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Blackjack Rules
Blackjack Rules

Blackjack Rule Variations

When you play blackjack online or at a land-based casino, the house will have an edge over you reflected by the rules they offer. Unfortunately, unless you are a pretty good card counter, the house will always have the edge. Fortunately, the house advantage at blackjack is similar to baccarat and the pass line at craps, less than 1.5 percent. Playing the game of blackjack is fairly simple. Learning basic strategy and following the rules regardless of hunches and intuition is more difficult, but can reduce your disadvantage to the house considerably. The best blackjack games in the world are usually found on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada with excellent rules and single deck tables. In Atlantic City, New Jersey there are also several casinos that boast low house odds games with six-deck shoes.

The most generic game of blackjack offered, sometimes at online casinos, sometimes on video slot machines, play from an eight-deck shoe and offer double-down on any two cards, the player may double after a split, may split up to four hands (one card only on aces) and the dealer stands on soft 17. This is reasonable game to play, but since you obviously want to play blackjack where you have the best odds, look for rule variations that help the player.

The Best Rules for Players

A single deck game is a huge swing in the player’s favor. When compared to that 8-deck game above, a single deck is nearly half a percent better for the player (.48% to be exact). Other strong advantages for the player are early surrender where the player may surrender half of their bet before hitting at any time the dealer does not show an ace. This rule adds nearly a quarter of a percent for the player (.24%) as does a house rule where the player may double down on any number of cards (.23%). Other excellent rule variations that help the dealer are:

Good Rules for the Player

  • Two Decks adds .19% to the player
  • Redraw to split aces adds .19% to the player
  • Resplit aces adds .08 to the player
  • Late Surrender (after the dealer checks for blackjack) adds .8% to the player
  • Four Decks adds .06% to the player
  • Five Decks adds .03% to the player
  • Six Decks adds .02% to the player

The Worst Rules for Players

Each of these possible rules help the player by reducing the house edge. You can add these amounts for any set of rules and find the best game available to you. Of course some games have rules that help the house, instead of the player. These include the horrible even-money on blackjack that is found on some older video blackjack games (a 2.27% additional house edge) and the blackjack pays 6 to 5 rule that is found in some small casinos and even a few in Las Vegas. This rule adds a full 1.4% to the house edge and the game should be avoided at all costs! Other rules that hurt the player start with:

Bad Rules for Players

  • Player may only split to 3 hands adds .01% to the house edge
  • Player may double down on 9, 10, 11 only adds .09% to the house edge
  • Player may split to only two hands adds .1% to the house edge
  • European no hole card adds .11% to the house edge
  • Player may not double down on a split hand adds .14% to the house edge
  • Player may double down on 10 and 11 only adds .18% to the house edge
  • Dealer hits on soft 17 adds .22% to the house edge
  • Blackjack pays 7 to 5 (not 7.5 to 5) adds .45% to the house edge

As you can see, several small rule variations can have a huge impact on your ability to win at a given blackjack game. Find the game that has the best odds and you’ll have at least a fighting chance of leaving a winner. If you don’t quite see how the edge helps the house make money, consider that on an average blackjack game the house has about a 1% advantage, so for every $10 you wager it costs you 10-cents to play. If you can find the same game with a single deck, you save .48% which is about half of the advantage the house holds, so for every $10 you wager you’ll save almost 5-cents. By comparison, playing a game that pays 6 for 5 on blackjack costs you 1.4% or another 14-cents for every $10 wager, and that’s huge. At sixty hands per hour your cost for a $10 average bet increases from $6 to $14.40.

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