Benjamin Ogden’s Expert Blackjack Guide

Blackjack is one of the most popular online casino card games played worldwide and its my personal favorite for 28 years and counting now.

The game’s objective is to achieve a higher card value than the dealer’s hand without exceeding 21.

This blackjack guide aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of blackjack by examining key facts, figures, and blackjack game statistics. I explain how to play blackjack, how to learn basic strategy, how to count card, odds percentage change between popular blackjack variants.

I will explore various blackjack games with information presented for easy understanding and easy reading.

OnlineCasino.AI is supported by readers and we earn income for advertising services we provide through referral links on this site.

Basic Rules and Objective of Blackjack

Blackjack is played with one or more standard 52-card decks.

The card values are as follows: number cards count as their face value, face cards count as 10, and aces count as either 1 or 11, depending on which value helps the hand more. The game’s primary objective is to achieve a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer without going over.

Some essential blackjack terms include:

  • Hit: Request another card to improve the hand.
  • Stand: Keep the current hand without receiving additional cards.
  • Double down: Double the initial bet and receive only one additional card.
  • Split: If the first two cards have the same value, they can be split into two separate hands, with an additional bet equal to the original bet.
  • Surrender: Forfeit half the initial bet and abandon the hand.
  • Insurance: A side bet called “Insurance” for when the dealer’s upcard is an ace.

Related: Baccarat vs Blackjack: Comparing Two Loved Casino Card Games

House Edge and Basic Strategy

Blackjack House Edge

The house edge is the built-in advantage that casinos have over players.

In blackjack, the house edge varies depending on the specific rules of the game and the player’s skill.

Generally, the house edge for standard blackjack games ranges from 0.5% to 2%.

Rule variations, such as the number of decks in play, payout ratios for blackjack, and dealer actions on soft 17, can impact the house edge.

House Edge Blackjack Table

Blackjack VariantHouse Edge (%)
Standard Blackjack0.5 – 2.0
European Blackjack0.6 – 1.0
Spanish 210.8 – 1.5
Blackjack Switch0.6 – 1.0
Pontoon0.4 – 0.9
Double Exposure0.7 – 1.2

Basic Strategy

Blackjack basic strategy is a set of rules that dictate the best possible action for each possible player hand against all dealer upcards, assuming optimal play.

The use of basic strategy can significantly reduce the house edge.

Basic strategy charts are available here as a reference & learning resource for blackjack players.

Below is a simplified basic strategy chart for a standard blackjack game with common rules (4-8 decks, dealer stands on soft 17, doubling allowed after splitting, no surrender).

This basic strategy blackjack chart represents the optimal actions for the player based on their hand and the dealer’s upcard that is showing.

Player Hand2345678910A

Blackjack Video: How to Play (and Win) at Blackjack: The Expert’s Guide

Blackjack Game Variants

These blackjack variations have becomes notably popular games in their own right over the years. I’ve provided a table below showing the popularity of these casino game variations.

Blackjack VariantPopularity (1-5)
Standard Blackjack5
Spanish 214
European Blackjack3
Blackjack Switch3
Double Exposure1

Read these descriptions below to learn about these online black jack variations:

European Blackjack: Played with two decks, the dealer does not take a hole card until the player completes their actions.

Spanish 21: Played with a 48-card deck (10s are removed), offering additional player-friendly rules and bonus payouts.

Blackjack Switch: Players are dealt two hands and can switch the top cards between them to improve their chances.

Pontoon: Similar to blackjack, with different terminology and additional rules like mandatory doubling on specific hand values.

Double Exposure Blackjack: Both dealer cards are exposed, but player blackjacks only pay even money, and ties result in dealer wins.

Basic Strategy Effectiveness in Blackjack Variants

Basic strategy can significantly reduce the house edge in these popular game variations of traditional classic blackjack gambling.

Blackjack VariantHouse Edge Reduction (%)
Standard Blackjack0.5 – 1.5
European Blackjack0.4 – 0.8
Spanish 210.5 – 1.0
Blackjack Switch0.5 – 0.8
Pontoon0.3 – 0.7
Double Exposure0.4 – 0.9

Card Counting and Advantage Play

Card counting is an advantage play technique that involves tracking the ratio of high to low cards remaining in the deck(s). A high concentration of high cards (10s, face cards, and aces) remaining in the deck favors the player, while a high concentration of low cards favors the dealer.

Popular card counting systems include Hi-Lo, KO, and Omega II.

Card Counting Effectiveness Table

Card Counting SystemPlayer Edge (%)
Hi-Lo0.5 – 1.5
KO0.4 – 1.2
Omega II0.6 – 1.8

Other Advantage Play Techniques

Additional advantage play techniques include:

  • Shuffle tracking: Tracking specific card groups or clusters during shuffling and predicting their location in the shoe.
  • Hole carding: Exploiting dealer errors when they accidentally expose their hole card (the facedown card).
  • Team play: A group of players working together to maximize card counting efficiency and share profits.

Dealer Upcard Probabilities

This table shows the probability of the dealer’s final hand outcome based on their upcard, which can help players make informed decisions during gameplay.

Dealer UpcardBust (%)17 (%)18 (%)19 (%)20 (%)21 (%)Blackjack (%)

Soft Doubling Frequencies

This table shows the frequency of optimal soft doubling situations for different game rules, which can help players decide when to double down.

Game RulesSoft Doubling Frequency (%)
S17, DAS, No surrender23.3
S17, DAS, Late surrender23.0
S17, No DAS, No surrender21.0
S17, No DAS, Late surrender20.8
H17, DAS, No surrender22.6
H17, DAS, Late surrender22.2
H17, No DAS, No surrender20.4
H17, No DAS, Late surrender20.1

S17: Dealer stands on soft 17
H17: Dealer hits on soft 17
DAS: Doubling after split allowed

Player Advantage with Different Rule Sets

This table shows how different blackjack rule variations affect the player’s advantage when using basic strategy.

Rule VariationPlayer Advantage (%)
Single Deck, S17, DAS0.16
Double Deck, S17, DAS-0.25
Six Decks, S17, DAS-0.43
Six Decks, H17, DAS-0.56
Six Decks, H17, DAS, RSA-0.42
Six Decks, H17, DAS, RSA, LS-0.35

S17: Dealer stands on soft 17
H17: Dealer hits on soft 17
DAS: Doubling after split allowed
RSA: Resplitting aces allowed
LS: Late surrender allowed

Winning and Losing Streaks in Blackjack

This table shows the probability of experiencing winning and losing streaks of various lengths during blackjack gameplay.

Streak LengthWinning Streak Probability (%)Losing Streak Probability (%)

Optimal Betting Spread for Card Counting

This table shows the optimal betting spread for various card counting systems, which can help players determine how much to bet depending on the true count.

Card Counting SystemOptimal Betting Spread
Omega II1-10

Effect of Deck Penetration on Card Counting

This table illustrates how deck penetration (the percentage of cards dealt before reshuffling) affects card counters’ advantage.

Deck Penetration (%)Player Advantage (%)

Pair Splitting Frequencies

This table shows the frequency of optimal pair splitting situations based on different game rules, which can help players decide when to split.

Game RulesPair Splitting Frequency (%)
S17, DAS, No surrender4.0
S17, DAS, Late surrender4.0
S17, No DAS, No surrender3.5
S17, No DAS, Late surrender3.5
H17, DAS, No surrender3.7
H17, DAS, Late surrender3.7
H17, No DAS, No surrender3.2
H17, No DAS, Late surrender3.2

S17: Dealer stands on soft 17
H17: Dealer hits on soft 17
DAS: Doubling after split allowed

Effect of Card Removal on Player Advantage

This table shows the effect of removing one card from a single deck on the player’s advantage.

Card RemovedPlayer Advantage (%)

Blackjack Probabilities

This table displays the probability of various blackjack outcomes when using basic strategy.

OutcomeProbability (%)
Player Blackjack4.75
Player Win42.4
Player Loss49.1
Push (Tie)8.7

Blackjack Side Bet Odds

This table presents common side bets in blackjack, their payouts, and approximate house edge.

Read our Winning Blackjack Side Bets guide that explains side bet odds & payouts in more detail.

Side BetPayoutsHouse Edge (%)
Insurance2:15.9 – 7.5
Perfect PairsMixed Pair: 6:1, Colored Pair: 12:1, Perfect Pair: 25:14.1 – 6.0
21+3Flush: 5:1, Straight: 10:1, Three of a Kind: 30:1, Straight Flush: 40:1, Suited Trips: 100:13.2 – 7.1
Royal MatchEasy Match: 2.5:1, Royal Match: 25:13.7 – 6.5
Super Sevens1st 7: 3:1, 2nd 7: 50:1, 3rd 7: 500:1, Suited 7s have higher payouts11.4 – 17.0
Lucky Ladies1st two cards totaling 20: 4:1, Suited 20: 10:1, Matched 20: 25:1, Queen of Hearts Pair: 200:1, Matched Queen of Hearts Pair: 1000:1, Matched Queen of Hearts Pair with dealer blackjack: 5000:117.0 – 24.7

Dealer’s Final Hand Probabilities

This table displays the probabilities of the dealer ending up with a specific final hand value.

Dealer’s Final Hand ValueProbability (%)

Effect of Rule Changes on House Edge

This table shows how specific rule changes can affect the house edge in blackjack.

Read our page on Blackjack Rules & House Edge to get a better understanding of how blackjack rule sets can effect the odds of the game.

Rule ChangeHouse Edge Change (%)
Dealer hits soft 17 (H17)+0.22
Double after split not allowed+0.14
Resplitting aces not allowed+0.08
No surrender+0.08
Blackjack pays 6:5+1.39
Single deck-0.48
Early surrender against ace-0.39

Player’s Expected Value by Starting Hand

This table shows the player’s expected value (EV) for each possible starting hand when using basic strategy.

Starting HandExpected Value (EV)
5-7-0.25 to -0.26

Effect of Number of Decks on House Edge

This table illustrates how the number of decks in play impacts the house edge.

Number of DecksHouse Edge (%)

Probability of Busting on a Hit

Unfortunately, sometimes when you draw a card in blackjack (take a hit) the outcome results in a player bust which is an automatic loss of the full amount of your bet.

This table shows the probability of busting (going over 21) when hitting based on the player’s current hand value:

Hand ValueProbability of Busting (%)

These tables offer a comprehensive view of blackjack from an expert’s standpoint, displaying crucial information for various games and different game situations.

Is Online Blackjack Fair?

Yes, it is fair. Licensed online casinos operate true RGNs (Random Number Generators) that fairly and randomly generate numbers which create unpredictable, random, and fair outcomes.

By understanding these blackjack statistics, and facts, players can make more informed and strategic decisions and enhance their gameplay by becoming advantage gamblers.

Learn more about online blackjack RNG fairness. to see and understand how random number generators ensure a level playing filed for online casino gamblers.

Can You Play Blackjack Online Using Bitcoins?

Yes. Bitcoin gambling has becomes popular over the last few years and there are diehard crypto casino players that will only play blackjack for real exclusively at crypto casinos online.

I’m putting together a complete bitcoin casino guide that will be available on the website in the near future.

Responsible Wagering

Practicing mindful wagering is crucial when engaging in real-money online blackjack games.

To Gamble Responsibly means to exercise control over your betting activities, guaranteeing they don’t adversely affect your well-being.

Consider these mindful wagering recommendations:

Establish time boundaries: Designate a set duration for your blackjack gaming and refrain from exceeding it. This helps to prevent wagering from disrupting your daily obligations.

Reach out for assistance when needed: Should you sense that your betting habits are evolving into an issue, don’t hesitate to reach out to support groups like Gamblers Anonymous or GamCare. These organizations offer assistance and valuable resources for those grappling with gambling dependence.

Voluntary account suspension: The majority of online casinos provide voluntary account suspension features, enabling you to temporarily or permanently restrict access to your account. Employ this tool if you think it’s necessary to step away from wagering for a while.

Closing Thoughts on Blackjack

Mastering the rules, strategies, and betting tactics of blackjack is essential for players looking to maximize their chances of success.

The use of basic strategy can significantly reduce the house edge, while card counting and other advantage play techniques can further improve a player’s edge.

By examining various blackjack variants and their unique rules, players can make good decisions about which games to play and the strategies to employ.

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