Blackjack is one of the most popular online casino games
, given its general simplicity. However, if you're looking to alter the blackjack odds in your favour, there is an added level of complexity you need to explore.
In the following article we'll cover some simple, but highly effective strategies, for reducing the house edge. We'll first take a look at how the house creates this edge, before looking at how you can reduce this through improving your understanding of blackjack odds. The end result should be an ability to quickly assess blackjack odds, and make favourable decisions, during live play.
The House Edge
As we all know, the house always builds an edge into their games. This is necessary to ensure they have a profitable business, meaning we all have somewhere to play! This edge, however, is built across millions of individual transactions. So, whilst the house ultimately wins, it is possible for some players to win big whilst the contributions of many others are combined to make up the overall pot.
The way the house edge is built into blackjack is simple - the dealer gets to go last. Every time a player hits and busts, which happens 28% of the time, they will lose even if the dealer would also have gone bust. Though it's not possible to totally wipe out this advantage, it is possible to greatly reduce it.
As a default position, the house holds an edge of 8%. This can be reduced to as little as 0.5% by using some simple strategies. If you want to be one of the players chipping away at the house edge, instead of merely contributing to the prize pool, then read on.
Strategy #1 - Double Down on a Hard 11
With a hard 11 (cards adding up to 11, without an Ace) the odds are in your favour. This is the best time to double your initial bet, given the houses edge is at its lowest.
Strategy #2 - Double Down on 10 When the Dealer's Upcard is 9 or Lower
The odds are also in your favour when you hold a two-card 10, against a dealer's up card of 9 or less. In this situation it pays to double down in the long run.
Strategy #3 - Never Split a Pair of 5s or Tens
Related to the above, a pair of 5s equates to a two-card 10. In this instance it is better to hit, or double down, than playing two hands.
Whilst splitting 10s can be a winning formula, holding 20 offers an even better chance of winning. If you want to play the percentages over the long run, then it is better to stick with your 20.
Strategy #4 - Always Split Pairs of 8s and Aces
Some players don't like splitting 8s when they see the dealer with an up card of 9, 10 or Ace. However, you should split these no matter the dealer's up cards. Whilst you have to double your liability, you aren't necessarily doubling your risk. This is because hard 16 is one of the worst hands in blackjack, so whilst splitting 8s doesn't necessarily give you a great chance of winning it will reduce your losses in the long run.
With the Ace holding a value of 1 or 11 it gives a player a great advantage when splitting these.