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Does Blackjack Still Offer Good Odds for the Player?

15 January 2011 by Devon Chappell

A Natural at the Blackjack Table. Just make sure it pays 3 to 2 and not 6 to 5!

A Natural at the Blackjack Table. Just make sure it pays 3 to 2 and not 6 to 5!

The game of Blackjack is never a sure bet. No casino game, for that matter, is ever a sure bet. However, in the world of numbers, Blackjack is one of a handful of games that gives the player opportunity to incorporate strategy to help make a bet as “sure” as it can possibly be. With use of the Basic Blackjack Strategy, which amounts to a color-coded card that informs bettors which actions to take based on the dealer’s up-card in relation to the player’s dealt cards, The House Edge can be brought down to less than 1%.

There are several variations of Blackjack, and as such, several rules variations that affect the House Edge to more or less degree. In other words, gone are the days when the MIT Blackjack Team and/or Rain Man (with the help of Tom Cruise, of course) could pretty much guarantee a profitable playing session at the Blackjack tables. By sneaking in a few extra rules here and there (like paying 6 to 5 for a Natural, rather than 3 to 2 or adding more decks), and killing the effects of card counting with the use of continuous shuffle machines (CSM’s), casinos have managed to keep the Edge in their court.

As for online casino blackjack, it is said that the deck is shuffled at the start of each round, in theory, giving card counters a better playing field to do their business. Of course, this all depends on the casino software developer. However, it really shouldn’t matter, ’cause CSM’s actually lower the House Edge at Blackjack.

But, if you want to find out for certain, simply keep a written tab of all the cards dealt during your session. Better yet, check your game history logs, which most online casinos will provide, and which you should be doing anyhow. Simply, do your analysis based off the history log. If you are not yet ready to play blackjack online for real money, do your analysis using the free-play mode of an online casino.

If continuous shuffling is not taking place – assuming there is just a single deck of cards being played – you will not see the same card dealt a second time (to either you or the dealer) before all other cards in the deck have come up at least once. With continuous shuffling, any card from the deck can come up on any given hand, thus resulting in some cards showing up more than others. To make things even more difficult for the blackjack player, online casinos hardly ever offer blackjack games with one or two decks. The more decks, the greater the House Edge.

Granted, all of this shouldn’t deter you from playing blackjack online. Despite all of the countermeasures taken by casinos to offset the effects of card counting and the basic blackjack strategy, the House Edge at Blackjack is still better than the vast majority of online casino games, and affords a reasonable chance at walking away a winner.

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