## Blackjack Payouts and Blackjack Odds

Have you ever thought about the payouts you receive in a game of blackjack?

Oh I am sure you have thought about it in terms of money. You know not to play in a game of blackjack if the payout for a natural is 6-5 because it means you will receive less money.

But have you thought about blackjack payouts in terms?

Probably not.

Another reason not to play in a 6-5 payout blackjack game is what that payout does to your blackjack odds. That so-called payout takes 1.39% off of your blackjack odds. In fact, the only payout worse than a 6-5 is an even money—that knocks 2.27% off.

The reason for the hit to the odds is because a smaller payout is an opportunity to make less when winning. Blackjack odds are based on opportunities for the player to make money. If a house rule or payout provides the player with an opportunity to make more than the standard amount given simply for beating the dealer, then that house rule or payout increases the player’s odd.

On the other hand if the house rule or payout takes away from the opportunity to make money, that house rule or payout decrease the player’s chances.

So is there are a few payouts that decrease a player’s blackjack odds—not to mention money. Are they are payouts that increase the player’s odds?

There is. A 2-1 payout for a natural blackjack increases a player’s blackjack odds and money.

For a 3-2 payout a player receives \$1.50 for every dollar that they wager. For a 2-1 payout a player receives \$2 for every dollar wagered. It does not sound like much but in terms of a standard \$10 wager, you would receive \$20 instead of \$15.

As for odds, a 2-1 payout increases a player’s blackjack odds by 2.27%, which is quite a nice increase.

So if you can find a game with a 2-1 payout play in that game since that blackjack payout will increase your blackjack odds.

## Blackjack Strategy: Winning and Losing with Insurance

Over the weekend a question related to blackjack strategy and insurance came in. I was asked if it was possible to work insurance into one’s blackjack strategy and win with it.

I had to sigh. Here we go again with insurance and blackjack strategy.

Insurance should not have any place in a player’s blackjack strategy.

Insurance is not the protective play that the casinos would like for players to believe it is. Insurance is only a side bet on whether the dealer has a card worth 10 as a hole card. In other words, a side bet on whether the dealer has a natural blackjack or not. Players only win their insurance wagers when the dealer does have blackjack.

So first you are rooting for the house to win if you want to collect on that insurance bet. And there is something just wrong about rooting for the house to win.

Second, if you do win your insurance wager, you are not anymore ahead. Sure you might think you are because you have won the side bet. Whoopie! You won the side bet! But since the dealer has won with a natural blackjack, you have lost the round.

In money-speak: yes, you won \$10 from your insurance wager, but you lost your original \$10 wager. Pat yourself on the back and order a drink from the nice waitress to celebrate.

In a round winning an insurance side bet causes you to break even. You are no further ahead money-wise. And since you gave money to the house you did not have to you actually hurt your own blackjack odds.

Side bets hurt your blackjack odds because they put you in a position to lose more money faster. Imagine if you lost both the insurance side bet and lost the round—you would then be out more money than if you had only lost the round.

And, yes, it is possible to lose both the insurance bet and the round. Say the dealer actually has a 9 for a hole card, giving him a soft 20 that he stands on; and you only have a 19. You lost your insurance bet and the round.

The reason insurance should not be factored into your blackjack strategy is because it hurts your odds by putting you in a position to lose more money. Opportunities to make money increase your odds, and opportunities to lose money decrease your odds. So. No insurance in your blackjack strategy.

## Blackjack Odds on Busting: Who and How Often

Busting comes with one of two feelings in blackjack. Either you are quite pleased because the dealer busted, or you are none too pleased because you busted.

Your blackjack odds for busting is about once out of every six hands. That equates to around 16% of the time. And that is if you are a basic strategy blackjack player. If you do not play according to basic strategy, then shame on you and you will be busting more often. So go find a chart.

As for the dealer, the blackjack odds on him busting is twice out of every seven hands, which is around 28% of the time. But do not jump for joy just yet. Just because the dealer has busted does not mean that the house has lost.

This is where part of the house’s built in blackjack edge comes from. If the dealer busts it does not automatically mean that you win.

The dealer is the last to play out his hand for a reason, and it is not just to make it harder for players to figure out how to play out their hands because only the up card is visible. The reason the dealer plays last is because any player who busts before the dealer’s turn is out of the round.

By out I mean that should the dealer bust also, the player still loses. Players who bust first are already out of the game at that point and it means that there is definitely less money the house will have to shell out should the dealer bust. Let me show you.

Let’s say that you are playing at a full table, meaning seven players. Each of you is wagering \$10. For this example I am going to say that no one at this table has been dealt a natural blackjack. This means that, without any natural blackjacks, the house stands to pay out \$70 should all players win.

But four players bust during their turns. This is all before the dealer has played his hand out. So right before the dealer’s turn, the potential amount that the house has to pay out has been cut from \$70 down to \$30 should the dealer lose. And if he does lose the house does not have to pay any money to the four players who busted.

So even though your blackjack odds put you at a smaller chance of busting than the dealer, it does not mean that the house is at a disadvantage. That 16% in blackjack odds that has you busting are time when the house does not have to pay you.

## Blackjack Odds: Being Dealt a Natural

The crowning event when playing blackjack is being dealt that natural blackjack—those two cards, a 10 and an Ace. Nothing can beat you. At worst you have to push with the dealer. But that is better than losing. So what are your blackjack odds of being dealt a natural?

You are going to laugh at the answer. Players’ blackjack odds of being dealt a natural are once in every twenty one hands. Ironic, yes?

This does not mean that every twenty first hand is going to be a natural blackjack. It just means those are your average odds.

But I am going to take this blackjack odds knowledge a step further, and I am going to use it to further impress why 6-5 games should be avoided.

Okay, you are playing blackjack at 100 hands per hour. You are at the casino playing for two hours, which means that you are playing 200 hands. Based on the blackjack odds of being dealt a natural, you will have been dealt ten blackjacks. In theory at least, but just go with me.

Now comes the money and the math. Also known to me as the beauty and the beast, respectively.

Just focusing on those ten natural blackjacks we are going to compare what you would get paid in a 3-2 game to what you get in a 6-5 game.

In a 3-2 game, wagering \$10, you would receive \$15 for your natural blackjack. For those ten that your blackjack odds say in theory that you should have, you would receive \$150 in total. Now if you were playing in a 6-5 game you would only receive \$120 for those ten naturals.

In short you are handing over \$30 to the casino for enjoying what was probably a single deck game.

That is how your blackjack odds of being dealt a natural factor in to your payout. Consider those blackjack odds a part of your blackjack strategy in so much as it will help to further dissuade you from playing in a 6-5 game.

What you need to consider is which do you want more? The single deck game or the \$30? Me, I will take that \$30, thank you.

## Blackjack Odds of Winning

Time to test your blackjack knowledge:

What are the blackjack odds of winning if you ignore the ties?

Pushes, also known as ties, will happen around 9% of the time. But excluding those pushes, your odds of winning are 48% of the time with you and 52% of the time against you. And this is if you are playing according to basic strategy.

You might be wondering how you could possibly make money on this game if you are odds on to lose more often than you would win.

Remember that the 48% of the time you are expected to win is all wins, including the wins you have with natural blackjacks. When you win with a natural blackjack you receive a 3-2 payout instead of a 1-1 payout like you would with a standard win.

So say you are wagering \$10 and you win the round, you would receive \$10. But if you were to win with a natural blackjack you would win \$15. The times that you win with a natural blackjack puts a little more in your bankroll.

Another occasion in which you make more money than the standard 1-1 is when you double down. The payout for a successful double down is 2-1. Again, say you were wagering \$10 per hand of blackjack, doubled down and won, you would receive \$20 instead of \$10.

While there is nothing extra blackjack strategy-wise that you can do to increase your odds of winning with a natural blackjack, when you double down is in your hands.

Doubling down is a good play to make money in blackjack. But it is also a fast way to lose money. The key to making the most of this blackjack play is to know when the most advantageous time to double down are, and that knowing comes from a basic strategy chart. A basic strategy chart gives the best times to double down when your cards and the dealer’s up card provide you with a good shot of winning the round.

So it is possible to make money with your blackjack odds only giving you a 48% chance of winning. The key is in making the most of the hands you are dealt, using your blackjack strategy.

## Changes in Blackjack in Nevada

Blackjack payout or a dancer, which would you pick?

It seems that while the older generation of blackjack players would like a nice table off to the side where they can concentrate on their strategies and the game, the younger generation of blackjack players seem to prefer other things.

Like dancers.

In the last several months party pits have begun to pop up in brick and mortar casinos around Nevada. In these party pits there can be found blackjack tables that are positioned so that they are facing towards a stage. And on such stages are dancers.

On the surface casinos may appear to be whining about the increased cost of employing dancers, but I do not believe that this is the true case that lies beneath the surface.

Because of the increased cost of dancers, casinos are having to decrease the amount of their blackjack payouts. This is one of the explanations for the recent increase in the 6-5 payouts that are replacing the standard 3-2 payouts.

The reason I do not think the casinos mind this increased cost of dancers is because they can use that as a mask to cover the reason behind decreasing the payout. Because we all know that casinos are always looking for a way to drag a little more money out of a player.

Think about it. Imagine a young man approaching the blackjack tables in one of these party pits. His eyes keep coming back to the dancers. He probably will not really read over the house rules on the felt, which means that he will miss the 6-5 payout on the felt. Those same dancers will also cause him to focus less on his strategy—if he remembers to use it at all—which will cause him to make errors in his playing, costing him even more money.

No, the casinos are making more money from their dancers than they are letting one thanks to the distraction they provide. What I do not get is why any blackjack player would want the distraction. The idea is to play your best and to try to lower the house edge as best as possible. Why willingly throw money away to watch a dancer? I thought the point was to try to make money on blackjack.

## Blackjack Strategy: Can Insurance Help Me?

Recently I was asked a question in regards to blackjack strategy and insurance. The young man in question plays blackjack online, and had heard that insurance can sometimes be advantageous for the player. He wanted to know if this were true or not.

In a way, yes, it is true. But! But it cannot be used for online blackjack.

In order to make insurance work for you in terms of blackjack strategy you need to be a card counter. And I do not just mean that you have just started counting cards in the casino. You need to be a strong card counter.

Real quick let’s take a moment to review what insurance really is. Insurance is offered when the dealer has an Ace showing. The player can then make a second wager for half the amount of his original wager so that if the hole card is a 10 he will receive a payout that is equivalent to his original wager, but he will lose his original wager.

It sounds like this in not a bad idea, but players who take insurance will lose more money in the long run simply because they are wagering more money when they take insurance. Because insurance is really a side bet on whether the dealer’s hole card is worth 10 or not.

So if the player stands to lose more money in the long run, how can there ever be a time when taking insurance is advantageous to the player?

There are only two occasions when taking insurance could be advantageous: when you are holding a 20 or a natural blackjack AND you have been counting the cards and know that the deck is rich in high cards.

True the dealer could wind up with blackjack, but the net gain is the same. Take a look.

You are making \$10 wagers. You have a natural blackjack and take insurance. If the dealer does have a natural blackjack too, then you push and hang on to your \$10, but you also collect on the \$5 insurance wager, picking up \$10.

If the dealer does not have a natural blackjack, you lose the \$5 insurance wager, but win \$15 from having a natural blackjack. Subtract the lost \$5 from the \$15 you won, and your net gain is still the same: \$10.

But taking insurance under these conditions can only happen when the deck is rich in high cards, and the only way to tell that is to be skilled at card counting. And because this little blackjack strategy trick requires card counting it means that it cannot be used for online blackjack since card counting cannot be down in online blackjack.

But this insurance trick is still a fun additive to your blackjack strategy—a bit of a sneaky way to take a play meant to take a player’s money and turn it around.

## Blackjack Fun Fact Friday

I have declared that today shall be Fun Fact Friday. There will be no arguing with me on this either.

But I promise to stick to blackjack facts.

To kick off this Fun Fact Friday I am going to start off with when blackjack first came to the United States.

Yes, we all know that it is one of the most popular casino games. Multiple tables can be found in brick and mortar casinos across the country, and more casinos are moving to legalize blackjack in their states so that they too can jump on the blackjack band wagon.

But it was not always this way for blackjack.

When this favored casino game first game ashore in the United States in the 1800s it was not popular. After all it was an unheard of card game, and with all the gentlemen in the clubs in the city and the cowboys out west hooked on poker, there was not a lot of space for a new card game.

In an effort to make blackjack more appealing, casino owners began adding rules and side bets. Some of the surviving side bets have no become the blackjack variations we have today. And while many professional blackjack players today do not advocate side bets, in the 1800s that was how the casinos lured in players.

In fact, that is how blackjack got its name. The game originated in France and was called Vingt et Un, which is French for 21. When the game came ashore in the 1800s it was simply called 21.

But through the various side bets and special payouts offered 21 was renamed blackjack. This is because one of the special payouts was a 10-1 payout given if the two card 21 was made up of the Ace of Spades and the Jack of Spades or the Jack of Clubs. Hence blackjack.

The 10-1 payout has long since been retired, but the name blackjack has stuck. Even when the special payouts and side bets became blackjack variations and the game was returned to what we know it is now, the name was stuck and blackjack’s rise to popularity was set.

## Insurance and Blackjack Strategy—Some Things Do Not Mix

Have you ever tried to combine oil and water in the same container? It does not work so well does it? Sure, you can shake the container up again and again, but the oil and water will always separate. This is nature’s way of telling you that those two do not go together.

The same can be said about mixing insurance with blackjack strategy.

You might try mixing your blackjack strategy up a bit to take insurance, but the two will always separate. Insurance just does not feel right when playing blackjack. And so the two should always be separate.

The reason for this is you know that insurance is not your friend. It does not help your blackjack odds. For one thing you are putting out money to guard your money. Just say that out loud: Insurance is putting out money to guard your money. Does not sound right does it? That is because it is not right.

More often than not casinos and online casinos will collect either your original wager or your insurance wager. So you are losing money no matter what. If you won the round but lost your insurance wager, you lost money you did not have to.

Oh, and insurance and a natural blackjack—that is a big mistake. See, when you have a natural blackjack and the dealer has an Ace showing he will not offer you insurance. Instead he will offer you even money—which is just another way of losing money. Only this time you are losing it in your payout.

Insurance even money payouts are 1-1 payouts rather than the standard 3-2 payouts. And that hits your blackjack odds for 2.27%.

The point here is that if insurance is so bad for your blackjack odds, why mix it in to your blackjack strategy—which is supposed to increase your odds. Why do something to decrease your odds when you are trying to increase them? Insurance just seems so counterproductive to a strong blackjack strategy.

## Low on Money: Blackjack Betting Strategy

It happens from time to time. Okay, perhaps it happens more often nowadays with an economy that is not so great. Whether you might be a bit low on funds because of the economy or because you had to put new tires on your car, it does not mean that you have to give up your blackjack playing.

In fact you can work some low stakes options into your blackjack betting strategy just for those times when money is a bit harder come by.

First off, there is no blackjack rule that says you have to play the game at \$25 per hand. There are a good many blackjack myths out there, but the correct playing minimum is not one of them.

If you are playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino look for the blackjack tables with the lowest table minimums. There is no shame in playing at them. Often people will play at them for fun, to save a few bucks or to keep their bankroll in check.

The only thing to watch out for on tables with low table minimums is the house rules. You do not want to play at a table that is offering an even money payout on a blackjack, or one that allows the dealer to hit on a soft 17 or any of the major house rules that hit your blackjack odds hard.

For example, if you are faced with a \$5 that offers even money on blackjacks or a \$10 table with regular house rules, you will want to play at the \$10. Part of playing low stakes blackjack is playing smart. Playing at a table with blackjack odds eating rules you will lose more money faster, thus defeating the purpose of having a low stakes portion to your blackjack betting strategy.

Thankfully playing low stakes in online blackjack is a bit simpler. For one thing the house rules are pretty standard, meaning you are not going to find a standard game of blackjack with funky rules like an even money payout on blackjack or a dealer hitting on soft 17. The blackjack variations will have those, but you know to avoid those.

So all that is left when playing low stakes online blackjack is to control your wagering—wager the lowest amount possible. Many online blackjack games offer several wagering options ranging from \$1 up to \$100 per hand. Obviously if you want to go with some low stakes online blackjack, your strategy should be to make \$1 wagers.

The point of working some low stakes options into your blackjack betting strategy is so that you can still enjoy the game when your bankroll is on the low side.