The House Edge in Blackjack: Things You Need To Know

min read
A dealer placing a card on the blackjack table, with other cards and casino chips arranged on the table.
BetMGM Sep 29, 2023, 3:01 PM

One of the most popular live dealer casino games is blackjack or 21. It’s a game that combines strategy with luck, and it’s easy to learn. However, like with many casino games, there’s a house edge because casinos, whether land-based or online, have overheads, so it’s no surprise an advantage for the casino exists. One important advantage for the dealer is that the player acts first. This means that the player can go bust and lose his or her stake without the dealer doing anything.  

Luckily, however, the blackjack house edge, which plays a significant role in determining your chances of winning and can vary depending on multiple factors, is lower than for other gambling games like online slots. What is the house edge in blackjack, and are there any strategies you can use to help lower it in your favor? Read on to find out. 

Blackjack House Advantage

The more you know about the rules of blackjack, from why dealers swipe the table twice during the game to when you should double down, the greater the likelihood of winning. The same holds true for understanding house edge, which is the percentage a casino will win over the long term in any game. In blackjack, this can range from 0.5 percent to 4 percent with an inexperienced player, the blackjack house edge is approximately 2 percent. This means that for every $100 you wager, you can expect to lose $2. There are, of course, wild, short-term swings, but over the long-term, statistically, the percentage is between 0.5 percent and 4 percent i.e. the odds in blackjack are stacked against you. So what can you do to increase the odds of getting blackjack wins? Here are some strategies worth trying to reduce the blackjack house advantage.

Improve Your Blackjack Skills

There are many blackjack strategies worth following to improve your chances of winning. These include the following:

Standing

It’s best to stand on 17 or higher, even if the dealer has a 10 or an ace. Only stand on 12 if the dealer has 4, 5, or 6. 

Doubling

Double down on a hard 11 i.e. one without aces as this is an excellent starting hand. 

Splitting

This occurs when you hold two cards of the same value and choose to split your current hand into two hands. You’ll also need to stake an additional bet to the same value as your original bet. Splitting gives you a 0.4 percent edge over the house, tipping the odds in your favor that’s an exciting proposition. If used defensively, splitting lets you break up a bad-value pair for example, 8-8 into a better scoring opportunity and reduces the chance of a bust with 16. From an attack perspective, splitting leads to more money on the table if you’re in a strong situation and the dealer has a weak hand. For example, if you have two aces, splitting is advised. Don’t split 10s, however, as 20 is a great starting hand. 

Counting Cards

Although many casino movies have shown counting cards as illegal, this is, in fact, a blackjack myth. You won’t get dragged from the gambling floor for counting cards during blackjack. 

The goal here is to keep track of high and low cards. When many high cards, 10s, and aces are left in the deck, you may want to raise your bet to score the coveted 21. Low cards make it harder to get a blackjack and increase the odds of going bust. If you bet more when there are a lot of high cards left in the deck and bet less when there aren’t, you can flip the house edge in your favor. 

Remember, though, it only works for live dealer blackjack and not for an online casino game of blackjack. 

Know the Rules of the Casino

The blackjack house advantage can differ between casinos. For example, check out whether blackjack games are played on single or multiple decks. If it’s a single deck, the house edge is about 0.25 percent lower than games that use more decks because players are more easily able to count cards. 

Another casino rule that can change the odds in blackjack is whether you can double down after a split. If this is possible, the odds in favor of the casino fall by approximately 0.15 percent. In addition, find out the payout for hitting blackjack. Usually, the casino pays +150 for this achievement, but some casinos only offer a lower +120 return. 

Enjoy Playing Blackjack at BetMGM

To get the best out of playing blackjack, make sure you have a clear strategy before hitting the tables. Besides blackjack, BetMGM offers a wide array of exciting casino games, including baccarat and jackpot slots. Register today to test your skill levels, whether you’re an expert or just starting out.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.