Online Casinos, Gambling, Poker and Sports Betting Magazine

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You Have Got to Spot the Difference.

Do you know how to play Blackjack? Which one? There are over one hundred variations of blackjack available in casinos and online, and no two offer the same odds and use the same strategy. In fact, different blackjack rule combinations can sway the house edge from near 1% to a near 1% advantage in favor of the player!

Now that I have your attention, lets take a look at different blackjack combinations:



Number of Decks2
Double After a SplitAllowed
SurrenderNo Surrender
  
House Edge.40%
Number of Decks2
Double After a SplitNot Allowed
SurrenderNo Surrender
  
House Edge.53%
Number of Decks6
Double After a SplitAllowed
SurrenderNo Surrender
  
House Edge.66%
Number of Decks8
Double After a SplitAllowed
SurrenderNo Surrender
  
House Edge.69%
Number of Decks8
Double After a SplitAllowed
SurrenderLate Surrender
  
HousevEdge.61%
Number of Decks8
Double After a SplitAllowed
SurrenderEarly  Surrender
  
HousevEdge.06%


You’ll notice that by changing the number of decks and the rules of the game, each of our blackjack variations has produced different expected results for the player. The house advantage ranges from .06% to .69%, depending on which game configuration you play.

Generally speaking, the fewer decks used, the greater advantage afforded to the player. However, from our examples, you can also see that options like doubling after a split and offering early or late surrender also produce an impact on the expected outcome of that blackjack game.

Using our two deck game example, the ability to double after a split gives the player a .13% advantage over not being allowed to double after a split. Some casinos that generally allow doubling after a split disallow doubling Aces after a split. That increases their edge, as doubling on Aces is almost always to the player’s advantage.

Broadly speaking, any rules that allow the player more options are of benefit to the player in the know. Of course more options also mean more chances to make mistakes, which is where the casino really gets its edge in blackjack. The minute players start betting by the seat of their pants, rather than by the basic betting strategy or by a card-counting system, is the minute the casino starts raking it in.

The player option that has made the most impact on the expected house edge in our example above is clearly the early surrender option. Early surrender allows players to throw in the towel before the dealer checks for blackjack. Because of the great advantage this provides the player, it is an option you rarely see in online blackjack. Late surrender, allowing players to surrender after the dealer checks for blackjack, is still hard to find online, but is much more common than early surrender. In the example of our eight deck game, the early surrender option affords the dealer a hefty .63% advantage over not having the option to surrender.

Like any option in blackjack, you need to know when to use it or you will be in a situation with enough rope to hang yourself. The beginner player surrenders far too many hands, so again, leave the decision making to the strategy tables.

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