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This guide will tell you all you need to know about blackjack odds and probability so that you can bring your betting game to a whole new level.
Let’s get started.
Blackjack Odds and House Edge
Many people use odds and probability as interchangeable notions, but that’s not the case.
Let’s start by understanding what the odds are. They show us the ratio between the number of wanted outcomes and the number of ways in which the desired result will not occur. In other words, they are a reflection of the probability of having a winning or a losing hand, if you look at it in terms of blackjack.
Let’s take single-deck blackjack as an example. The odds for getting a jack of hearts from a deck composed of 52 cards is 1 in 51, or 51:1. This tells us that there is only one desired outcome and 51 other ways in which it won’t happen.
The odds can be affected in many ways. Having extra decks in the shoe, lowering the payouts in games, and implementing certain rules, such as banning doubling down after splitting, can all alter the odds in a blackjack game.
The house edge is also closely related to odds and probability, but its significance needs to be clarified. Namely, the house edge represents the built-in advantage of any casino game that will ultimately ensure players lose more than they win.
For example, consider a simple thing as flipping a coin. The true odds for each side will be 1:1, right? However, the casino will pay the winnings at odds of 0.9:1, and the difference is credited to house edge. If we transfer it to percentage rates, you will get a 10% house edge, or in terms of dollars, for $1 wagered, you will lose 10 cents.
The initial house edge in most blackjack games is 8%. However, by applying the basic strategy, you can lower the house edge to a mere 0.5%, which is why this casino classic is so favored among most players.
The odds of winning at blackjack can easily be as high as 42.22%, while the chances of losing are 49.10% since 8.48% of all blackjack games end in a push.
Probability is a separate branch of mathematics with a very specific purpose — to show the likelihood of an event occurring. In terms of blackjack, it’s the probability of winning or losing with certain cards in your hand.
You can calculate the probability if you divide the number of winning outcomes by the number of all possible outcomes.
To use the cards analogy again, the probability of drawing a king of clubs from a fresh 52-card deck is 1 in 52, or 1/52 = 0.0192, or 1.92%. If you compare drawing just that particular king to any of the four kings, you get a probability of 4 in 52, or 4/52= 0.0769, or 7.69%.
Since probability is best seen in percentages, it’s evident that the likelihood of landing any king is far greater than getting a particular king.
Blackjack Probability Charts
We have already pointed out that the chances of winning can change depending on the rules of the game, the dealer’s up card, and the cards removed from the deck.
We will start with the basic table showing the probability of getting a blackjack based on the total value of certain cards:
Now let’s see the probability of a dealer busting and how card removal affects it. For starters, the math says that the initial lower cards for the dealer favor the player, as opposed to higher cards.
Here’s a table with the probability of a dealer busting with a specific card in a soft 17 blackjack game.
|Dealer’s up card||Probability of dealer busting with this card on a soft 17 game|
|10, J, Q, K||21.43%|
How Do Blackjack Variations Impact the Odds and House Edge (Blackjack Odds Table)
Whether the dealer hits or stands after a soft 17, the number of decks, side bets, or if blackjack is paid in 3:2 or 6:5 odds are just some of the factors that impact the odds of winning and the overall house edge. These rules change the gameplay and therefore affect the odds.
The following table will show you how these changes in the rules affect the house edge.
|Blackjack rules||Impact on house edge|
|8 decks instead of 1 deck||+0.61%|
|6:5 payout instead of the standard 3:2||+1.3%|
|Dealer hits on soft 17||+0.21%|
|No doubling down after splitting||+0.14%|
|Doubling down only allowed with a total of 10 or 11||+0.18%|
|Aces can’t be re-split||+0.07%|
|Hitting on split aces not allowed||+0.18%|
|5 Card Charlie||-1.46%|
Blackjack odds and probability are an intrinsic part of the game, and the better you understand them, the more likely you are to make the right choice.
Your best bet is to master the basic blackjack strategy and use it to to lower the house edge to its minimum, which is 0.5%. You won’t beat the casino, but you could give yourself a better chance of winning more.