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How the Number of Decks Affects House Edge in Blackjack

- December 12, 2019 By Riley Wilson -

Blackjack House Edge and Number of Decks in Play

The more card decks in play, the higher house edge, but that’s just one of the factors that affect the house edge.

When choosing a casino game to play, one of the main things you should pay attention to is its house edge. It is opposite of the theoretical return to player. It stands for a mathematical representation of how much the casino keeps of the money wagered on any casino game.

When it comes to Blackjack, it is one of the casino games with the lowest house edge. However, the rate of the house margin in each Blackjack variant depends on many factors. In this article, we will take a closer look at how a number of decks in play affects the house edge.

House Edge in Blackjack Explained

First of all, let’s see what a house edge means in practice. For instance, if a house edge is 0.5%, that means you will lose $0.50 on every $100 you bet. However, it applies when you play the game by the basic strategy only. So, to make use of such a low house edge, you have to make decisions according to the proper strategy.

The house edge is not a fixed rate. It can increase if the game uses rules that are unfavourable to the player. On the other hand, the player’s skills can affect the house margin, so it is essential to learn the rules and which moves you should make in different situations. 

More Card Decks Means Higher House Edge

Now, onto the main topic of this article. To understand the statement given in the title of this chapter, you should know that more card deck means fewer chances to get a Blackjack or natural. When you play a single-deck Blackjack game, the probability of getting a Blackjack is 31.37%. If the number of decks increases to 8, the likelihood of getting a Blackjack decreases to 30.84%.

Yet, this is another thing that should not be taken for granted. It does not mean that all the games with a single deck in play will have a lower house edge than those using 6 or 8 decks. Other factors affect the house margin as well, and we will cover them in the next chapter.

Other Factors that Affect the House Edge

One of the rules that increase the house edge is when the dealer hits on a soft 17. When applied, it increases the house edge by 0.2%. You should look for those games where the dealer stands on all 17s as such a rule is more favourable to the player. When choosing a Blackjack variant, make sure that the table reads that the dealer must stand on all 17s.

The game that allows you to double down after splitting has a lower house edge than the one that doesn’t. It simply means that you can double down your bet when you believe that your hand is strong and that you can win with a Blackjack. When doubling down is allowed after splitting, the house edge is decreased by 0.15%. Also, the house edge improves when there are more options to double down. If doubling down is allowed on any two cards, the house edge decreases by almost 0.2%.

The same applies to splitting. If the game allows you to split up to 4 hands, its house edge drops by 0.05%. Other rules that can affect the house edge include the surrender option and how much a natural pays. As for the former, the surrender allows you to quit the game when you believe that your cards are weaker than the dealer’s. Late surrender is a better option for you, as it allows you to quit the game after the dealer checks for a Blackjack.

Finally, we assume that all Blackjack games pay 3:2 for a natural because most of those available online do. However, at some tables, a Blackjack pays only 6:5. Such a lousy payout increases the house advantage by 1.5%, so stay away from 6:5 Blackjack tables.

Closing Thoughts

Developers of Blackjack games combine different rules to balance the house edge. That’s how most variants come with a house margin of 0.5%. However, to benefit from it, you need to learn the strategy for the exact game you want to play. Also, this applies to the main bet only. If you’re going to play any side bet in Blackjack, bear in mind that they have considerably higher house edges and that they are risky to play.

Click here to visit our page dedicated to Blackjack and find game variants you like the best!   

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