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Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Blackjack House Edge

by Bojan • April 13, 2021
blackjack house edge

As one of the most popular card games, blackjack is available at every casino out there. Thanks to its fast-paced gameplay, this game attracts millions of players. Besides its entertaining nature, blackjack also has a rewarding side. Moreover, the blackjack house edge is among the lowest you’ll find at the best UK online casinos.

If this sounds too good to be true, it’s time we dive deeper into the magical world ruled by the number 21.

Eight Quick Facts About the Blackjack House Edge:

  • House edge goes by many names in online and land-based casinos, including house advantage, theoretical hold, and vigorish.
  • Casino games can have fixed or variable house edges.
  • The house edge in blackjack is around 0.5% as long as you apply the basic blackjack strategy.
  • Blackjack has a variable house edge, and various factors can reduce or increase house advantage.
  • Blackjack offers one of the highest return percentages in online casinos.
  • Blackjack games paying at 3:2 have a lower house edge than those paying at 6:5.
  • The house edge on blackjack (or any other game) only applies to a large number of bets.
  • The house edge does not imply you can’t have a winning session at a blackjack table. Short-term results are unpredictable.

Originally from France, the modern blackjack is a go-to game for beginners visiting land-based or online casinos worldwide. Since it is easy to master, blackjack often yields generous rewards. Yet, mathematical probability tells that, in the long haul, the casino will always get out on top.

If you wonder why does the house have an edge in blackjack, remember that casinos are not charities. Like all businesses, they need profit to survive. House advantage expresses their potential long-term earnings on each game, allowing the casinos to stay afloat.

Also known as theoretical hold, the house edge ranges from acceptable margins to sizable percentages. Either way, this element only matters in a statistical sense on a large number of bets. So, let’s see how the house edge affects blackjack in UK online casinos.

What Is the House Edge on Blackjack?

Unlike many other casino games, blackjack will have you playing against the dealer and not against other players. Of course, fewer opponents mean better chances of winning, ranking blackjack among the most rewarding casino games.

Since blackjack features dynamic gameplay with several decisions per hand, the house edge can fluctuate. Later on, we’ll explain how this works. Now, know that blackjack house edge can float around 0.5% if you apply the basic blackjack strategy rules.

In other words, you need to play a perfect game, making correct mathematical decisions at every point during a hand. Choosing when to hit, stand, double, or split can be challenging, but experienced players can make the right calls within a split-second timeframe.

However, a more realistic house edge on blackjack is closer to 2%, if not more. Here’s why.

How Does the House Get an Edge in Blackjack?

Like in all casino games, blackjack’s long-term probability leans in the house’s favour. We already explained the reason, saying that the so-called theoretical hold keeps the casinos in the business.

For blackjack, casinos derive the advantage from the number of cards in the deck. Also, the house often implements rules that can affect the probability of each hand.

As we said, the house edge in blackjack ranges from 0.43% up to 100% in case players don’t know the first thing about the game. The better decisions you make, the lower the house advantage (up to a certain point).

Since casinos can influence the house edge, players should carefully choose blackjack tables. The variable percentage is both a blessing and a curse, and it’s vital to be cautious when wielding this double-edged sword.

What Is a Good House Edge on Blackjack?

So, what should you do to find the best payout percentage on blackjack? The answer includes several methods and techniques that can help you recognise the favourable theoretical hold.

For instance, gambling sites offering a 3:2 payout on blackjack winnings provide a much better house edge than those paying out in the 6:5 ratio.

Another element affecting the casino’s house edge in blackjack is the composition of the deck. Precisely, the percentage of high-value cards (Ace, 10, J, Q, K) left in the deck could sway the odds in your favour. That’s why card counting, the infamous technique, has been banned from casino floors worldwide. In the online world, card counting is ineffective and, therefore, worthless.

The number of decks also influences the house edge, driving it up as the casino adds more decks into the shoe. These days, players will find the best blackjack house edge at tables with four or six decks. An eight-deck game of 21 comes with a higher house advantage.

Also, internal casino regulations can and will affect the house edge. Namely, the famous soft 17 rule makes a significant difference. In an ideal situation, the dealer stands when drawing 17 with an Ace. 

Likewise, regulations governing the Surrender rule can help you find a blackjack table with a good house advantage. In short, look for casinos offering this option, either early (ES) or late (LS) surrender.

House Edge on Blackjack vs Roulette

As you can see, the average loss per hand in the game of 21 changes according to various factors. In a way, players and casinos are locked in a perpetual battle of increasing/decreasing the house advantage.

Conversely, roulette and many other casino games have a fixed house edge. This self-explanatory term tells us that neither players nor the casino can affect the payback percentage mid-play.

Depending on the version, roulette comes with a 5.25% house edge for American and 2.6% for European roulette. So, when it comes to the house edge on blackjack vs roulette, it’s clear who’s the winner.

Even so, most casino lovers consider roulette a mid-range game regarding payback percentage. For instance, in most jackpot games, the house edge goes over the whopping 20%. Considering this, a mere 0.5% margin on blackjack looks like a bargain. Remember that this percentage increases if you make poor betting decisions and don’t follow the basic blackjack strategy.

Blackjack House Edge Explained

The game of 21 is up there with the most popular casino games in the gambling pantheon. Players flock to blackjack tables searching for fast-paced action, and many of them know that the winning odds are better than on many other games.

To be precise, the built-in statistical advantage that the casino has over the player starts at 0.43% and grows if the player makes poor in-game decisions. Like in any other game, the blackjack house edge expresses the casino’s average gross profit over the long haul. Thus, you could still end your session with massive winnings as long as Lady Luck works together with your skills in the game of 21.