Blackjack House Edge Basics Explained

One of the most appealing features of blackjack is that it offers the lowest house edge in the casino. What that means is that, if you play blackjack over an extended period of time, you’ll lose less money to the casino than you would playing something else.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple. Don’t assume that this lower house edge ensures minimal losses. It doesn’t. However, that doesn’t mean that the house edge is unimportant; it simply means that you still need to approach blackjack with caution. The key to a successful game of blackjack is to add basic strategy to the advantage afforded by the lower house edge.

Blackjack House Edge Basics Explained

How the House Edge Works

Put simply, the house edge is a statistical reflection of the casino’s advantage over you, the player. In other words, if a game’s house edge is given as 2%, you are expected (in mathematical terms) to lose 2% average on every bet you make. So, if you’re wagering $100 per bet, you’ll lose $2 every time you place a bet.

However, this only applies over an extended period of time and is only a matter of probability. Essentially, the longer you play, the more certain that probability becomes – you’ll win some, you’ll lose some, but you’ll inevitably end up coughing up that 2%. Theoretically, of course, there is nothing stopping you from winning every single time, but the chances of this happening are very slim so it would be unwise to bank on it.

In blackjack, the house edge is lower than anywhere else in the casino – just 0.5%, but only if you play smart.

Importance of Basic Strategy

Although the blackjack house edge is officially 0.5%, few players are skilled enough to actually enjoy it. By playing unwisely – for example, by copying the dealer’s strategy – you can push the house edge up to 2%. That’s what most players do and it’s why casinos offer blackjack despite its technically low house edge.

This is why you need to understand and apply basic strategy. This means making the right mathematical choice every time you play. Common sense applies most of the time but will only take you so far. It’s those in-between situations that determine whether you or the house will have the advantage. Look at your cards, look at the dealer’s face-up card, and think before you make each move. This is where even a middling ability to count cards comes in handy – the better you keep track of the cards, the more informed your decisions will be.