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Blackjack Odds: Understanding Your Chances at the Table

Blackjack is a captivating card game where understanding the odds is crucial for making informed decisions and improving your chances of winning. The house edge, representing the statistical advantage the casino holds, is a key concept to grasp, but skilled players can employ strategies like basic strategy and card counting to swing the odds in their favor.

Blackjack Odds

Rule variations also play a role in determining the odds, and being aware of them can help you choose the most favorable games. Throughout this guide, we will explore the intricacies of blackjack odds, equipping you with the knowledge to confidently navigate the table and enhance your gaming experience.

Basic Blackjack Odds

In blackjack, the objective is to achieve a hand value that is higher than the dealer’s hand without exceeding 21. To understand the odds, it’s essential to know the value assigned to each card. Numbered cards (2-10) hold their face value, face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are worth 10, and the Ace can be valued as either 1 or 11, depending on the player’s choice.

Basic Blackjack Odds

The probability of receiving a specific card depends on the number of decks used in the game. For the purpose of this explanation, we’ll assume a standard six-deck shoe.

Probability of Receiving Specific Cards:

  • Any Ace: 4.83%
  • Any Ten-value Card (10, Jack, Queen, King): 30.77%
  • Any Other Card: 14.4%

Calculating Blackjack Odds

One of the most crucial elements of blackjack odds is the likelihood of achieving specific outcomes based on the cards you hold. Some common scenarios include hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting pairs. Let’s explore the probabilities associated with each scenario:

Calculating Blackjack Odds


When you request an additional card from the dealer, you aim to improve your hand’s value without exceeding 21. The probability of busting (exceeding 21) varies depending on your current hand value. For example: If your hand value is 12, the chance of busting is 31%.

Hand ValuePlayer Probability of Busting
11 and below0%


When you decide to keep your current hand value and decline any further cards, you might want to evaluate the odds of the dealer’s hand surpassing yours.

Dealer’s UpcardProbability of Dealer Busting
2Approximately 35%
3Around 37%
4Roughly 40%
5Approximately 42%
6Around 42%
7Approximately 26%
8Roughly 24%
9Around 23%
10/Face CardApproximately 21%

Doubling Down

To double down, you double your initial wager and are then dealt an additional card. The decision to double down depends on your initial hand value and the dealer’s upcard.

Hand ValueProbability of Receiving a 10-Value Card
9Approximately 30%
10Around 30%
11Approximately 30%

Splitting Pairs

If you are dealt a pair (e.g., two 7s or two 8s), you have the option to split them into separate hands. The probability of achieving favorable outcomes depends on the specific pair and the dealer’s upcard.

PairProbability of Receiving 10-Value Card (per hand)
AcesApproximately 30%
8Varies based on the dealer’s upcard
Other PairsDependent on specific pair and remaining cards

When splitting pairs other than Aces and Eights, the probabilities of achieving favorable outcomes can vary depending on the specific pair and the dealer’s upcard. Here are a few examples:

PairProbability of Improving Hand Value (per hand)Recommended Split?
Two or ThreesDependent on the dealer’s upcardSelectively
FoursLowNot Recommended
FivesLowNot Recommended
SixesDependent on the dealer’s upcardSelectively
TensN/ANot Recommended

The House Edge

The house edge is the mathematical advantage that the casino holds over the players. It is the percentage of each wager that the casino expects to win on average in the long run.

The House Edge

The house edge in blackjack can vary depending on several factors, including the specific rules of the game and the player’s strategy. Generally, the house edge in traditional blackjack games with favorable rules is around 0.5% to 1% if an optimal basic strategy is employed.

Factors Affecting the House Edge

  • Rule Variations: Different rule variations in blackjack, such as the number of decks used, dealer rules on hitting or standing, and the payout for blackjack, can significantly impact the house edge.
  • Basic Strategy: Playing according to optimal basic strategy helps minimize the house edge by making mathematically correct decisions in every situation.
  • Player Skill: The skill level of the player can affect the house edge to some extent. Skilled players who make fewer mistakes will have a lower house edge compared to less experienced players.

House Edge and Expected Loss

The house edge directly affects the expected loss of a player over time. The calculation of the expected loss involves the multiplication of the total bet amount by the percentage representing the house edge. For instance, if the house edge is 1% and a player wagers a total of $1,000, the expected loss would be $10 (1% of $1,000).

Side Bet

Many blackjack games offer optional side bets that provide an additional opportunity to win. These bets often have higher payouts but also higher house edges. It’s important to understand the odds and house edge associated with each side bet before deciding to place them.

Side Bet
  • Perfect Pairs: The Perfect Pairs side bet allows players to wager on whether their initial two cards will form a pair.
  • 21+3: The 21+3 side bet combines the player’s two initial cards with the dealer’s upcard to form a poker-style hand.
  • Lucky Ladies: This side bet focuses on the player’s initial two cards totaling 20. The payout varies based on the specific cards and combinations, such as suited 20 or Queen of Hearts pair
  • Buster Blackjack: This side bet is based on the dealer’s likelihood of busting. The payout increases as the number of cards in the dealer’s busted hand goes up.
  • Royal Match: This side bet involves wagering on the player’s first two cards being of the same suit or forming a suited king and queen.
Side BetWinning CombinationDescriptionPayoutApproximate Odd to win
Perfect PairsPerfect PairThe player’s first two cards are suited (e.g., Ace of Spades and King of Spades)25:14%
Colored PairQueen of Hearts Pair12:18.3%
Mixed PairTwo cards of the same rank but different suits (e.g., 4 of clubs and 4 of spades)6:116.67%
21+3Suited TripsThree cards of the same rank and suit (e.g., 7 of hearts, 7 of hearts, and 7 of hearts)100:11%
Straight FlushThree consecutive cards of the same suit (e.g., 5, 6, and 7 of clubs)40:12.5%
Three of a KindsThree cards of the same rank but different suits (e.g., 8 of hearts, 8 of diamonds, and 8 of spades)30:13.33%
StraightThree consecutive cards of any suit (e.g., 9 of diamonds, 10 of clubs, and Jack of hearts)10:110%
Lucky LadiesQueen of Hearts PairThe player’s first two cards are both Queen of Hearts125:10.8%
Matched 20The player’s first two cards total 20 and are suited (e.g., 8 of diamonds and Queen of diamonds)19:15.26%
Suited 20The player’s first two cards total 20 and are suited, but not a Queen of Hearts pair9:111.1%
Buster BlackjackDealer Busting HandThe dealer’s hand goes beyond a total of 21.2:1 – 250:10.4%
Royal MatchSuited CardsThe player’s first two cards are suited (e.g., Ace of Spades and King of Spades)3:133.3%

Insurance Bet

Players have the choice to make an insurance bet when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. This bet is essentially a side bet on whether the dealer has a natural blackjack. While it may seem tempting, it’s essential to understand the odds associated with the insurance bet.

Insurance Bet
  • The probability of the dealer having a natural blackjack is approximately 30%.
  • The insurance bet pays 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack, but statistically, it is not a favorable bet in the long run.

Strategies to Improve Blackjack Odds

Improving your odds in blackjack involves employing various strategies that aim to enhance your decision-making, take advantage of favorable conditions, and optimize your betting. While no strategy can guarantee a consistent win, implementing these strategies can help increase your chances of success. Here’s an overview of the strategies commonly used to improve blackjack odds:

Strategies to Improve Blackjack Odds

Basic Strategy

Basic strategy forms the foundation of optimal blackjack play. It involves using a predetermined set of rules to guide your decisions based on your hand value and the dealer’s upcard. Following a basic strategy reduces the house edge to its lowest possible level.

Card Counting

Card counting is a strategy employed to monitor the proportion of high cards to low cards that are still left in the deck. By keeping a running count, players can adjust their bets and playing decisions based on the advantage gained from a favorable card distribution. Card counting requires practice, concentration, and a good understanding of the chosen counting system.

Money Management

Money management strategies help you manage your bankroll effectively, minimizing losses and maximizing potential winnings. Techniques such as setting win/loss limits, determining bet sizes based on bankroll, and avoiding impulsive decisions are essential. Responsible bankroll management ensures long-term sustainability and minimizes the risk of significant losses.

Practice and Skill Development

Consistent practice is crucial for improving your blackjack skills and implementing strategies effectively. Online simulators, mobile apps, and resources like books and forums can aid in skill development. Skills such as card counting, speed, accuracy, and decision-making can be honed through regular practice.

Complementary Strategies

Additional strategies, such as using strategy cards or charts, selecting favorable blackjack tables with player-friendly rules, and taking advantage of casino promotions, can supplement your overall blackjack approach. Utilizing these complementary strategies can provide small advantages and improve your overall profitability.


The odds of winning a hand in blackjack depend on various factors, including the specific rules of the game, the player’s strategy, and the number of decks in play. On average, in a standard blackjack game, the player has approximately a 42-48% chance of winning a hand, while the dealer has a 52-58% chance of winning. It’s important to note that these percentages are averages and can vary based on the specific circumstances of each hand.

The odds of being dealt a natural blackjack, which is an ace and a 10-value card (10, J, Q, K), depends on the number of decks in play. In a single-deck game, the probability of getting a blackjack is approximately 4.83%. However, as the number of decks increases, the likelihood of getting a blackjack decreases slightly. In a typical six-deck shoe game, the probability of receiving a natural blackjack is approximately 4.75%.

The likelihood of busting in blackjack depends on the player’s hand value and the strategy they choose to follow. If a player hits their hand repeatedly, the chances of busting increase. As a general guideline, if a player has a hand total of 12-16, they have a higher risk of busting if they choose to hit. However, the dealer’s upcard also plays a role in the decision-making process. It’s important to consult a blackjack strategy chart to make optimal decisions and minimize the risk of busting.

The odds of winning when doubling down in blackjack depend on the player’s hand and the dealer’s upcard. Doubling down allows the player to double their initial bet and receive one additional card. It is typically advisable to double down when the player’s hand total is 9, 10, or 11, as these totals have a higher probability of improving with just one additional card. The specific odds of winning when doubling down vary based on the player’s hand, the dealer’s upcard, and the blackjack rules in play.


In conclusion, understanding blackjack odds is crucial for maximizing chances of winning in this game of skill and chance. By considering factors such as game rules, number of decks, player’s hand, and dealer’s upcard, informed decisions can be made regarding hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting pairs. While the house maintains a slight edge, employing optimal strategies can reduce this edge and increase the player’s chances.

It is important to practice sound bankroll management, maintain discipline, and approach blackjack with a long-term perspective. Variations in odds between different games and casinos highlight the need to familiarize oneself with specific rules. By combining a solid understanding of blackjack odds with effective strategies, players can enhance their experience and potentially improve their chances of success.