# Blackjack Odds & Probabilities

A. Antonova (editor) |

## Odds and Probabilities – Can Players Outsmart Casinos?

Blackjack is a skill-based card game, which makes it extremely attractive for those who know how to make optimal moves on every hand. Playing with strategy allows you to reduce the house edge and improve your winning odds in the long term. However, optimal play requires extensive knowledge of the classic casino game and the way each card can change the outcome of each betting round.

With so many blackjack aficionados, mathematicians, and overall casino experts dissecting the game, nowadays, we have useful information readily available in numerous books and on the web. To help you understand blackjack gameplay better, we have provided detailed information on blackjack odds and probabilities, covering everything you need to know for more informed decisions while playing the game of 21.

## Blackjack Odds and Probabilities

The odds of a particular casino game are usually expressed as a ratio between the number of a given event to occur as opposed to the number of the same event not occurring. For example, the odds of drawing the Ace of Hearts in single-deck blackjack is 1/51 as there is only one Ace of Hearts in a standard deck of 52 playing cards. Usually, odds are presented reversely. In other words, the first number shows the chances of losing and the second number presents the chances of winning. This means that the odds of drawing the Ace of Hearts in single-deck blackjack are 51/1.

If you are a casino fan, you most likely have a basic notion of what the terms “true odds” and “casino odds” mean. True odds are the actual odds of winning a bet. However, casinos never pay according to the true odds and that is why it is true that the house never loses. The casino odds represent the payout for \$1 wagered.

Many people use odds and probabilities as synonyms, but the two terms denote different things. The probability is the percentage of a given event occurring as opposed to all possible outcomes. Let us take an example to provide you with a better understanding of the term. If you want to know the probability of drawing the Ace of Hearts in single-deck blackjack, then you have to divide the possible ways of the event happening by all possible outcomes.

Since a standard deck of cards consists of 52 playing cards and there is only one Ace of Hearts, then the probability of drawing the Ace of Hearts is 1 ÷ 52 = 0.019. Then, you have to multiply this number by 100 to express it as a percentage, or 0.019 x 100 = 1.92%. Probability is always a number between 0 and 1. If a given event has a 0 probability, it will never occur, and vice versa.

## Comparing the Odds: Blackjack Variations

Instead of leaving you to deal with blackjack odds calculators, we’ve streamlined the process. Check out this comparison of odds and house edges across some of the most popular blackjack variations. This section will arm you with the knowledge to pick your blackjack games wisely.

Here’s how different blackjack versions stack up against each other in terms of odds and house advantage:

Blackjack Variations Odds Table
Blackjack VariationOddsHouse Edge
American/Classic Blackjack3:20.61%
European Blackjack3:20.39%
Switch Blackjack1:10.58%
Face Up 211:10.85%
Free Bet3:21%
Online – Video Blackjack1:1 or 3:20.5% and 2%
Online – Live Dealer Blackjack3:20.49% and 0.72%

## Blackjack – A Unique Game Based on Skills

Odds are used to determine the players’ chances of winning against their chances of losing a particular hand by taking into account a number of aspects. What players should remember is that even the smallest rule change can make a huge impact on the game. Every adjustment directly influences players’ chances of winning. Therefore, it is essential to be familiar with the most beneficial variations in order to boost your chances of winning.

By getting acquainted with the odds of the game, players automatically increase the possibility of making the best move in a certain situation. The reason why is simple – since they have a general idea of the remaining cards in the deck, they can make better decisions which are following this valuable information.

In blackjack, the odds are changing in favor of the player or the dealer with every card drawn from the deck. And the blackjack optimal strategy is based on this changing of the odds. Blackjack fans should take their time to develop their skills and learn as much as possible about the game if they want to leave the casino as winners. Your playing decisions should not be controlled by your instincts but by other factors such as the dealer’s up card, the number of decks in use, and the rules dictating the dealer’s play. In fact, that is the most tangible difference between chance-based and skill-dependent games.

## Mastering Tricky Blackjack Hands

In the world of blackjack, some hands leave even seasoned players scratching their heads. How you play these tricky hands can be the difference between victory and defeat. By diving into the odds, we can shed light on how to navigate these challenging situations with more confidence. Here’s a look at some of the most perplexing hands you might face and how to turn the odds in your favor:

1. Tough Spot: When You Have 16

A hard 16 is one of the worst hands. The basic strategy suggests hitting against a dealer’s 7 or 8 and surrendering against 9 or 10. Yes, the risk of busting when you hit is large, but it’s a calculated risk that could prevent a dealer’s win.

2. Stuck with 15 Against a Dealer’s 10

Facing a dealer 10 with a 15 is daunting as the odds are narrowly favoring the dealer. Hitting gives you a 22% chance of winning, slightly lower than the 23% if you stand. It’s a thin edge, but hitting could be your best bet.

3. The Dicey 12 and Dealer’s 4 Situation

This hand is a close call. With the dealer showing a 4, there’s a 40% chance they’ll bust. Standing means you’ll lose 60% of the time. If you hit, your odds improve slightly as you have a 58% chance of losing, with a 2% chance for a push. So you should stand in this case, according to basic strategy.

4. Dealing with Low Pairs

Got low pairs? Here’s a quick guide:

• Pair of 4s? Split against dealer 5 or 6.
• Pair of 5s? Don’t split; instead, consider doubling down if the dealer shows 2-9.
• Pairs of 2s, 3s, or 6s? Split against dealer 2-6, and also split 2s and 3s against a dealer 7. Otherwise, don’t split. If not splitting, hit 2s, 3s, and 4s, and double with a pair of 5s against dealer 2-9. With 6s against a dealer’s 7 or higher, hit; against 6 or lower, split.
5. When You Have 12 and the Dealer Shows 3

Sitting on a 12 against a dealer’s 3? Hit once. Basic strategy suggests standing with any additional cards. The odds are slightly in your favor with this approach, offering you a slim chance for a win or a push.

Remember, blackjack is a game of probabilities, and arming yourself with knowledge is your best bet for success.

## The Effect of Card Removal in Blackjack

As we already hinted above, every card that leaves the deck brings valuable information about the remaining cards in the deck and the player’s odds. Interestingly enough, card counting systems are based on that knowledge. Decks rich in high-value cards stack the odds in favor of the player. Quite logically, decks in which the low-value cards outnumber the high-value cards work in favor of the house.

The removal of a card worth 10 decreases players’ chances of winning by 0.51%. The same goes for the removal of an ace, reducing the players’ chances of winning by 0.59%. The removal of a nine leads to a 0.15% decrease in the players’ chances of winning. To sum up, the removal of a nine, ten, or an ace decreases your chances of winning. On the other hand, the removal of 2 through 6 works in your favor.

## Blackjack Odds & Probabilities of Busting

One of the most important things that players need to get familiar with before playing is their odds of going bust. Since the main objective of the game is to reach 21, without surpassing it, it is essential to know when it is best to avoid hitting. Even though players should follow the basic strategy in order to make the best possible moves, it is also very important to be aware of their mathematical chances of losing.

Thus, let’s have a look at the following chart which illustrates the odds of going bust, providing that players have chosen to hit. The chart takes into account only the total value of the player’s hand and according to it, calculates the likelihood of busting. It can be very helpful and efficient as it provides players with valuable information about their chances of losing.

Blackjack Odds of Busting if Player Chooses to Hit
Player’s HandProbability of Busting
21100.00%
2092.00%
1985.00%
1877.00%
1769.00%
1662.00%
1558.00%
1456.00%
1339.00%
1231.00%
11 or less0.00%

## Dealer’s Bust Probability

Curious about why the dealer often seems to come out on top at the blackjack table? It’s all in the odds of them busting, which differ depending on whether the dealer stands or hits soft 17. A deeper understanding of these odds can significantly influence your blackjack strategy as they offer insights into when the dealer is more likely to bust based on their upcard.

Here’s a concise table showing the likelihood of the dealer busting, which can change depending on house rules:

Dealer’s Odds Table
Dealer’s CardProbability – Stand on 17Probability – Hit on 17
Ace17%20%
235%36%
337%38%
440%40%
542%42%
642%44%
726%26%
824%24%
923%23%
1023%23%

## Frequency of the First Two Cards

At the beginning of every game, players are dealt two cards that form their hand value. Since the standard pack of cards consists of 52 cards, 13 ranks, and 4 suits, it is possible to predict the odds of getting a particular combination. Thanks to these findings, players have the chance to get an overall idea of how often they can form a natural blackjack or a soft hand. They will be able to grasp the fundamental principle of blackjack better and find out the exact percentage of getting any of the different hand categories.

Natural blackjack or in other words, an ace and a ten, occurs 4.8% of the time. It is the most desirable hand and as such, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it is hard to get it. The second best combination that players can get is a hard-standing hand as its total value is usually enough to beat the dealer. The following chart has proven to be very useful as it provides valuable information about the possibility of getting a certain combination.

First Two-Cards Frequency Chart
Two Cards CombinationFrequency in Percentage
Natural blackjack4.80%
Hard Standing (17-20)30.00%
Decision Hands (1-16)38.70%
No Bust26.50%
Total100.00%

## Blackjack House Edge

It is no secret that every casino game, including blackjack, has a built-in advantage as this is the reason why casinos offer such gaming products in the first place. The house edge is a rather dynamic measurement as it depends on many factors such as the deck number and the specific version. Blackjack is famous for having a very low house edge – around 1% which can be reduced even more if players apply a strategy correctly. In general, casino games that require skills and knowledge are the ones that have the lowest house edge as their outcome can be influenced.

Blackjack is one of the most played casino games and as such, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it has numerous variations. Every version gives players different chances of achieving the desired win as some variations offer more favorable rules and odds than others. For instance, the house edge of the popular version Super Fun 21 is 0.94%, whereas in Blackjack Switch it’s only 0.17%.

The rules of the respective game differ from one casino to another which is the reason why it is important to consider them beforehand.

## House Edge of Multi-Deck Blackjack

In blackjack, the number of decks included in the game plays a crucial role as it directly influences the odds of winning. In the past, it was mainly played with a single pack of cards, but nowadays, it is extremely hard to find such a game. Therefore, players should get familiar with the house edge each variation provides them with as it determines to a huge extent their chances of making a profit. The number of decks is also essential for card counters as a game played with eight decks makes it extremely hard to keep track of the cards. It is worth noting that the more decks are used, the higher the house edge is. For instance, a blackjack game following standard rules will have a house edge of about 0.42% when played with tow decks. However, if the game involves eight decks, the house advantage will increase to about 0.70%.

## Conclusion

One of the reasons why blackjack is so wildly popular is that it offers players moderately good chances of winning as its house edge is less than 1%. Since its odds can be calculated to a huge extent, it is possible to determine the likelihood of getting a certain card combination. Blackjack is a game that requires a good deal of skills, enabling players to influence the outcome of every hand by utilizing a reliable strategy. It is extremely important to know the situations in which it is a good idea to increase the amount of your bet, providing you with the chance to maximize your winnings.

## FAQ: Understanding Blackjack Odds & Probabilities

Odds in blackjack tell you the chance of winning or losing a hand. For example, the odds of getting an Ace of Hearts from a single deck are 1 in 51. Understanding odds helps you better gauge your chances during the game.

Knowing the odds helps you make smarter decisions. For instance, if you’re aware of the odds of busting with a certain hand, you might choose to stand instead of taking another card. It’s all about making smart decisions.

Odds reflect the chances of an event happening to it not happening. Probabilities, on the other hand, indicate the likelihood of an event occurring. Both concepts help you understand your chances of winning or losing a hand.

Yes, blackjack odds change with each card dealt. For example, if high-value cards are drawn, the remaining deck becomes less favorable for the player. This dynamic nature of blackjack is why strategies like card counting can be effective.

Different rules can significantly impact the house edge. For instance, the house edge increases if the dealer hits soft 17. Understanding how these rules affect the odds can help you choose games that offer better chances of winning.

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