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Blackjack Strategy

This week we will answer and explain two important blackjack strategy questions that are asked on a daily basis.

[Question 1]

Why does the blackjack dealer always win many more hands than me? Isn’t the house edge in blackjack tiny, almost 50/50?

Yes, the odds of breaking even are almost 50/50. The house rules change those odds, so you must always look for a player-friendly blackjack card games table. For example, if the dealer must stand on Soft-17, the player has +.25% better long term chance of winning (the overall house edge falls by .25%).

If the table rule considers tied blackjack hands the same as if a dealer wins, the house edge is at 9%. Avoid those blackjack tables like the plague.

Your chance of winning any single blackjack hand from a new shuffle is 43%; there is a 9% chance of a tie; but 48% chance of you losing the hand. So on average, you will win just 43 hands out of 100 hand played. To win at blackjack, the dollar amount won on each of those 43 hands has to be greater than the dollar amount lost on the other 48 hands. How?

It’s the Pair Splits, Double Downs, and Blackjacks that are the only reason the payoff odds for blackjack card games are 49.5/50.5 when every hand is played perfectly (without using smart strategies). Using card counting techniques and other strategies significantly improves the overall odds of winning at blackjack casinos that do not shuffle the deck between every single hand (Macau).

To answer your question, the dealer will always win more hands than the player in the long term. However the house can’t split, double down or win 50% more when the dealer hits blackjack.

Those options are reserved exclusively for the player, and are the tools that must be used correctly 100% of the time in order to overcome the dealer winning 48% of the hands. If you haven’t memorized the basic blackjack strategy chart, do so immediately or at least keep one in front of you at all times while you’re playing.

[Question 2]

Should I ever use insurance in a blackjack game? Isn’t insurance just a ‘sucker bet’ at horrible odds?

Not always. For example in a six-deck shoe there are 312 cards after the shuffle. If there are no 10s in the first 25 cards that come out, its correct to use insurance. Why? Because if 25 cards (no tens) come out, then there are 287 cards left with 96 of them being 10s. So your odds are under 2:1.

That is the only instance when it’s the correct strategy to use insurance. The chance of the first 25 cards not having even a single 10 is quite low. So if you are not counting 10s, or sat down when the game is in already in progress, it’s pointless to ever use insurance.