The house edge is basically the advantage that the casino has over the player. The lower the house edge the better, and the higher it is the more you stand to lose over the course of your play. Blackjack is one of the games with the smallest house edges, and obviously the casinos are not very happy with this. That is why you’ll see many other variants of blackjack on offer at casinos, as they try to steer you away from the standard rules and get you playing something that brings them the big bucks.
In this article we will take a look at how the house edge in blackjack compares to other casino games, before looking at how the different rules, variants and bonus games all effect the house edge in the game that we all love.
Blackjack vs The Field: House Odds
For this comparison we will assume an average house edge of 0.40% for blackjack. This can differ and in many casinos it can be a lot higher, but if we take single deck blackjack as an example, especially with Vegas rules, then it is usual a lot lower, so this is a good average.
Baccarat is considered a game of skill and is a game that many blackjack players enjoy, and whilst it can be possible to get one over on the house with some skilful play, the average house edge here is over 1%. Craps is another popular table game, and one with a house edge that can be as high as 11%, but one of the biggest house edges you will find in a land-based casino is with the numbers game known as Keno. The edge here ranges from 29% to 30% and is really only a game for those who want to rely on luck and to eliminate the skill element completely. Slot machines are also tilted in the house’s favor, assuming you don’t find a loose one, but the jackpots on these are enough to lure in the punters.
Let it Ride is another common card game and has a decent edge of just 3.5%, whist Pai Gow Poker, which has become very popular in the last decade or so and can be found in most Vegas and Atlantic City casinos, has just 1.46%. Spanish 21 also has a fairly low house edge, but due to the nature of the game, and the fact that it was set up to give casinos a stronger edge than they have in blackjack, you will not find a Spanish 21 game that will give you a greater chance of winning than in a game of blackjack.
Caribbean Stud Poker, which you will find in many online casinos, has a house edge of over 5%, whilst Video Poker, which is also a favourite online, is often as little as 0.5%. Overall blackjack has the lowest house edge of any game though, which is why it is so popular with professional gamblers and card sharks all over the world.
The Houses Edges in Blackjack
Now that we’ve established the game that gives you the best chance of winning, we need to break it down. There are many different varieties of the game of blackjack and as well as differing from city to city, they also differ from casino to casino. It is always advised that you check what variant of the game is being played (as well as the bonus games or side bets on offer) before you sit down, but these are the general house edges that apply to most of these games.
The lowest edge of all is with Classic Blackjack. This uses standard rules and single decks. There are no continuous shufflers and no shoes; this is how blackjack was first played many centuries ago and how it is still played in many casinos worldwide. The edge in Classic Blackjack can be as low as 0.13%, but blackjack on the Strip in Las Vegas also has a good house edge, often at just 0.35%. The same applies to Atlantic City Blackjack, but this edge is often inflated with the use of 8-deck shoes.
Spanish 21 and European Blackjack both have higher house edges than games on the Strip, and some of the newer and more modern variants, such as Super Fun 21, Multi-hand and Double Exposure — all of which tweak big aspects of the game — have edges that are nearly three times bigger than the blackjack games you will find in Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
If you prefer to play online, then the house edge all depends on where you play, but it is worth noting that the numbers are often greater here and you will not find the sort of house edges that you will find on the Strip. One of the smallest and therefore best is on the Playtech software. These are very widely respected and popular developers and along with their blackjack software they also develop a host of other games, including slot machines and roulette. Playtech’s Switch Blackjack, where two hands can be played at once and the top card can be swapped, offers a house edge of just 0.16%, which is more than half as much as their next lowest game, Pontoon.
Vegas Technology don’t have as much respect or acclaim and their house edges aren’t as impressive, with the smallest being only 0.35% for their Perfect Pairs Blackjack. They also have European Blackjack which has an edge of 0.73%.
Wagerworks are also popular in the world of online casinos, as are Real Time Gaming, and these two are the most prolific when it comes to developing blackjack games and casino games on the whole. Real Time Gaming’s Surrender Blackjack is their lowest, but at 0.49% there are better options out there, whilst Wagerworks have several games that offer better odds than this, including Hot Streak Blackjack and Power Blackjack, both of which are 0.23%.
The house edge for the online games tend to stick, but with so many tweaks in the land-based casino games these can fluctuate on a regular basis and, as mentioned above, you should always check the rules, the side bets and the bonuses before you devote your time and your money to playing.