Blackjack is one of the best games to play in a casino. This is due to the low house edge when compared to other games offered by the house.
There is more to learning how to beat blackjack than just knowing when to hit and stand. Game selection is extremely important as the rules at the blackjack tables can vary greatly from one to another. Some rules are more important than others. The existence of one bad table rule can make the game completely unplayable.
Blackjack Pays 6-5
This is by far the worst blackjack rule. Some casinos, mostly on the Las Vegas Strip, will pay 6-5 on lower limit tables. This means that a $12 bet only wins $10. It would pay $15 in a real blackjack game. This adds about 1.4 percent to the house edge. Playing tables with a minimum bet of $25 or more will typically get a blackjack paid 3-2, even on the Las Vegas Strip. Most casinos located away from the Strip in Las Vegas pay 3-2 on all blackjacks. That is also the case for most blackjack games spread in regional casinos throughout the U.S.
Dealer Hits Soft 17
It was nearly impossible to find a blackjack table that hit a soft 17 a generation ago. These days, almost all of them do. In Las Vegas, stand on 17 games can typically only be found in high limit rooms.
Pennsylvania requires all of its casinos to stand on all 17’s. Otherwise, most markets are full of games where the dealer hits any 17. This adds about 0.22% to the house edge.
No Double Down After Splitting
Some casinos want to add to the house edge by not allowing a player to double down after splitting. This is often found in double deck games where the edge is lower than shoe games. It adds about .14% to the house edge.
Double Down Only on Certain Start Hands
Some casinos will only allow players to double down on 9-11 or 10 and 11. In most games with this rule, doubling down after the split is not permitted at all, even on a qualifying starting count. The double down on any two cards restriction adds 0.09 percent to the house edge if 9-11 is permitted and 0.18 percent if players may only double on 10 and 11. That amount doubles if a player cannot double down after splitting.
Surrender is when a player gives half of his bet to the house and folds, automatically losing the hand, even if the dealer busts. A game that does not offer surrender has a 0.08 percent higher house edge than one that does offer it.
No Re-split Aces
There is nothing worse than splitting aces, only to receive another ace and not being allowed to split again. Many casinos will stick you with that hand. That adds 0.08 percent to the house edge.
Number of Decks
The number of decks used in a blackjack game matter. A double deck game has a house edge of 0.19 percent higher than a single deck. A six-deck game is 0.46 percent worse than a single deck. An eight-deck blackjack game has a house edge 0.48 percent higher than a single deck one.
Some Game Factors Are Not Rules
Getting a game with good rules is not the only factor in picking the right table. Serious players may want to learn card counting. Card counters will want to find games where the cut card is placed deep into the deck and shoe. Those types of players will also want to find tables where the pit boss is not constantly watching the action.
Continuous shuffle machines lower the house edge 0.01 to 0.02 percent. The hourly house edge is higher because more hands are dealt due to not having to slow the game down to shuffle. It also makes counting cards impossible.