced strategy in blackjack, they are talking about card counting. An expert card counter can often bring up payback percentage two points or so, which can make the difference between profit and loss.
As we said above, however, card counting is pretty much worthless in online blackjack. One other advanced strategy that might help improve online blackjack odds bases your decisions about how to play the hand on the numerical value of each card, rather than the total value.
In other words, if you had a 13 that was comprised of a 10 and a three, you might be advised to play it differently than if you had a seven and a six. This strategy can shave a hair off the house edge, less than a percentage point. Yet even small advantages like that can help if you’re going to be a long-term online blackjack player.
How to Learn Online Blackjack Strategy and Minimize the House Edge
- Memorize lists of rules. These rules might say things like “always split aces and eights” or “double on 11.” You can find such lists containing a handful of general rules or ones that have dozens of specific plays on them.
- Get a strategy chart. A blackjack strategy chart has rows and columns that connect every card value the player has with what the dealer has been dealt. In each box where those rows and columns connect, you’ll find a symbol letting you know whether you should hit, stand, or perform any other action.
FAQ About Online Blackjack Odds
Do Online Blackjack Odds Differ Based on What Online Casino I Choose?
It isn’t so much the online casinos you choose that affects the online blackjack odds. Instead, it’s more important which rules they use.
You might find certain online gambling sites with different variations even within the single site. The bottom line is knowing which rules work in your favor and yield the best online blackjack house edge.
Should I Play an Online Blackjack Variation With Great Potential Payback Even If the Rules Are Confusing to Me?
You have to find the right set of online blackjack rules to lessen the house edge. But you also have to play with correct strategy.
If you’re a bit confused about the game you’re playing, that will lead to bad decisions. And those bad decisions will likely eliminate any edge you might have gained from the favorable payback. It would be better for you to play a standard game and play it well.
Will Blackjack House Edge Matter If I Only Play Every Once in a While?
Not nearly as much. If you’re only going to be a part-time online blackjack player, luck will be more of a factor in your results than any mathematical house edge.
Once you start playing on a regular basis, you should be trying to keep the house edge as low as possible. Over the long term, your results will be determined by the mathematical characteristics of the game once the luck evens out.
Conclusion on Odds and House Advantage in Blackjack
We hope that you now have a good handle on what online blackjack odds and house advantages are all about. And we especially hope that it leads to you choosing your game wisely and making the most of your online blackjack play.