Introduction to Blackjack Odds

Blackjack School

Blackjack is an exciting casino game that over the years became one of the most popular and sought-after gambling games in the entire world. The reason for this is that applying the right blackjack strategy when playing can reduce the house edge from 8% to as low as 0.5% giving players a better chance at winning big at the blackjack tables.

House Edge vs. Payout Percentage

The casino house edge is calculated by taking all the bets made playing blackjack and multiplying by the percentage of money wagered the casino will get to keep. House edge calculations always assume that the player is playing optimal blackjack strategy.

The house edge is always expressed as a percentage that coupled with the casino payout percentage will always total 100%. The payout percentage (sometimes called return percentage) expresses the percentage of the money wagered that the players will get to win back.

When calculating the payout percentage it is always assumed the player is playing optimal blackjack strategy and it refers to the overall average return for the total blackjack hands played.

Let us assume a casino offers a 97% payout percentage for their Atlantic City Blackjack. This means that the house edge will be calculated as 100 minus 97 = 3% house edge.

3% house edge or 97% payout percentage means the same thing. They are just opposite mathematically theoretical numbers expressing the same thing. In both cases, on average the casino will profit $3 for every $100 the player wagers.

Of course such calculations are based on averages of tens of thousands of hands played. There can easily be a situation where one player will play and due to a combination of applying bad blackjack strategy or no strategy at all they will have a payout percentage for example of 56% while another player using the correct strategy combined with a lot of luck will have a payout percentage for example of 134% thus making a profit of $34 for every $100 they wagered.

The odds of Busting

When making decisions in blackjack it is important to understand the probability of going bust by getting a hand total that exceeds 21. Understanding what are your odds of busting when you hit (draw an additional card) on different hands values can help you make the right strategic decisions and help you win more hands.

Total Hand Value Odds of Busting when Hitting
21 100%
20 92%
19 85%
18 77%
17 69%
16 62%
15 58%
14 56%
13 39%
12 31%
11 or less 0%

Understanding the overall house edge and probability of payouts, together with the probability of busting is the first step to becoming a successful blackjack player. We offer further information about the probability of different events in blackjack and the effects of different blackjack rules on the odds.

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