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How to calculate your odds in Blackjack

How to calculate your odds in Blackjack


Blackjack is likely to remain an important aspect of casino gaming for as long as casinos exist. It offers players a number of different ways to approach the game and is one of the few games of chance where the actions of the player can directly impact the outcome of the game. Blackjack does have an element of chance to it, but a bad Blackjack player will lose more often than a good Blackjack player.

The odds of winning at Blackjack can sometimes be difficult to calculate. It requires both a knowledge of how probability works and a knowledge of basic Blackjack strategy to work out how to calculate the odds. However, once the formulas had been created, it means that anyone who knows how to use the formulas can easily work out their odds of success. As long as you have good arithmetic skills that is. So, how do you calculate your odds when playing Blackjack?

The probability of winning in Blackjack

The first aspect that needs to be looked at in order to work out the odds, is the probability of winning. Probability is relatively simple, when it comes to standard probabilities anyway. The basic formula for probability is just simple division. You need to divide the number of potential events by the number of events in total. To give a cards-based example, there is one four of diamonds in a deck of cards, but there are 52 cards altogether. So, the odds of drawing the four of diamonds from the deck would be 1/52.

As probability is worked out via division, where the denominator (the number at the bottom of the fraction) is higher than the numerator (the number at the top of the fraction), it means that the final probability can be shown in two ways. Either as a number between 0 and 1 or as a percentage. A 0% probability can happen when playing Blackjack, if you are playing with just one deck and all of the aces have been drawn from the deck, then the probability of drawing an ace would be 0%. By the same token, a 100% probability is also possible. If 50 cards have been drawn from the deck and there are just a king and queen remaining, then your chances of getting a card worth 10 would be 100%.

 Turning probability into odds

The easiest way to turn probabilities into odds is with subtraction. If we use the four of diamonds example, the probability would be 1/52. In order to work out the odds you would take away the choices that you want from the total choices. In this case, it would be 52 - 1. This leaves us with 51 possible choices that are not the four of diamonds and one choice that is the four of diamonds. That means that our odds are 51 to 1.

The odds of getting a king or queen of diamonds are worked out in a similar manner. There are two possible choices that are the desired cards and 50 possible choices that are not the desired cards. This means that the odds would be 50 to 2, which could be cancelled down to 25 to 1.

For Blackjack, this is a lot harder to do. This is because there are a number of different factors at play when working out the probability of something happening. The number of decks that are in the shoe will change how the odds play out. Which cards have already been dealt, which cards are left to be dealt, the hand you are dealt, the hand the dealer has been dealt, and what the person before you at the table decides to do are all factors which can increase or decrease the probability of you winning.

Blackjack payouts

The payouts for Blackjack are very simple to remember. If you manage to get a natural Blackjack, which is an ace and any single card worth 10, then you will be paid out at 3 to 2. This means that if you placed a wager of $10 you would win $15 as well as getting your $10 returned. If you beat the dealer without getting a natural Blackjack then you will be paid out at evens, also known as 1 to 1. This would return your stake as well as paying out a win of the same value as your stake.

However, there are some changes that are in place at certain Blackjack tables. Some have started to pay out 6 to 5 for a natural Blackjack, with some even paying out evens for all wins! This will lower the probability of grabbing a win, which we will cover in more detail in the next section.

The other options that are available are drawing with the dealer, which will lead to your wager being returned and a surrender, which removes your hand from the game but returns half of your wager back to you.

All of these payouts are related to the different probabilities of winning and therefore your true odds of winning can often be different to the odds that are paid out.

True odds and house edge

The difference between the odds that are offered as a payout and the odds of actually winning are what is known as the house edge. This is what makes Blackjack a game of chance, the house edge means that there is always a slight chance that you will lose on every game that you play. It is almost impossible to calculate in your head the chances of winning at any one point in a game, this is because there are well over 6,000 different combinations of playing positions that can occur during any one game of Blackjack.

However, you can calculate the house edge depending on what rules are in place and the strategies and tactics that you are employing to play.

The standard house edge that is in place for Blackjack is between 2.5% and 5% depending on the cards that are dealt. However, this can be increased or decreased depending on the rules that are in play. For example, if the casino pays out 6 to 5 instead of 3 to 2 for a natural Blackjack then the house edge is increased by more than 1%! Over the course of 100 hands, this can be quite a large amount.

However, there are some benefits that the player has that can reduce the house edge. The first is using basic Blackjack strategy. If you can master basic strategy, the house edge is instantly reduced to just 0.5%. The second aspect that can help is a card counting strategy.

If you can count cards effectively, then you can actually move the edge of the game into your favour. Perfect basic strategy combined with high quality card counting will ensure that you have an edge of 1% over the house. This means that the true odds of all payouts are in your favour.

Card counting and changing the house edge

Card counting allows players to know during each game when the house edge has increased or decreased. When a higher card is dealt out the house edge will increase, but when a lower value card is dealt out the house edge will decrease. Card counting means that at any moment in time a player will be aware of just where the house edge is. This allows wagers to be placed at an appropriate level. If the house edge is particularly low then the player will know to increase their wager, if it is high then dropping to the minimum wagering amount is the right choice.

On top of this, it will also mean that players can choose the right time to double down on a hand. If they know they have a high probability of winning then doubling down will make it easy to maximise any potential winnings. The same can be said for splitting cards, which although each wager is still a single wager it doubles the number of wagers. All of these factors allow players who are skilled with card counting to turn the house edge into their favour when playing Blackjack.

Where to put your odds into practice

When it comes to the best place to play Blackjack, there is only one real choice. Here at Bitcasino we make it easy for players to choose their favourite version of Blackjack. With both standard versions and live casino games on offer, there is everything that a Blackjack lover would want.

There is more than just Blackjack on offer too. There are a huge range of table games, some of the best video slots on the market and a fantastic live casino hub on offer too. Add to this the security, speed and simplicity of using Bitcoin to play and Bitcasino really is the player’s choice. Come and visit us to find out why we are the leading Bitcoin casino on the market right now.

Words: Sean McNulty

Images: Shutterstock


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