The most popular casino game in the United States is Blackjack, with a little sweat and patience, players can lock in on a house edge of 0.2% to 0.7%, obviously it depends on the rules of the blackjack game. Diligent players can gain a substantial advantage once they’ve mastered the basics especially if they’ve learned card-counting strategy. In this article we are going to discuss blackjack, the ‘Las Vegas Benchmark Rules’, strategy, different forms of card shuffling and blackjack odds (House Edge).

The rules of blackjack online differs from one casino to the next and from table to table. Newbies often plop down at any table while the seasoned vet will go the extra mile to find a game with the best rules and odds. The question is, how big is the disparity from one blackjack game to another? The difference between the worst and best games are when blackjack pays 3-2 or 1-1. 

The dealer hits on a soft 17 and doubles on any first two cards, doubles after a split but doesn’t hit. The house edge hovers around 0.02% to 2.5%. Not all the blackjack tables at Las Vegas casinos follow the same rules. The rules of blackjack has become more severe. Problem is most casinos now hit on a soft 17, a rule that favors the casino by a long shot. As a matter of fact it’s become the benchmark rule (Las Vegas Benchmark Rules) for the standard blackjack game in most land-casinos: 

    • The game is played with 6 decks.
    • The dealer hits on a soft 17.
    • On any of the 2 cards the player may double.
    • After a split the player may double.
    • In order to make 4 separate hands the player is allowed double.
    • A player is allowed to split Aces once, and only one card is drawn to each Ace that’s been split.
    • A player is allowed to surrender.

 

Shuffling

There are 3 ways to shuffle the cards in Blackjack:

    • The dealer shuffles the cards.
    • The cards are shuffled by a machine that contains 1 to 8 decks. If the table uses an automatic shuffle it rotates two shoes of different colored cards. In other words while the one is played the other one is shuffled. It’s equivalent to a hand shuffle.
    • The continuous shuffle is performed by a machine that inserts the discards randomly back into the shoe. While some casinos use 2 to 4 decks most use 5 decks, it’s the same as shuffling the cards after every hand. The shuffling method can have an impact on the house edge.

 

The House Edge

If the casino uses the Las Vegas Benchmark rules, the house edge is plus/minus one half of 1%. The late Peter Griffin, arguably one of the greatest blackjack minds of all time was of the opinion that strategy mistakes was the main reason why players lose an extra 1.4% beyond the house edge. This is why basic strategy is so important. 

 

Variations of the Rules

The rules of blackjack varies from table to table and from casino to casino. This is highlighted in the number of decks being dealt, fewer decks is advantageous to the player. The dealer hits or stands on soft 17 (standing is good for the player), assuming splitting and doubling is allowed or not. Whether you play blackjack in a land-based venue or online look for games where the dealer uses 2 decks (or less) and stands on a soft 17-even better if it’s both. If possible avoid the single-deck games that pays 6-5 on blackjacks. 

 

What Is The 6 to 5 Payoff?

Many casinos now display signs such as ”Single Deck Blackjack” while the smaller signs state that ”Blackjack” pays 6 to 5. The payout on a single-deck is 3 to 2 for naturals which translates into a house edge of 0.19%. With that being the case, the 6 to 5 payout on blackjack costs the player an extra 1.39% for a total house edge of 1.58%. In some games the player normally wins since the house edge is lowered by 0.21% to 1.23%. Overall, the 6-5 rule is a lousy rule that doubles or triples the house’s odds. Smart players avoid this game like the plague. 

 

Strategy

Blackjack strategy can be basic to sophisticated card counting techniques like the Hi-Opt II system. There are two types of strategies: simple and basic.

 

Simple Strategy

Against the Benchmark Las Vegas Rules the house edge of this strategy is 0.93%.

    1. Against the dealer’s 2-6 stand on hard 12-16.
    1. Against the dealer’s 2-9 double on 10, 11.
    1. Split 8s, 9s and Aces, always.
    1. Stand on a soft or hard 17, 18 (or more).
    1. Hit, if rules 1 to 5 don’t apply and never take insurance.

 

Basic Strategy

This is the foundation of good blackjack play. Over the years thousands of players memorized it. Soft hands can be an Ace and can’t be busted by drawing a extra card such as A,7 while A, 3, 4 are soft hands. Always hit hard or eight or less, stand on a hard 18 or more and stand on soft 19 or more.

 

Side Bets

The reason why you should avoid house bets is because it carries big house edges. Before you can become a successful card counter you must understand basic blackjack strategy. The edge gained by card counting is smaller than the edge lost to poor play.

The theory behind card counting is that a deck loaded with 10s and Aces is good for the player, if the deck remaining to be dealt is rich in the cards the player should bet more. Card counting is not easy, it yields only 1% to 1.5% edge.

In summary. Blackjack is one of the best games within the casino. Despite games paying 6-5 on naturals, the house edge is below 1% if basic strategy is employed. It’s interactive, easy to learn, the volatility is low and it’s fun to play. Smart players can improve their chances at winning by card counting. 

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