I am in a positive mood today. Last time I wrote I discussed the differences in the two types of surrenders that can be found in a game of blackjack. Both can do good things to a player’s edge in blackjack. Remember edge pertains to potential gain or loss of money for the player. As a player you want to keep your eyes open for the little extra house rules that will do positive things for your edge in blackjack. But first you need to know what some of the extra house rules are. So today I am going to share with you some of the special wins.
The best house rule that favors players for natural blackjack wins is when natural blackjacks pay out 2-1 instead of 3-2. Rather than making a $1.50 per $1 wager, players receive $2 to every $1 wagered. A $0.50 difference may not sound like a lot, but a $10 wager wins $20 with this house rule. As for the boost to your player’s edge, it is a nice 2.27% boost, which is one of the highest boosts a player can find.
Now if your natural blackjack is made up of two cards from the same suite some games of blackjack will payout 2-1. Logically you will not find this rule being applied in the same game as the one that offers a 2-1 payout for any natural blackjack. But if you cannot find the 2-1 payout on any natural, then 2-1 on a suited natural is still nice. This rule gives players a 0.57% boost to their edge.
What about push rules? It is not often that we find rules that make pushes in blackjack anything other than what they are. And when your natural blackjack comes up against a dealer blackjack it is such a letdown. Here you are thinking you are about to win a nice payout and then the dealer reveals he has a natural too. However there is one rule that can be found in some blackjack games that will remove that feeling of letdown: a tied blackjack still receives its 3-2 payout. Now there is a boost here of 0.32% in the player’s favor. This is because normally the player would only get to keep their wager rather than lose it but they also lose the 3-2 that they should have gotten, but the rule not only lets them keep their wager—it also still pays them 3-2.
These rules in blackjack cannot always be found. These are rules for blackjack payouts that players are meant to learn, tuck back into their minds and keep on the lookout for. Once spotted players remember and then join the game recognizing a good blackjack opportunity when they find one.
So, my dear blackjack players, I have been giving some more thought to the rules of Double Attack Blackjack and it has me thinking about late surrender and surrender in blackjack in general. Late surrender is one of two ways for a blackjack player to exit a round without losing all of their wager. But there are two different types of surrender and it pays to know the difference between the two.
First we are going to look at late surrender. A lot of novice players assume that because of the word ‘late’ in the title it means that late surrender is the preferred of the two. And while either form of surrender is better than no surrender, late takes a backseat to early surrender. Here’s why:
In order for a player to make a late surrender, he has to wait for the dealer to check to see if he has a natural blackjack. Only after checking can a player choose to give up half of their wager and surrender. If the dealer has a natural blackjack, then the player cannot make a late surrender. But despite that one drawback, late surrender can help a player’s edge by giving them a boost of 0.08%. This is because on the occasions that they can still surrender, they only lose half of their wager and not all of it, like they would if the dealer has a natural.
Early surrender, as compared to late surrender, allows the player to exit a blackjack round before the dealer checks to see if he has a natural blackjack. This significantly boosts the player’s blackjack edge, with a boost of 0.24%. The biggest difference is that once a player surrenders and gives up half of his wager, he can still keep the other half even the dealer has a natural blackjack. That is where the difference in the boost to the player’s edge is.
Between the two, early surrender is the preferred way to go, but it is less common than late surrender. That being said, if the only option is to play in a game of blackjack with late surrender or in a game with no surrender, go with the one that offers at least one form of surrender—that is if the other house rules are not too steep.
Do you give much thought to what your odds of winning in blackjack are on a hand by hand basis? I am going to guess probably not. Nothing wrong with that. Most blackjack players are looking at the overall odds, which is smart. But there are some blackjack players have some misconceptions about the odds of winning.
Just to rehash in case you are joining me here for the first time, the odds of winning a hand of blackjack, a single hand mind you, is 44%. The dealer has a 48% chance of beating you, and the remaining 8% is made up of pushes better known as ties.
Some of the less informed blackjack players think that their odds would change from hand to hand. This is not really so. The odds of winning are based on the rules of the game. And the rules do not change from hand to hand. And the rules of blackjack are set so that the house has the edge.
Now I know you might feel like arguing card counting, and while card counting can give players an indication of if the remaining cards are running rich in high or low cards, it still does not change the rules of the game. Regardless of whether the cards are running high or low the same rules for doubling and splitting or when you bust are still the same. This is how the odds of winning a hand are the same regardless of whether you are playing blackjack online or in a casino.
So keep that in mind when playing blackjack. But do not let it ruin the game for you. Blackjack strategy will help you make the most of your hand. Stick with your strategy. While it will not impact odds, it can hit the house’s edge and cause you to lose less money.
Stiff hands are the worst hands to get in blackjack. They are not automatic losses; players still have a chance to win the round, but the odds are not with the player, they are with the dealer. But how often do blackjack players really have to contend with stiff hands?
Stiff hands, for the record, are hard 12s through hard 17s. I include hard 17 in this because even though players always stand on it for being too high to hit, it does not have the odds that blackjack players believe. As for how often players should expect to be dealt a stiff hand, it is about 43% of the time.
I know, that is a lot. But stop and remember that blackjack players will lose to the house 52% of the time; most of those losses are wrapped up in that 52% of total losses. Around 83% of your money that goes to the house happens with those stiff hands. And all you can really do is make you play and hope for the best because the odds are not on your side with those hands.
So what do you do when you are dealt one of those stiff hands, knowing that you are looking at odds stacked against you?
The best option blackjack players have in the instance of stiff hands is to play the best statistical play; and we all know that those plays are found on a basic strategy chart. That chart will tell you if it is better for you to hit, stand or even surrender (if the casino gives blackjack players that option).
Basic strategy is one of the few set-down blackjack strategies that casinos are pretty cool with allowing players to use. But there is a reason behind that. Casino staff will allow the myth to perpetuate that basic strategy guarantees wins. Then, after a few consecutive losses, they can watch as players toss aside their basic strategy cards and return to playing haphazardly without strategy.
I am going to say this: Basic strategy does not guarantee players a win every single time.
Read it. Understand it. Remember it.
Let me ask you something, what is the percentage of losing three hands in a row?
That answer is 14%. You have a 14% chance of losing three hands in a row, even when playing according to basic strategy. That is because basic strategy gives you the best statistical play for any given hand against any dealer up card.
But no hand and dealer up card combination is 100% in favor of the player, unless it is a natural blackjack but then there is no need to tell a player what to do then. And since no hand and dealer up card combination is 100% in the player’s favor, players have to expect to lose a few hands. It happens. Not even players who are skilled in card counting will win every single hand.
Even though you can expect to lose some hands when playing blackjack, it does not mean abandoning basic strategy. It is still your best blackjack took against the casino; playing it perfectly—meaning no deviation, players—can lower the house edge to 0.5%, giving it the best edge of all the casino games.
I have been thinking some about card counting of late? Does it impact the house edge, a blackjack player’s odds or both? And that question brought up the difference of strategies such as basic strategy in blackjack opposed to card counting. Are they the same or different?
I am inclined to think that there is a reason casinos are not fond of card counting. And I think it is because it increases both a player’s blackjack odds and still impacts the house edge.
Basic strategy impacts the house edge in that it gives players the best statistical play to make. That does not mean that a player is more likely to win the hand. It is just the play that makes the most of the cards that have been dealt or minimizes the damage when dealt bad cards. But there is still a roughly 44% chance of winning. The impact that basic strategy has on the house edge is due to money and profit. The best statistical play does not guarantee a win, but increases the odds of profitability; that is how it hits lowers the house edge.
But on the other hand, card counting hits the house edge because players have increased their chances of winning as well as their profitability. They know when the deck is rich in high cards and they take advantage of that by increasing their wagers. In that way the increase their profitability while increasing their chances of winning. And that is why casinos have such a problem with card counting and the fact that a skilled card counter can tilt the blackjack odds in favor of himself.
The term basic strategy is tossed around all over sites with blackjack advice. It comes up when experienced blackjack players are imparting advice to novice players. And it is always recommended as the place to start with blackjack strategy.
But what the heck is basic strategy anyway?
Basic strategy is the simplest form of blackjack strategy available. Its most common appearance is a chart. Across the top is every single dealer up card, and down the left side are all the two card starting hands that a player could be dealt. Where the line of a dealer’s up card meets the line of a player’s hand is a play, either hit, stand, double down, split or in some cases surrender.
The play where the two lines meet is the best statistical play for the dealer up card/player hand combination. It is not a guaranteed win, but it is the best possible play for the player to make in that instance.
Over time playing perfect basic strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%. And by perfect basic strategy I mean playing every single hand according to that chart, no deviations. This can sometimes be hard since players do not always want to put down the money to double down or split. But in the long run it pays to do so.
Basic Strategy is also perfectly legal to use in casinos and online casinos. Some brick and mortar casinos will even give players basic strategy charts—but they do so in hopes that the player will believe that they are supposed to win every time, become frustrated and stop using the card, resulting in erratic play which in turn results in more money for the casino.
The best that a player can do is to use the chart knowing they are not going to win every single hand, but that basic strategy will help their odds in the long run. The purpose of basic strategy is to increase money making opportunities, and the better the money is, the better the odds are. Stick with basic strategy.
I am willing to bet you thought that this would be about why online blackjack is better than blackjack in a brick and mortar casino. You would be wrong. Forget that explanation. We are going to look at why online blackjack is better than other online casino games, namely online slots.
Online slots have a very dominate presence in online casinos and in the online gambling industry as a whole. Think about it. More than half of the games offered are online slots games. And, for the most part, online blackjack players do not have an interest in them. Online casinos are more than happy to let online slots take the center stage because they are the big money makers. Imagine millions of people around the world happily spinning away their money on slots; and as slots games are designed to take money over time rather than pay it out, casinos are happy to let online slots sit in the lime light and offer more slots games than other casino games.
But here is where online blackjack is better.
Online blackjack offers players a better house edge. And a better house edge means a better likelihood of making a profit. And who does not want more money?
Compare if you will: online slots offer around a 14% house edge and online blackjack offers around 4% house edge before any strategy is applied to it.
Can blackjack strategy help you to low that 4% house edge even more? Yes, it can.
The easiest blackjack strategy available for free use (and which is legal to use in online casinos) is basic strategy. This delightful little gem of a blackjack strategy tells players the most opportune play to make based on their first two cards and the dealer’s up card. While this does not guarantee a win every time, it does increase the likelihood of a win. Over time basic strategy can decrease the house edge to 0.5%, giving it the best house edge available to players.
And having a 0.5% house edge means a much better chance of money in your pocket. Hence, online blackjack is better than other online casino games. Simply because players stand to have better odds in online blackjack.
For the most part casino games are regarded as games of chance. In the case of games like roulette and slots and keno this is true. Thos are games in which players have no ability or control to impact the outcome of a round of any of those games. But blackjack is different.
Like how it is being debated in several courtrooms that poker is a game of skill, the same could be the said about blackjack.
Blackjack is a game of skill.
And by game of skill I mean that players can use different plays and strategy to have an impact on the outcome of a round. To start with players are not simply dealt cards and that be the end of the matter. Players can choose to stand or hit or double down or split pairs. They can even choose to surrender in some cases. There are different routes players can take in blackjack to get to the end, and it takes knowledge of the game and its odds to make a wise decision on how to play out a round.
Then there is blackjack strategy. Players can take the time to learn how to use strategies based on statistics and odds to help improve their own odds. For example players can use basic strategy which is based on the statistics of player hands versus the dealer’s up card. There is also card counting, which is a mathematical means of tracking the flow of the cards to determine if the remaining unplayed cards are rich in high cards which favor the player.
Blackjack players can use basic strategy and/or card counting to raise their own odds and lower the house edge. Basic strategy alone can lower the house edge to 0.5%. Card counting can bring the odds even over time in blackjack and even tilt them in favor of the player.
It is because players can learn to use strategy and can choose how to play out their hands that make blackjack a game of skill. The more practice they have in using their strategies, the more their skills—and blackjack odds—increase.
If you look at explanations of card counting and which cards favor whom, you might begin to wonder something: if high cards, such as 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces, favor the blackjack player then they also favor the dealer right?
Well, in truth, yes, they do favor the dealer too. Yes, it is just as likely that the dealer will be dealt a blackjack as you. But there are a few things built into the game of blackjack that, when combined with card counting, bring better odds for players when the remaining cards are rich in high cards. Today we are going to look at how payouts impact odds when the deck is rich in high cards.
Let’s say that you have been counting cards and the remaining deck is now rich in high cards. For right now we are going to say that the dealer is dealt a blackjack and you have not been dealt that pleasure. The dealer collects everyone’s wagers. For him this is an even money collection.
Now let’s say that you are the one who is dealt the blackjack and the dealer is on the losing end. As the recipient of a natural blackjack you get the special payout. And by special payout I mean the 3-2 payout instead of a 2-1 payout.
To compare the two, when the dealer is dealt a blackjack he only makes one chip for one. But the player wins three chips for every two that he wagered. It comes out to the player blackjack giving the player an extra chip that the dealer does not get.
What this means is that the odds from payout lie with the player. Blackjack Odds are based on opportunity to make money, to make a profit. And since the player would make more off of a blackjack than a dealer would, the odds from card counting and a remaining deck rich in high cards puts the odds with the blackjack player.