What is the House Edge at Blackjack?

Here we take a look at the house edge at online blackjack and consider why and how blackjack is somewhat different to a lot of other casino games when it comes to the house edge.

First off though, let’s explain what the house edge is. The house edge is the name given to the advantage the casino holds over the player, with every game designed to ensure that in the long term the casino wins and the player loses. Normal statistical variation – or luck if you prefer – means that the player can win in the short term but overall the house retains the advantage.

Roulette is perhaps the easiest game to use to illustrate this. A standard American roulette table has 36 numbers and two zeroes, for a total of 38 possible results. In a totally “fair” game with zero house edge the casino would pay a single number at odds of 37/1. You could bet $10 on every number, staking a total of $380 and whatever number came up you would get $370 for the win, plus your $10 stake back, thus breaking even.

However, the casino doesn’t pay at odds of 37/1 but at 35/1, meaning you would lose $20 from your $380. The house edge expresses the percentage of total stake the player will lose and so playing double zero roulette the house edge is 5.26%. The existence of the zeroes creates the house edge, or at least the odds that don’t reflect their existence do.

In blackjack things are slightly more complex because there are a huge range of rules and variations that impact on the house edge. What is so clever about the game of blackjack is that it’s created in such a way that despite all the different options and possibilities, the dealer, that is to say the house, always has a slight edge. The game is almost even but the house has the slightest of advantages that ensures their long term success.

Much of the advantage the dealer has in blackjack is that the player goes first and can bust, automatically losing their stake regardless of what the dealer does. However, all the intricacies of the game also contribute towards the house edge and the different rules you will find slightly alter the house edge.

For example, the more decks used, the greater the edge, such that a game with a single deck will usually have a house edge around 0.5%, whilst eight decks significantly increases that. Other rules, such as what value the player can double on, splitting rules, blackjack payouts and surrender terms also have an impact.

Regardless of all this, online blackjack remains one of the most competitive games when it comes to the house edge, making it a great option for the savvy casino fan.

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