As casino games go, blackjack has a small house edge. This is the percentage of each bet that the casino will take in the long run, which is expressed as a percentage. The exact percentage will depend on the specific rules for each variation – and is generally between 0.26% and 0.56%. This means for every $100 bet, the casino stands to make between 26 and 56 cents.
This article shows you how small mistakes by players can make a big difference to the house edge of the casino. After that you’ll find some tips for making sure you keep the casino advantage to a minimum, and some information on how comps and bonuses can help you.
Blackjack’s small house edge is built into the rules of the game. It assumes that the player is using a ‘perfect’ strategy, making the best possible moves at every point along the way. In reality, very few people play perfectly in each variation of this game.
Mistakes in blackjack can be subtle – for example not doubling on a soft 15 against a 6, or they can be large, for example never doubling or only ever splitting aces.
In the short-term the player making smaller mistakes will be unlikely to feel the effects. Small mistakes can add 0.5% here and 1% there to the house edge, and these situations come up only every 10 or even 20 so hands. Depending on the total number of errors in different situations, the overall house edge might only increase by a few tenths of one percent.
Bigger mistakes, like standing on a 12 against a dealer 3, are cumulative much more dangerous. There are two reasons for this. First, the effect of giving away edge to the house is much bigger. This can be in the range of 2% for some errors. Second, these situations come up far more frequently. A complete novice can make mistakes on 30% of hands, which is simply handing money to the house.
Table and game selection is another common mistake which increases the edge for the casino. If there are two games with identical rules and number of decks, and one of them pays 3/2 for blackjack while the other pays 6/5, you could be giving up another 1.4% by playing in the 6/5 game. Once again, you can still go on winning streaks playing incorrectly in games with bad odds, however the house edge will show over time in faster losses.
There are 3 things you can do to keep the house edge to a minimum. First you can make sure you know the correct strategy for the game you are playing. Second you can take a bonus from your casino, and 3rd you can play somewhere that offer comps for the time you spend at the tables.
A quick note on betting systems, which many players believe can help redress the balance in their favor. This is not correct. The house edge will remain however you adjust your betting. Systems based on stake-doubling or more creative versions can help you ride out swings in the short-term. However over time the house edge is always there, the game has been designed so that it gives the casino their advantage however you choose to bet.
Perfect strategy will depend on the game rules and number of decks in play. You should start by making sure you have a solid understanding in Basic Blackjack Strategy. If possible you should find a strategy card for the specific game which shows you how to act on those marginal spots. Simply eliminating major mistakes from your game will ensure that you keep the house advantage as small as possible.
Online casinos offer bonuses for their players. These vary from sign-up bonuses to reloads and special one-off offers for playing certain games. With such a small house edge in online blackjack games, you’ll be able to almost wipe this out by smart use of bonuses. First, make sure your casino keeps you topped up with regular offers – if not then there are plenty of other places what will. Second, keep your casino bankroll in an electronic wallet like Skrill or Neteller instead of with the casinos. This will allow you to move it quickly to whichever casino is offering the most generous bonus offer at that time.
Finally, don’t forget comps! These come as rewards for the time you spend at the tables and can be swapped for bonuses or chips at many of the best online casinos. There is nothing more satisfying than playing the game with chips given away by the house – even if they do have a small edge at the tables.