Does blackjack have the “best” odds?

DOES BLACKJACK HAVE THE “BEST” ODDS FOR THE PLAYER?

By Michael Dalton

Yes! Actually, it depends on the rules of the game and the skill of the player. A single deck game with Las Vegas Strip (LVS) rules and double after splitting (DAS) allowed actually gives the player a 0.1% advantage. This assumes, of course, that the player uses the “correct” basic strategy.

You probably won’t find a casino today offering the above great rules but they were once available. In the 1990s, the Las Vegas Frontier casino offered this game while they were on strike — and that lasted several years. The games were always busy and they earned a reputation as being the local card counter’s hang-out.  Sharp players are always looking for games with great rules.

Even today, the game of blackjack still offers the player the best odds in the house. Compared with the next best gamble, the craps pass line (and don’t pass line) offer players a 1.4% casino advantage. Blackjack players would have to look long and hard to find a blackjack game with a casino edge as high as this. If you ignore your typical “double exposure” type games and other high casino edge blackjack variations, the worst blackjack game that a player might run into would be an 8-deck game with double on 10 and 11 only, dealer hits soft-17 and no resplits. Casino advantage? … only about 1%! Generally, as long as naturals are paid at 3 to 2, this game is probably better than any other in the casino.

But unlike craps, which requires only a knowledge of where to place your bet, blackjack requires skill. Players must have memorized basic strategy and be willing to place more money on the table when called for in double down and split situations. It is no wonder that casinos continue to offer this game. The continuous flow of inexperienced new players and players who refuse to follow basic strategy increase the casino’s advantage upwards of 5% or so. And, if you believe in published “win rate” figures casinos are winning over 10% of all money wagered at blackjack tables across the country.

CASINO ADVANTAGE (HOUSE EDGE)
VS BASIC STRATEGY PLAY

1-dk LVS & DAS -.14%
1-dk LVS +.00%
1-dk LVS & H17+.05%
1-dk D10 & H17 +.47%
2-dk LVS & DAS +.19%
2-dk LVS +.34%
2-dk LVS & H17
+.54%
2-dk D10 & H17 +.75%
4-dk LVS & DAS +.35%
4-dk LVS +.49%
4-dk LVS& H17
+.71%
4-dk D10 & H17 +.90%
6 -dk LVS & DAS +.41%
6 -dk LVS +.55%
6 -dk LVS& H17
+.76%
6 -dk D10 & H17 +.94%
8-dk LVS & DAS+.43%
8-dk LVS+.57%
8-dk LVS& H17+.79%
8-dk D10 & H17 +.97%
Double Exposure (Typical) +1.1%

  LVS = Las Vegas Strip rules where you can double on any two cards and the dealer stands on Soft-17
  DAS = Double After Splits allowed.
  D10 = Double on 10 and 11 only
  H17 = Dealer hits on Soft-17

Example: 1-dk LVS & DAS shows a -.14% casino advantage, which means the player has a .14% advantage using perfect total dependent basic strategy.  All other games show the player with a disadvantage using only basic strategy.

[ Blackjack Rule Variations Chart ] [ Blackjack Calculator from the Wizard of Odds ]


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FAQ 1: Originally published in Volume 4 Issue 2 of Blackjack Review Magazine

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