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House Advantage

The House Advantage in Blackjack
by Jerald of Predictem.com

A number of years ago some co-workers and I were on a business trip and decided to go to Atlantic City. We were highly advised by some other acquaintances that this would be a bad idea. The reason they stated was that nobody ever wins there anyway, that is why they have those big glamorous buildings. Of course we chuckled over their comments because we just wanted to go and have fun and play some Blackjack. In this article we will look at the reason that the player is fighting an uphill battle and identify the house advantage in the game Blackjack.

Everyone knows that the casino is there to make money so how do they do it? The first thing we must do is define house advantage. This is basically the edge that the casino has over the player. This advantage is dependent on the game that you are playing. If you are playing slots then it is based on the payback rate, if you are sports betting than it is the vigorish that is charged for making a bet. In table games (blackjack, craps, baccarat, roulette, etc.) the casino makes their money based on the house advantage.


We will assume you know the basic rules of Blackjack for this explanation. The reason that the house has an advantage in Blackjack is because the player must make his/her play first. If the player busts then they immediately lose their bet. This is the only advantage that the dealer has over the player but it is a huge advantage. If the player hits on all hands that are less than 17 they will bust 28% of their hands. This is the same chance for the dealer. Therefore, the odds that both the player and dealer will bust is .28 X .28 or 7.84% of all hands. The player is paid 3:2 for a Blackjack (21 on 2 cards) so that reduces the house advantage to 5.9%.

Since the player has a choice on whether to stand on 2 cards or take another card then they can reduce their odds of busting (going over 21). This is how the house advantage can be lowered to make the game more appealing for the player. If the player can learn the basic strategy for Blackjack they will reduce their chances of busting from 28% to 17%. This would mean that the chance of both the player and dealer busting would be 4.76%. With the 3:2 payout on Blackjack the house advantage would be lowered to 1%.

My suggestion is to learn basic strategy or bring a chart with you when you play so that you can play with the slightest disadvantage out there. Remember they did not build those beautiful buildings and give out an enormous amount of comps from paying off their customers, but it is possible to have fun and win in the short term if you know what your doing going into it.

Want to put the odds in your favor? Check out our article on counting cards.

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Interesting Facts

Did you know... that the chances (probability) of being dealt a blackjack is .024%, which equates to one BJ approximately every 42 hands dealt?