Blackjack Odds – An Examination of House Edge

Understanding the Player’s Odds of Winning Blackjack

Understanding the Player’s Odds of Winning Blackjack

Most players who enter a casino head straight to the slot machines. Many intend to check out table games, but once they see all the people, they become intimidated. It’s so much easier to sit in front of a machine and press buttons than it is to engage with others who are surely far more knowledgeable. “You’ll only embarrass yourself!” our brains tell us. But if you’re familiar with the odds of blackjack, compared to so many other games – especially those slot machines – you’ll understand why you really are better off joining the tables.

Blackjack is one of the lowest-edge games you’ll find in any casino. When the house edge is low, your odds of winning become higher. That is, if you play with the right strategy. That’s another big difference between blackjack and slot machines. You get to make decisions that will impact your odds. But that’s a discussion for another page.

Understanding Your Odds of Winning Blackjack

There are two ways to look at the odds in a blackjack game. The first is the house edge. It is a percentage figure that defines the casino’s advantage over players. The smaller the house edge is, the better it is for you. In blackjack, the edge should always be below 1%. Most times it will be quite a bit lower, averaging around 0.5%, but anything higher is an absolute rip-off.

The other representation of odds is what we call the return to player, or RTP for short. The game’s “return” is also displayed in percentage form, and depicts the amount of money a player can expect to win back. This number should be high; 99% or above. It is a theoretical figure, though. You can’t expect to win back 99% of your wagers if you only place a few bets. Over the long term – over many, many sessions – your results should be incredibly close to that 99%, assuming you follow basic strategy.

See our guide to Playing Blackjack with the Highest RTP for more info on edge, RTP, and how these odds are determined by the exact rule variations of each game.

If you have a hard time distinguishing between house edge and RTP, think of it this way. The edge and RTP are polar opposites. Because they are both percentages, if you bring them together, you’ll always get exactly 100%. For example, if a blackjack game has a house edge of 0.46%, then it must have an RTP of 99.54%. Do the math:

0.46% + 99.54% = 100%

So, 99% RTP Means Negative Blackjack Odds?

Yes, that’s precisely what it means. Any RTP below 100% should be perceived as an expected loss. Likewise, any house edge above 0.00% is an expected loss. With a house edge of 1% (RTP 99%), you can expect to lose 1% of all your bets.

Don’t be so disappointed. You can’t seriously expect there to be a blackjack game out there that would be easy enough to beat with nothing more than basic strategy. Were that the case, casinos would have gone out of business long ago.

And if you think the casino’s edge is ‘unfair’, well, you’re wrong there too. A casino is a business, and every business is in business to make money. So no, there are no games with over 100% RTPs. Not by house rules or basic strategy, anyway. The only way you can increase your odds of winning blackjack to above 100% is to employ precise, dedicated strategies that go beyond the usual act of good decision making. Which brings us to our next topic…

Blackjack Card Counting

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George Thomson is a Bitcoin enthusiast and all around crypto currency nerd... When he's not busy researching crypto, he likes hiking the national parks of British Columbia . He lives in an eco-friendly home with his wife Jana and their two daughters, Sandra and Rose. His favorite word is "sustainability".
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